Give, and it will be given to you . . . for the measure you give will be the measure you get back. [Luke 6.38].
Macarius of Alexandria, a 4th century monk known for his spiritual life of abstinence, seclusion and renunciation, was offered a gift of fresh, ripe grapes. This was quite a treat, especially in the Egyptian desert.
The ascetic monk very much wanted to eat them, but conquered this fleeting desire by giving the grapes to a neighboring monk who was weaken by the desert heat.
“Why should I eat these grapes, is it not better to send them to my fellow monk? Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor [1 Corinthians 10.24].”
When the neighboring monk, also a seeker of God, was given the grapes, he had the same thoughts, and sent the grapes to a third monk.
Much later in the day, after circulating throughout the cenobitic community, the bunch of grapes returned to Monk Macarius. When he saw the grapes, he was awed, and praised God for teaching him such a gratifying lesson.
As Monk Macarius tasted the grapes, he thanked God for revealing to him that his brothers shared similar love in their hearts. Thus, he enjoyed God’s gift with even greater delight. [Adapted from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. (1894), at sacred-texts.com].
Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others [Philippians 2:3-4].
Blessings of Fasting
This story illustrates some of the inherent benefits of fasting. First, when we abstain to please God, we enjoy the spiritual comfort that accompanies good deeds. Our thoughts become scented with dignity, while our actions are blanketed with integrity. When we finally break the fast, our body celebrates in joy and thanksgiving, rested and prepared for Divine service.
I desired as many as could to join together in fasting and prayer, that God would restore the spirit of love and of a sound mind to the poor deluded rebels in America. Is not the neglect of this plain duty (I mean, fasting) ranked by our Lord with almsgiving and prayer, one general occasion of deadness among Christians? Can any one willingly neglect it, and be guiltless?” [John Wesley. “Journal of John Wesley.”]