On this day, St. Moses the Black was martyred. This saint took the Kingdom of Heaven by force, exactly as our Lord Jesus Christ said: "The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." (Matthew 11:12).
In his early life, St. Moses was a slave to people who worshiped the sun. He was a mighty man who loved to eat and drink excessively. He killed, robbed and committed all evils. No one had the ability to stand up to, nor challenge him.
On many occasions, he lifted his eyes towards the sun, saying, "O Sun! If you are God, let me know". Then he said, "And you O God whom I do not know, let me know you."
One day, he heard someone saying to him, "The monks of Wadi El-Natroun know the real God. Go to them and they will tell you." Instantly, he rose up, girded his sword and went to the wilderness of Shiheet. He met St. Esidorous (Isidore) the priest, who was frightened when he saw him, because of his appearance. St. Moses comforted him by saying that he came to the monks so that they might help him know the real God. St. Esidorous took him to St. Macarius the Great, who preached to him, taught him the faith and baptized him. He accepted St. Moses as a monk and taught him to live in the wilderness. St. Moses dashed in many worships, and fought a spiritual fight greater than that fought by many saints.
However, the devil fought him intensively with his old habits of excessive eating, drinking, and fornication. He informed St. Esidorous about all the temptations which came upon him in his fight with the Enemy. He comforted him and taught him how to overcome the snares of the devil.
It was told about him, that when the elders of the Monastery slept, he used to go around to their cells and take their water pots and fill them with water which he brought from a well at a far distance from the monastery. After many years in spiritual struggle, the devil envied him, and struck him with a sore on his foot which made him sick and bed-ridden. When he knew that this was from the devil, he increased in his asceticism and worship, until his body became as burnt wood. God looked to his patience, healed his illness, and removed all his pains. The blessing of the Lord came upon him.
After a while, he became the Father and the spiritual guide of 500 brothers, who elected him to be ordained a priest. When he came before the Patriarch to be ordained, the patriarch wanted to test him by asking the elders, "Who brought this black man here? Cast him out." He obeyed, and left saying to himself, "It is good what they have done to you, O black colored one." The Patriarch, however, called him back and ordained him a priest, and said to him, "Moses, all of you has now become white."
One day, he went with some elders to St. Macarius the Great, who said to them, "I see among you one to whom belongs the crown of martyrdom." St. Moses answered him, "It is probably for me, for it is written: 'For all that take the sword, shall perish with the sword.'" (Matt. 26:25)
After they returned to the monastery, it did not take long for the Barbarians to attack the monastery. He told the brethren, "Whoever wants to escape, let him escape." They asked him, "And you O father, why do you not also escape?" He replied that he had waited for this day a long time. The Barbarians entered the monastery and killed him with seven other brothers. One of the brethren was hiding, and saw the angel of the Lord, with a crown in his hand standing by and waiting for him. He went out from his hiding place to the Barbarians and he was also martyred.
Beloved Ones, contemplate upon the power of repentance, and what it did for St. Moses. It transformed an infidel slave who was a murderer, adulterer and robber into a great Father, teacher, comforter, and priest who wrote rules for the monks, and a saint whose name is mentioned on the altar in our prayers. His Body is now located in the Coptic Monastery of El-Baramouse.
May his prayers be with us and Glory be to God for ever. Amen.