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2013-08-04 message

posted Aug 19, 2013, 8:36 PM by St. John's Webmaster   [ updated Aug 19, 2013, 8:36 PM ]

The second attribute that describes love in 1 Corinthians 13 is kindness. In some ways this concept of kindness cannot be separated from that of love; acts of kindness are an outpouring of an internal love. So this attribute begins to speak of the outward forms of love. Love is kind, therefore it is gentle and good.

The gentle nature of love is demonstrated abundantly by stories from the lives of the saints, as the following story from the desert fathers shows.

When Abba Agathon went down to the city to sell some of his baskets and to procure a little bread, he found near the market place an old, poor cripple.

"For the love of God, Abba," the cripple began to plead on seeing the Saint, "don't you, too, leave this poor wretch unaided. Bring me near to you." Abba Agathon picked the man up and sat him next to him in the place where he had set up his baskets to sell them.

'How much money did you make, Abba?' the cripple would ask each time that the Elder sold a basket. "Such and such," the Elder would tell him. "That's good enough," the cripple finally said. "Won't you buy me a little pie, Abba? That would be good of you, since I have not eaten since last evening." "With pleasure," the Saint told him, immediately fulfilling the cripple's request.

Shortly thereafter, the cripple requested some fruit. And then some sweet. Thus, for each basket that was sold, the Saint spent the proceeds, until, thanks to his patronage, all of the baskets and money were gone, without his having kept even two pennies for himself. More importantly, he did this all with great eagerness, even though he knew that he would thus go perhaps two weeks without any bread for himself. Since he had sold his last basket, the Saint got ready to leave the marketplace.

"So you're going?" the cripple asked him.

"Yes, I have completed all of my work."

"Uh, do me the favor of taking me as far as the crossroads, and you can leave for the desert from there," the strange old man again pleadingly said.

The good Agathon took the cripple on his back and carried him to the place where he wanted to go, though with great difficulty, since he was exhausted from his day's work. As soon as he reached the crossroads and started to put down his living burden, he heard a sweet voice say to him:

"May you be blessed, Agathon, by God, both on earth and in Heaven."

The Saint raised up his eyes to see who it was who had spoken with him. The would-be old man had completely disappeared, since he was an Angel sent by God to test the Saint's love.

It would have been easy to become upset, impatient, even angry in such a situation. Yet, Abba Agathon’s love for his fellow man, even one unknown, allowed him to remain ever gentle. May we, by God’s grace, learn to imitate his example.

With love in Christ,
+Fr. Peter