Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

Who Has Begotten These For Me

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Keraza Magazine issue 23-24 June 6, 2014

Infiltration is a term popularized by soccer, yet it is originally a military term related to military strategies and tactics. It is a means of maneuvering inside enemy lines with the intent of surprising the enemy by reaching their perimeter covertly to accomplish a mission or for reconnaissance (gathering information).

In the Holy Bible, the foremost personality to use this tactic was Jonathan (Saul's son) who, along with his armor-bearer, secretly infiltrated the Philistine perimeter, taking them by surprise inside their own boundary, causing great fear among them, such that they dissipated and fell away (1 Samuel 14:1-23). Likewise, the nations that swore against Nehemiah, and the builders of the wall, had agreed to infiltrate the midst of Jerusalem and cause damage, "And our adversaries said, "They will neither know nor see anything till we come into their midst and kill them and cause the work to cease" (Nehemiah 4:11).

The Holy Bible also masterfully describes the enemy's use of infiltration war maneuvers in the Tares of the field parable: "But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way" (Matthew13:25). The enemy is an opportunist, taking advantage of a person's preoccupation with anything to sneak in and plant a vice in the person's soul, or steal a virtue. The person does not awaken except to realize multiple losses. For example, a student might become engrossed in studying and preparing for exams, awakening later to realize that the enemy had planted the vice of anxiety. The exams are over, but the anxiety remains as an additional personality trait. One person might spend many years amassing funds to secure his future or his family's future, only to arouse and realize that the first love for prayer, fasting, and service were robbed. The enemy might strike a person with a severe fall, making one stagger like a drunkard. Barely regaining equilibrium, this one finds that the enemy had snuck in through the back door of the soul (taking advantage of this person's preoccupation on the front lines to correct this spiritual calamity) to plant in the soul the tares of hopelessness, despair, and surrender, stealing away the delight for God's love, simplicity of faith, and the joy of surrendering one"s life to God. The same can also occur in service. While the shepherd or servant might be very engaged with one lost sheep or with a special case, the enemy surprises by infiltrating the sheepfold and stealing away another of the sheep.

If this is one of the enemy's war maneuvers, God"s grace counteracts with a similar yet opposing maneuver, in the direction of virtue. While the person is preoccupied on front lines with a genuine repentance, concerned with seeking mercy and forgiveness, grace covertly infiltrates the heart to remove from it all cruelty, laziness, and arrogance, planting within all mercy, gentleness, compassion, watchfulness, and humbleness. As the years of struggle pass, and the time of repentance and wrestling with God elapses, the person awakens finding himself reaping fruits he did not plant. Struck with awe, he thus chants in wonder: "Who has begotten these for me, since I have lost my children and am desolate, a captive, and wandering to and fro? And who has brought these up? There I was, left alone; but these, where were they?" (Isaiah49:21).

Now, O you, who are preoccupied on the front lines with different concerns, whether spiritual, pastoral or secular, beware and take heed of the back lines. Ask the Holy Spirit, who is the City Keeper and the House Builder, to be the only One allowed infiltrating into your hearts and souls where He plants His aromatic fruits. You will then chant in joy and delight saying:

Who has begotten these for me?...
Who has brought these up?...
But these where were they?...

Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

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