Tuesday, April 25, 2006

St. Bishoy

St. Bishoy is virtually unknown in the west, and that is indeed a great pity. The example and devotion of this great man is a beacon to all. From the beginning of his life, we see that God has called him by name:

Anba Bishoy was born in the town of Shesna to a family of six children. One day, his mother saw an angel in a dream, asking her to give one of her children to the Lord. She was very pleased and left the choice to the Lord to pick one of her kids. So, the Lord picked Anba Bishoy. His mother was very worried because Anba Bishoy was physically very weak, and she asked the Lord to pick a stronger child to serve Him; but the angel insisted that Anba Bishoy was the one the Lord had chosen.

Human logic. He is frail Lord. He is physically weak. He is not worthy of You. But the Lord knows us better than anyone. We are weak, but He is our strength. We often cry out, "What is so special about that person? They are not worthy, not up to the task!" But the Lord's word, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine." (Isaiah 43:1). For if we are weak and can still be the beloved of the Lord, what can we not do?

And St. Bishoy did much in the service of the Lord. What he did, he did simply. He was a good man. A good monk who served the Lord in others. This simple lifestyle was focused on hospitality to others. We are told:

One of Saint Bishoy's distinguished merits was his hospitality to the strangers. One day while he was sitting outside his cell, he saw a stranger weary from walking. He invited the stranger to his cell and brought some water to wash his exhausted feet. While washing his feet, he heard the Lord’s voice saying, “My chosen Pishoy! You are an honorable man.” Realizing that he was washing the Lord’s feet, he knelt down and worshiped Him. The Lord gave him peace and comforted him..

In washing the feet of a stranger, we wash the feet of the Lord. St. Bishoy was blessed by actually washing the feet of the Lord Himself. But so often, we could serve the Lord in others. St. Bishoy, as I learned about him, reminded me much of Mother Teresa. Do you wish to see our Lord? Look to your neighbor. Serve others with Love.

St. Bishoy Also defended the faith. We are told:

In his days, an old preacher appeared in the mountain of Ansina. He became so famous for his preaching that a lot of people gathered around him. It came to be that he lost his way and the devil misled him until the point when he denied the Holy Spirit. All this news reached Anba Bishoy who went to see him taking with him sacs each having three handles, something that amazed the old preacher, and he asked Anba Bishoy the reason for that and he answered "I have a trinity, and I do everything accordingly", and he started to explain to the people the words of the Bible until he convinced them all.

It was not by walking up an yelling at people, but by a simple everyday example that St. Bishoy opened the door to their hearts. St. Bishoy had seen Christ face to face. Did it make him arrogant? Did it make him feel better than others? It is an honest question, is it not? We are told:

The saint fulfilled his life of flesh and wished he could see Jesus, and in the middle of that, he got a promise from God that He will appear to him on the mountain of Shehet. So, he gathered the monks and told them the good news. Everyone was filled with joy and they were waiting for that big event to happen. On the appointed day, everybody was in a great hurry rushing to see Jesus. On their way, they passed by man who was trying to join them but had great difficulty because of his age; so he stretched out his hand asking for help, but nobody stopped or even paid him any attention. When Anba Bishoy passed by him, he stopped and carried him on his shoulders, gradually he started to feel that his load was becoming lighter and lighter, then he realized that the old man was Jesus the Lord, the one that everybody ignored. Finally, he died in peace giving his soul the freedom to go and live with the one he always wanted to be with, and that is Jesus Christ.

Put yourself in the place of St. Bishoy. You have seen our Lord. You are nearing the end of your life and He has told you that He will come to you again. You tell everyone that he is coming and they rejoice. Everyone rushes to see Him. Your hearts desire is only a little distance away. Everything in you burns with love to see Him.

On the way there is an old man, weak and frail. He is crippled and can not get there. He is in the way. always something in the way on our path to the Lord. The others have passed him by. They are running up the mountain and going to see the Lord. The men who have passed this man by are your brothers. They are good men. To you they deserve to see the Lord.

But the Lord is coming for you. If you stop for this inconvient man, the other will see Christ and you might not. Is it not your right? Is it not you that He is coming to see?

So easy to leave this cripple and run to the Lord. But St. Bishoy knew, leave the cripple...leave the Lord. Not that He knew that this was Christ in disguise, but he knew that Christ is in our brothers and sisters and the poorest of the poor. So this man, the weak one, carried this old man on his back to see Jesus. And this old man was our Lord.

There is always something in the way to Christ. Something blocking our path. Us. We are often in the way. Our weakness is in the way.

At the beginning of this post were the words of St. Bishoy's mother:

She asked the Lord to pick a stronger child to serve Him.

But the Lord knew who he had called. By name He calls us all. We are not the potter, but the potter's clay. He knows our name before we are born. He loves us by name before we are born.

Lord, let me serve you in others as St. Bishoy did. Let me see You in others so I may see You in my heart. I am weak. I am not the strongest in body and spirit, but it is not by my strength that I accomplish things...it is by Yours. Do not pick a stronger child to serve You, but make me stronger by Your love. Pick me to serve You Lord. Pick this weak child of Yours, and lend me Your strength. Like St. Bishoy, I would rather carry the weak and suffering with You as my strength, than carry the world and not have You in my heart.

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