Sunday, November 17, 2002

from the desert: " we forgive those who trespass against us...."

One of the high officials bore a grudge against another. Great John (the Almsgiver) heard of this and admonished him several times, but could not persuade him to be reconciled with his enemy. One day therefore the saint sent and had him fetched on the pretext of some public business, and as soon as he had come the patriarch held a service in his oratory, no one else being present save his syncellus. After the patriarch had said the prayer of consecration and had pronounced the opening words of the Lord's Prayer, the three of them began to repeat the Prayer. When they got to the sentence, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" the patriarch made a sign to the syncellus to stop, and he himself stopped too, and the magistrate commenced saying all by himself, "Forgive us as we forgive." At once the saint turned towards him and said in a gentle voice, "Consider in what an awful moment you are saying to God 'As I forgive, do Thou forgive me'!" Immediately, as though tormented by fire, the magistrate fell on his face at the saint's feet crying, "Whatever you command, my lord, your servant will do." And from that time he was reconciled to his enemy in all sincerity.

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