The Loving Bandit

Moses the Black was such an unruly slave that his Egyptian owner, who couldn’t control him, sent him away. About the year 400, the banished Moses went to a desert region where he lived as an outlaw. Being a strong leader, he soon attracted 70 other bandits to his gang. Their killing and robbery terrorized everyone in the area and any travelers passing by.

Moses was huge. Rumor had it he could eat a whole sheep and drink a whole jar of wine at a time. Besides food, he liked women and killing people.

However, Moses the Black sometimes wondered about God. He would look at the sun and say, “Oh, Sun, if you are God, tell me. I don’t know you, God. Show yourself to me.”

One day as he prayed this way, a voice told him, “Go to the desert of Wadi Natrun. The holy men there will tell you about God.”

The monks at Wadi Natrun were afraid at first when they saw this huge man with his sword, but they began to teach him. Moses learned eagerly and happily and soon was baptized. He lived in a cell alone, near the other monks, and tried to make up for his many past sins by living a good life. He changed so much that the other 500 brothers chose him to be their leader and he became a priest.

As Moses was talking to his monks one day, some people passing by mocked him and spoke many abusive words about him. Moses said nothing.

Later, the monks asked him, “Weren’t you bothered by what those people said?”

“Yes, I was,” answered Moses. “But a true follower of Christ needs to learn to be calm in his body and calm in his soul. When someone is mocked and yet controls his tongue, he has a calm body. When the one who is abused doesn’t even feel anger, then he has a calm soul.”

Once a brother was found guilty of a serious sin. The others, who were gathering to judge him and to decide on his punishment, sent word to Moses to join them.

When they saw him walking toward them, he was carrying on his back an old heavy basket filled with sand. “What are you doing? What in the world is that?” they called to him. Moses answered, “If I’m coming to judge another, I need to remember how heavy my own sins were, even though I no longer bear them.”

With this example and reminder, the monks forgave their guilty brother and told him to go and sin no more.

A beautiful story from They Loved their Enemies, stories assembled by Marian Hostetler, pgs 25-26

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