“Once the holy Makarios went to keep an ill hermit company. Casting an eye around the ill man’s naked cell, he saw that there was nowhere even a scrap of food.
“What would you like to eat, brother?” asked the Saint.
“The ill monk hesitated to answer. What was he supposed to ask for, since there was nothing in that wilderness? Finally, since the Saint was waiting for him to answer, he said that he had the desire for a little soup made with flour. But where was flour to be found?
“The holy Makarios, so as to comfort his sick brother, went fifty miles on foot to Alexandria to find flour.”
Are you as I, somewhat doubtful that this story could be true? On the other hand, we have seen what extremists these Desert Christians were, so maybe it is true.
How many of us today in our modern society would go to see a sick friend? Maybe some reading this might. I sure hope so. I know when I am ill what I hear is “See ya when you are well again.” I’ve learned to keep my home stocked with kleenex, soup, crackers, broth, toilet paper, over the counter remedies, etc so I know I can get myself through a cold or the flu. Certainly, no one has offered to cook for me since my mother gave up her apartment and moved into independent living where her meals were prepared for her.
So I much impressed with Abba Makarios. He dared risk infection, he assessed the need of his brother. I attempted to google “soup made with a little flour” but all I found was recipes for potato soup and I doubt that was the sick man was asking for because the New World was a thousand years from discovery.
Abba Makarios not only wishes to provide for a sick brother who has no food, he is kind enough to ask him what he might like. He hesitates to answer as they live in a desolate place but finally does.
In a supreme act of love of neighbor, Markarios walks one hundred miles to get his brother what he needs. This is an arduous undertaking. How long does it take to walk fifty miles, obtain the groceries, and walk another fifty miles? Must have taken days. When he returns he has to make the soup.
This is truly going out of one’s way for one’s neighbor. This is truly sacrificing one’s time for one’s neighbor.
How many of us are willing to do go out of our way and sacrifice our time to help another?