A long one from St. Ephraim, mostly about the Judgement, but it applies to our text this week, Matthew 7:15-23
What is there left for us to say? Farewell! Farewell all ye just! Farewell Apostles, Prophets, Martyrs. Farewell to the company of the holy patriarchs. Farewell to the hosts of monks. Farewell, holy precious and life-giving Cross! Farewell to the kingdom of heaven which is to be without end! Farewell to the spiritual Jerusalem; the Mother of the firstborn! Farewell to the joy of paradise! Farewell to you Lady Mother of God; Mother of the Lover of Mankind! Farewell fathers and mothers, sons and daughters: we shall never see you again. And after that each one will go to the place of torment that was prepared for him because of his evil works; where their worm dieth not in the fire is not extinguished.
You have heard me, my blessed brethren. I have fulfilled your request to me for knowledge of the judgment; I have filled your desire. See now if you understand for what we are preparing ourselves? You have learned what they gain who are negligent, who are slothful, who scorn repentance. And you have heard for what reason they are mocked at who here on earth mocked at the commandments of God. You have learned how the evil one deceives the many, how he leads this world, wicked and rejoicing, astray. You have learned how those who laugh at the Scriptures are themselves laugh that. Let no one be led into error, dearly beloved. But none of you be deceived, my blessed brethren. Beware of anyone saying that they are but mere words; these that we speak to you of the judgment. Rather let us all firmly in carefully believe in Christ as he preaches to us of the resurrection of the dead, a judgment, of the rewards of the good and the wicked, according to the holy Scriptures.
Let us therefore follow him on this blessed way which all have walked who have loved Christ. Its entrance is linked with tribulation and with torment; but there is blessed peace there area the gates of this where narrow and forbidding; but its reward is joy. It’s entry is straight, but the place of rest within his wide and spacious. The gates of this way are fasting, prayer, compunction, vigils, humility of soul, poverty of spirit, contempt of the flesh, care of the soul, sleeping on the ground, eating of dry food, lack of comfort, harshness, hunger, thirst, nakedness, mercy, tears, grieving, poverty, groanings, genuflections, humiliations, persecutions, reviling from others, to be hated and not to hate, to hear evil and to render good for you, to forgive debts to our debtors, to lay down our lives for our friends. Lastly, to shed our blood for Christ when the occasion calls for it. These are the narrow gates, and the straight way; these are the steps, the approaches, which lead to a most blessed reward, the kingdom of heaven itself, of which there will be no end….
Come to me all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you; where there is a mortal life and the font of every mercy. Come to me, all of you, and I will refresh you; where there is love alone, perennial joy, and everlasting happiness, where the light does not fade, nor the sun go down. Come to me, all ye that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you; where there is perfect life, and the fount of every good. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls; where there is ever the sound of festival days, and where the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge shall be revealed. Come to me, all of you, and I will refresh you; where there are wondrous gifts, joy without compare, rest unchanging, happiness without end, and ceasing melody, perpetual glory, unwearied giving of thanks, loving absorption in divine things, infinite riches, a kingdom without end, through all ages and ages, deeps of compassion, an ocean of mercy and kindness, which the human tongue cannot describe, but makes known only through figures. There shall be the myriads of the Angels, the multitudes of the firstborn, the thrones of the apostles, the dignities of the prophets, the scepter of the patriarchs, the crowns of the martyrs, the praises of the just. And there is laid up the reward of every order, of every power and principality.
Come to me all you that hunger and thirst after justice, and I will fill you with all that you desire, and which the eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man to conceive. These things have I prepared for those who love me. These things I have prepared for those who have done penance for their wayward life. I have prepared them for the merciful; for the poor in spirit; for those who mourn in repentance. I have prepared them for the peacemakers. I prepared them for those who suffer persecution, hate, reproaches, for my namesake.
Come to me all ye that labor; and shake off and cast from you the burden of your sins. For no one who comes to me remains burdened, but casts off his evil way of life, and unlearned to conduct he had easily learned from the devil, and learn to me a new way of life.
From:<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0898707978?ie=UTF8&tag=thissideofthe-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0898707978″>Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers</a>