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Abba Shenouda Saves A Negligent Brother

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There were two brothers lying sick in the monastery. One of them was zealous and watched over himself carefully; the other was very negligent, spending his days in vain pursuits. Now one day, it happened that our father abba Shenouda came to the place where they were sick to them. When he came to the negligent brother he said to him: ‘Look at you! I see you suffering and near to death: what do you think of yourself?’ The brother replied: ‘Believe me, my father, I never ever performed a single one of your commands, and I do not know in what way I can justify myself’. Then he also went to the place where the righteous brother was, whose illness was not serious, and asked him: ‘What do you think? If the Lord should visit you, are you confident now that you would find mercy?’ The latter replied: ‘Believe me, my holy father, I was zealous in keeping all your commands, but if God is not merciful, I do not know what will happen to me’. My father said to him: ‘Good!’

After this, the zealous brother died and went to the Lord. The one who was negligent, however, recovered from his illness, but still persisted in his negligence, and our father abba Shenouda was saddened because of him. Now when the brothers were putting earth on the threshing floor where they spread out the bread, some of the brothers were carrying earth, and among them too was the negligent brother who had been restored from sickness. He was walking slowly with the basket of earth, idly cracking jokes and roaring with laughter.

Our father the old man arose in anger, seized him, and threw him to the ground. He piled on top of him his basket of earth and spoke to him like this: ‘Is it not enough for you that for your sake I gave up the zealous brother? I had you sent back since I wanted you to repent! And look, you have still paid no heed to your shameful works!’ The brother arose and fell down before our father, saying: ‘Forgive me!’ He went away and henceforth gave himself up to penance with great zeal and groaning and tears until the days of a month had passed by. At the end of the month he fell sick and was dying, and our holy father abba Shenouda went in to him to visit him, and stayed at his side until he died. Then our father said to the brothers: ‘Behold! Today a brother went to the Lord; in his life there is no decrease’.