Theodore tells us the story of two heroes who understood the real meaning of bravery.
Bishop Ambrose heard about the decree of Emperor Theodosius and realised that it will result in the shedding of innocent blood. The Bishop went to the Altar of the Lord to receive God's guidance. He lifted his eyes to God as if to say,
"Who in this world can oppose the Emperor?
But, I say with the Prophet Jeremiah,
"Fire is kindled in my bones and I can not keep quiet."
Also David said with a strong voice,
"I speak in front of the kings and without fear." Therefore, I’ll prevent the Emperor from entering into the holy places, even if I pay my life on earth as a price."
Bishop Ambrose met with Fr. Rofinus whom the Emperor respected and quietly told him, "Please tell the Emperor that his decree will result in the shedding of innocent blood. Tell him that even if the people supported him God would not excuse him. Let him know that I’ll prevent him from entering the holy places, even if the price was my life."
Fr. Rofinus was very much disturbed and went quickly to inform the Emperor of what Bishop Ambrose told him. He knew about the power of the Emperor and also about the determination of the Bishop.
The Emperor had already marched from his palace towards the Cathedral. Though he heard what Fr. Rofinus told him, he did not return but continued on his way.
The Bishop saw the Emperor coming. He stopped him and rebuked him for his unfair decree. He expected the Emperor to become furious and punish him. On the contrary, the Emperor with humility told the Bishop,
"I didn’t come here to defy the rules, I’m not going to enter the holy places by force. Rather I came that you may give me absolution. Don’t close the door of our Lord which He opened for all who come to Him repenting."
"How can I give you absolution and your hasty decree will result in the shedding of innocent blood? If you wish, you may put off your decree for the time being until you study the matter carefully and justice prevails. He who deserves to die, let him die but don’t shed innocent blood."
"I’ve no objection. I’ll study the matter carefully this month, as I’ve hastened in writing this decree."
Then the Bishop gave permission to the Emperor to enter the church of God. The historian Theodore said, "As the Emperor entered the church to pray, not caring for his dignity or position, he fell on his face crying with the words of the Prophet David,
"My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word" (Ps. 119.25).
The Emperor made a mistake and was about to shed innocent blood.
He did not care for his position or power,
But with the spirit of humility he opened the doors of God's mercy.
He did not rebuke the Bishop for his firmness,
But blamed himself for his own evil.
God, let me search the depth of my soul,
In order not to be occupied with this world,
But with Your kingdom inside me.
I confess my sins, trusting in Your great mercy.
Grant me the heart of Bishop Ambrose,
Not caring for my earthly life,
But for the salvation of my soul and the salvation of my brethren.
I fear You and thus I fear no one else.
I please You and thus I do not seek to please any one else.
Do we tell You "We love nothing?" "No." for if you do not love, you have no feelings, you are dead, detested and miserable.
Love but make sure whom you love.
Fire on the Ships
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