There’s a story of an ancient monastery that had fallen on hard times. From a brotherhood that used to have more than 50 monks, there were less than a dozen left. The monastery used to be central to the life of the village, with saintly monks inspiring the people, yet now few people visited the monastery to find spiritual nourishment. A general feeling of spiritual apathy and lukewarmness was present in the monastery, and in the village.
One day a holy spiritual elder who was passing through the village. He stopped at the monastery and stayed for a night. During his time there, each of the monks privately went to receive his blessing, to talk with him as well as to receive some spiritual nourishment. With each monk that came to the elder, he said the same thing. “Don’t tell anyone else this, but the Messiah is among you. He has come again, and dwells among you.”
The next morning the elder left, but each monk kept thinking about the perplexing words the elder had told him. The Messiah is among you. As they reflected more and more on this, they kept asking themselves, “Who is it? Is it Fr. John? Or is it Fr. Stavro? Or is it Fr. James?”
As the monks went about their daily work, whenever they passed one another, they began to act a little differently. “What if the Messiah is this brother?” And they began to treat each other with sincere respect and love, with deep humility and kindness. They listened carefully to each another and tried to outdo one other in their service and diakonia in the monastery as well as in the local village. In their daily liturgical services, they prayed fervently and opened their hearts to the movement of the Holy Spirit. They believed the Messiah was in their midst, and they wanted to act accordingly.
Slowly, the spirit of the monastery changed. An inner fire and spiritual zeal replaced any apathy and indifference. A community of love, divine love, developed and this agape love became very apparent to the village at large. The villagers started to flock to the monastery for spiritual nourishment and guidance, experiencing the reality of the kingdom of God.
The Messiah was in their midst.
Original/remainder of article appeared at http://www.pravmir.com/the-kingdom-of-god-is-at-hand/