He Raised His Eyes

Saint Nerses Chnorhali (1102-1173), Armenian patriarch 
Jesus, Only Son of the Father, 624f. ; SC 203

Like the rich man who loved a life of pleasure
I, too, have loved pleasures that pass away
With this animal body of mine,
In the pleasures of that fool.

And from so many and such great blessings
That you have so freely given me
I have not paid back the tenth
From your own gifts.

But, out of everything under my roof,
Gathered from earth and sky and sea,
I believed your numberless blessings
To be my own possession.

Nothing of these have I given to the poor,
Nor set anything aside for his needs:
Neither food for the hungry
Nor covering for the naked body,

Neither shelter for the homeless
Nor abode for the foreign guest,
Nor visit to the sick
Nor even concern for the prisoner (Cf Mt 25,31f.).

I was not saddened for the sorrow
Of the one cast down by his burdens,
Nor shared the joy of the joyful
But burned with jealousy against him.

All of them were another Lazarus…
They lay outside at my gate…
Yet I, deaf to their appeal,
Never gave them the crumbs from my table…

The dogs of your Law outside
Comforted them, at least, with their tongues;
Yet I, who listened to your commandment,
Wounded the one who bore your likeness with my tongue (Mt 25,45)…

Yet only grant me repentance here below
That I may make reparation for my sins…
That these tears may extinguish the blazing furnace
With its burning flames…

And, instead of acting like the merciless,
Set merciful compassion within me,
That, by showing mercy to the poor,
I may obtain your mercy.

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