Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Drinking St. Anthony’s soup

From Fr. Ted's Blog, a post entitled Getting Beyond All-or-Nothing Thinking...

Jesus told parables in which He taught us the values of the Kingdom of God. Such story-telling continued in the early church as is obvious in the sayings we have from the desert fathers. The stories are sometime counterintuitive, sometimes startling, and often give us a new perspective on how to understand our lives as disciples of Christ. The value of stories in Christian education is that they are didactic without having to be dogmatic. They show us that the desert fathers did not believe that Christianity could be taught or lived within some “one-size-fits-all” framework. People have differing abilities to understand and to carry out the Gospel commandments. While there are lessons that apply to everyone, and truths that all should abide by, these stories show that all-or-nothing zealotry is not part of the life of the fathers.
“Some brothers visited Abba Anthony and they said to him: ‘Tell us a saying [indicating] how we are to be saved.’ The elder said to them: ‘Have you not heard the Scripture? That is good enough for you,’ but they said: ‘We want to hear [it] from you, father.’ So the elder said to them: ‘The Gospel says: “If someone hits you on they right cheek, turn the other one to him too”‘ [Mt 5:39]. ‘We cannot do that,’ they told him. The elder said to them: ‘If you cannot turn the other [cheek], at least patiently endure the one [blow].’ ‘We cannot do that either,’ they told him. The elder said: ‘If you cannot do that either, do not return [the blow] you received,’ but they said: ‘Nor can we do that.’ So the elder said to his disciple: ‘Make them a little soup, for they are sick.’ and he said to them: ‘if you cannot do this and you will not do that, what am I to do for you? There is need of prayer.'” (GIVE ME A WORD: THE ALPHABETICAL SAYINGS OF THE DESERT FATHERS, p 35)
The above story is funny. The brothers insist they must have a lesson from Abba Anthony, but he tells them, “you already read the bible, what more can I tell you?” He really has nothing to add to what Jesus said...

Complete article here.

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