Know Mercy, Show Mercy

The sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers are not linear. Nor are they merely rational statements about “cause and effect” or anything of that sort. They are more. They are articulations of the Way, Truth, and Life. As such, they offer rationality a radical invitation, promise, and mandate: “Abide in me and I will take you where you cannot go on your own but yearn to go.” (At least I think that is what they do. But then, I am a fellow struggler [not an expert] who is learning as he journeys. Perhaps, just like you.)

Luke 11.33-44
[33] “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel, but on a stand, that those who enter may see the light. [34] Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness. [35] Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. [36] If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” [37] While he was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him; so he went in and sat at table. [38] The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. [39] And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness. [40] You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? [41] But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. [42] “But woe to you Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. [43] Woe to you Pharisees! for you love the best seat in the synagogues and salutations in the market places. [44] Woe to you! for you are like graves which are not seen, and men walk over them without knowing it.” 

“Woe to you! You impose on people burdens hard to carry”
A brother who had sinned was turned out of the church by the priest ; Abba Bessarion got up and went with him, saying : “I too am a sinner” …

A brother at Scetis committed a fault. A council was called to which Abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to say to him: “Come, for everyone is waiting for you.” So he got up and went along with a basket that had holes in it, which he filled with sand and carried on his back. The others came out to meet him and said to him: “What is this, Father?” The old man said to them: “My sins run out behind me and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the sins of another.” When they heard that they said no more to the brother but forgave him.

Abba Joseph questioned Abba Poemen saying: “Tell me how to become a monk.” The old man said: “If you want to find peace here below and in the world to come, say at all times: Who am I? And judge no one.”

A brother questioned Abba Poemen saying: “If I see my brother committing a sin, is it right to conceal it?” The old man said to him: “At the very moment when we hide our brother’s fault, God hides our own. And at the moment we reveal our brother’s fault, God reveals ours too.”

Excerpted from The Book of the Elders: Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Systematic Collection (Cistercian Studies), Chapter 9

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