June 1, 2011

The Beneficial Tale of Metrios the Farmer

The following beneficial tale is recorded in the Greek Synaxarion of St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, and is to be read annually on June 1st.

In the area of Galatia and Paphlagonia, there was a farmer named Metrios. He would see his neighbor preparing his sons for Constantinople, where they would become officers and servants of the Emperor. Then Metrios beseeched God, saying: "Lord, if I am Your worthy servant, grant me a male child to lean on in my old age, and that I may glorify Your Holy Name." Having prayed, he went to the festival that took place every year in Paphlagonia, loading his carriage with whatever he needed.

On his return, Metrios stopped in a small forest that had water in order to water his animals. There, he found a pouch that had 1500 coins. As it was sealed, he did not open it, but took it and went home. He hid the pouch in a safe spot and did not tell anyone about it.

The next year Metrios returned again to the festival of Paphlagonia, and when finished he went and stood in the woods where he found the coins, and there he observed those who passed. There then appeared someone who was looking for something, heavily distressed. The farmer asked him why he was so distressed, and he replied that last year he had sold a lot of goods at the festival and had accumulated 1500 coins, but then lost them in this forest. Seeing that the farmer was poorly dressed, he despaired that he would be unable to help him. Then the farmer went and took from his carriage the pouch which he had found and showed it. The dealer dropped when he saw it, and out of sheer joy lost consciousness. The poor farmer helped the dealer recover by getting water for him, then he opened the pouch, and they counted the coins which were in fact 1500. The dealer then wanted to give the farmer 500, but he would not accepted anything. Less was offered, but the poor farmer would not take even one coin. So after both thanked God, they separated.

That night, when the farmer fell asleep, he saw in his dreams an angel of the Lord, who said that for what he had done God would grant him a male child which he was to name Constantine, and that the child would bring great blessing to his house. It happened after a certain time that the farmer's wife gave birth to a baby boy, which when he grew up was educated in Constantinople, and Emperor Leo the Wise elevated him to be a Patrician. This brought many riches to his family for many generations, and God rewarded the farmer this way for his act of honesty.

St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite writes the following note regarding the tale of Metrios the Farmer:

This blessed and grace-filled Metrios must be imitated also by contemporary Christians, that they may be granted the same blessings. Hence if they are to find anything that is lost, let them not hold on to it, because this is considered theft, even if they don't know to whom it belongs. Rather, let them proclaim its discovery, and when the one is found who had lost it, let them give it back without seeking back a reward. Christians ought to do that which is written in Canon 10 of St. Gregory of Neocaesarea: "...demand nothing as a reward for their discovery, and salvage, under any pretence whatsoever."

Translated by John Sanidopoulos