Back to St Ephrem index

 

 

HYMN 15

 

Blessed is
the barren woman's son
who immersed
in water the One
who came to immerse
in flame
everyone, and blessed too
the holy fear
that held him back
and blessed the love
that urged him to come
forward, so that his hand
touched His head
and the skies
opened and the myriad
angels drew back
astounded that
Cleanliness Itself
had descended
to wash the water,
the water run black
with all the sins of the world.

Yes, you are blessed,
greatest of the prophets,
all of whom
longed for Him. They,
struggling in the darkness,
could not see
the anointed King,
the Son, but your
hand rested on His head.
Last of the stern
teachers of the Law
and first of the mild
teachers of mercy,
in you and you
alone, Elijah
rose again, denouncing
Jezebel's sins, and you,
too, once again
parting the waters, made
dry land of the Jordan.

And blessed too is that
little river Jordan
which received the Ocean
come for Baptism ­
you are less than the smallest
atom of the vapour of the
living Flood, pouring
over the world, drowning our
enemies, yet when He
stepped down into your
flowing waters, then it was
the Ocean offering
Itself to be washed, so
cleansing the water
so that the water,
clean, is fit
for the washing of sins.

And blessed is
that other John, the chaste
young man whom his Lord
embraced like a child. The Lord
loved him and cherished him
for his purity, clean, like a pearl.
O Virginity! in His
descent, you were exalted
in the eyes of the angels
whose purity is effortless.
God, coming among us and embracing
the young man, John, blessed
the pain, the struggling, the adversity.

And blessed was he who,
full of love, happened
on the key to the box of the treasure
that had never been opened,
sealed by silence, until your mouth,
may it be blessed, said
'The Word was God.'
This is a silent
bridle on our mouths,
reproaching our verbosity.
It is a bright reality
to those who live, keenly,
but for the disputacious, lost
in speculation, it is a source
of endless, unendurable perplexity.

And blessed are you, Simon
Peter, whose word is a
mysterious property, tying
up and setting free
everything, not just
here in the earth but also
in spirit, in consciousness,
keeper of keys
forged by the Spirit; and blessed too
are His flocks that,
fed by you, multiply
in a mysterious way,
in chastity.

Simon is blessed as the head
and the tongue of the composite
body of the brothers, whose eyes
are the sons
of Zebedee, who saw
His Judgement in a vision,
saw their Friend and longed
to be with Him, even then.
But it was Simon who declared,
high above all
visions, that He
was the Son of God ­
Simon, the rock that,
shaken once, was to be made
unshakeable.

But woe to you, Caiaphas, who mouthed
the truth but did not
have it in your heart; the labourer
in the vineyard who abandoned
his work, so that,
instead of increase
he received loss. He prophesied
but had no
contract for his reward
so that it was we
the obedient, not he, pushed aside,
who finally
tasted the ripe
fruits of his prophecy.

And woe, woe to you, the treasury
of goods you stole, you did not
make them your own, you bartered them
for silver. Woe to your eyes
that held His image
with indifference, and to your mouth
that kissed Him without awe.
In that indifference to
the Treasury of life, already,
death was present and the noose
slipping about your neck.

Woe, woe to the tare
mixed in with the wheat,
when the bread,
rising in the furnace, spits it out ­
when all the despair of your indifference
grew til you burst,
when only the naked
bough of a tree in a garden was your friend,
and you became as
lifeless as the silver that you loved.