Oh Lord, Master of my life, keep me from the spirit of indifference, and discouragement, lust of power, and idle chatter
Instead, grant to me, your servant, the Spirit of wholeness of being, humble-mindedness, patience, and love
Oh Lord and King, Grant me the grace to be aware of my sins and not to judge my brother and sister, for you are blessed now and forever, Amen.
The Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian
There is alot to judge in this world. Two teenage boys were convicted of rape. A man was banned from a library system for masturbating in public. These are just two of the troublesome crimes that I heard about today. It is easy to throw stones at people who commit such crimes of selfishness and lack of control.
And yet, St. Ephraim’s words call out to us in such situations. No doubt, he must have read or heard the words of Jesus:
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:1, 2)
I have never gotten a teenager drunk and had sex with her. Nor have I committed a lewd act in a public place. But, the log in my eye is my log. I have no responsibility over what is in my brother’s or sister’s eye no matter how shameful it is. My log is separating me from seeing the fullness of God. Without this vision, how can I guide others to free themselves when I am still in chains? The legal system did what it was supposed to do in both cases. But, my Spiritual development must also be in effect for my salvation. I must have hope that these boys will learn from their tragic error and become agents of healing for violated women. I must hope that the other man will see the greater good in pleasing God and others rather than himself.
I must also see myself as no better than they are. Who is to say that under the same conditions that I wouldn’t have done likewise? Who is to say I wouldn’t do worse? Like them, I struggle with lust, selfishness, and shamelessness. Certainly, the potential is there for me to do likewise. Thus, rather than gloat over what they are about to suffer, St. Ephraim’s words bring me to a place of being aware of my own potential for evil.
The elements of human wickedness are indifference, discouragement, lust of power, and idle chatter. With these, any man can be brought down. Yet, there are God-given elements that elevate our souls and keep us from committing evil acts; wholeness, humble-mindedness, patience, and love. The key to rejecting the former and dwelling in the later is awareness of the sins we have done and forgiving others as we wish to be forgiven.
I have been made aware of my failures. I am sorry for my sins. May this Lenten prayer be made manifest in me.