What was it that was for them and not for us?

French Translation
Arabic Translation

Pope Cyril Bellyn

What was it that was for them and not for us?

By Fr. Marcus St. Antony

© March 2007

St. Macarius the Great asked this deductive question in his last words to his disciples when he talked to them about the life of sanctity, and said them, “Great is the glory of the Saints.”

The Lord does not remain without witness, “He did not leave Himself without witness.”  (Acts 14:17), for at all times witnesses give testimony to the faith and to sanctity. If faith is gradually vanishing from the world, and this is an obvious truth, as the Lord of glory said, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”  (Luke 18:8). If faith is vanishing from the world, it is not a reason for the weakening of our personal faith, or for us to leave our personal life of sanctity. We ask ourselves the same question, “What was it that was for the Saints and is not for us now?” If there are more temptations, and more difficult wars, at the same time there are more and greater means for spiritual behaviour. Who, among those Saints had the Holy Bible at his disposal as we now have it? Who among them had the teachings and the explanations that are now available in our present time? Whether visually, by audio, in writing, or digital?

As we said, the Lord has not remained without witnesses; He has given us contemporary Saints to give us active wisdom, as they lived in our time. Let us ask ourselves the same question once again, “What was it that was for them and not for us?” The anointing which was in them, and which taught them everything (I John 2:27 and John 14: 26) is the same anointing from the Holy Spirit that is within us, because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  (Hebrews 13:8). They have become a host of witnesses who testified with their lives, their works and their conduct (Hebrews 13:7), that a similar great glory is available for us, saved for us, and kept for us, to be acquired.

If someone tells you that you have an inheritance in this world from your father, wouldn’t you be seeking it?  If your brothers are not interested in the same inheritance, would you abandon it like them? Why then should we Christians abandon our inheritance and imitate our brothers in the world like the others who have no hope? (I Thessalonians 4:13). If we know nothing about pearls, or gems, or gold, we need only to see a jeweler to know if any of these is true or an imitation. Did we not see these contemporary Saints to whom God has given wisdom, a clear vision, and a revelation? Did we not see them care for their heritage? Did we not see Abba Abram, Bishop of Fayum, who knew the mysteries, care for the poor? Did we not see Pope Cyril VI, who could tell the people what they had on their minds and in their hearts, and warn them of what would happen, so vigilant in his prayers and liturgies that he was called “The man of prayer.” Did we not see the Very Reverend Hegomen Mikhail Ibrahim repudiate the devils, care for the Holy Sacrament of Confession. Did we not see the Very Reverend Hegumen Pishoy Kamel who was full of wisdom, care for the salvation of the souls and devote his life to the service? Also, Archdeacon Habib Gergis and many others.

They are the expert jewelers, it is sufficient for us to have seen them sell everything to acquire the “one pearl of great price.” (Matthew 13:46) to know that this is a true pearl, and to follow in their footsteps. To ask His Beatitude Pope Cyril VI who lived in a cave and in the grinding mill to pray for the new house which we will purchase. To ask Abba Abram, the friend of the poor who possessed nothing, to pray for our financial troubles. To ask our father Pishoy Kamel who endured his sickness with thanksgiving and joy until he departed, to pray for our healing. All this is good and acceptable because of their love for us. However, the most important is that we follow in their footsteps and ask them to pray for us in our struggle. When we pray like the three holy youths, asking God not to deprive us of His mercy for the sake of Abraham His friend, Isaac His servant, and Israel, we must not only use His name alone because He is not only the Father of those who use His name, (Matt. 7:22) but we must “also walk in the faith which your father Abraham had…”  (Romans 4:12). Our Lord Jesus said, “if you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.”(John 8:39).

As the Holy Virgin, the Mother of Light said, “And his mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.” (Luke 1:50). Here the Holy Virgin speaks about us upon whom the end of the ages have come, (1Cor.10:11) reminding us of the promise of mercy conditioned with the fear of God, and she may come in our days to remind us of this promise.

Fr. Marcus St. Antony