Lessons from the Saints of Africa

St. Moses the Black

St. Moses the Black

St. Moses the Ethiopian, a 4th-century Coptic Christian also known as St. Moses the Black, was once a bad man. He stole from his employer, committed villainous crimes, and killed people for no good reason. Not much is said of his conversion, but he led a stellar life once he'd traded his hell-raising for humility. Once Moses was called to an assembly of church fathers to judge another man. He arrived burdened by a basket on his back, with a hole in the bottom trailing sand. When they asked what it was, he said, "What I hold is my multitude of sins. I keep them behind me and they spill out, yet I come to judge my brother for a small fault?" Ashamed, the fathers forgave the offender.

If you're tempted to brood over past sins, remember they're behind you now. And should you have occasion to judge another, you may want to watch your back.

Claudia Mair Burney is the author of novels "Zora and Nicky: A Novel in Black and White" and "Wounded: A Love Story", as well as the "Amanda Bell Brown Mysteries" and "The Exorsistah" series for teens.

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