The Evangelical Psalm of the Syrian
O Jesus, like the blind man of Jericho, we have never seen you: we have learnt about you from what our forebears told us.
We believed in the same manner that this blind man believed, because he was not able to see.
He manifested his faith through his shouting coming from the depth of his heart when he realised that you were near him.
Similarly we have not seen you; yet we love you; we pray to you, and we praise you.
Strengthen ever more our faith in you, a faith that works through love.
Every organ of your body, o Jesus, is for us adorable,
since they all belong to your divine person.
We contemplate your feet in all their splendour as we remember what is written: “How beautiful on the mountains, are the feet of the messenger announcing peace, of the messenger of good news…” (Is 52,7).
Who can ever measure the distances you walked in order to fulfil your mission!
Sometimes your walking tired you, and once, tired as you were, you sat down resting by Jacob’s well.
And on that occasion you changed the life of the Samaritan adulterous woman, and in turn she herself was the cause that others turned to you.
She believed in you, because you revealed to her the secrets of her heart.
The waters of the Jordan wetted your feet when you went into the river to be baptised by John the Baptist.
There you became one with sinners, and the Baptist refused to baptise you. He would not comply until your commanding words persuaded him.
And as soon as you came up from the water John saw the Holy Spirit descending on you in the form of a dove,
and heard the voice from heaven proclaiming that you are the beloved Son of God and that his favour rests on you.
Your feet dangled as you sat on the mule in your triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and you were welcomed by the shouts of Hosanna to the Son of David.
Mary Magdalene, sorrowful for her sins, wetted your feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair, kissing them repeatedly.
Your mother and all those who on Calvary witnessed your death saw our feet nailed to the cross,
and dropping blood which wetted the ground like the blood of Abel which soaked the earth
and shouted up to God. Similarly even your blood cried up to God:
Mercy, peace and salvation.
And what can we say about your hands? Your apostles saw your arms embrace little children to your bosom and you placed your hands on their heads in blessing.
It was then that you said that no one enters God’s kingdom unless one comes to resemble little children.
Some among our forebears saw your hands making a paste with the ground dust and placing it over the eyes of the man born blind.
Several among your disciples saw your hands blessing and multiplying the bread and fish in the desert.
You gave out the bread with your very hands to your disciples who distributed it to the crowds.
The Scribes and the Pharisees, who brought the adulteress to you, saw you writing in the dust with your finger,
and then you told them, “Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn 8,7).
In the Garden of Olives your hands healed the severed right ear of the servant Malchus which Peter had cut off by his sword.
At the Last Super your apostles saw you giving out the bread with your own hands in order to be eaten by them, as your hands did with the chalice so as they drink from it.
The apostles remained struck by your humility when they saw your hands washing and wiping their feet.
Lord and Teacher, and yet you were there like a servant.
On Calvary, the people saw your hands nailed to the cross,
and when you rose from the dead and appeared to your apostles who were locked behind closed doors, you showed them your hands and feet after giving them your peace.
The apostle Thomas who was not with the Twelve did not want to believe.
Eight days later he saw you and you told him to place his finger in the hole of the nails,
Since he had declared, “Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe” (Jn 20,25).
And you told him there and then that blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.
Regarding faith, how many motives of credibility we have in order to provide us with reasons for believing!
O Jesus, your hands always gave out power and blessing on everything that they did or touched.
O Jesus, because of your eminence, whoever did not look at your face?
The first to behold it were your mother Mary and her husband Joseph.
The shepherds of Bethlehem looked on it, as did the Magi who as they gazed upon it prostrated themselves in adoration.
Stupefied by your wisdom, the elders of the Temple fixed their eyes on your face when you were among them asking them and answering their questions.
Your face was a delight for those that recognised your divinity, while it was frightful for the hard of heart.
Peter, John and James who were with you on the mountain saw it bright as the sun, and they were awesomely terrified.
And the same three, in the Garden of Gethsemani saw your face wet with sweat of blood.
Your face was seen enlightened by the lanterns of the Jewish guards who came to arrest you. They did recognise it and your gaze, added to your mighty word “I am Jesus of Nazareth”, felled them to the ground almost dead.
On this venerable face of yours Judas stamped his kiss of betrayal, thus marking you out to be caught.
The crowd that gathered before Pilate’s palace saw this face and head crowned with thorns.
Herod was very much eager to behold your face because of your widespread renown. He did see you, but the gravity of your face led him to parade you as insane.
You did not even answer one single question of his; your silence humiliated him.
Hence his soldiers and courtiers, sympathising with him, heaped contempt on you.
How many blows and spittle on this face whom the angles and we ourselves adore in spirit and truth!
Our forebears tell us that while you were on your way to be crucified, a woman pitied you and came over to wipe your face, and you miraculously left your facial image on her shroud.
From this we conclude that you want us to venerate your adorable face.
People in the world use money to acquire what they need,
and money carries value because it bears the image of the face of the king.
Hence it can’t be that we offer God the face of our Christ, and we wouldn’t have all the benefits we ask for.
O Jesus, your Father would not have seen this face of yours were it not because of sin.
O Jesus, grant us the grace to hate sin in the same manner as it is loathed by God.
O Jesus, grant that when we behold this face for the first time at our death, we would not see it set against us, but a friendly face.
And your ears, what haven’t they listened to while you were still here on earth?
They listened to joyful and to saddening matters.
They heard the voice of your heavenly Father both in the river Jordan and up on the mount of your transfiguration.
That voice said that you are the beloved Son of God, and that you are his delight.
They heard the sincere words of the centurion who stressed that he was not worthy to receive you in his house.
You were astonished by his humility and you declared that you haven’t found such faith in Israel.
Your ears listened to the seventy-two disciples joyfully announcing to you that even the devils obeyed their words.
You cautioned them saying that you have seen Satan falling down like lightening,
and that they should rather rejoice because their names are written in heaven.
Your ears heard the jubilation of the Hosanna as you were entering Jerusalem in triumph.
They heard the wailing of the Jerusalem women when you were going up Calvary to be killed.
Your ears heard your enemies shouting at Pilate, “Crucify him, crucify him!”
Your ears listened to the declaration of Pilate the governor proclaiming your innocence, and that he could not find grounds to condemn you.
Your ears listened to the voice of Mary at the Cana wedding. You could not resist her,
and you changed water into wine even though your hour had not yet come.
Your ears listened to the supplication of the good thief, and you immediately assured him of heaven,
for he had asked you: “Lord, remember me when you are into your kingdom.”
You used to keep your black eyes lowered down since we read that you raised them up towards heaven
before you prayed for the apostles and for us who were to believe on their account (through their teaching).
You raised your eyes towards heaven when you were about to establish the sacrifice of the New Covenant under the species of bread and wine,
and also when in the desert you blessed the loaves and multiplied them for the five thousand men: twelve baskets were filled with the remains.
You had just five loaves and two fish, and with them you fed and satisfied everybody.
Your eyes witnessed the marvellous glory of God on the transfiguration mount.
The Jewish soldiers on that Thursday night blindfolded your eyes at Caiphas’ palace.
They mocked you, struck you in the face, and, once they had covered your eyes,
they contemptuously asked you to tell them who struck you if you were the Son of God.
O Jesus, at that very moment you satisfied in a special manner Divine Justice for people who do not control their eyes.
Uncontrolled eyes excite people’s hearts to sin.
We ought to cry profusely because our eyes have not guarded well God’s law.
Your eyes looked upon the city of Jerusalem: you were moved to pity her and you cried.
They saw Mary Magdalene and the Jews that were with her, all crying: you were moved to shed tears as well.
You turned your eyes on Peter, and your gaze touched his heart for conversion and he went out crying.
He cried out the bitterness of his heart.
He moved out of the palace of the High Priest after thrice betraying you,
as you yourself had foretold him that he will deny you three times before the cock crows once.
Your eyes looked upon your sorrowful mother standing there beneath your cross,
together with the apostle John, your beloved disciple. You gave him your mother, thereby making him her son.
Your eyes did see so many sorrowful things, and also so much others that delighted you.
You are the Word of God, and your divine tongue pronounced this word of yours.
You gave us the word of life, as St Peer your apostle told you,
when you told your Twelve, “What about you, do you want to go away too?”
Some of your disciples considered it intolerable when you told them you were about to give them your flesh to eat and your blood to drink,
and hence they left you and stopped going with you.
Peter then told you, “Who shall we go to? You have the words of life.”
Your tongue pronounced your words for us, thus giving life to the world.
Your tongue glorified God, and enlightened our minds for our own salvation by the truths you taught us.
Your tongue cursed the fig tree to which you went to seek fruit, and found none.
You cursed it, and it withered away immediately to the astonishment of Peter and all those who were there with you.
Yes, we do venerate your tongue, and we diligently observe the words it uttered for us.
Thereby we hope that at that tremendous day of Judgement your tongue will declare us blessed, and you will bid us enter into your eternal glory.
O Jesus, what great might did your tongue manifest to our forebears!
Your tongue called forth Lazarus back to life after already dead for four days,
and he came out alive from the tomb amazing the crowd gathered there.
Your tongue sent away Satan who tempted you to prostrate yourself and adore him, and confounded he departed like lightening away from you.
Your tongue brought to shame the double-faced, and proved convincingly their hypocrisy.
Your tongue accused with hypocrisy the chief of the synagogue because he admonished people who sought you out to be healed even on a Saturday.
Your tongue called Herod a fox, and dogs and beasts those who didn’t want to kick off their sin.
Your tongue waxed suitable words for everyone who talked to you, but it uttered none to Herod, the king of Galilee, who happened to be in Jerusalem and to whom you were sent by Pilate.
Yes, none to Herod; you knew you were standing before the murderer of your closest friend, the saintly John the Baptist,
and hence Herod didn’t at all merit hearing the voice of your tongue.
He was eager to see you because he hungered for some miracle.
How much reason we have to bless this tongue of yours, o Jesus, for it elevated us from the kingdom of darkness to the light of truth!
Your tongue tasted the wine mixed with gall when you arrived on Calvary, but you didn’t want to drink it.
They gave you wine mixed with gall fearing that you would breath your last before you hang on the cross.
Your tongue tasted the bitterness of the vinegar when from the cross you admitted your thirst.
One of the soldiers immediately soaked a sponge in vinegar, put it on a stick and held it up to your mouth.
What to say about your heart? You ordered us to keep it before us as mirror for imitation. How melliferous and precious it is for us!
All that you’ve done for us, that you’ve told us and you’ve suffered for us / everything really came out of your heart.
Our heart is a depth of malice, while yours, o Jesus, is a source of holiness: you alone are holy in deed.
Through your grace, we can come to make our heart resemble yours.
Our heart seeks its own satisfaction in everything, while yours always sought God’s will.
Oh, would that we come to know God and yourself, then surely our heart’s treasure wouldn’t be anything else except God.
You yourself said that where people have their treasure, there would their heart be as well.
Your heart was God’s temple because corporally (?) God abided there due to the unity of your person with your human nature.
You said that from the abundance of one’s heart the mouth speaks: and you did speak out of the abundance of your heart.
From what you taught and told us, and from your deeds, we came to know your heart.
You had a heart on fire zealously eager that that same fire gets enkindled on earth.
You had a merciful heart, dealing with compassion towards your neighbour,
and merciful you were with everybody, even with your enemies.
Your compassion reached such an extent that you died for us so that we are not doomed.
Here on earth you had an austere heart (of bronze) towards yourself.
With perfect acceptance you bore contempt, insults, sufferings, persecutions, poverty.
And you left us an example to follow you by being patient in everything just as you were.
In order to save all people, your heart had to bear great sacrifices while you were on earth:
sacrifices in order to preach your teaching, your Gospel and your forgiveness;
sacrifices in order to satisfy divine justice, and thereby renewing us afresh as children of God;
sacrifices in order to convert sinners: you yourself said that it’s the sick who need the doctor.
And everything came from your heart that contained nothing but love.
Love does everything, every benefit, and those who do not love do not possess life, but are in death.
You loved us not in word but in deed and in truth.
There was only one single thing on earth that your heart hated, used to hate and still hates: sin.
You used to loath sin, but not the sinner.
We came to know your heart from its behaviour towards our forebears: and we recognised how gentle you were with sinners!
Now we know that that same heart of yours is still the same one as it used to be on earth: it hasn’t changed, nor will it ever change.
Hence, in our relation with you, we have to think of your dealings while still among us here on earth,
so as to turn to you in the same manner as sinners used to turn to you,
or the sick, the suffering and the needy ones.
And we know for sure that no one who turned to you remained without consolation and peace of heart.
O Jesus, we know that your blood is our ransom,
for it was through your blood that we came to be saved, as St Peter taught us: we were not redeemed by gold or silver,
but by your precious blood, of the true spotless Lamb.
Our soul is really precious since it was redeemed by divine blood: and it is also precious because it is on God’s image.
No sin could be forgiven without the shedding of blood, as St Paul teaches.
And, in order to sanctify your people through your blood, you suffered outside the gates.
Through your blood you merited for us God’s grace, and from bad people you made us saints.
O Jesus, your blood purifies our soul from sin.
Truly great is the virtue and power of your blood: its pre-figure, the blood of the Easter lamb, when, as instructed by Moses, marked the door posts of the Jewish people saved them from the destruction of the angel of death.
If the figure of your blood had such might, how much more powerful is your blood - the true reality of that figure!
The shedding of your blood cries much louder than that of Abel.
God had told Cain: “The voice of the blood of your brother shouts before me”.
And the voice of your blood constantly shouts before God: “mercy and grace.”
And in reverence to your dignity, this voice of yours was and is continually heeded.
Moses sprinkled the people with the blood of sacrificed animals, and he told them: “This is the blood of the covenant, that the Lord has done with you”, and at the Last Supper, you said: “This is my blood of the New Covenant that is shed for the remission of sins.”
Yours is real and true, while that of Moses a figure or type.
You gave us your blood to drink, and with your blood you washed pure our soul.
Some of our forebears saw the blood that was shed from your body at your circumcision,
You were then a one-week baby.
As you shed these first drops of blood you were named Jesus, that is Saviour,
because you were to save us by your blood.
Some of our forebears saw you sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemani, sweating blood so profusely that it fell to the ground as you were there in agony.
When Judas learned that you were condemned to death, he was deeply moved to sorrow for betraying you.
He went to give back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and to the elders,
telling them, “I have sinned. I have betrayed innocent blood.”
Can it be possible that you did not shed blood from your body during the flogging to which Pilate condemned you?
Can it be possible that no blood was shed from your head when you were crowned with thorns, and hit upon it by a reed?
You yourself heard the shouts of the people before Pilate: “His blood be on us and on our children.”
When Pilate washed his hands, he said: “I am innocent of this blood.”
O Jesus, I imagine myself on Calvary, and that I am seeing you lying on the cross,
and seeing the soldiers nailing your feet and your hands to the cross,
with your blood flowing out from them.
I imagine seeing you raised up on the cross, and your blood flowing from your wounds,
and wetting the ground.
And when you actually breathed your last on the cross, they wanted to be really certain that you were indeed dead. So one of the soldiers pierced your side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water.
O Jesus, grant that your blood will not be without effect for us.
It’s true that God showed us his love when we were still in sin, and he sent Christ to die for us.
Much more now that we are reconciled through his own blood we are saved from God’s wrath.
O Jesus, may your precious blood be blessed!
May that womb where your body was formed be blessed!