Thursday, July 1, 2004

Christian Heritage - July 1 - We Must Be Men and Women of Action

"This saying of our Master on the law obliges us to be diligent not only in hearing God's word, but also in obeying it. We do well to listen to the law, because it moves us to good works; it is a good thing to read and meditate on scripture, because our inmost thoughts are thus purified from all evil; but to be assiduous in reading, listening to, and meditating on the law of God without doing what it says is a wickedness that the Spirit of God has already condemned, forbidding those guilty of it even to pick up the holy book in their unclean hands. God said to the sinner: Do not touch the book of my commandments, because you have taken my covenant on your lips, but have hated correction and cast my words behind you.

"Assiduous readers who do no good works are accused by their very reading, and merit a more severe condemnation because each day they scorn and despise what they have heard that day. They are like dead people, corpses without souls. The dead will not hear thousands of trumpets and horns sounding in their ears; in the same way souls dead in sin, minds that have forgotten God, do not hear the sound and cry of divine words; the spiritual trumpet leaves them unmoved. They sleep the sleep of death and find it pleasant."

These are some hard words, and they strike me deeply. I am a hollow reader all too often. And I stand condemned. God, help me to obey You. Do not teach me unless I also shall obey.

Philoxenus of Mabbug (AD 440-523), Hom. 1: SC 44, 27-31

Philoxenus of Mabbug is also sometimes referred to as Philoxenus of Heirapolis. He was a Syrian spiritual master and theologian who achieved a brilliant synthesis of the Syriac and Greek theological schools of thought. As I mentioned a few days ago, he was also a leading advocate of Monophysitism and a leading opponent of Pope Leo the Great's (AD 400-461) orthodox formulation of the nature of Christ, which was dogmatically ratified at the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451.

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