A Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: anonymous

“One night thieves went to a certain hermit.

“We came to take your things,” they said to him viciously.

“Without losing composure, he said to them, “Come in and take whatever you like.”

“They emptied his poor hut of every last thing and left hurriedly. They forgot, however, to take a small flask that was hanging from a beam of the roof. The hermit took it down and, running behind the robbers, shouted for them to listen and to stop.

“Come back, brothers, to take this too.” And he showed them from afar the small flask.

“They were amazed by his forgiving nature and returned, not to take the flask, but to offer repentance and to return all of his things.

“This is, indeed, a man of God,” they said among themselves.”

Is this not the entire opposite of how we in the USA have been socialized to think and act?

Just think of the number of cases when a stranger on a doorstep asking for help has been shot and killed by a homeowner assuming the stranger was a thief.

Or when the homeowner shot through a door and killed the person opening the door because he thought it was a thief.  He killed his own  wife.

Contrast that behavior with the choices of the Desert Christian above.  He welcomes the thieves, invites them to take whatever they want because he knows it is just stuff. The loss of his stuff does not affect his primary concern: knowing God. In fact, he is so little attached to his worldly possessions that when the thieves overlook a flask, he chases after them to give it to them. The thieves, understandably surprised by his actions, are convicted of their sin and they return everything.

What does violence ever get us?  More violence.

What does welcoming the stranger and showing compassion, gentleness, generosity, and kindness to the stranger ever get us?  Maybe we will find out.


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