Saturday, June 18, 2016
Call me Brother not Lord
'Not only has God created man, as I say, but he created him perfect. He has given him the whole world; after the departure from paradise he has given him two angels to guard him, he has sent him the prophets, he has granted him the Law, he has granted him the faith, every moment he delivers him from Satan, he is fain to give him paradise; no more, God wills to give himself to man. Consider, then, the debt, if it is great! [a debt] to cancel which you would need to have created man of yourselves out of nothing, to have created as many prophets as God has sent, with a world and a paradise, no, more, with a God great and good as is our God, and to give it ne all to God. So would the debt be cancelled and there would remain to you only the obligation to give thanks to God. But since you are not able to create a single fly, and seeing there is but one God who is lord of all things, how shall you be able to cancel your debt? Assuredly, if a man should lend you an hundred pieces of gold, you would be obliged to restore an hundred pieces of gold.
Accordingly, the sense of this, O brother, is that God, being lord of paradise and of everything, can say that which pleases him, and give whatsoever pleases him. Wherefore, when he said to Abraham: "I will be your great reward," Abraham ;could not say: "God is my reward," but "God is my gift and my debt." So when you discourse to the people, O brother, you ought thus to explain this passage: that God will give to man such and such things if man works well. When God shall speak to you, O man, and shall say: "O my servant, you have wrought well for love of me; what reward seek you from me, your God?" answer you: "Lord, seeing I am the work of your hands, it is not fitting that there should be in me sin, which Satan ;loves. Therefore, Lord, for your own glory, have mercy upon' the works of your hands.
And if God say: "I have pardoned you, and now I would fain reward you"; answer you: "Lord, I merit punishment for what I have done, and for what you have done you merit to be glorified. Punish, Lord, in me what I have done, and save that which you have wrought." And if God say: "What punishment seems to you fitting for your sin?" do you answer; "As much, O Lord, as all the reprobate shall suffer." And if God say: "Wherefore seek you so great punish. men, O my faithful servant?" answer you: "Because every one of them, if they had received from you as much as I have received, would have served you more faithfully than I [have done]." And if God say: "When will you receive this punishment, and for how long a time?" answer you: "Now, and without end." As God lives, in whose presence my soul stands, such a man would be more pleasing to God than all his holy angels. For God loves true humility, and hates pride.'
Then the scribe gave thanks to Jesus, and said to him, 'Lord, let us go to the house of your servant, for your servant will give meat to you and to your disciples.' Jesus answered: 'I will come thither when you will promise to call me "Brother" and not "Lord,"; and shall say you are my brother, and not my servant.' The man promised, and Jesus went to his house.
While they sat at meat the scribe said: 'O master, you said that God loves true humility. Tell us therefore what is humility, and how it can be true and false.' [Jesus replied: ] "Truly I say to you that he who becomes not as a little child shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Every one was amazed at hearing this, and they said one to another: 'Now how shall he become a little child who is thirty or forty years old? Surely, this is a hard saying.'
Jesus answered: 'As God lives, in whose presence my soul stands, my words are true. I said to you that [a man] has need to become as a little child: for this is true humility. For if you ask a little child: "Who has made your garments?" he will answer: "My father." If you ask him whose is the house where he lives, he will say: "My father's." If you shall say: "Who gives you to eat?" he will reply: "My father." If you shall say: "Who has taught you to walk and to speak?" he will answer; "My father." But if you shall say: "Who has broken your forehead, for that you have your forehead so bound up?" he will answer: "I fell down, and so did I break my head."
If you shall say: "Now why did you fall down?" he will answer: "See you not that I am little, so that I have not the strength to walk and run like a grown man? so my father must needs take me by the hand if I would walk firmly. But in order that I might learn to walk well, my father left me for a little space, and I, wishing to run, fell down." If you shall say: "And what said your father?" he will answer: "Now why did you not walk quite slowly? See that in future you leave not my side."
Tell me, is this true?' said Jesus. The disciples and the scribe answered: 'It is most true.' Then Jesus said: 'He who in truth of heart recognizes God as the author of all good, and himself as the author of sin, shall be truly humble. But whoever shall speak with the tongue as the child speaks, and shall contradict [the same] in act, assuredly he has false humility and true pride. For pride is then at its height when it makes use of humble things, that it be not reprehended and spurned of men.
True humility is a lowliness of the soul whereby man knows himself in truth; but false humility is a mist from hell which so darkens the understanding of the soul that what a man ought to ascribe to himself, he ascribes to God, and what he ought to ascribe to God, he ascribes to himself. Thus, the man of false humility will say that he is a grievous sinner, but when one tells him that he is a sinner he will wax wroth against him, and will persecute him. The man of false humility will say that God has given him all that he has, but that he on his part has not slumbered, but done good works. And these Pharisees of this present time, brethren, tell me how they walk.'
The scribe answered, weeping: "O master, the Pharisees of the present time have the garments and the name of Pharisees, but in their heart and their works they are Canaanites. And would to God they usurped not such a name, for then would they not deceive the simple! O ancient time, how cruelly have you dealt with us, that have taken away from us the true Pharisees and left us the false!'
Jesus answered: 'Brother, it is not time that has done this, but rather the wicked world. For in every time it is possible to serve God in truth, but by companying with the world, that is with the evil manners in each time, men become bad. Now know you not that Gehazi, servant of Elisha the prophet, lying, and shaming his master, took the money and the raiment of Naaman the Syrian? And yet Elisha had a great number of Pharisees to whom God made him to prophesy.
Truly I say to you that men are so inclined to evil working, and so much does the world excite them thereto, and work Satan entice them to evil, that the Pharisees of the present day avoid every good work and every holy example: and the example of Gehazi is sufficient for them to be reprobated of God. 'The scribe answered: "It is most true"; whereupon Jesus said: "I would that you would narrate to me the example of Haggai and Hosea, both prophets of God, in order that we may behold the true Pharisee." The scribe answered: "O master, what shall I say? Surely many believe it not, although it is written by Daniel the prophet; but in obedience to you I will narrate the truth.
Haggai was fifteen years old when, having sold his patrimony and given it to the poor, he went forth from Anathoth to serve Obadiah the prophet. Now the aged Obadiah, who knew the humility of Haggai, used him as a book wherewith to teach his disciples. Wherefore he oftentimes presented him raiment and delicate food, but Haggai ever sent back the messenger, saying: "Go, return to the house, for you have made a mistake. Shall Obadiah send me such things? Surely not: for he knows that I am good for nothing, and only commit sins.
And Obadiah, when he had anything bad, used to give it to the one next to Haggai, in order that he might see it. Thereupon Haggai. when he saw it, would say to himself: "Now, behold, Obadiah has certainly forgotten you, for this thing is suited to me alone, because I am worse than all. And there is nothing so vile but that, receiving it from Obadiah, by whose hands God grants it to me, it were a treasure."
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