25th February

A Cock, A Mouse And A Fly

Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6: 19, 20

A friend of Columba’s, Mo Chua, had a hermitage in the wilderness. Although he was on his own, he aimed to say the divine prayers at set times throughout the day and night. He had no worldly wealth, but he did have a cock, a mouse and a fly, each of whom performed a most useful work for him.

The cock woke him in time to say early morning prayer. The mouse would not let him sleep for more than five hours. Mo Chua might well have slept on after his tiring vigils, but the mouse would always nibble his ear after five hours, which made sure his master got up! Then the fly, not to be outdone, would walk along every line in the psalm book as Mo Chua read it, so he would not lose his place. And when Mo had a pause, the fly rested in the same place until Mo began to sing the psalm again.

The time came when these three treasures died. When Mo wrote a letter to his friend Columba he shared these little bereavements with him. Columba did not brush these off as trifling or ridiculous. He replied in this vein: ‘Brother, you must not be too taken aback by the death of this flock that has been taken from you, for misfortune only comes where there are riches’.

Thank you, Lord, for the little messengers of blessing that you send
(if only I have eyes to see) from all around me.
When I lose these little comforts and familiar supports
help me to turn my eyes to you,
who are the Source of all true blessings
and my true and lasting Treasure.