The Traveler and the Monks
Bible Reading: Matthew 5:14-16
Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors. Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God. 1 Peter 2:12
THE STORY IS told of a mysterious traveler who once visited an old, run-down monastery. At one time the monastery had thrived; it was known for the devotion of its monks. Young men came from far and wide to join the monastery.
At the time of the traveler’s visit, however, all that had changed. Only a handful of monks remained, and they could hardly stand each other. The once-spotless buildings had begun to fall down, and the worship of the monks was uninspired.
The monks told the traveler the dismal story of their monastery. They begged the traveler to stay and help them rebuild, for if something was not done, the monks and monastery would soon die. But he refused. “I cannot help you to rebuild your monastery or restore hope to your order. All I can do is to tell you that one of you is a true apostle of God.” And with that, the mysterious traveler left.
The monks were amazed at the traveler’s words, and each one began to secretly ponder their meaning. Could it be? each thought. Could one of us actually be a true apostle of God? Could it be the abbot? If not the abbot, who? Perhaps Brother Phillip. Or Brother Thaddeus? Or perhaps . . . perhaps even . . . even me?
Little by little that old monastery began to change. The monks began to treat each other with new respect, not knowing which of them was a true apostle. In fact, each monk even began to treat himself differently, not knowing if he were the one of whom the traveler had spoken. Over the course of time, the monks began to repair the monastery’s decaying buildings, to make them suitable as a home of a true apostle of God. Their worship became charged with passion and praise; after all, they knew that a true apostle of God was worshiping among them.
As more time went by, people who passed by and visited the monastery noticed something that had not been there before. Although their number was small, these monks truly seemed to love and respect each other. Before long, people began to visit the monastery to worship with the monks. Younger men began to arrive at the monastery, asking questions. Many chose to stay and join the order. Within a few years, the monastery was thriving once more, and without realizing it, each of the monks had himself become a true apostle of God.
REFLECT: What effect did the traveler’s words have? How does the story relate to today’s Bible reading? The story of the traveler and the monks is a nice story, but do you think treating others with respect can change things that much? Why or why not? Do you think it can change you? your family? school? church? If so, how?
PRAY: “Lord, help me to make a conscious effort today to treat each person—including myself—as if he or she were a true apostle of God.”