Daily Worship

Love each other

Dave Close October 02, 2015 0 0

John 15:17

This is my command: Love each other.

I know what this means.

Help me to do it better, Lord…


(The story is told of a famous monastery which had fallen on hard times; once its many buildings had been filled with many monks, its halls had resounded with the singing of the chant but now it was deserted.  People no longer came there to be nourished by prayer; a handful of old monks shuffled through the cloisters and praised their God with heavy hearts.  

On the edge of the monastery woods an old rabbi had built a small hut and he would come there from time to time to fast and pray.  No one ever spoke to him but whenever he appeared the word would spread from monk to monk, ‘the rabbi walks in the woods’ and for as long as he was there the monks would feel sustained by his prayerful presence.

One day the abbot decided to visit the rabbi and to open his heart to him. So after the morning Eucharist he set out across the woods. As he approached the hut he saw the rabbi standing in the doorway, his arms outstretched in welcome. It was as though he had been waiting there for some time. The two embraced like long-lost brothers then they stepped back and just stood there smiling at each other with smiles their faces could barely contain.

After a while the rabbi motioned the abbot to enter.  In the middle of the room was a wooden table with the scriptures open upon it. They sat there for a time in the presence of the book. Then the rabbi began to cry, the abbot could not contain himself.  He covered his face with his hands and began to cry too.  For the first time in his life he cried his heart out.  

The two men sat there like lost children, filling the hut with their sobs and wetting the wood of the table with their tears.  When the tears had ceased to flow and all was quiet again the rabbi lifted his head.  ‘You and your brothers are serving god with heavy hearts’ he said ‘you have come to ask a teaching of me.  I will give you a teaching but you can only repeat it once and after that noone must ever say it aloud again.’ The rabbi looked straight at the abbot and he said ‘Messiah is among you’

For a while all was quiet again. Then the rabbi said ‘Now you must go.’ The abbot left without a word and without ever looking back.  The next morning the abbot called his monks together in the chapter room. He told them he had received a teaching from the rabbi who walks in the woods and that this teaching was never again to be spoken aloud. Then he looked at each of his brothers and said ‘The rabbi said that one of us is the messiah!’ The monks were startled by this, saying, ‘What could it mean? Is brother john the messiah? Or father Matthew? Am I the messiah? What could this mean?’

They were all deeply puzzled by the rabbis teaching but as the abbot had instructed no one ever mentioned it again. But they wrestled with it in their hearts. As time went by the monks began to treat each other with very special reverence.  There was a gently wholehearted human quality about them now that was hard to describe but easy to observe.  Occasional visitors found themselves deeply moved by the lives of these monks.  Before long people were coming from far and wide to be nourished by the prayer life of the community and young men were once again asking to become part of it.  In those days the rabbi no longer walked in the woods, his hut had fallen into ruin.)