Monday, November 05, 2007

Honour the image of God, by being in agreement with all men

~by St. Ephrem the Syrian

This is the first Commandment,-Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy soul, and with thy might according as thou art able. The sign that thou lovest God, is this, that thou lovest thy fellow; and if thou hatest thy fellow, thy hatred is towards God. For it is blasphemy if thou prayest before God while thou art wroth. For thy heart also convicts thee, that in vain thou multipliest words: thy conscience rightly judges that in thy prayers thou profitest nought. Christ as He hung on the height of the tree, interceded for His murderers; and thou (who art) dust, son of the clay, rage fills thee at its will. Thou keepest anger against thy brother; and dost thou yet dare to pray? Even he that stands on thy side, though he be not neighbour to thy sins, the taint of iniquity reaches unto him, and his petition is not heard. Leave off rage and then pray; and unless thou wouldst further provoke, restrain anger and so shalt thou supplicate. And if he (the other) is not to encounter thee ill fury, banish rage from that body, because it is holden with lusts.

Thou hast a spiritual nature; the soul is the image of the Creator; honour the image of God, by being in agreement with all men. Remember death, and be not angry, that thy peace be not of constraint. As long as thy life remains to thee, cleanse thy soul from wrath; for if it should go to Sheol with time, thy road will be straight to Gehenna. Keep not anger in thy heart; hold not fury in thy soul; thou hast not power over thy soul, save to do that which is good. Thou art bought with the blood of God;1 thou art redeemed by the passion of Christ; for thy sake He suffered death, that thou mightest die to thy sins. His face endured spitting, that thou mightest not shrink from scorn. Vinegar and gall did He drink, that thou mightest be set apart from wrath. He received stripes on His body, that thou mightest not fear suffering. If thou art in truth His servant, fear thy holy Lord; if thou art His true disciple, walk in thy Master's footsteps. Endure scorn from thy brother, that thou mayest be the companion of Christ. Display not anger against man, that thou be not set apart from thy Redeemer.

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