Going the Distance

When I read this “word” from Abba Agathon (a desert Christian from the early days of the Church), I was reminded of one of my favorite movies, Field of Dreams.  Read the account below and then what follows…

Going to town one day to sell some small articles, on the roadside Agathon met a cripple, who asked him where he was going. Agathon replied, “To town, to sell some things.” The other said, “Please carry me there with you.” So he carried him to the town. The cripple said to him, “Put me down where you sell your goods.” Agathon did so. When he had sold an article, the cripple asked, “What did you sell it for?” And he told him the price. The other said, “Buy me a cake,” and he bought it. When Agathon had sold a second article, the sick man asked, “How much did you sell it for?” And he told him the price of it. Then the other said, “Buy me this,” and he bought it. When Agathon, having sold all his goods, wanted to go, the sick man said to him, “Are you going back?” and he replied, “Yes.” Then the paralyzed man said, “Please carry me back to the place where you found me.” Once more picking him up, Agathon carried him back to that place. Then the cripple said, “Agathon, you are filled with divine blessings, in heaven and on earth.” Raising his eyes, Agathon saw no man; it was an angel of the Lord, come to try him.

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[the Theologian, St. Gregory; the Great, St. Antony; Athanasius, St. (2011-12-01). The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers (Paraclete Essentials) (pp. 122-123). Paraclete Press. Kindle Edition.]

In the movie, Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella is challenged with listening to a voice that guides him to closure with his deceased father.  The voice gives him periodic “commands” that will lead him on a journey of both discovery and reconciliation.  In one instance, the voice tells Ray, “Go the distance.”  In order for his dream to come true, he will have to go to the edge—of emotions, logic, and even geography.  Nothing Ray does makes much sense to anyone, but he can’t escape the gravity of his experience.

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It was in going the distance that Abba Agathon proved the depth of the love of Christ.  To most, Agathon’s “wasting” of his earnings on a demanding stranger makes little sense.  But we are not called to question the giving of Christ’s love, we are only called to respond with Christ’s love.  Agathon does this unwaveringly and quite literally goes the distance for the beggar who turns out to be an angel.

I pray that in the coming days you are challenged to go the distance, proving Christ’s love for the benefit of others.  Who knows, you may entertain a few angels along the way.

2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. —Hebrews 13

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