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MESSAGE OF THE MONTH
On The Beatings of Our Lord
By St. Symeon the New Theologian, from the book «Stavroanastasima», published by the Holy Monastery of Saint Symeon the New Theologian.
Our Lord and God, albeit entirely blameless, condescended to beatings so that the sinners who would emulate Him would not only receive absolution of their sins, but would also become communicants in His divinity, through their obedience. He was God, and for our sake became a man. He was beaten, spat on and crucified, and with everything that the (divinely) Impassionate One underwent, it is as though He is teaching us, and saying to each one of us:
If you wish to become God, to gain eternal life and live with Me—something that your forefather did not achieve, because he strove to do it in the wrong manner—then humble yourself, just as I had humbled Myself for you; avoid the arrogance and pride befitting the demonic mentality; accept beatings, spittings, slappings; persevere throughout them all to the death, and do not be ashamed.
But, should you feel too ashamed to suffer something for the sake of My commandments, the way that I, your God, suffered for your sake, then I too shall consider it shameful, for you to be with Me during My glorious Coming and I shall say to My angels:
“This one here was ashamed to confess Me during My humiliation and he did not condescend to abandon the world and be alike to Me. Thus, now that he has been stripped of the perishable glory that my Father had given him (after the death of his flesh), I consider it shameful to even look upon him. Therefore cast him out, ...take away the impious, so that he may not see the glory of the Lord. (Is 26:10).”
Shudder, all you people, and be afraid, and show joyful patience with all the hubris, which God had likewise suffered for our salvation… God was beaten by a worthless servant, and yet, you do not condescend to suffer the same by your fellow-man? Are you ashamed of emulating God? How, then, will you reign alongside Him and be glorified along with Him in His Heavenly kingdom, if you will not suffer your brother patiently? If He had not condescended to becoming a man for your sake, and instead had left you lying there, in your fallen state of transgression to this day, wouldn’t you now be in the deepest part of Hades, you wretch, along with the impious and the irreverent?
But what do we say to those who have actually abandoned everything and became poor, supposedly for the sake of the Heavenly kingdom?
So, my brother, you have become poor and you have thus far emulated Christ the Master and your God. You can see Him, Who resides above all the Heavens, now living and associating with you. See, you are now walking alongside each other. Then someone comes along on your life’s path and first slaps your Master, then slaps you. The Master Himself does not react against him, and yet you do? “Yes”, says the brother, “because the Master Himself had said to the one who struck Him: if I have spoken wrongly, tell me what it was; but if I have spoken correctly, why do you strike me? (Jn 18:23)
But the Lord did not say these words as though talking back at the servant, as you may have imagined; it was because He had committed no sin, nor was any guile found in the words of His mouth. He uttered those words, so that it may not be imagined that - because He had supposedly sinned - the servant had justly struck Him, saying is this how you reply to the high priest? (Jn 18:22).
But we are not like Him—we, who are responsible for so many sins. Not to mention that, despite having suffered something far worse than a beating, He did not utter a word; instead,
He prayed for those who crucified Him.
He, even when mocked, displayed no indignation, and you grumble?
He tolerated their spitting, slapping and whippings, and you can’t tolerate a single harsh word?
He accepted a Cross and the torture of the nails and a disgraceful death, and you do not condescend to perform the lowliest of ministries?
How, then, will you become a communicant in glory, if you do not condescend to becoming a communicant in His dishonorable death? Indeed, you have abandoned your wealth in vain, if you have not agreed to also lift up a Cross; in other words, to patiently suffer the onslaught of all tribulations; therefore, my brother, you are left all alone on the path of life, and you have unfortunately separated yourself from your sweetest Master and God!