15h Wednesday in Ordinary Time
The 4th century after Christ was a time of much turmoil in the Church and in the world. Those who were supposed to be leaders were misusing their authority, and people needed to know how to go about living their daily lives in that context. And monks were no exception.
So St Pachomius wrote a letter to the monks of one of his monasteries, in which he quotes a line from the prophet Isaiah which was read in the first reading this morning. He wrote:
“Remember the ministry and the labor of the saints, you and your friends who have learned God’s will with you, so that they also may become co-heirs of the same promise and have from God the immortal faith which was created by the spirit of the prophets and strengthened by the apostles who suffered oppressions and persecutions for it.
“Let us consider those to whom God has granted power, to see if we may deserve to serve them and to cling to their doctrine, putting aside all pride and resisting with great courage the sin which fearlessly operates in bodies; for death has been swallowed up by victory.
“On the other hand, how weak we are in this age, knowing that the Church is to stand and to be led toward what is good. You know that [and here he quotes the Coptic translation of the first reading]: ‘The axe does not take over from the one who swings it.’
“We should not fear ruin in the place of our pilgrimage; but we must fight to be able to have peace with those who keep the commandments of God. ‘What will be your gain if you win the whole world and have enmity with God?’ We must then understand what we are told, knowing that the world, with all it craves for, is coming to an end. Be vigilant and mind how you walk.”
And he concludes: “Let the winter of the present age not prevent us from walking, but let us accomplish God’s justice always and unceasingly, remembering his own testimony till ‘winter is past and the rain is over and gone’. May God be our helper in the peace which is without measure. May that peace be in all of you till the evening time is over”.
– Letter Four of our Father Pachomius to Sourous, Father of the Monastery of Phnoum, and John, a Housemaster of the Same Monastery.