Blessed is He who came Down – St.Ephraim the Syrian

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Blessed is He who came Down

St.Ephraim the Syrian

1. O John, who sawest the Spirit, — that abode on the head of the Son, — to show how the Head of the Highest — went down and was baptized — and came up to be Head on earth! — Children of the Spirit ye have thus become, — and Christ has become for you the Head: — ye also have become His members.

2. Consider and see how exalted ye are; — how instead of the river Jordan — ye have glorious Baptism, wherein is peace; — spreading her wings to shade your bodies. — In the wilderness John baptized: — in Her pure flood of Baptism, — purely are ye baptized therein.

3. Infants think when they see its glory, — that by its pomp its might is enhanced. — But it is the same, and within itself — is not divided. — But the might which never waxes less or greater — in us is little or again great; — and he in whom is great understanding, — great in him is Baptism.

4. A man’s knowledge, if it be exalted, — exalted also is his degree above his brethren; — and he whose faith is great, — so also is his promise; — and as is his wisdom, so also his crowning. — As is the light, which though it be all goodly — and equal all of it with itself, — yet goodlier is one eye than another.

5. Jesus mingled His might in the water: — put ye Him on my brethren as discerning men! — For there are that in the water merely — perceive that they are washed. With our body be our soul washed! — The manifest water let the body perceive, — and the soul the secret might; — that both to the manifest and to the secret ye may be made like!

6. How beautiful is Baptism — in the eye of the heart; come, let us gaze on it! — Like as by a seal ye have been moulded; — receive ye its image, — that nought may be lacking to us of our image! — For the sheep that are white of heart — gaze on the glory that is in the water: — in your souls reflect ye it!

7. Water is by nature as a mirror, — for one who in it examines himself. — Stir up thy soul, thou that discernest, — and be like unto it! — For it in its midst reflects thy image; — from it, on it, find an example; — gaze in it on Baptism, — and put on the beauty that is hidden therein!

8. What profits it him that hears — a voice and knows not its significance? — Whoso hears a voice and is devoid — of the understanding thereof, — his ear is filled but his soul is empty. — Lo! since the gift is abundant, — with discernment receive ye it.

9. Baptism that is with understanding — is the conjunction of two lights, — and rich are the fountains of its rays. — …… — And the darkness that is on the mind departs, — and the soul beholds Him in beauty, — the hidden Christ of glory, — and grieves when the glory fails.

10. Baptism without understanding — is a treasure full yet empty; — since he that receives it is poor in it, — for he understands not — how great are its riches into which he enters and dwells. — For great is the gift within it, — though the mean man perceives not — that he is exalted even as it.

11. Open wide your minds and see, my brethren, — the secret column in the air, whose base is fixed from the midst of the water — unto the door of the Highest Place, like the ladder that Jacob saw. — Lo! by it came down the light unto Baptism, — and by it the soul goes up to Heaven, — that in one love we may be mingled.

12. Our Lord when he was baptized by John — sent forth twelve fountains; — and they issued forth and cleansed by their streams — the defilement of the peoples. — His worshippers are made white like His garments, — the garments in Tabor and the body in the water. — Instead of the garments the peoples are made white, — and have become for Him a clothing of glory.

13. From your garments learn, my brethren, — how your members should be kept. — For if the garment, which ever so many times — may be made clean, — is duly kept for the sake of its comeliness, — the body which has but one baptism — manifold more exceeding is the care of its keeping, — for manifold are its dangers.

14. Again the sun in a house that is strait, — is straitened therein though he be great: — but in a house that is goodly and large, — when he rises thereon — far and wide in it he spreads his rays; — and though the sun is one and the same in his nature, — in divers houses he undergoes changes: — Even so our Lord in divers men.

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