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17. Now, as to the question which you raise, when it was that I began to admit the authority of the pope Theophilus, and was associated with him in community of belief. You make answer to yourself: “Then, I suppose, when you were the supporter of Paul whom he had condemned and made the greatest effort to help him, and instigated him to recover through an imperial rescript the bishopric from which he had been removed by the episcopal tribunal.” I will not begin by answering for myself, but first speak of the injury which you have here done to another. What humanity or charity is there in rejoicing over the misfortunes of others and in exhibiting their wounds to the world? Is that the lesson you have learned from that Samaritan who carried back the man that was half dead to the inn? Is this what you understand by pouring oil into his wounds, and paying the host his expenses? Is it thus that you interpret the sheep brought back to the fold, the piece of money recovered, the prodigal son welcomed back? Suppose that you had a right to speak evil of me, because I had injured you, and, to use your words, had goaded you to madness and stimulated you to evil speaking: what harm had a man who remains in obscurity done you, that you should lay bare his scars, and when they were skinned over, should tear them open by inflicting this uncalled for pain? Even if he was worthy of your reproaches, were you justified in doing this? If I am not mistaken, those whom you wish to strike at through him (and I speak the open opinion of many) are the enemies of the Origenists; you use the troubles of one of them to show your violence against both.31773177    Perhaps both Paul and Jerome. If the decisions of the pope Theophilus so greatly please you, and you think it impious that an episcopal decree should be nullified, what do you say about the rest of those whom he has condemned? And what do you say about the pope Anastasius, about whom you assert most truly that no one thinks him capable as the bishop of so great a city, of doing an injury to an innocent or an absent man? I do not say this because I 528set myself up as a judge of episcopal decisions, or wish what they have determined to be rescinded; but I say, Let each of them do what he thinks right at his own risk, it is for him alone to consider how his judgment will be judged. Our duties in our monastery are those of hospitality; we welcome all who come to us with the smile of human friendliness. We must take care lest it should again happen that Mary and Joseph do not find room in the inn, and that Jesus should be shut out and say to us, “I was a stranger and ye took me not in.” The only persons we do not welcome are heretics, who are the only persons who are welcomed by you: for our profession binds us to wash the feet of those who come to us, not to discuss their merits. Bring to your remembrance, my brother, how he whom we speak of had confessed Christ: think of that breast which was gashed by the scourges: recall to mind the imprisonment he had endured, the darkness, the exile, the work in the mines, and you will not be surprised that we welcomed him as a passing guest. Are we to be thought rebels by you because we give a cup of cold water to the thirsty in the name of Christ?


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