When you’ve been wounded in the battle against sin, says Aphrahat the Sage, penitence is the medicine you need. But you can’t be cured if you’re ashamed to go to the doctor.
There is a medicine for every disease, and the disease is healed when the skillful physician finds the medicine. For those who have been wounded in our battle, there is the medicine of penitence, and those who rub it on their wounds are healed.
Physicians, disciples of our wise Physician, take up this remedy, so that you may heal the wounds of the sick with it.
For soldiers who are wounded in battle by the enemy first find themselves a skillful physician, and then give themselves into his hands to be healed, so that he can make their wounds whole again. In the same way, dear friends, when someone fighting in our battle is wounded by the Enemy, the appropriate medicine is penitence, when the wounded one’s repentance is strong.
For a soldier wounded in battle is not ashamed to put himself in the hands of a skillful physician to be cured of the wounds he got in battle. Rather, the physician is counted as part of the army. In the same way, anyone wounded by Satan should not be ashamed to confess his sin, and turn away from it, and ask to be given the medicine of penitence.
If you are ashamed to show a wound, gangrene comes to it, and your whole body is harmed. But if you are not ashamed to show your wound, your wound will be healed, and you can return to the battle. If you become gangrenous, you cannot be healed, and you cannot put back on the arms that you laid aside.
For anyone who has been conquered in our conflict, this is the way to be healed: say “I have sinned,” and ask for penitence. If you are ashamed, you cannot be healed, because you do not want the physician to see your wounds. –Aphrahat, Demonstration 7, 2-3IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
What secret wounds am I hiding?
Do I stand in need of confession right now?
Lord Jesus Christ, I am a sinner, and I do not dare rely on my own worth, but only on your mercy. I look to you for healing; I show you my wounds, and uncover my shame. In the infinite depth of your love, have mercy on me and purify me.
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