Forgiveness – St. Nicolaj (Velmirovic) of Ohrid

250px-Nikolai_Velimirovic

That God may forgive us, let us forgive men.

We are all on this earth as temporary guests.

Prolonged fasting and prayer is in vain

Without forgiveness and true mercy.

God is the true Physician; sins are leprosy.

Whomever God cleanses, God also glorifies.

Every merciful act of men, God rewards with mercy.

He who returns sin with sin perishes without mercy.

Pus is not cleansed by pus from infected wounds,

Neither is the darkness of the dungeon dispelled by darkness,

But pure balm heals the festering wound,

And light disperses the darkness of the dungeon.

To the seriously wounded, mercy is like a balm;

As if seeing a torch dispersing the darkness, everyone rejoices in mercy.

The madman says, “I have no need of mercy!”

But when he is overcome by misery, he cries out for mercy!

Men bathe in the mercy of God,

And that mercy of God wakens us to life!

That God may forgive us, let us forgive men,

We are all on this earth as temporary guests.

Sayings of St Anthony the Great

St Anthony the Great

St Anthony the GreatFrom the Sayings of the Holy Elders

1. When the holy Abba Anthony was living in the desert, he fell into acedia (a lack of concern for his salvation/ indifference to spiritual things) and was darkened by many impassioned thoughts(logismoi). He said to God,”Lord, I want to be saved, but these thoughts will not leave me alone. What shall I do in my distress? How can I be saved?” A little later, when he got up to go out, Anthony saw someone like himself, sitting and working, then rising from work and praying, and again sitting and plaiting a rope, then again rising for prayer.” It was an angel of the Lord, sent to correct him and assure him. And he heard the angel saying, “Do this and you will be saved.” And when he heard this, he was filled with great joy and courage. He did this, and he was saved.

2. When the same Abba Anthony considered the depth of God’s judgements, he asked, “Lord, how is it that some die after a short life, while others live on to a ripe old age? And why are some people poor and others rich? Why do the unjust get become wealthy, whereas the righteous are poor?” And he heard a voice saying, “Anthony, pay attention to just yourself; these things are are the judgments of God, and it is not in your interest to learn about them.”

3. Someone asked Abba Anthony, “What must one keep in order to please God?” The Elder replied, “Keep to what I tell you: whoever you may be, always have God before your eyes. And whatever you do, do it with the testimony of the Holy Scriptures. And in whatever place you live, do not leave quickly. Keep these three, and you will be saved.”

4. Abba Anthony said to Abba Poemen, “This is the great work of man: always to take the blame for his own faults before God and to expect temptation to his last breath.”

5. He also said, “No one is able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven untempted” He even added, “Remove the temptations no-one would be saved.”

6. Abba Pambo asked Abba Anthony, “What should I to do?” and the elder said to him, “Do not trust in your own righteousness, do not regret things of the past, but control your tongue and your stomach.”

7. Abba Anthony said, “I saw all the snares of the enemy spread out over the earth and, sighing, I said “What could get through these?” Then I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Humility.'”

8. He also said, “Some have worn out their bodies in asceticism, but they lack discernment, and so they are far from God.”

9. He said also, “Life and death is from our neighbor. If we gain our brother, we gain God, but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ.”

10. He also said, “Just as fish die on dry land, so the monks who linger outside their cells or spend time with those of the world lose the intensity of stillness (hesychia). And so, like a fish to the sea, we must hurry to the cell, lest we delay outside and forget our inner watchfulness”.

11. He also said, “One who lives in the desert keeping stillness (hesychia) is delivered from three wars: that of hearing, that of speech, and that of seeing. Only one remains, that of fornication.”

12.  Some brothers came to Abba Anthony to tell him about the visions they had seen and to learn from him if they were true, or from  demons. Now, they had a donkey, which died on the way. When they finally reached the elder, he said to them first, “How did the little donkey died on the way here?” They said, “How do you know about that, Abba?” And he said to them, “The demons showed me.” So they said to him, “It was for this reason that we came to ask you, because we imagine things, and they often come true, and perhaps we were led astray (deluded)” Thus the elder informed them, by the example of the donkey, that their visions came from the demons.

13. Once someone hunting wild animals in the desert saw Abba Anthony joking himself with the brothers [and he was shocked]. And the elder, wanting to convince him that it was necessary sometimes to submit to the brothers, said to him, “Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it.” So he did. The elder then said, “Shoot again,” and he shot. And again the elder said, ‘Shoot,” and the hunter replied “If I stretch it beyond measure my bow will break.” Then the elder said to him, “It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brothers beyond measure, they will soon burst. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to their level.” When he heard these words the hunter was contrite and, greatly edified by the elder, he went away.The brothers, now strengthened left for their place.

14. Abba Anthony heard of a certain young monk who had performed a sign (miracle) on the road. Seeing some elders walking along the road and struggling, he ordered wild donkeys to come and carry them until they reached Abba Anthony. So the elders reported this to Abba Anthony. He said to them, “Tt seems to me that this monk is a ship full of goods but I do not know if he will reach the harbour.” After a while, Abba Anthony suddenly began to weep, to pull ouy his hair and to lament. His disciples said to him, “Why are you weeping, Abba?” and the elder replied, “A great pillar of the Church has just fallen (he meant the young monk). He said, “but go to him and see what has happened.” So the disciples went and found the monk sitting on a mat and weeping for the sin he had committed. Seeing the disciples of the elder he said, “Tell the elder to entreat God to give me just ten days and I hope to have made my defence” But he died within five days.

5. The brothers praised a certain monk before Abba Anthony. So when he came before him, he tested him to see if he could bear insults. And finding that he could not bear it, he said to him, “You are like a village which is beautifully decorated on the surface, but behind that is being plundered by robbers.”

16. A brother said to Abba Anthony, “Pray for me.” The elder said to him, “I will have no mercy upon you, nor will God have any, if you yourself do not make every effort and if you do not pray to God.

17. Some elders came to Abba Anthony, and Abba Joseph was amongst them. The elder, wanting to test them, the suggested a saying from Scriptures, and, from t youngest, began to ask, “What is this saying?” Each one gave said something according to his ability. But the elder said to each one, “You’ve not got it.” Last of all, he said to Abba Joseph, “What do you say this saying is?” and he replied, “I do not know.” Then Abba Anthony said, “By all means, Abba Joseph has found the way, for he said: ‘I do not know.'”

18. Some brothers were coming from Sketis to see Abba Anthony. When they were getting into a boat to go there, they found an elder who also wanted to come. The brothers did not know him. They sat in the boat, speaking the words of the Fathers, and from Scripture and again about their manual work. The elder remained silent. When they arrived at the moorings they found that this elder was also going to Abba Anthony. When they got there Abba Anthony said to them, “You found a good travelling comapnion in this elder” Then he said to the elder, “You found yourself amongst good brothers, Abba.” The elder said, “No doubt they are good, but their courtyard has no door, and anyone who wants can enter the stable and let the donkey loose.” He meant that they said whatever came into their mouths.

19. Brothers came to the Abba Anthony, and said to him, “Speak a word, that we  may we be saved?” The elder said to them, “You have heard the Scriptures. That should be good enough.” But they said, “We want to hear from you too, Father.” Then the elder said to them, “The Gospel says, ‘if anyone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.'” (Matt. 5.39) They said, “We cannot do that.” The elder said, “If you cannot offer the other cheek, at least allow one cheek to be struck.” “We cannot do that either,” they said. So he said, “If you are not able to do that, do give as you have received (i.e. do not return evil for evil),” and they said, “We cannot do this.” So the elder said to his disciples, “Make a little porridge for they are feeble. If you cannot do this, and will not do that,  what can I do for you? What you need is prayers.”

(There are 38 in total – I’ll add them later today)

(A more literal translation from: ΑΠΟΦΘΕΓΜΑΤΑ ΤΩΝ ΑΓΙΩΝ ΓΕΡΟΝΤΩΝ. Apothegmata Patrum. J.-P. Migne, Patrologiae cursus completus (series Graeca) (MPG) 65, Paris: Migne, 1857-1866: 72-440.)

The Recipe for Repentance

From the Pilgrim’s Guide to the Holy Mountain by Ioannis Komnemnos (1701, 1745)

μετανοια

A certain brother came to the doctor and asked him if there was possibly a plant or medicine that could be used to heal his sins.
The doctor replied, yes brother, learn how there is one that is most miraculous, listen:
Go, and take the roots of spiritual poverty and the flowers of humility.
Take the leaves of patience and the branches of prayer.
Bind them together and grind them with the pestle and mortar of obedience.
Sift this through the sieve of good thoughts.
Then place this in the sack of conscientiousness and drench it in the water of teardrops and then set fire to it under the flame of divine love.
When it has boiled for a while, empty it into the dish of discernment and mix it up with thanksgiving.

Then gather this up with the ladle of compunction and wring it out with cloth of confession and in this way you shall empty yourself of a multitude of sins.

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Are you a fly or a bee? Do you always see the good or the bad?

stpais1This has oft been repeated, but we cannot repeat it often enough:

“I know from experience that in this life people are divided in two categories.  A third category does not exist; people either belong to one of the other.  The first one resembles the fly.  The main characteristic of the fly is that it is attracted by dirt.  For example, when a fly is found in a garden full of flowers with beautiful fragrances, it will ignore them and will go sit on top of some dirt found on the ground.  It will start messing around with it and feel comfortable with the bad smell.  If the fly could talk, and you asked it it show you a rose in the garden, it would answer: “I don’t even know what a rose looks like.  I only know where to find garbage, toilets, and dirt.”  there are some people who resemble the fly.  People belonging to this category have learned to think negatively, and always look for the bad things in life, ignoring and refusing the presence of good.


The other category is like the bee whose main characteristic is to always look for something sweet and nice to sit on.  When a bee is found in a room full of dirt and there is a small piece of sweet in a corner, it will ignore the dirt and will go to sit on top of the sweet.  Now, if we ask the bee to show us where the garbage is, it will answer: “I don’t know.  I can only tell you where to find flowers, sweets, honey and sugar; it only knows the good things in life and is ignorant of all evil.”  This is the second category of people who have a positive way of thinking, and see only the good side of things.  They always try to cover up the evil in order to protect their fellow men; on the contrary, people in the first category try to expose the evil and bring it to the surface.

When someone comes to me and starts accusing other people, and puts me in a difficult situation, I tell him the above example.  Then, I ask him to decide to which category he wishes to belong, so he may find people of the same kind to socialize with.”

From Elder Paisios on the Holy Mountain by Priest-Monk Christodoulos, p.43-44

This metaphor is clearly based on the teachings of St. Basil the Great, on how we should approach secular learning.

Perhaps it is sufficiently demonstrated that such heathen learning is not unprofitable for the soul; I shall then discuss next the extent to which one may pursue it. To begin with the poets, since their writings are of all degrees of excellence, you should not study all of their poems without omitting a single word. When they recount the words and deeds of good men, you should both love and imitate them, earnestly emulating such conduct. But when they portray base conduct, you must flee from them and stop up your ears, as Odysseus is said to have fled past the song of the sirens, for familiarity with evil writings paves the way for evil deeds. Therefore the soul must be guarded with great care, lest through our love for letters it receive some contamination unawares, as men drink in poison with honey. We shall not praise the poets when they scoff and rail, when they represent fornicators and winebibbers, when they define blissfulness by groaning tables and wanton songs. Least of all shall we listen to them when they tell us of their gods, and especially when they represent them as being many, and not at one among themselves. For, among these gods, at one time brother is at variance with brother, or the father with his children; at another, |105 the children engage in truceless war against their parents. The adulteries of the gods and their amours, and especially those of the one whom they call Zeus, chief of all and most high, things of which one cannot speak, even in connection with brutes, without blushing, we shall leave to the stage. I have the same words for the historians, and especially when they make up stories for the amusement of their hearers. And certainly we shall not follow the example of the rhetoricians in the art of lying. For neither in the courts of justice nor in other business affairs will falsehood be of any help to us Christians, who, having chosen the straight and true path of life, are forbidden by the gospel to go to law. But on the other hand we shall receive gladly those passages in which they praise virtue or condemn vice. For just as bees know how to extract honey from flowers, which to men are agreeable only for their fragrance and color, even so here also those who look for something more than pleasure and enjoyment in such writers may derive profit for their souls. Now, then, altogether after the manner of bees must we use these writings, for the bees do not visit all the flowers without discrimination, nor indeed do they seek to carry away entire those upon which they light, but rather, having taken so much as is adapted to their needs, they let the rest go. So we, if wise, shall take from heathen books whatever befits us and is allied to the truth, and shall pass over the rest. And just as in culling roses we avoid the thorns, from such writings as these we will gather everything useful, and guard against the noxious. So, from the very beginning, we must examine each of their teachings, to harmonize it with our ultimate purpose, according to the Doric proverb, ‘testing each stone by the measuring-line.” 

From St. Basil’s Address to Young Men on How to Approach Greek Literature

A youthful take is here:

Saint Seraphim of Sarov

Originally posted on Monastery of Ypseni:

“You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgment. This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult, and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil.” – St. Seraphim of Sarov

Previous Posts:

Saint Seraphim of Sarov

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The Life of Saint Seraphim of Sarov

From the teachings of Saint Seraphim of Sarov

A Wonderful Revelation to the World.

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John the Blessed by Photios Kontoglou

The Nativity Feast having passed, St. Basil took his staff and traversed all of the towns, in order to see who would celebrate his Feast Day with purity of heart.

He passed through regions of every sort and through villages of prominence, yet regardless of where he knocked, no door opened to him, since they took him for a beggar. And he would depart embittered, for, though he needed nothing from men, he felt how much pain the heart of every impecunious person must have endured at the insensitivity that these people showed him. One day, as he was leaving such a merciless village, he went by the graveyard, where he saw that the tombs were in ruins, the headstones broken and turned topsy-turvy, and how the newly dug graves had been turned up by jackals. Saint that he was, he heard the dead speaking and saying: “During the time that we were on the earth, we labored, we were heavy-burdened, leaving behind us children and grandchildren to light just a candle, to burn a little incense on our behalf; but we behold nothing, neither a Priest to read over our heads a memorial service nor kóllyva, as though we had left behind no one.”

Thus, St. Basil was once again disquieted, and he said to himself,“These villagers give aid neither to the living nor to the deceased,” departing from the cemetery and setting out alone in the midst of the freezing snow.

On the eve of the New Year, he came upon a certain hamlet, which was the poorest of the poor villages in all of Greece. The freezing wind howled through the scrub bush and the rocky cliffs, and not a living soul was to be found in the pitch-dark night! Then, he beheld in front of him a small knoll, below which there was secreted away a sheepfold. St. Basil went into the pen and, knocking on the door of the hut with his staff, called out: “Have mercy on me, a poor man, for the sake of your deceased relatives, for even Christ lived as a beggar on this earth.” Awakening, the dogs lunged at him.

But as they drew near him and sniffed him, they became gentle, wagged their tails, and lay down at his feet, whimpering imploringly and with joy. Thereupon, a shepherd, a young man of twenty-five or so, with a curly black beard, opened the door and stepped out: John Barbákos—a demure and rugged man, a sheepman. Before taking a good look at who was knocking, he had already said, “Enter, come inside. Good day, Happy New Year!”

Inside the hut, a lamp was suspended overhead from a cradle that was attached to two beams. Next to the hearth was their bedding, and John’s wife was sleeping.

As soon as St. Basil went inside, John, seeing that the old man was a clergyman, took his hand and kissed it, saying, “Your blessing, Elder,” as though he had known him previously and as though he were his father. And the Saint said to him: “May you and all of your household be blessed, together with your sheep, and may the peace of God be upon you.”

The wife then arose, and she, too, reverenced the Elder and kissed his hand, and he blessed her. St. Basil looked like a mendicant monk, with an old skoúphia [soft hat], his rása [priests’ outer garment a kind of cassock] worn and patched, and his tsaroúchia [a traditional leather slipper, usually adorned with a pompom at the end of the shoe] full of holes; as well, he had an old empty-looking satchel.

John the blessed put wood on the fire. Straightway the hut began to glisten, as though seemingly a palace. The rafters seemed to be gilded with gold, while the hanging cheesecloth bags [filled with curing cheese] looked like vigil lamps, and the wooden containers, cheese presses, and all of the accessories used by John in making cheese became like silver, as though decorated by diamonds, as did all of the other humble things that John the blessed had in his hut. The wood burningin the hearth crackled and sang like the birds that sing in Paradise, giving off a fragrance wholly delightful. The couple placed St. Basil near the fire, where he sat, and the wife put down pillows on which he could rest. Then the Elder took the satchel from around his neck, placing it next to him, and removed his old ráson (outside cassock), remaining in his zostikó [inner cassock].

Together with his farmhand, John the blessed went out to milk the sheep and to place the newborn lambs in the lambing pen, and afterwards he separated the ewes that were ready to birth and confined them within the enclosure, while his helper put the other sheep out to graze. His flock was sparse and John was poor; yet, he was blessed. And he was possessed of great joy at all times, day and night, for he was a good man and he had a good wife. Anyone who happened to pass by their hut they cared for as though he were a brother. And it is thus that St. Basil found lodging in their home and settled in, as if it were his own, blessing it from top to bottom. On that night, he was awaited, in all of the cities and villages of the known world, by rulers, Hierarchs, and officials; but he went to none of these. Instead, he went to lodge in the hut of John the blessed.

So, John, after pasturing the sheep, came back in and said to the Saint, “Elder, I am greatly joyful. I wish to have you read to us the writings about St. Basil [i.e., the appointed hymns to the Saint]. I am an illiterate man, but I like all of the writings of our religion [once again, the hymns and services of the Church]. In fact, I have a small book from an Hagiorite Abbot [i.e., from Mt. Athos], and whenever someone who can read and write happens to pass by, I get him to read out of the booklet, since we have no Church near us.”

In the East, it was dimly dawning. St Basil rose and stood, facing eastward, making his Cross. He then bent down, took a booklet from his satchel, and said, “Blessed is our God, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.” John the blessed went and stood behind him, and his wife, having nursed their baby, also went to stand near him, with her arms crossed [over her chest]. St. Basil then said the hymn, “God is the Lord…” and the Apolytikion of the Feast of the Circumcision, “Without change, Thou hast assumed human form,” omitting his own Apolytikion, which states, “Thy sound is gone forth unto all the earth.” His voice was sweet and humble, and John and his wife felt great contrition, even though they did not understand all of the words.

St. Basil now said the whole of Matins and the Canon of the Feast,“Come, O ye peoples, and let us chant a song unto Christ God,”without reciting his own canon, which goes, “O Basil, we would that thy voice were present….”

Thereafter, he said aloud the entire Liturgy, pronounced the dismissal, and blessed the household. As they sat at the table, having eaten and finished their food, the wife brought the Vasilopeta [a sweet bread or cake baked in honor of St. Basil on the New Year] and placed it on the serving table. Then St. Basil took a knife and with it traced the sign of the Cross on the Vasilopeta, saying, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He cut a first piece, saying, “for Christ,” a second, afterwards, saying, “for the Panagia,” and then “for the master of the house, John the blessed.”

John exclaimed, “Elder, you forgot St. Basil!”

The Saint replied, “Yes, indeed,” and thus said, “And for the servant of God, Basil.”

After this, he resumed: “…and for the master of the house,” “for the mistress of the house,” “for the child,” “for the farmhand,” “for the animals,” and “for the poor.” Thereupon, John the blessed said, “Elder, why did you not cut a piece for your reverendship?”

And the Saint said, “But I did, O blessed one!” But John, this blissful man, did not understand.

Afterwards, St. Basil stood up and said the prayer, “O Lord my God, I know that I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under the roof of the house of my soul.”

John the Blessed then said: “I wonder if you can tell me, Elder, since you know many things, to what palaces St. Basil went this evening? And the rulers and monarchs—what sins do they have? We poor people are sinners, since our poverty leads us into sin.”

St. Basil said the same prayer, again—with tears—though changing it: “O Lord my God, I have seen that Thy servant John the simple is worthy and that it is meet that Thou shouldest enter into his shelter. He is a babe, and it is to babes that Thy Mysteries are revealed.”

And again John the blissful, John the blessed, understood nothing …

Originally posted here

A Christmas Sermon of St. Gregory the Theologian

Originally posted on Monastery of Ypseni:

Christ is born, glorify Him!

Christ from heaven, go out to meet Him!

Christ on earth, be exalted!

Sing to the Lord all the whole earth; and that I may join both in one word, let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, for Him who is of heaven and then of earth. Christ in the flesh, rejoice with trembling and with joy; with trembling because of your sins, with joy because of your hope.
Again, the darkness is past; again Light is made; again Egypt is punished with darkness; again Israel is enlightened by a pillar. The people who sat in the darkness of ignorance, let them see the great Light full of knowledge.

Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. The letter gives way, the Spirit comes to the front. The shadows flee away, the truth comes in on them. Melchizedek is…

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Kontakion on the Nativity of Christ

Originally posted on Monastery of Ypseni:

A Kontakion is a style of Eastern Orthoodox homily in verse, quite long, containing a repeating refrain.  Because of their length, the original scrolls were wound around a pole, and the word “Kontakion” is Greek for “from the pole.”  In modern times, the Kontakia have been greatly shortened, and just the Prelude or Prelude and 1st stanza are usually sung.

The following Kontakion of the Nativity was written by St. Romanos, who wrote the oldest Kontakia which are actually datable.   It is his best-known work, and is from the late 5th or early 6th century.

The text is based on Matthew 2:1-14.

On the Nativity of Christ
From St. Romanos the Melodist, On the Life of Christ: Kontakia (Archimandrite Ephrem Lash, tr.: Harper, San Francisco, 1995), pp. 1-12.;

Listen to the wonderful story of this Kontakion told by Frederica Mathewes-Green courtesy of Ancient Faith Radio

Prelude
Today the Virgin gives…

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Sorry about the Blogging Break

“The cares of this life have surrounded me like bees around a honeycomb, O Virgin, and they have seized and now hold my heart captive, and I am pierced with the stings of afflictions, Maid; yet be, O all-holy one, my defender and helper and rescuer.”  – The Great Supplicatory Canon to the Mother of God (Paraklesis to the Theotokos)

Apologies for not keeping up with the blogging challenge. It is the busiest time of  the school year, and I have been working more than my usual 10-12 hours in school. This week I had a couple of 15 hour days as well.

Christmas is still an event in the UK, so at school we had our Christmas show, Christmas bazaar, Christmas tree decorating, carol singing, and all sorts of Advent/Christmas things. One more week of school to go, but no big events – so hopefully we can get back to the blogging.

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Miracles of Christ on the Sabbath Day

Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh

9 December 1979

Jesus-Healing

In the name, of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

Time and again we read in the Gospel of the anger which the Lord Jesus Christ provoked by performing an act of mercy, a miracle of healing on a Sabbath day. And we cannot help asking ourselves a question: Why did He do it so constantly, so persistently, with such insistence? Could it be to challenge those who surrounded Him? Could it be to provoke them? Could it be simply a pedagogical action?

I believe that there is a great deal more in His action. The Lord created the world in six days; on the seventh day He rested of His toils and labours. But what happened to the world then? The seventh day was the day when the world came into the hands of man to be brought to its fulfilment and to its completeness; the seventh day, the Sabbath of the Lord is the day of man. The whole of human history falls in that day. But God did not leave man to work alone as the Lord Jesus Christ says in the Gospel, as reported by Saint John, My Father still works, He shows His work to His Son for Him to fulfil them. And in another passage He teaches us, He tells us that His judgment is true because it is not His judgment; He hears the words of the Father and that is the judgment He pronounces.

And so, history is the day of man, but man is called to be guided by the wisdom, by the love of God. It is because we are so often seeking for our own ways, it is because we do not ask ourselves what is God’s way in one situation or the other that the world has become so ugly, and so frightening, and so tragic. There is a Hebrew poem that describes the misery of this world into which man does not bring the love of God; it says, Man has ceased to believe in God and love has departed this world. Men have hanged themselves in forests, have drowned themselves in lakes, in rivers. Heaven is no longer mirrored in the lakes, in the woods; the bird does no longer sing songs of paradise, and the Prophet himself on his pedestal has become a mere statue.

Is this not what we have become? Not statues but so much alike the wife of Lot who turned back and who became a statue of salt. We have remained salt and yet we are petrified, immobile, we do not fulfil on earth this function of ours. And Christ shows us, by working His miracles, His acts of love and of compassion on Sabbath day, time and again, He Who is the only true man, the only man who is in total, ultimate oneness with God, what our part should be: take on the history of mankind, take every situation in which we or others find themselves, and carry them on our shoulders in an act of mercy and of love. A Western writer has said that a Christian is the one to whom God has committed the care of His world and of other people. Are we discharging this basic central commission of ours, do we care? We may care with tenderness, we may care sternly, but we must care. And then, this seventh day when God in His mercy and love has committed this world to our care, still can become the day of the Lord. And the City of man which is been built without God, which so often is like the Tower of Babel, may still unfold and attain the greatness and the holiness of the City of God in which the Lord Jesus Christ, true God but also true Man, is called to be a citizen, the heart of it, but also one of us.

Is not this call great enough? Is not God’s faith in us sufficiently inspiring? Are we going to defeat His hope, to reject His love for ourselves or for others? Or are we going to learn from the ways in which Christ fulfils His human vocation in the day of the Lord, shall we not learn from Him and together with Him build the world which God has dreamed, has willed and is still loving in his distress and so often in our betrayal of Him!

Let us learn to love one another actively, bear one another’s burdens, listen to the Living God when He speaks, listen with all our energy, look into His ways and be those who fulfil His will and bring the world to the perfect beauty He has willed for it! Amen.

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