LENTEN FIRE: February 15

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers 



The Mirror of Sins

Abba Macarius said: If you look into a mirror to observe yourself, it will inform you of your beauty or of your ugliness.  You cannot hide anything from it nor will it lie to you in any way; no, it produces a lifelike image and reflects back your own image and reproduces all your features and characteristics: if you smile, you see what sort of a smile it is; it will show you that your black hair is black and your gray hair is gray and it will real you to yourself and show you what you really look like.

It will be the same at the place of judgment, from which one cannot flee.  There it is not a mirror made by human hands but deeds laid bare that show your likeness and reveal your sins like a noose around your neck.  You cannot flee from them; no, they stand rebuking you without need of a witness.  You are like a ladder in their midst: you are wretched, and words will not help you.  The mirror of sins will teach you all of them and they are engraved in your heart like a silversmith’s stamp, reproving you and making known to you one-by-one the deeds you have done: what time you did them, what season; when you did this or when you did that.  Simply put, they are all shameful to you and cause you to be scorned in both worlds: with the inhabitants of Heaven and with the inhabitants of Earth, the place of fearful universal judgment.  All the saints and all the Heavenly ranks will be in mourning and will groan over you when they behold the great fall that has taken place in you on account of the ugly deeds you have done.

But our Lord Jesus Christ is merciful and full of compassion: our Lord Jesus Christ, the savior of our souls and bodies, who does not wish the death of a sinner so much as his conversion and life. (Ezekiel 33:11; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9)  Let us understand these things, brothers, and let us be wise from now on, seeing his love for humanity, just as formerly when he had pity and wept over Lazarus, beseeching his Father’s goodness while Mary and Martha, the sisters of the dead man, poured forth tears, and after four days he raised him from the dead. (John 11:1-44)  Let us draw near to him through prayers and holy tears so he will have pity on us and raise our souls from the death of sin that we might live by his mercy.

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