LENTEN FIRE: March 16

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

See the sin but not the repentance

An old man said, “Even if someone sins in some way in your presence, do not judge him but consider yourself more of a sinner than he is, for you have seen the sin but you have not seen the repentance.”

Abba Macarius learns about true work

It was said about Abba Macarius the Great that, passing through Egypt one time, he came upon a threshing floor.  He saw a heap of grain that had been threshed, its owner using it to pay wages to the workers.  When the old man wished to test the grower, wanting him to talk about the nature of his work, he said to him, “Please do me the kindness, my father, of giving me a little wheat.”

The grower said to him, “If you have worked, I will pay you a wage, for whoever works receives a wage.” (Luke 10:7)

The old man said to him, “You’re right.  Whoever works receives a wage.”

The grower said to him, “Yes, just like I said: ‘whoever works receives a wage.'”

The old man said to him, “This is just what I wanted to hear from you.”

When he was some distance away on his journey, Abba Macarius slapped himself in the face with his hands and said, “Woe to you, Macarius!  They have refused to give you a wage for the fleshly work of this world, since it is written, Hasten to use the worker who has not been ashamed to do his master’s work well. (2 Timothy 2:15)  Woe to you, then, Macarius!  You have failed to obtain that goodness of the master of the vineyard who says, Call the workers, give them their wage, the last, the first, a measure to each, (Matthew 20:1-16), and Whoever works, his wage is not reckoned to him a gift.” (Romans 4:4)

And so the old man Macarius continued walking, mourning with tears and groaning.

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