The Church, Paradise on Earth, in Whose Midst is the Tree of Life. Let us Pluck its Fruit and Live!


An Extract from Jacob of Sarug’s Hymn on the Priesthood and the Altar

[The Lord] established on earth the Holy Church instead of Paradise and appointed priests to His service without [animal] sacrifices. ܘܰܐܬܩܶܢ ܒܰܐܪܥܳܐ ܥܺܕܰܬ ܩܘܽܕܫܳܐ ܚܠܳܦ ܦܰܪܕܰܝܣܳܐ܃ ܘܰܕܠܳܐ ܕܶܒ̈ܚܶܐ ܐܰܩܺܝܡ ܟܳܗ̈ܢܶܐ ܥܰܠ ܬܶܫܡܶܫܬܶܗ܀
He revealed Himself to be the Tree of Life Who was hidden and let His fruits drop on those who are near and those who are far. ܘܰܓܠܳܐ ܢܰܦܫܶܗ ܐܺܝܠܳܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܗܰܘ ܕܰܟܣܳܐ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ܃ ܘܰܐܬܰܪ ܦܺܐܪ̈ܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܥܰܠ ܪ̈ܰܚܺܝܩܶܐ ܘܥܰܠ ܩܰܪ̈ܺܝܒܶܐ܀
Behold! The priests surround Him [the Tree of Life], pick fruits from Him, and give life to human beings from Him daily… ܘܗܳܐ ܟܪܺܝܟܺܝܢ ܠܶܗ ܟܳܗ̈ܢܶܐ ܘܩܳܛܦܺܝܢ ܦܺܐܪ̈ܶܐ ܡܶܢܶܗ܃ ܘܝܳܗܒܺܝܢ ܡܶܢܶܗ ܠܰܒ̈ܢܰܝܢܳܫܳܐ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܟܽܠܝܘܽܡ܀
Christ, the benevolent Heir, Who is altogether light, came and restored that which was corrupted from the beginning. ܘܶܐܬܳܐ ܡܫܺܝܚܳܐ ܝܳܪܬܳܐ ܛܳܒܳܐ ܕܟܽܠܶܗ ܢܘܽܗܪܰܐ ܗ̱ܘ܃ ܘܰܐܬܩܶܢ ܗܳܠܶܝܢ ܕܶܐܬܚܰܒܰܠ ܗ̱ܘܽ ܡܶܢ ܫܘܽܪܳܝܳܐ܀
He granted the priesthood to His Twelve with the laying of His hands and appointed priests to the service of the Tree of Life. ܘܝܰܗ̱ܒ ܟܳܗܢܘܽܬܳܐ ܠܰܬܪ̈ܶܥܣܰܪܬܶܗ ܒܰܣܝܳܡ ܐܺܝܕܶܗ܃ ܘܰܐܩܺܝܡ ܟܳܗ̈ܢܶܐ ܥܰܠ ܬܶܫܡܶܫܬܶܗ ܕܐܺܝܠܳܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ܀
In splendor, with the gentle waving of the hands, and in holiness, behold, they [the priests] surround the Tree of Life at the Holy Altar. ܘܰܒܙܰܗܝܘܽܬܳܐ ܘܰܒܪܘܽܚܳܦܳܐ ܘܩܰܕܺܝܫܘܽܬܳܐ܃ ܗܳܐ ܟܪܺܝܟܺܝܢ ܠܶܗ ܠܺܐܝܠܳܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܒܡܰܕܒܰܚ ܩܘܽܕܫܳܐ܀
Priests were appointed to the office of the spiritual Seraphim, to which it had been proper to appoint Adam… ܘܰܒܬܶܫܡܶܫܬܳܐ ܗܺܝ ܕܰܣܪ̈ܳܦܶܐ ܪ̈ܘܽܚܳܢܳܝܶܐ܃ ܩܳܝܡܺܝܢ ܟܳܗ̈ܢܶܐ ܕܒܳܗ݀ ܙܳܕܶܩ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܕܰܢܩܘܽܡ ܐܳܕܳܡ܀
They glorify Him in the Church, God’s Eden, and give the fruits of the Tree of Life to the entire world. ܘܰܡܫܰܒܚܺܝܢ ܠܶܗ ܒܥܺܕ̱ܬܳܐ ܕܺܐܝܬܶܝܗ݀ ܥܕܶܝܢ ܕܰܐܠܳܗܳܐ܃ ܘܝܳܗܒܺܝܢ ܦܺܐܪ̈ܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܕܺܐܝܠܳܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܠܥܳܠܡܳܐ ܟܽܠܶܗ܀
The priests stand at the blessed fountain of Eden and irrigate from it the entire creation that thirsts for Him. ܘܩܳܝܡܺܝܢ ܟܳܗ̈ܢܶܐ ܥܰܠ ܡܳܒܘܽܥܳܐ ܒܪܺܝܟܳܐ ܕܰܥܕܶܢ܃ ܘܡܰܫܩܶܝܢ ܡܶܢܶܗ ܠܟܽܠܳܗ݀ ܒܪܺܝܬܳܐ ܕܝܰܐܝܺܒܳܐ ܠܶܗ܀
They hold the keys which the Head of the disciples received and open the doors of life that the entire world might enter. ܩܠܺܝ̈ـܕܶܐ ܛܥܺܝܢܺܝܢ ܗܳܠܶܝܢ ܕܰܫܩܰܠ ܪܺܝܫ ܬܰܠܡܺܝ̈ܕܶܐ܃ ܘܦܳܬܚܺܝܢ ܬܰܪ̈ܥܶܐ ܕܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܕܢܶܥܘܽܠ ܥܳܠܡܳܐ ܟܽܠܶܗ܀
They take up common bread to the Altar while reciting [prayers] and bring down from it an Immolated Body that the Church might eat from it. ܠܰܚܡܳܐ ܫܚܺܝܡܳܐ ܡܰܣܩܺܝܢ ܣܳܕܪܺܝܢ ܥܰܠ ܦܳܬܘܽܪܳܐ܃ ܘܦܰܓܪܳܐ ܩܛܺܝܠܳܐ ܡܰܚܬܺܝܢ ܡܶܢܶܗ ܠܥܺܕ̱ܬܳܐ ܬܶܟܘܽܠ܀
They pour wine of vines in chalices in the Holy of Holies, and it becomes blood that the entire world might be pardoned with it. ܚܰܡܪܳܐ ܕܓܘܽܦ̈ܢܶܐ ܒܟܳܣ̈ܶܐ (ܕܡܝܢ) ܪܳܡܶܝܢ ܒܶܝܬ ܚܘܽܣܳܝܳܐ܃ ܘܰܕܡܳܐ ܗܳܘܶܐ ܕܢܶܬܚܰܣܶܐ ܒܶܗ ܥܳܠܡܳܐ ܟܘܽܠܶܗ܀

An Extract from Jacob of Sarug’s Commentary on the Parable of the Good Samaritan

Behold! Our Lord is the Tree of Life bearing fruit. Come, let us pluck from Him and eat from Him the choice harvest. ܗܳܐ ܐܺܝܠܳܢܳܐ ܕܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܡܳܪܰܢ ܘܰܛܥܺܝܢ ܦܺܐܪ̈ܶܐ܃ ܬܰܘ ܢܶܩܛܘܽܦ ܠܰܢ ܘܢܶܐܟܘܽܠ ܡܶܢܶܗ ܐܶܒܳܐ ܓܰܒܝܳܐ܀
We have sufficiently eaten from the tree of knowledge! The Tree of Life came to us that we might eat from it. ܟܰܕܘܽ ܐ̱ܟܰܠܢܰܢ ܡܶܢ ܐܺܝܠܳܢܳܐ ܗܰܘ ܕܺܝܕܰܥܬܳܐ܃ ܐܶܬܳܐ ܠܘܳܬܰܢ ܐܺܝܠܳܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܢܶܐܟܘܽܠ ܡܶܢܶܗ܀
Behold! The Church is the Divine Paradise, and the Holy Altar is that Tree full of Life. ܗܳܐ ܦܰܪܕܰܝܣܳܐ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܝܳܐ ܥܺܕ̱ܬܳܐ ܐܺܝܬܶܝܗ݀ ܃ ܘܗܰܘ ܐܺܝܠܳܢܳܐ ܕܰܡܠܶܐ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܡܰܕܒܰܚ ܩܘܽܕܫܳܐ܀

Death of “Sin and Death” on the Cross – An Excerpt from “On the Crucifixion” by Jacob of Sarug (ca. AD 451-521)


Our Lord was crucified, bore the debts of the entire world, and fastened sin [on the cross] with nails that it might never reign again. ܙܩܺܝܦ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܡܳܪܰܢ ܘܰܛܥܺܝܢ ܚܰܘ̈ܒܶܐ ܕܟܽܠܳܗ ܬܺܒܶܝܠ܃ ܘܰܩܒܺܝܥܳܐ ܠܶܗ ܚܛܺܝܬܳܐ ܒܨܶܨ̈ܶܐ ܕܬܘܽܒ ܠܳܐ ܬܰܡܠܶܟ܀
While crucifying Him on Golgotha, they crucified [also sin] with Him that [sin] might never again slay another generation henceforth. ܟܰܕ ܙܳܩܦܺܝܢ ܠܶܗ ܙܰܩܦܳܗ݀ ܥܰܡܶܗ ܥܰܠ ܓܳܓܘܽܠܬܳܐ܃ ܕܠܳܐ ܬܘܽܒ ܬܶܩܛܽܘܠ ܕܳܪ̈ܶܐ ܐ̱ܚܪ̈ܳܢܶܐ ܡܶܢܶܗ ܘܰܠܟܳܐ܀
He led sin from the tribunal to [the place of the] crucifixion, lifted up with Him the daughter of perdition, and slew her on the cross. ܕܒܰܪ ܠܰܚܛܺܝܬܳܐ ܡܶܢ ܒܶܝܬ ܕܺܝܢܳܐ ܠܰܙܩܺܝܦܘܬܳܐ܃ ܘܰܐܣܩܳܗ݀ ܥܰܡܶܗ ܘܰܩܛܠܳܗ݀ ܒܩܰܝܣܳܐ ܠܒܰܪ̱ܬ ܐܰܒܕܳܢܳܐ܀
Sin slew Adam with a tree from the beginning.
For this reason did the Son of God slay [sin] on a tree.
ܚܛܺܝܬܳܐ ܒܩܰܝܣܳܐ ܩܶܛܠܰܬ ܠܳܐܕܳܡ ܡܶܢ ܫܘܽܪܳܝܳܐ܃ ܘܡܶܛܽܠܗܳܢܳܐ ܒܩܰܝܣܳܐ ܩܰܛܠܳܗ݀ ܒܰܪ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ܀
Our Lord died indeed on account of sin. For this reason did He die and slay [sin] by His crucifixion. ܠܰܚܛܺܝܬܳܐ ܓܶܝܪ ܡܺܝܬ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܡܳܪܰܢ ܟܰܕ ܡܳܐܶܬ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ܃  ܘܡܶܛܽܠܗܳܢܳܐ ܡܺܝܬ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܘܩܰܛܠܳܗ݀ ܒܰܙܩܺܝܦܘܽܬܶܗ܀
The Tree of Life destroyed the tree of knowledge, shook down Its fruit on the dead and resurrected them. ܐܺܝܠܳܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܫܪܳܝܗ̱ܝ ܠܺܐܝܠܳـܢܳܐ ܗܰܘ ܕܺܝܕܰܥܬܳܐ܃ ܕܰܐܬܰܪ ܦܺܐܪܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܥܰܠ ܡܳܝ̈ܘܽܬܶܐ ܘܢܰـܚܶܡ ܐܶܢܘܽܢ܀
Our Redeemer uprooted the tree of death by His death that the tree that slew Adam might never again be fruitful. ܠܗܰܘ ܐܺܝܠܳܢܳܐ ܕܡܘܰܬܳܐ ܒܡܘܰܬܶܗ ܥܩܰܪ ܦܳܪܘܽܩܰܢ܃ ܕܬܘܽܒ ܠܳܐ ܢܶܬܶܠ ܦܺܐܪ̈ܶܐ ܩܰܝܣܳܐ ܕܩܰܛܠܶܗ ܠܳܐܕܳܡ܀
He cut down the bitter tree of knowledge with the Tree of Life which He chose to sprout from Golgotha. ܚܪܰܒ ܐܺܝܠܳܢܳܐ ܗܰܘ ܕܺܝܕܰܥܬܳܐ ܕܡܰܪܺܝܪܳܐ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ܃ ܒܺܐܝܠܳܢ ܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܕܰܨܒܳܐ ܕܢܺܐܥܶܐ ܡܶܢ ܓܳܓܘܽܠܬܳܐ܀
He stretched out His arms like branches at the crucifixion, His fruit fell off on the ground of the dead, and it bore life [immediately]. ܦܫܰܛ ܗ̱ܘܳܐ ܕܪ̈ܳܥܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܒܰܙܩܺܝܦܘܽܬܳܐ ܐܰܝܟ ܣܰܘ̈ܟܳܬܳܐ܃ ܘܰܢܬܰܪܘ ܦܺܐܪ̈ܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܒܰܐܪܥܳܐ ܕܡܺܝ̈ܬܶܐ ܘܚܰܝ̈ܶܐ ܛܶܥܢܰܬ܀
He lured the formidable Serpent to Golgotha, attacked it, and crushed it with the suffering of His crucifixion. ܐܰܛܥܺܝ ܐܰܣܩܶܗ ܠܚܶܘܝܳܐ ܪܰܒܳܐ ܨܶܝܕ ܓܳܓܘܽܠܬܳܐ܃ ܘܰܗܦܰܟ ܥܠܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܘܪܰܨܶܗ ܒܚܰܫܳܐ ܕܰܙܩܺܝܦܘܽܬܶܗ܀
By the nails of His hands He pierced the venom of the Snake that it might never again fill the earth devastation by its hateful deceit. ܒܨܶܨ̈ܶܐ ܕܐܺܝ̈ـܕܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܒܰܙܥܳܗ݀ ܠܡܶܪܬܶܗ ܕܗܰܘ ܚܰܪܡܳܢܳܐ܃ ܕܠܳܐ ܬܘܽܒ ܢܶܡܠܶܝܗ݀ ܠܰܐܪܥܳܐ ܚܪ̈ܺܝܒܶܐ ܒܢܶܟܠܶܗ ܣܰܢܝܳܐ܀
To accomplish this, He brought Himself to the crucifixion, stretched out His hands and received the nails from the insolent ones. ܕܢܶܣܥܘܽܪ ܗܳܠܶܝܢ ܐܰܝܬܝ ܝܳܬܶܗ ܠܰܙܩܺܝܩܘܽܬܳܐ܃ ܘܰܦܫܰܛ ܐܺܝ̈ـܕܰܘܗ̱ܝ ܩܰܒܶܠ ܨܶܨ̈ܶܐ ܡܶܢ ܡܰܪ̈ܳܚܶܐ܀

He had Made Peace Along the Whole Road so it Can Now be Travelled Without Fear


 

Jacob of SarugThis links displays/downloads an Arabic translation of this article in pdf.


The Book of Accompaniment is the oldest extant Maronite document which preserves the funeral rites celebrated by the Maronite Church.1,2 Then Msgr. Hector Y. Doueihi, now Emeritus Bishop of the Maronite Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, explains in the introduction,

“[The title and the concept it contains] indicate that the dead, who have ended their journey in this life, are starting another journey in the life beyond. According to the ancient spiritual vision of the early Syriac Churches, the passage to eternal life is hampered by obstacles and dangers. The departed need special support and guidance on their journey. Thus, the funeral rites are a complex of psalms, hymns, Scripture readings and prayers that ‘accompany’ them on this ‘other’ journey. The texts implore the ‘company’ of the Lord and his mysteries for them, and pray for protection and safety on their journey. The funeral rites, are, therefore, rites of ‘accompaniment’ which are celebrated on the road as one begins the journey to new life.”3

Not only do the departed need special support and guidance on their journey, but the living, who mourn the death of their loved ones and are traveling on the same road of faith, seek a message of hope and consolation as well.4 Jacob of Sarug  (ca. 451 – 521), a prolific Syriac Church Father and known as the Flute of the Holy Spirit, provides his readers with such a message. He teaches that it is none other than Jesus Christ who accompanies the deceased and the living on this road traveled by all grudgingly and with fear. The objective of this brief column5 is to share with the reader this powerful insight which Jacob draws from his main source of pastoral, theological, spiritual and poetical insight, i.e., the Bible. Furthermore, this column’s other goal is to encourage the interpretation of the three stations of the Maronite funeral rites, or better yet the three stations of the accompaniment rites, in light of Jacob’s explanation.

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