Hidden high in the mountains was a monastery that had once been known throughout all the world.
Its monks were pious, its students were enthusiastic. The beautiful chants from the chapel touched the hearts of people who came there to pray and meditate. But, something changed.
Fewer and fewer young men came to study. Fewer and fewer people came for spiritual nourishment. The few monks who still remained, became disheartened and sad. Deeply worried, the Abbot of the monastery went off in search of an answer.
Why had his monastery fallen on such hard times? The Abbot came to a prophet, and asked the master, “Is it a sin of ours that the monastery is no longer full of vitality?”
“Yes,” replied the prophet, “it is the sin of ignorance.”
“The sin of ignorance?” questioned the Abbot. “Of what are we ignorant?”
The guru looked into the Abbot’s eyes for a long, long time, and then said, “One of you is the Messiah in disguise. But, you are all ignorant of this.” Then, the guru closed his eyes, and he was silent.
‘The Messiah?’ thought the Abbot. ‘The Messiah is one of us? Who could it be? Which one? All of us has faults, failings and human defects. The Messiah is supposed to be perfect. But, then, perhaps the faults and failings are part of his disguise. Which one? Which one?’
When he returned to the monastery, he gathered all the monks and told them what the prophet had said. “One of us? The Messiah? Impossible!” they agreed. But, the prophet had spoken, and the prophet was never wrong.
“One of us? The Messiah? Incredible! But, it must be so. Which one? That brother over there? Or that one?”
Not knowing who among them was the Messiah, the monks began treating each other with new respect. ‘You never know’, they thought, ‘he might be the one, so I had better deal with him kindly’. It was not long before the monastery was filled with a new found joy.
Soon, new students came to learn, and people came from far and wide to be inspired by the chants of the kind, smiling monks. And, far above them, resting in the shade of an ancient tree, the prophet smiled.