Ah Lek Sweeps the Floor





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Ah Lek Sweeps the Floor

Dr Alex Tang


Ah Lek has heard of the holiness and wisdom of Abba Ah Beng. He wanted to be a disciple of this holy man. One day, he packed his meagre possessions and set out for the Sow Lin Monastery. Presenting himself at the door, he requested admittance because he wanted to be a disciple of Abba Ah Beng. “Wait here”, he was told by a curt doorman, “Abba Ah Beng is meditating with his Bible and must not be disturbed.” So Ah Lek waited at the front door for 3 days and 3 nights. It must be a test, he thought, as Ah Lek is a fan of Hong Kong kungfu movies. Three days later, the door opened and the doorman peered out. “You still here?” said the surprised doorman, “Oops, I forgot to inform Abba Ah Beng about you.”

Ah Lek was brought before the holy man. Abba Ah Beng was the disciple of Abba Isaac of the Great Desert Fathers of Northern Egypt. As northern Egypt is closer to Jerusalem, these desert fathers regard their tradition as holier than those who follow the tradition of Abba Tau in the southern desert. Hence the expression, ‘holier than Tau.’ “So you want to be a disciple, do you?” Abba Ah Beng spoke, staring with piercing eyes at Ah Lek because he has misplaced his spectacles again. “Our Lord Jesus taught us to wash each other’s feet so you shall start your service by sweeping the monastery floor.” It was a large monastery.

Disciple junior grade Ah Lek swept the dinning hall floors, the corridors, the main sanctuary, the altar areas, the pews, the choir stands, the prayer rooms, the many cells in which his fellows monks lived, the cloisters, the gardens, the library, the conference room, the reception rooms and Abba Ah Beng’s living quarters. He swept in winter, spring, summer and autumn. Year after year, Ah Lek faithfully swept the floor of the Sow Lin Monastery. One day, he dropped dead from exhaustion. He found himself in heaven with Jesus.

“Welcome my good and faithful servant,” Jesus greets him with a smile, “You have been faithful in serving me in small things and now you will be rewarded with greater things.” Then Jesus gave Ah Lek a bigger broom for him to sweep New Jerusalem.


What is the moral of the story?


meditate on  Matthews 25:23

 "His master replied, `Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'



|posted 09 December 2007|



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 "spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"  


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