Deir Mar Jirys - CHOZIBA


There was an old man who lived in the cells of Choziba, and the elders of the same monastery told us this anecdote about him. When he lived in his village (as a layman), he used to follow this practice: if he noticed that one of the villagers, on account of extreme poverty, had no means to sow his field, he would go by night, unknown to the owner of the field, bringing his own oxen and a suitable quantity of seed, and would sow the field of the other man. When he retired into the desert and took his abode in the cells of Choziba, the Elder kept his old compassionate feelings unchanged: thus he would go out to the road leading to the Holy City, carrying loaves of bread and water. And whenever he saw somebody tired out, he would carry his burden and ascend with him as far as the Mount of Olives; then he would come back by the same road, carrying the burdens of others, if he found such (as needed his help), as far as Jericho. You could see the old man sometimes bearing a big load and sweating, sometimes carrying a child on his shoulder: on occasions he even carried two. At another time he would sit and mend the torn sandals of men and women, for he used to carry with him all that was required (for this work). To some people (the old man) would give of the water he had brought to drink; to others he would offer bread. If he found one who had no covering for his body, he would give him even the robe he wore. And you could see the (old man) toil all day long. Also, if he ever found a dead man on the road, he would recite the (funeral) office on the body and bury it.

(transl. Leah Di Segni)

Story of a righteous old man from the cells of Choziba, from an early 7th cent. collection.