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vendredi 17 juin 2016

From a treatise on the Lord’s Prayer by Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr (Nn. 23-24: CSEL 3, 284-285) We are God’s children; let us abide in his peace



Christ clearly laid down an additional rule to bind us by a certain contractual condition: we ask that our debts be forgiven insofar as we forgive our own debtors. Thus we are made aware that we cannot obtain what we ask regarding our own trespasses unless we do the same for those who trespass against us. This is why he says elsewhere: The measure you give will be the measure you get. And the servant who, after his master forgives all his debt, refuses to forgive his fellow servant is thrown into prison. Because he refused to be kind to his fellow servant, he lost the favor his master had given him.

Along with his other precepts Christ lays this down even more forcefully with a most vigorous condemnation. He says: When you stand up to pray, if you have anything against anyone, let it go, so that your heavenly Father may also forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses. You will have no excuse on the day of judgment, for then you will be judged just as you have judged, and you will suffer whatever you have done to others.

God bids us to be peace-loving, harmonious and of one mind in his house; he wants us to live with the new life he gave us at our second birth. As sons of God, we are to abide in peace; as we have one Spirit, we should be one in mind and heart. Thus God does not receive the sacrifice of one who lives in conflict, and he orders us to turn back from the altar and be first reconciled with our brother, that God too may be appeased by the prayers of one who is at peace. The greatest offering we can make to God is our peace, harmony among fellow Christians, a people united with the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

When Cain and Abel first offered their sacrifices, God considered not so much the gifts as the spirit of the giver: God was pleased with Abel’s offering because he was pleased with his spirit. Thus Abel the just man, the peacemaker, in his blameless sacrifice taught men that when they offer their gift at the altar they should approach as he did, in the fear of God, simplicity of heart, ruled by justice and peaceful harmony. Since this was the character of Abel’s offering, it was only right that he himself should afterward become a sacrifice. As martyrdom’s first witness and possessing the Lord’s qualities of justice and peace, he foreshadowed the Lord’s passion in the glory of his own death. Such, then, are the men who are crowned by the Lord and will be justified with him on the day of judgment.

But Saint Paul and the sacred Scriptures tell us that the quarrelsome man and the troublemaker, who is never at peace with his brothers, cannot escape the charge of internal dissension even though he may die for Christ’s name. For it is written: He who hates his brother is a murderer, nor can he attain the kingdom of heaven. God cannot abide a murderer. He cannot be united with Christ, who has preferred to imitate Judas rather than Christ.