Angels Unawares

I’ve been asked to repost this story from the past

While sitting in Murchie’s Tea and Coffee sidewalk cafe in Victoria, B.C., with my friend Archpriest Basil Rhodes, having a cup of coffee and a lemon scone, a homeless man stop behind me. The man was staring at our food, so Father Basil asked him if he was hungry. He answered with an enthusiastic “yes”, and when Father asked what he’d like to eat, he said “sausages and eggs”. Father Basil told him they didn’t have such a breakfast here, but passed a Canadian five dollar bill for me to give the man, telling him to find just what he wanted, elsewhere.

Another man, around thirty years of age, was standing nearby, listening to every word. As the homeless man walked away, the younger man walked up and confronted us with the question, “how could you give money to a junky? You are not doing him any good by giving him money. Aren’t you men of God?”

I responded by saying that it was not our place to judge anyone, to which he replied, in a confrontational manner, “he’s just going to buy drugs with that money. You don’t seem to be very intuitive”. I told him I’d worked with the homeless before, and that the man was hungry and deserving of our charity. The man said “cheers” and dismissively walked away.

A woman seated at a nearby table called over with the words, “good response”. She then came over to our table, knelt down beside me, and with tears in her eyes, identified herself as a social worker, and told us she’d been going through a particularly difficult time, and that the interaction she’d just witnessed had helped her immensely.

I then told this woman the story of the time I was walking with an elderly bishop of the Russian Church, and how I had spotted a filthy homeless man walking towards us. This man’s hair was disheveled, filthy with years of dirt, and was wearing torn clothing. He had no soles on his shoes, so with each step we could see the bottom of his feet. Instinctively, I took the elbow of the bishop, and attempted to get him to cross in the middle of the street. The bishop asked why, and I said, “Look at the crazy man coming towards us”. The bishop told me we were not crossing, but would continue.

When directly in front of the the man, the bishop stopped, reached out, taking the man’s filthy right hand into his own, and placed a twenty dollar bill into the man’s hand, covering the bill with the man’s left hand. At that moment the man looked up into our eyes, saying nothing. But looking back were the bluest, clearest eyes I had ever seen. They were not the eyes of a homeless man, nor the eyes of a deranged man, but eyes filled with wisdom and holiness.

As we walked away, I remarked about the man’s eyes, to which the bishop responded by saying, “We just encountered an angel unaware, and we were being tested,” recalling the words of Scripture, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2).

After the social worker left, a man seated at a nearby table remarked, “that was a remarkable story, and you made my wife cry”. This other couple had witnessed the whole of these encounters.

A moment later, the young man who’d judged us so harshly after the original encounter, returned. He came to our table, asked forgiveness for having judged us, and said he’d followed the homeless man, witnessing him “buying yogurt and fruit” with the money we’d given him. I stood up, told the young man that we’d forgiven him the moment we’d heard the words come out of his mouth, and I gave him a hug.

Only then did Father Basil and I finally taste our, by now, cold cappuccinos and lemon scones.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Friday June 1, 2018 / May 19, 2018
Afterfeast of Pentecost. Tone seven.
Fast-free Week. Fast-free

Hieromartyr Patrick, bishop of Prusa, and his companions: Presbyters Acacius, Menander, and Polyenus (362).
Venerable Cornelius, abbot of Komel (Vologda) (1537).
Right-believing Prince Demetrius Donskoy (1389) and Venerable Euphrosyne (Princess Eudocia) of Moscow (1407).
New Hieromartyr Matthias priest (1919).
New Hieromartyr Victor (1937).
New Hieromartyrs Onuphrius, archbishop of Kursk; Anthony, bishop of Belgorod, and with him priests Metrophan, Alexander, Michael, Matthew, Hippolytus, Nicholas, Basil, Nicholas, Maxim, Alexander, Paul, and Paul, and Martyrs Michael and George (1938).
New Hieromartyr Onuphrius, archbishop of Kursk (1938).
New Hieromartyr Valentine (1940).
Venerable Cornelius, abbot of Paleostrov and Valaam (1420).
St. John, prince of Uglich, tonsured as Ignatius (Vologda) (1522).
Venerable Sergius, monk, of Shukhtom (1609).
Martyr Acoluthusofthe Thebaid (284-305).
Venerable John, bishop of the Goths in Crimea (787).
Sts. Parthenius and his brother Calogerius (250).
St. Dunstan, archbishop of Canterbury (988) (Celtic & British).
Entrance of St. Nina (Nino), Equal-to-the-Apostles, into Georgia (323) (Georgia).
Monk-martyrs and confessors John, Conon, Jeremias, Cyril, Theoctistus, Barnabas, Maximus, Theognostus, Joseph, Gennadius, Gerasimus, Mark, and Herman of Cyprus, who suffered under the Latins (1231).
Synaxis of Hieromartyrs of Kharkov.
Martyrs Cyriaca and Theotima (311) (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

Matthew 11:27-30

27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Romans 2:14-29

14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

The Jews Guilty as the Gentiles

17 Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, 18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. 21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.

Circumcision of No Avail

25 For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which isoutward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

Matthew 5:33-41

Jesus Forbids Oaths

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

Go the Second Mile

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon is Igumen of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.


  1. Thank you for sharing this story again….it’s so touching and humbling. God bless and have a good day!

    1. Thank you, Fr. Tryphon, A wonderful experence , I have had just such encounters in my life as well, I think to be given in Christ in the angelic life is a special grace, after reading, the life of St Ignatius of Antioch , his understanding of the Bishop and servitude as well as a witness of Christ as Martyerdom, as what a true Christian is………..Who then has a heart to bear the Cross of Christ for a Priest? or
      a Bishop???…………..For such is the Kingdom of God , in Christ…….in whom we belong. Glory be to God in all things.

  2. Thank you for sharing the story. Our Lord has forgiven us with grace so we too should love with grace. Love with out requirements

  3. Father, I too have recoiled in disgust at the sight of a homeless man sitting among his piles of precious earthly belongings contained in old garbage bags.
    Something has stopped me from walking by ignoring him many times. Instead I’ve either given food or some money.
    Countless times looking back at me among the discarded heap, have been the most unearthly, piercing crystal blue eyes.
    Changing me forever.

  4. Thank You for this story today. This morning we captured a community cat, with an injured paw and took him to the SPCA to have what appears to be ingrown toe nails removed. We’ve been feeding Mr. Midnight and his companion, Miss Fluffy, for over 15 years, but have never petted either of them. Please pray with us that he will be well and able to rejoin his friend in a very short time. May it be it be God’s will! Dear Saint Mamas, Please help! Thank you. I am also praying for my dear friend Jude, who captured him for me.

  5. Thank you Abbot Tryphon for sharing this story today, particularly after your 5/31/18 post regarding being a “compassionate people”. Both posts are timely reminders to treat others with compassion without a judgmental attitude and to share our abundance in the same way. Your post on simple living is a great tie-in to the central point of sharing. We all probably have a great deal more than we need and could/would benefit from divesting ourselves of the excess through giving to others.

  6. I remember this fondly from a previous podcast. A reminder that we need to give, but it is not necessary to judge how the gift will be used.

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