Holy Bible

FAITHFULNESS IN MINISTRY Having talked about the mutual relationships of love between the shepherd and his flock (Chapter 2), and having revealed the glory of the ministry of the New Covenant, entrusted to him (Chapter 3); Now he talks to us about his faithfulness in ministry amid the labors and afflictions. 1- The persistence on ministry 1 - 2 2- The rejection of the light by the wicked 3 - 4 3- The uprightness of ministry 5 - 7 4- The sufferings of ministry and the divine help 8 – 18 1- THE PERSISTENCE ON MINISTRY: Having proclaimed the glory of ministry, we see him here justify himself of the accusation directed by the false teachers against him and his co-workers, that they are deceitful, by which they got the situation upside-down, by interpreting the sufferings and afflictions the apostle and his co-workers are going through, as a proof of God’s displeasure with them, and that the divine grace has forsaken them. “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart” (1) While the false teachers interpret the abundance of the sufferings of the apostle Paul and his co-workers as a sign of a divine wrath, the apostle, on the other hand, sees in them the exalted mercy of God, that granted them the blessing and the honor to receive those sufferings for the sake of the ministry, which would certainly lead to the joyful hope. With the confirmation: “We do not lose heart”, It is as though he says: Although we confront many difficulties; yet, in all of them, experiencing the grace of the 101 joyful gospel, the spirit of despair or bitterness will never crawl into our hearts. Through the divine mercy and grace, Paul received the apostolic ministry (Romans 1: 5); and through them he was given the strength to persist on it. “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, because he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry” (1 Timothy 1: 12). Many heroes and great men suffer the feeling of inner losing of heart, even though millions would glorify them; on account of that they do not get in touch with the mercy and grace of God, and do not recognize the inner power that supports them. The apostle Paul, on the other hand, says: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15: 10). Paul refers his persistence, not to his worthiness, but to the mercy of God. which, at the beginning purifies man, then makes him righteous, adopts him as a son of God, and grants him a glory like that of his Father1. (Ambrosiaster)  This persistence on ministry is referred to the compassionate love of God, that would not only let us fall under the weight of our temptations, but let us rejoice as well, and speak with daring2. (St. John Chrysostom) “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, 1 CSEL 81: 220. 2 In 2 Cor, Hom. 8: 1. 102 but by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2) With the intention to walk blamelessly, the apostle did not allow himself to practice anything of shame or disgrace, done by the wicked even in darkness. Some believe that he talks here about the behavior of some false teachers, particularly those of Jewish origin, who practiced carnal faults in secret; that made some of them take the side of that man who committed sexual immorality with his father’s wife. The apostle did not walk in craftiness (Panourgia), but in perfect simplicity and open heart, he did not cover his behavior with glittering appearances that hide beneath them ugly things.  He who takes upon himself a leading role is committed to have more splendor than any bright star; and to have such a blameless life, that would let everyone look up at him and imitate his example1.  “Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he falls into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3: 7). As even the idol worshipers revere a blameless man, I wish we also live accordingly, to let no enemy or a nonbeliever talk evil against us; he, whose life is blameless, would truly shut up the mouths of adversaries2. (St. John Chrysostom) The apostle and his co-workers did not handle the word of God deceitfully, but they clearly uttered the evangelic truth. Some . 1 الحب الرعوي، 1965 ، ص 654 . 2الحب الرعوي، 1965 ، ص 655 103 believe that the Apostle, by that, refers to what the deceitful gamblers and bargainers do in the market places, who mix the good things with the bad. The apostle and his co-workers present the truth from their whole consciences to be enjoyed by the consciences of the listeners. It is the ministry of the heart to the heart; by which the true ministers utter the truth, for no other goal than the love of the truth itself. They do not care for the verdict of others on them, but only for the testimony of their own hidden consciences, even though they do not reveal them; namely the testimony of their own depths, seen only by God.  Paul speaks here about the circumcision, to which the false apostles who recently entered into faith from among the Gentiles, have committed themselves1. (Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus)  Knowing that Christ is the true Light (John 1: 9); we learn that it is necessary for our life to be enlightened by the rays of the true light. But virtues are the rays of the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4: 2), that emerge to enlighten us, through which we cast off the works of darkness (Romans 13: 12); walk properly as in the day (Romans 13: 13), and renounce the hidden things of shame (2). Doing everything in the light, we, ourselves will become the light, and give it to all those around us (Matthew 5: 15-16). If we know Christ as “sanctification” (1 Corinthians 1: 30), in whom every work becomes pure and well-established, let us then prove by our life that we, ourselves, are partakers of His 1 PG 82: 399. 104 name, harmonizing in action and words with the power of His sanctification1.  We are committed to bare ourselves of all those “garments of skin” covering us (See Genesis 3: 21), namely, the carnal wisdom. We are committed to deny all the shameful things done in secret, and not to be covered by “the fig leaves” of this bitter world. And once we tear off those covers of this mortal life, it would be befitting of us to stand again in the sight of our Creator, to resist all the deceptions of taste and vision, and to let ourselves be led only the commandments of God, instead of the poison spat by the serpent2. (St. Grgory, Bishop of Nyssa)  Look at how his light shines before men, when they see his good works3. (St. Augustine) 2- THE REJECTION OF LIGHT BY THE WICKED: “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing” (3) If the gospel preached by the apostle is (kekalummenon), namely, is veiled like Moses’ face, it is as such to those who by their own will became blind. When a veil is put on man’s heart, it would be a sign that he became among those who perish under the authority of sin, who deliver themselves to evil. Jesus Christ came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10: 6; 18: 11; 1 On Perfection. 2 On Virginity, 12. 3 Sermons on New Testament Lessons, 4: 1. 105 Luke 9: 10), to seek and to save those who are lost. He is the Good Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and goes after the one which is lost until he finds it (Matthew 18: 21; Luke 15: 4). The apostle means to clarify here that, even if the gospel is veiled, the fault is not in the gospel itself, nor in the ministers who preach it, but in those who persist on keeping themselves lost and destroyed, and do not respond to the divine call.  It is only veiled to nom-believers, and not to all; like it was with Moses’ face that was veiled to all Israel in the Old Covenant1. (Severian, Bishop of Gebalah) “Whose minds, the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (4) Another cause that the gospel stay veiled for some, is their response to the god of this age who blinds the insight of nonbelievers, darkens their understanding, to remain under his authority of darkness, in ignorance and rebellion, to be deprived of the divine Light. Whom does he mean by “the god of this age” but “the ruler of this world” (John 16: 11), under whose authority the kingdoms and glories of this world have fallen? (Matthew 4: 8-9). However, some believe that by “the god of this age” he means God Himself who takes His grace away from the wicked because their persistence on disobedience, that deprives them from the light, as “To them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing 1 Pauline Comm. From the Greek Church. 106 you will see and not perceive. For the heart of this people has grown dull; Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their heart and turn, so that I should heal them’” (Matthew 13: 14-15; Isaiah 6: 9); As it is written: ‘God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, to this very day’” (Romans 11: 8); And as it came in (1Timothy 1: 17) about God that He is “the King Eternal”.  The “god of this age’ does not refer to Satan, nor to any other god as claimed by the followers of Mani, but to the Great God of this world, who blinded the minds of the non-believers of this world. As in the world to come, there will be not be any nonbeliever, who are only in this world1.  We confirm that this expression talks, not about Satan, but about the God of all2. (St. John Chrysostom)  He means the God of heaven; not just the God of this age, but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God of all3. (St. Theophylact) Saints Erinaos, John Chrysostom, Augustine, the scholar Tertullian, Father Theodoret, and others, believe that this text means: [God has blinded the minds of non-believers of this age. 1 In 2 Cor. Hom 8: 2. 2 In 2 Cor. Hom 8: 2. PG 61: 493. 3 Theophylact. PG 124: 236 A. 107  If the Son of God is not alone the true Light, and the creatures share with Him this feature, … Why then, should the saints cry out loudly to God: “Send out Your Light and Your truth” (Psalm 43: 3)? … If man is not in need of the Word who enlightens, Why then should the saints seek from Him to enlighten them, if He cannot help them?, The Only-begotten Son, therefore, differs from the creatures, in being the Light who enlighten those in the darkness. If we need light from some other source, we therefore, very clearly, are not the true light; and we do not have the same nature of the Word, who surpasses us with no limit1.  The light is not responsible for those who are not enlightened; as it is the case with the sun that shines over all, and would not be blamed for not benefiting the blind who is not able to see it. The Word, the true Light, the Only-begotten Son, who enlightens all, in a similar way shed His light; yet the sick creation did not receive the light; And as the apostle Paul says: “The minds of non-beloevers are blinded,, lest the light of the knowledge of God should shine on them” (4) 2. (St. Cyril the Great)  Every non-believer is of this world; No one who has overcome the world, and has become worthy of the world to come, could be blinded in his understanding; as his eyes are enlightened3. (St. Dedymus the blind) 1 Comm. On John, book 1 ch. 8. 2 Comm. On John, book 1 ch.9: 24. 3 Pauline Comm. From the Greek Church. 108  Paul says that unbelief is confined to this world; on account that, in the world to come, the truth will be obvious for everyone1. (Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus)  Beloved children, Our divine Teacher is like God, His Father … He is without sin, and is Blameless … manifested in a human form, He realizes the will of His Father; … He is God the Word, who is in the bosom of the Father, and on His right hand; and in His same nature; He is the exact image of God (4). It is befitting of us to liken Him in Spirit, as much as we can; … but we should strive with our whole might and as much as possible, to be without sin, Nothing for us is more important than to uproot from ourselves, any diversion we are used to. The high perfection would naturally be, not to sin in any way, which would only concern God! The exaltation that could follow, is that man would not sin on purpose, which befits the wise. The third level is that sin would only come in rare occasions; a sign of a very learned man. Finally, as the lowest level, we should postpone the fault to few moments; that would concern those who call to reform what befell them of loss, and their repentance, as a step on the way of salvation2. (St. Clement of Alexandria)  He is the image, of His same essence. He is from the Father, And the Father is not from him, The nature of the image, to be the produce of the Origin whose name it carries. But here there 1 PG 82: 399. 2 Paedogogus 2: 4. 109 is more than that. In the regular language, the Image is a still representative of something moving; But in the present case, it is a living Reproduction of the (One) living Being, and is more similar to the production of Sheth of Adam (Genesis 5: 3); or any son of his father1. (St. Gregory the Great)  What is the face of God like? It is definitely like His image! According to the words of the apostle: “He is the image of the Father in His Son” (Colossians 1: 15). By His image, He shines on us, namely, His image – His Son -- shines on us, for Him to shine on Us; Because the light of the Father is the light of the Son; Whoever sees the Father, also sees the Son; and Who sees the Son, also sees the Father. As there is no difference between glory and glory, it is the same glory2. (St. Jerome)  The Son of God is the Word, the righteousness. But every sinner is under the authority of the ruler of this age (4); as every sinner is a friend of this evil present age; on account of that he does not deliver himself to Him, who gave Himself up for our sins, to save us from this evil present age, according to the will of our God and Father, and according to what came in the epistle to the Galatians (1: 4). As he who sins, by his own free will, is under the tyranny of the ruler of this age, and is ruled by sin, Paul commands us not to submit to sin that intends to have us under 1 Theological Orations 4: 20. 2 Homily 6 on Psalm 66 (67) (FC 48: 54). 110 its authority, saying: “Therefore, do not let sin rein in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lust” (Romans 6: 12)1. (The scholar Origen) 3- THE UPRIGHTNESS OF MINISTRY: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (5) The sign of the uprightness of his ministry is to present himself as their servant to preach Christ, and not to preach himself. What preoccupies him is to present Christ’s mind, love, work, and divine Person, and not to present Himself. The lust of his heart is to minister to the world to receive the Lord and Savior of the world. The apostle is not ashamed to call himself their servant (doulous), as that is his true deep feeling; and that is according to the divine call he has got. His desire is not o preach by his wisdom, ability, or self righteousness, but to testify to the Messiah, that He is the Lord of authority on heaven and earth, who reconciles humanity to God the Father.  It is not us, but Him who establishes our faith, by which He receives and justifies us2. (St. Dedymus the blind)  Humbly expressing himself, Paul talks in a certain way to reveal that he was not preaching the gospel to his own account, but for the glory of the Lord Christ, whom he obeys3. (Ambrosiaster) 1 On Prayer 25: 1. 2 Pauline Comm. From the Greek Church. 3 CSEL 81: 222. 111  I am a servant, nothing but a servant to those who receive the gospel. I practice everything to the account of Christ; and do everything for His glory. Therefore, when you oppose me, you actually dishonor God1.  If you so minister, you are not a servant; If you do it out of principle, by a good intention, from the heart, and for the sake of Christ. This is the bondage practiced by the free Paul, and which he strongly proclaims, saying: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (5). Look how he bares your bondage of its meaning; Like if someone robs another, then gave him back more than what he took from him, he would not be considered as a robber, but as a doer of good2. (St. John Chrysostom)  To realize the fruits of humility, and the punishment of greed, imitate the Lord by loving one another; Do not fear death or any other punishment, for the sake of the good of the other, but into the way that God entered for your sake, enter for the sake of others, working unceasingly with one body, and one soul for the high call, for the sake of the loving God, and for the sake of one another; For the love and fear of God are the first consummation of the law3. (St. Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa) The apostle Paul here, proclaiming that he preaches in the name of the Lord, and not in his own name, he feels that he, 1 In 2 Cor. Hom. 8: 3. 2 In Ephes., hom 22. 3 On the Christian Model of lufe (FC 5: 147). 112 together with the children of his Lord, are in need of His divine help. And if it was the pleasure of His Lord, to accept to be a servant of men to grant them the sonhood to God; Would he, as an apostle, not share with His Lord His pleasure, and become, in his turn, a servant of men?  “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guard the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127: 1) … As stewards of God, we watch over you; yet, we wish that He watches over us together with you. We may be your shepherds, yet we are ourselves as well under God’s care, as your fellow sheep. We may be your teachers, yet, as far as the Lord, the divine teacher is concerned, we are your fellow disciples. If we wish for the glorified Lord to keep us, He who humbled Himself for our sake, to keep us; Let us as well, be humble, and count ourselves as nothing; As nobody has any good, that he has not got from God, He who is alone Good1. (St. Augustine) “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory in the face of Jesus Christ” (6) The apostle Paul looks at the enjoyment of the inner enlightenment, as a work of creation, that no one can realize except God Himself. Here, he refers to what came in the book of Genesis 1: 3, where God said: “Let there be light”, when the darkness was covering the face of the earth, “and there was light”. So He looks .137- 1الحب الرعوي، 1965 ، ص 136 113 at our hearts, on which the darkness of ignorance prevail, to shine on them with His divine light, to get enlightened by the heavenly knowledge, and to give it to others. As to saying: “In the face of Jesus Christ”, this enlightenment is realized by Christ, in whom we will enjoy the fellowship of His divine glory, and bear his righteousness and holiness.  Do you see how Paul show the glory that shined on Moses’ face, shining with great splendor on those wishing to see him? It shines in our hearts, as it did on Moses’ face (Exodus 34: 29- 35). He reminds them of what happened at the time of creation (Genesis 1: 3); then he confirms that this renewable creation is greater1. (St. John Chrysostom)  The un-seen divine nature perpetually remains, and could be recognized in the Manhood of Jesus Christ, who shines with, and sends forth rays of divine light2. (Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus)  Saying: “God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts” (6), the apostle refers to the resurrection. He reveals that resurrection is a coming forth out of the old state, that was like hell (Sheol), in which man was imprisoned, and no light of the gospel secretly shined on him. Now this breath of life shines on him through hope in the resurrection, By it the dawn of the divine wisdom will shine in the heart of man, to become new, with nothing old in him3. 1 In 2 Cor. Hom 8: 3. 2 PG 82: 402. 3 Ascetical Homillies, 37. 114 (St. Isaac the Syrian)  “If you do not know, O fairest among women, follow in the footsteps of the flock, and feed your little goats beside the shepherds’ tents” (Songs 1: 8)…. This is the sure way to protect yourself; Meditate in how God created us in a level far exalted than that of the rest of creation; … In how, when He created the heavens, the moon, the sun, the beautiful stars, or any of the other things you see in nature, He did not create any of them in His image; Only you, He created according to the likeness of that nature that surpasses imagination, in the image of the eternal beauty; … and in having received, as well, the true divine blessings, and the seal of the true light, You will become like Him when you look at Him, and when you imitate Him, He who shines inside you (6), when His light is reflected through your purity1. (St. Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa) In our contemporary rite, two weeks before celebrating the feast of the glorious resurrection, namely the Christian Passover, we read in the Sunday of baptism, that precedes Palm Sunday, the chapter of the gospel concerning the opening of the eyes of the man who was born blind. This is on account of our belief that the holy baptism is actually an opening of our inner insight to behold the secrets of the divine love, to receive the entrance of Christ, the Light of the world into our inner Jerusalem, to enjoy Him, as the secret of the true Passover, as a secret of enlightenment that touches our personal life2. 1 Commentary on Song of Songs, Homily 2. .83- 2 ا رجع كتابنا: الروح القدس بین المیلاد الجدید والتجدید والتجدید المستمر، 1981 ، ص 82 115 By this we can understand the words of our Lord Himself, that without the holy baptism we cannot see the kingdom of heaven (John 3: 3, 5); Namely, without it, we shall not have the enlightenment of the inner insight that can perceive and enjoy the kingdom of light.  This cleansing – the baptism – is called enlightenment, on account of that, who learn these things, will have their understanding enlightened1. (St. Justin)  Our sins are forgiven by a great medication, by the baptism of the Word. By baptism, we are purified of all our sins, and instantly become justified from evil. That is, in itself the grace of enlightenment; that, after (changing our ways), we do not stay as we were before being cleansed; as knowledge comes together with the enlightenment, and shed light on the mind. After being before without knowledge, we instantly become learned by that knowledge granted to us. Learning leads to faith; and faith is given to us by the Holy Spirit in baptism2. (St. Clement of Alexandria)  Being baptized, we are enlightened; … Being enlightened, we become adopted; … And being adopted, we are consummate … This action is called by many terms: grace, enlightenment, consummation, and cleansing … It is called enlightenment, on 1 Apology 1: 16. 2 Kay's Writings of Clement of Alexandria, p 437. . القمص باخوم المحرقي (أنبا غریغوریوس حالیًا): القیم الروحیة... في سرّ المعمودیة، ص 27 116 account of that, by it we see the holy light of salvation; Namely, by it we can clearly behold God1. By three plunges, and three supplications, the sacrament of baptism is consummated, to abolish the image of death, and to enlighten the souls of the one baptized through the delivery of the knowledge of God2. (St. Basil the Great)  The enlightenment, namely, the baptism, is a helper for the weak, … a contribution of the light, … a scattering of the darkness. The enlightenment is a procession toward God; Walking with Christ is the foundation of religion, and the consummation of the mind. The enlightenment is the key to the kingdom, and a restoration of life. We call it a gift, a grant, baptism, enlightenment, the foundation of eternity, the non-corruption, the washing of the second birth, a seal, and everything honorable3. (St. Gregory the Nezianzen)  Baptism is the daughter of the day; Opening its doors, night would flee away, that into which all creation entered. Baptism is the great road to the house of the kingdom, He who walks along it will enter into the land of light. That attire you put on, O man, in the font of baptism, was prepared for you by the Father, woven by the Son, and sewn 1 Paed. 1: 6. 2 On The Holy Spirit 15. .856- 3 للمؤلف: الحب الإلهي ص 855 117 by the Holy Spirit. In the water of baptism, you descended, and was divinely clothed. In baptism, the Holy Trinity presented the fire to burn up iniquity, to let the souls live together with God1. (Mar Jacob El-Serougi) “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (7) Why do Paul and his co-workers not preach themselves? Because they are nothing more than earthen vessels, valueless in themselves, but their value is in the treasure they contain and preach. The original term (ostrakinois) means a very fragile snail. And as the calcareous shell of the snail includes inside it a soft live animal; The word of truth lies in our depths that are “earthen”, formed out of dust, mud, then burned by fire. In the Jewish literature it came that a princess went to Rabbi Joshua Ben Chananiah, and said to him: {How great is your knowledge of the law! And how ugly is your countenance! How could all this wisdom be contained in such a lowly vessel?! … Here, the Rabbi inquired from her about the vessels in which she keeps her wine; and when she answered that she keeps it in earthen vessel as every one else does; the Rabbi said to her that it is befitting of her, being the daughter of the emperor to keep her wine in silver vessels; which she did, and eventually became totally corrupted. When the emperor knew that it was the Rabbi who gave her this bad counsel, he called him. The Rabbi told him all the conversation between the princess and himself; to teach her that 1 میمر عن المعمودیة المقدسة 118 wisdom is not given only to those with nice faces, but also given to humble looking men like him, like an earthen vessel1.  It is the treasure they were given in this life to possess inside their souls, that “became for us the wisdom of God, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption”. … He who found the heavenly treasure of the Spirit, and possessed it, would by it, easily and without effort, consummate all the righteousness of the commandment, and all the virtues, with purity and blamelessness. Let us therefore supplicate to God, and seek from Him with the feeling of need, to grant us the treasure of His Spirit, to be able to walk in all His commandments with purity and blamelessness; and to consummate all the righteousness of the Spirit with perfection, through the heavenly Treasure, namely, the Lord Christ2. (St. Maccar the Great)  Do you still dare to boast your free will, and to dishonor the blessings of God, the Grantor of the gifts; when Paul, the chosen vessel clearly writes: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (7) 3? (St. Jerome) St. Jerome believes that the most valuable treasure, found in earthen vessels, is the Word of God hidden in the Holy Book; namely, in the letters of human languages4. 1 Adam Clarke Commentary. 2 Sermon 18: 1,2. 3 Against the Pelagius 3: 9. 4 Cf. On. Ps, hom 11. 119  “We have this treasure in earthen vessels”. Some others interpret this phrase in terms of the Spirit in the body. But I think that a better way to interpret it is that we have the most precious treasure, a divine treasure, in the Holy Book . written in such simple words1. (St. Jerome)  The greatness of the things, together with the weakness of those to whom they are granted, reveal the might of God. The expression “earthen” hints to the weakness of our mortal nature and fragile body, which is not any better than earthen vessels, that would easily break2. (St. John Chrysostom)  By treasures we understand those of knowledge, and hidden wisdom; and by the earthen vessels, the humble way by which the Holy Book are written, that would be despised by the Greeks, yet in which the exalted divine power is clearly demonstrated3. (The scholar Origen) 4- THE SUFFERINGS OF MINISTRY AND THE DIVINE HELP: “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; We are perplexed, but not in despair” (8) The Lord Christ confirmed to His disciples that “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16: 33); And the apostle Paul and his co-workers were surrounded by tribulations on every 1 Homily 11 on Ps. 77 (78) (FC 48: 84). 2 In 2 Cor. Hom. 8: 3. 3 Commentary on John, 4: 2. 120 side. Yet all those tribulations could not hinder his work; but they rather were a chance for him to discover the possibilities of God, God of the impossible, who can support, help, and turn the bitterness into sweetness. The apostle expressed what they went through, as that they were: a- hard pressed on every side. b- perplexed c- persecuted d- struck down Three of these terms were used in the wrestling contests ‘Isthmus’ that were held in Corinth; and the fourth term was used in sprinting. The expression “hard pressed” in Greek, came to describe him who falls into the hand of his competitor who wrestles against him, and could hardly complete the game…. The expression “perplexed” (Aporoumenoi) describes him who stands helpless, and does not know what to do before the ability and expertise of his adversary…. Although the apostle Paul experienced all those tribulations, Yet he was not crushed, nor fell into despair. Because by Christ Jesus, he could stand tall on his feet again, conquers, and get the crown of conquest.  All these tribulations do not mean that we utterly fall; but they are allowed by God as a kind of training and test1.  Tribulations and afflictions, not only come from enemies, but even from members of one’s own household and friends; 1 61: 498. 121 allowed by God, not for our defeat, but rather for our chastisement1. (St. John Chrysostom)  He who loves Christ, namely, the Word, would follow His lead as much as he can. Jesus, not only kept doing good to men, but, being treated with despite and blasphemy, he was longsuffering; endured without thinking evil of any of them; and ultimately died on their hands. In the absence of these three things, the works of loving one’s neighbor, he who claims that he loves Christ or bears His kingdom, deceives no one but himself2. (Father Maximus the confessor)  Unless those three things happen, there would be no proclamation of the greatness of God’s power3. (Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus)  God saves us from sorrow, not that we would become without sorrow any more; as according to Paul, we shall be: “hard pressed on every side”, namely, we shall never be without tribulation; Yet, with the help of God, we are ”not crushed” 4.  Because of that gift of love, the saints were never hard pressed by temptations, nor completely perplexed with doubt, or crushed when struck down; Yet their relatively light temptations will work to their account for the heaviness of the eternal glory. This description of temptations as only temporary and light, does not apply to everyone, but to Paul and those who are like him, 1 In 2 Cor. Hom. 9: 1. 2 The Four Hundred Chapters on Love, 55. 3 PG 82: 4-2. 4 On Prayer 30: 1. 122 through being given the complete love of God in Jesus Christ, poured in their heart by the Holy Spirit1. (The scholar Origen)  We should know that all men are tempted for three reasons: a- Mostly to test (justify) them. b- Sometimes to reform them. c- In certain cases to punish them because of their sins. To test them, as we read about the righteous Abraham, Job, and many other saints, who have gone through temptations. To reform them; when God chasten His righteous for the sake of little sins (non-voluntary), to exalt them to a higher level of purity; cleansing them from unclean thoughts; according to the sayings: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34: 19), and: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives…. For what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons” (Hebrew 12: 5-8). To punish because of sins; as it happened when God threatened to send pestilences on the children of Israel for the sake of their evil deeds, and saying: “I will send against them the teeth of beasts, with the poison of serpents of the dust” (Deuteronomy 32: 24); and the words of the Lord Jesus: “See, you have been made well, Sin no more, lest a worst thing comes upon you” (John 5: 14). The mind of a righteous man should not be soft like wax that would take the form of a hard seal pressing on it, then would 1 The Song of Songs, Comm. Prologue 2. 123 take the form of another; namely, would change according to the pressure applied on it; But we should instead, be as hard as the seal, itself, Our mind should keep its goodness and purity, and would instead seal, and leave its signs on everything else1. (Father Theodor) “Persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (9) The term “persecuted” (Diookomenoi) refers to a sprinter finds himself at the rear of the sprint race, not able to keep up with his competitors; And the term “struck down”, refers to a wrestler is struck down by his opponent. … By Christ Jesus, the former will surpass all the others, and the later will get up to overcome and be crowned.  God was to them like a Shepherd, when they were in need. He looked after them, to keep them safe against their adversaries2. (Ambrosiaster)  As to the ruler of this world (Satan), who gets his authority wherever he finds vanity and disturbance; he keeps away from him, on whose life, peace and order prevail, and on whom the Son of God reigns. . When this inner peace abides on the inside, all the persecutions provoked by the ruler of this world from the outside, would not be able to shake that well-established building; But the strength of the building on the inside will lead to the failure of the devil on the outside; The Lord says: .164- 1 للمؤلف: یوحنا كاسیان، 1998 ، ص 162 2 CSEL 81: 224. 124 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10) 1. (St. Augustine) “Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (10) Here the apostle talks about his continuous sufferings as conforming with those of Christ. It is as though the apostle partakes of the passions of Christ, which also work in the believers who carry the dying of the Lord Jesus in their bodies; who present an amazing example of receiving the passions of Christ with joy, and of proclaiming His life in themselves. For the sake of the evangelic truth, the apostle was expecting death every moment of his life. And like the wrestlers who carry in their bodies the scars of wounds and bruises they received from their opponents, and boast of them after they are crowned with victory; So Paul did,seeing the scars of his sufferings as sign of glory, being a fellowship with Christ in His passions. According to human mind, the apostle may die and his life may come to an end; But as Christ works in him, He grants him a new life every day, which is the life of Christ working in him.  Christ Himself partakes of the death of the martyrs; … Their sufferings are His sufferings; … His life purifies their bodies; … Their sufferings are a true testimony that they are qualified to gain the life to come, promised by Christ2. (Ambrosiaster) . 1 الموعظة على الجبل، 9 :2 :1 2 Csel 81: 225. 125  What does he mean by “the dying of Christ” which they carried with them? It is the daily deaths they went through, by which the resurrection is manifested as well. That is another advantage of the temptations, that they proclaim the life of Christ in our human bodies. What may appear like weakness and need, actually proclaim His resurrection1.  You may say that Abel was distinguished because he offered a sacrifice well received by God (see Genesis 4: 4). But if we examine the sacrifice of Paul, we shall find that it surpasses that of Abel, as heaven is higher than earth. If you ask me what I mean; I shall say that Paul kept on presenting a complete daily sacrifice; and his sacrifice was double as much, because: a- He died daily (1 Corinthians 31). b- He always carried about in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus (2 Corinthians 4: 10). All the time, he confronted dangers; he desired martyrdom; and by putting his body to death, he actually became a sacrifice offering, and even more than a sacrifice, because he did not offer an animal sacrifice, but offered his own body and blood as a double daily sacrifice. That is why he dared to say: “I am already being poured out as a drink offering” (2 Timothy 4: 6) 2. (St. John Chrysostom)  As far as we are concerned, having not benefited by His life, and fell into sin, He descended into our death; so that by dying to sin, we would carry in our bodies “the dying of the Lord Jesus”, to receive His eternal life. Those who perpetually carry in their 1 In 2 Cor. Hom. 9: 1. . 2 في مدیح القدیس بولس، عظة 1 126 bodies “the dying of the Lord Jesus” will also gain His life proclaimed in their bodies1.  In case man puts to death his human lusts, and by the Spirit puts to death the works of the body, he would perpetually carry in his body “the dying of the Lord Jesus” until he reaches a stage like that of an infant who has no feelings of sensual pleasures, and lacks the motives practiced by grown-ups. He would eventually have the emotions of a little infant; and would be considered the greatest in the kingdom of heaven2. (The scholar Origen) “For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (11) We, who are perpetually in the danger of death, live offering our life a sacrifice of love to the account of the Lord Christ, who is glorified in us, granting us the resurrected life. The scholar Origen believes that Christ Himself is the Lord of martyrs; the true Martyr who works in the lives of those who believe in Him. He (Origen), having gone though many eras of persecution, proclaimed that Christ allows for the martyr to suffer, and suffers together with him; then grants him the victory, crowns him, and receives that crown in Himself. He confirms that the absolute faithfulness of the Christian martyr, bears in itself a strong power of conviction, that can bring the heathens forth to see the truth3. 1 Commentary on John, 1: 35. 2 Commentary on Matthew, 13: 16. 3 Rowan A. Greer: Orgen, Paulist, 1979, p. 5. 127 “So then death is working in us, but life in you” (12) He says: we, the apostles, being in continuous danger, practice the dying on a daily basis; While the congregation, receive the gospel that grants them the new heavenly life.  So says Paul, on account of the fact that he and Timothy were threatened by death, having by their preaching among the Gentiles, incited the hate of both the Jews and the Gentiles1. (Ambrosiaster)  We endure His dying to reveal the power of His life2. (St. John Chrysostom)  If you believe that Paul was caught up to the third heaven and into paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for man to utter (2 Corinthians 12: 2, 4); You will be sure that you will get to know more and greater things that what were revealed to Paul. He eventually came down from the third heaven, but as far as you are concerned, you will not come down, if you carried the cross and followed Christ, our High Priest “who has passed through the heavens” (Hebrew 4: 14). If you do not apostate from following him, you will pass through the heavens upwards, not just over the earth and its secrets, but even over the heavens and their secrets as well3. (The scholar Origen) 1 CSEL 81: 225. 2 In 2 Cor. Hom. 9: 1. 3 Exhortation to Martyrdom, 17. 128 “But since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written: ‘I believed and therefore I spoke’. We also believe and therefore speak” (13) As David wrote: “I believed and therefore I spoke” (Psalm 116: 10), So we also believe that we have received the realization of the divine promises, and came to have the right to enjoy the eternal salvation, and the fellowship of the glory together with the Lord Christ. That what we testify, and about what we speak. What men of the old Covenant have believed through the proclamations of the Spirit, is the same as our faith; But hoping for enjoying it, it is befitting of us to testify to it.  Paul reminds us of Psalm 116: 10, that reminds us of the divine wisdom, and encourages us at the time of danger. The Psalmist uttered those words as he confronted the danger of death, and when there was no probability of escape except by the power of God. In like circumstances Paul says that we, having the same spirit, will also be comforted like he did. By that Paul shows the great harmony between the Old and the New Covenants, in both of which the same Spirit works. As men of the Old Covenant were in danger as we are; Therefore it is befitting of us as well to find a solution through faith and hope1. (St. John Chrysostom)  Moreover, our Intercessor, having been proclaimed to us, intends to reveal the secret of our renewal. Concerning the righteous men of the Old Covenant, the thing was hidden; although they as well were to be saved by the same faith proclaimed at that time. We would not dare to claim that the 1 In 2 Cor. Hom. 9: 2. 129 believers of our time are better than the friends of God through whom the prophecies were presented. God proclaimed Himself as the “God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob”; and gave Himself that title to eternity… As they believed in the incarnation of the Lord Christ, to happen in the future, while it was still hidden; We, as well, believe that it actually happened1.  Before His coming in the body they believed that He will come in the body. Our faith is their same faith: They believed that it will happen, While we believe that it actually did2. (St. Augustine) “Knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus and will present us with you” (14) Amid those sufferings that turned the apostles’ life into a perpetual putting to death, the resurrection of Christ shined on them, to make them enjoy the deposit of resurrection together with Him. The apostles did not fear death, counting it as the joyful way of resurrection, by which they would cross over, with and by Christ, to glory.  He who raised Christ from the dead, will also raise us up, if we do according to His will, walk according to His commandments, and love what He loves, keeping away from every evil talk, greed, love of money, and false testimony3. (St. Polycarp) 1 Letters to Dardandus, 186: 34 (FC 30: 248-49). 2 Letters to Optatus 190 (FC 30: 274). 3 Ep. To the Philippuans, 2. 130  Again, Paul fills the hearts of the Corinthians by exalted thoughts to save them from feeling indebted to the false apostles1. (St. John Chrysostom)  Paul believed that he together with the believers, through the Work of Christ, have become greater than death; and that all of them will show up before the awesome throne of judgment2. (Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus) “For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God” (15) By “all things” here he means the experience of suffering, the daily putting to death, and the deposit of resurrection and of the new life; All those experiences lived by the apostles are presented to the people. Suffering in the ministers’ life is the live way for gaining new souls, the edification of believers, and their spiritual growth.  God does not wish for anyone to be denied of His gift; Yet, as not everyone has received the word of faith, the apostle who knows the will of God, did not fear to endure persecutions and dangers, as long as he could preach to everyone, that many more would believe3. (Ambrosiaster) 1 In 2 Cor. Hom. 9: 2. 2 PG 82: 403. 3 CSEL 81: 226. 131  God did nor raise Christ for the sake of a single person, but for the benefit of us all1. (St. John Chrysostom) “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day”(16) Despair will never crawl into our life; As on the outside, the body with its senses may eventually grow old, and dissolve through sufferings and temptations; But the nature of the soul within, seen by no one, would receive the divine light and the new life, to enjoy the sanctified and blessed life, and would be renewed day by day. While the body grows old, the soul would enjoy renewal more and more.  The renewal of humanity starts in the holy font of baptism; proceeds quickly in certain individuals, and slowly in others; if we, carefully and without prejudice, look into the matter, The apostle says: “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (16); namely, that the inward man is being renewed day by day until he reaches perfection. Yet you should allow for him to start toward perfection. Do you truly covet that, or you are preoccupied with leading the ignorant in vanity to the truth, and not lifting the weak to strength2.  Man is not just a body, or just a soul, but is formed of both. The soul is not the whole man, although it is its better part; and the body is not the whole man, although it is the lesser part. When 1 In 2 Cor. Hom. 9: 2. 2 The Way of Life of the Catholic Church 1: 35: 80. 132 the two are bound together they carry the name ‘Man’. Although in a living man, each of them may be called ‘man’; We describe the soul as the inner man, and the body as the outer man, as though they are two and not one and the same man1. (St. Augustine)  At times of persecution the soul grows more, adds every day more experience of faith; that even if the body perishes, it reaches eternity through the worthiness of the soul2.  Even though the body may dissolve by scourging and torture, yet the inner man is renewed by faith, hope, and the will that looks forward to encourage those in agony; for the hope of the soul is proportional to the sufferings of the body3. (St. John Chrysostom)  He would not call her beautiful, unless he sees her image renewed day by day4. (The scholar Origen)  He who has better care in his heart, will care in particular for himself, by being true with himself, and will not cease to endure any sufferings for the sake of keeping himself away from defilement. In case his body is dissolved by hunger, or by his strife with extreme weather conditions; if he got ill, or suffered violence from anyone; he will not care much, but will respond to the words of the apostle Paul, and say in all his circumstances: “Even though our 1 The City of God, 13: 24. 2 CSEL 81: 227. 3 In 2 Cor. Hom. 9: 2. 4 The Song of Songs, Comm., Book 4: 14. (ACW) 133 outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (16). If man has to take care of his body as something necessary for his well being, he should do that moderately and within a certain limit to keep it active to serve the soul1. (St. Basil the Great) “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (17) The apostle believes that his affliction works to the account of his enjoyment of heaven, and that being temporary, it will eventually go away. Let us then make sure to use it, as it “is working for us a more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”. There is no comparison between the temporal earthly afflictions and the eternal heavenly glories. If the afflictions with all their weight and continuity in time, are compared to the glory prepared for us, they wound be counted as temporary and endurable. Here is how the apostle compare between the afflictions and the glories: the former being present, and the later futurist; the former temporary, and the later eternal; the former very light, and the later represents an exceedingly heavy weight.  If we do not have adversaries, there would be no battle, nor a reward set for the victorious; and there would be no kingdom of heaven prepared for us. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us as a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (17). And there would be for any of us, 1 Homily 21 on Detachment. 134 no hope in the great glory in the life to come, as a reward for the perseverance in the endurable afflictions1.  That temporary sorrow was not a simple thing for anyone, if not for the perfect love for God in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, pored in their souls2. (The scholar Origen)  According to Paul, our present sorrows are light, happening within certain frame of time and a certain place. But, for such a light labor, we shall acquire the glory in a degree that surpasses any measure3. (Ambrosiaster)  Here we see the blessed apostle, fixing his sight on the greatness of the reward to come, and belittling his persecutions without limits, says: “Our light afflictions, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (17). This he also confirms by saying: “I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8: 18). Therefore, whatever the extent of the strife of the human weakness is, it will not, by itself, reach the expected reward; and his strife does not mean that the divine grace is not free4. (Father Sherimon)  That is the way of the good: When they endure something for His sake, they would not care for anything that may happen, but 1 In Num. Hom. 14: 2. 2 Comm. On the Song of Songs. 3 CSEL 81: 227. 4 CassianL Conference 13: 13 135 would understand the cause behind it, and endure everything with self control. That is how Paul the great teacher of the Gentiles knew the prison, the trials, and the daily risks, and all such unendurable afflictions, yet considered them as light burdens; not that they were truly so by nature, but because of the glory they would lead to. Hearing him say: “Our light afflictions, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (17); Through expecting that incomparable enjoyment would easily help us to endure the troubles, one by one, and count them as nothing…. Do you see how the Love of God would make the troubles lighter to endure, and would even take away from us any feeling of them? Because of that, that blessed man, Paul, endured everything with self-control, leaning upon faith and hope for God1.  St. Paul has been one of the noblest men, and a role model of the exaltation of human nature, and its possibilities (through grace) in virtue. Speaking about the Person of Christ, and exhorting us toward virtue, Paul condemned those who believe in the corruption of human nature, and muted those who proclaim such nonsense, confirming that there is not much difference between angels and men, if the later intend to reach the level of perfection. Paul’s nature or his soul were not different from our own, nor he lived in a different world; but he used to live in the same world, and to submit to similar laws and customs, Yet he surpassed in virtue all humans in the past and the present. … Now, where are 1 Homilies on Genesis 25: 17. 136 those who claimed the difficulty of virtue and the easiness of sin?! That man condemns them by saying: “Our light afflictions, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (17). If his afflictions were endurable and light, our own afflictions would comparatively be rather nothing, or could even be considered as pleasures1!  The size and volume of the dangers Paul confronted, helped to increase the criticism directed against him, and led the critics to refer his greatness to some supernatural power. God allowed for him to suffer, that we may understand that his nature was just like purs; Yet his strong will made him, not only someone above normal, but as though equal to angels. By such spirit and body, he endured many dying experiences, belittled both present and future afflictions, and led him to utter such words, considered by some to be almost impossible: “I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9: 3) 2. (St. John Chrysostom) “While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (18) Sufferings are temporal, and could be felt by the senses. The physical eye can see what would dwell on man of afflictions, particularly those that may inflict his body. Whereas the spiritual . 1 في مدیح القدیس بولس، عظة 2 . 2 في مدیح القدیس بولس، عظة 6 137 glories are heavenly, and concern our fellowship with God, the unseen.  Paul says that those who long to the heavenlies despise the things of this world; for if compared to what they covet, they are considered as nothing1. (Ambrosiaster)  Our present sorrows would be light, and our future would be glorious, if we do not look at the things which are seen, and concentrated our sight, instead, on the spiritual things that are not seen. What excuse would we give if we chose the temporary things instead of the eternal ones?! Even though the present may be enjoyable, it will not last, while the sorrow it causes will. … It would be impossible for those who enjoy such a great gift to humiliate themselves by falling before the things of this earth2.  I implore you, O beloved brethren, to meditate in the troubles of this life; which even though cruel, yet they are of short duration; whereas the good things that are to dwell upon us in the life to come, are eternal and everlasting. Therefore, I wish we endure what we confront without complaining, and not cease to strive in virtue, to enjoy the eternal and everlasting goodness3. (St. John Chrysostom) 1 CSEL 81: 228. 2 In 2 Cor. Hom. 9: 3. 3 Homily on Genesis 25: 24 (FC 82: 143). 138  In case you seek the temporary things, pray for them publicly and with an open door. But in case you seek the eternal things, let your prayers be secret; as you covet, not for the things which are seen, but for those which are not seen1. (Caesarius, Bishop of Gebalah)  Let us, therefore, endure with complete self-control; … Let us not care for the anguish, but for what we may acquire from it; Such a transformation, as you may see, is spiritual. There are many who covet to realize riches, and are preoccupied with ways to increase their wealth, in ways that, although they may imply great dangers on land and sea; yet they are ready to go through every risk with great enthusiasm, not caring for troubles through their expectations of wealth. … In a similar way, we are committed to concentrate our mind on the spiritual wealth and riches. We should rejoice and be glad, not caring for the things which are seen, but for the things which are not seen, according to Paul’s counsel2. (St. John Chrysostom)  David says for the Person of the Lord: “Listen, O daughter Consider and incline your ear, Forget your own people also, and your father’s house” (Psalm 45: 10). He who says: “Listen, O daughter”; He who asks her to forget her own people (her old habits), and her father’s house, is certainly a father This happens through dying together with Christ to this world; according to the words of the apostle: “While we do not look at the things 1 Sermon 146: 3. (FC 47: 310-11). 2 Homily on Genesis 63: 20. 139 which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, , but the things which are not seen are eternal” (18); Turning our eyes away from this seen temporal dwelling place, and lifting the eyes of our hearts up to the eternal things of benefit to us. This we can achieve when we are no more adversaries to God while we are in this life, proclaiming by our deeds and works, the way of the truth, about which the blessed apostle says: “For our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3: 20).  Forsaking all our faults, we, as well, shall ascend to the heights of the third kind; exalting, not merely over the things of this world, or those concerning men, but over the whole world around us, which may seem as though glorious; yet, looking at it by our heart and spirit, and seeing it as vain, and will soon come to an end; we shall bring to mind the saying of the apostle: “while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (18)1. (Father Pavnotius)  “The world has hated them because they are not of the world” (John 17: 14). The world has hated us since we started “looking at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen”, because of the teaching of Christ; not that we do not belong to the world of heaven and earth, but we do not even humans who belong to those on earth in our company2. 1 Cassia: Conferrencws, 3: 6, 10. 2 Commentary on Matthew, 13: 20. 140  The apostle Paul teaches us that the things which are not seen, are understood through the things which are seen; and that the things unseen could be seen through their relationships with, and their likeness to the things seen. The seen world could tell us about the unseen world; And as this earthly scene includes a certain model of the heavenly things, we can ascend from the lowly things to the high up things; and, by the things we see on earth, we can understand what concerns heaven1. (The scholar Origen)  To say that heaven, earth, and all things in creation are naught; or as the apostle describes as unseen; This does not dishonor the Creator of the universe; for we know from the Holy Scripture that all those things are not from eternity, and will not stay forever2. (St. Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa) 1 The Song of Songs, Comm., Book 3: 12. (ACW). 2 Against Eunomius, 1: 26. 141 AN INSPIRATION FROM 2 CORINTHIANS 4 GRANT ME TO ENSLAVE MYSELF SO THAT BY LOVE, I CAN ACQUIRE MANY FOR YOU  How could affliction destroy me? How could losing heart knock on my door? You, Yourself, O Creator of all, has become a servant, And by Your passion and cross, You opened the door to all. Grant me, amid my sufferings, to partake of your passion. Grant me to enslave myself by love to many; And by Your grace to acquire every human soul.  Your Holy Spirit grants me sanctification; To walk blamelessly, and without deception; You are the true Truth; To acquire You, I can think, utter, live the truth, and testify to it.  Let Your light shine inside me; To reflect it on my brethren; Even if it is veiled for the opponents, whose eyes, the devil has so corrupted, to see Your light in me as darkness.  I enjoy the splendor of Your icon in my depths; To preach to the account of Your kingdom, not to that of my glory. I am just a servant to them, and with them, for Your sake. Come to reign in my heart and in theirs.. To set the kingdom of the light inside me. To let me enjoy the enlightenment of knowing You.; That the night of ignorance would not dwell on me; But to remain forever in the daylight of Your knowledge.  Although I am just dust and ashes; Yet You did not despise me, but set out of me an earthen vessel; 142 To contain You in me, O You the Unique Treasure.  Let me enter by, and with You, into the narrow road. Let the sorrows dwell; You will turn my sorrows into unceasing joys. If the enemy cast me down; You will bring me by Your arms into the bosoms of Your love. You would never let me perish; But, instead of death, You would grant me the fellowship of the new life.  Let me bear the dying together with You, to enjoy the joy of Your resurrection. Let me die every day, to live with You. Let me, together with my brethren, experience the power of Your resurrection.  Let my outward man sing; As, with every dying for him, I will get to experience a renewal of my inward man. Let my body go through the temporal affliction; To make my body together with my soul enjoy the fellowship of the glory. Glory be to You, O You who raised my heart up to heaven; Glory be to You, O You who turned my affliction into an experience of heaven.

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