Jacques Maritain Center
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The story of three monks who were not greedy for money.

Once three brothers hired themselves out as harvest labourers, and agreed together to reap a certain field. On the very first day of their labour one of them fell sick and returned to his cell. The other two remained, and one of them said to the other, "You see how a sickness has fallen upon our brother so that he cannot work. Do you therefore do violence to yourself, and I shall do likewise. We shall put our trust in God. Our brother who is sick will pray for us. It may be that we shall be enabled to do double work and reap his part of the field as well as our own." They did as they had hoped, and reaped the whole field which they had undertaken. On their way to receive their wages they called the brother who was sick, saying, "Come, brother, and receive your pay." But he said, "What pay shall I take, seeing I did not reap." They replied, "It was through your prayers that the reaping was accomplished. Come, therefore, as we say, and get your wages." Then there was strife between them, for he kept saying, "I will take no pay, for I have done no work"; and they refused to take any wages at all unless he got his share. At last they referred the matter to the judgment of a certain renowned elder. The brother who had been sick told his story first: "We three went to reap a certain field for hire. When we came to the place where we were to work, on the very first day I fell sick. I returned to my cell, and from that time on I did no work at all. Now these brethren come to me insisting and saying, 'Brother, come, take pay for work you did not do!'" Then the other two brethren spoke and said, "We did, as he says, go to work, and did undertake to reap a certain field. It was such a field that if we had all three been there we could hardly by great toil have fulfilled our task. Yet through the power of this brother's prayers we two were able to reap the whole field more quickly than the three of us expected to do it. Now when we say to him, 'Come and receive your hire,' he will not do so." When the old man who judged between them heard their stories, he marvelled greatly. Then he said, "Give the signal for the brothers to assemble." When they were gathered together he said, "Listen, brethren, to the righteous judgment which I give." Then he told them the whole story, and gave his decision that the brother who had been sick should receive for his own the share of the pay which ought to have been his. That brother, however, departed sorrowful, like one to whom an injury is done.

-- Wisdom of the Desert


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