There was once an old monastry which had lost its inspiration. The same routines were perfomed as they always had been, but there were no new novices and little enthusiasm for the rites of prayer. The abbot saw all this and grieved. At a loss as to how to change things, he paid a visit to an old hermit who lived deep in the forest. After they had eaten together, the recluse addressed the abbot.
"You and your brothers have lost the fire of God. You come seeking wisdom from me. I will tell you a secret, but you can only repeat it once. After that, no one must say it aloud again." The hermit looked deep into the eyes of the abbot and said "The Messiah is among you". They were both silent as the abbot considered the importance of this saying. "Now you must leave" said the hermit.
Returning to the monastry the abbot called all the monks together and told them he had a teaching that had been given by God. He added that it was never to be said aloud again. The the abbot looked at each of his brothers, and said, "The hermit says that one of us is the Messiah."
The monks were startled. "Is John with the big nose the Messiah? Or Father Matthew who falls asleep at prayer? Am I the Messiah?" But puzzled as they were they never repeated the saying again.
As time went by the monks began to treat one another with a special love and reverence. There was a gentle, whole hearted, human quality about them now which was hard to describe but easy to see. They lived with each other as those who had finally found something of significance. The words were carefully considered. Who could tell when they were speaking to the Messiah?
Before long, the vitality of the monastry attracted many visitors and young men began asking to join the community. The old hermit died without revealing anymore, and the abbot sometimes wondered if he had understood correctly.
From Mike Riddells "Godzone". He precedes this story with this paragraph:
In the world relationships are based on common interests. IN Godzone the only basis is belonging, and so the traveller has to accept all whom God accepts. It's sometimes easier to love God than to love Gods mates. The problem is you cat do one without the other.
The claim to love has to be tested against the reality of people with body odour and strange habits, if it is to be any more than a warm gooey feeling. The road we follow is a journey into community. If we are to reach the final destination we must learn to see the God-light in the most unlikely of characters. We must discover that differences are enriching rather than threatening. This only comes after the hard nut of self has been cracked.