Pambo and the Sermon on the Mount

The author of this blog has, over the past few years, blogged on various bits of Scripture that appealed to him, including the Himalayan task of doing a Web-based Word Study on the entire Sermon on the Mount, line by line — a project which he surreptitiously stopped.

Reasons abound, and the first few have to do with the lack of time, the changing of the writer’s theology, vision, etc, while the last one has to do with the inadequacy of the writer, illustrated by the following story.

This account occurs in an introduction to the Holy Transfiguration Monastery’s great translation of The Psalter: According to the Seventy, quoting a Patristic anecdote from the Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus: “Pambo, our holy father, being an illiterate man whent to one of the fathers who knew letters for the purpose of being taught a psalm. And, having heard the first verse of the thirty-eighth psalm, ‘I said: I will take heed to my ways lest I sin with my tongue,’ he departed without staying to heard the second verse, saying ‘this one will suffice if I can learn it in deed.’ And then father who had given him the verse reproved him because he had not seen him for the space of six months, the blessed one answered that he had not yet learned in deed the verse of the psalm. After a considerable lapse of time, being asked by one of his friends whether he had made himself master of the verse, he answered thus, ‘In all of the nineteen years, I have only just succeeded in accomplishing it.'”

My feelings are similar with regard to the Sermon on the Mount. I am not qualified to write too much about these sayings, because I cannot quite live them. In fact, let us just skip to the end of the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 7: “And whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not, shall I liken unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand…” Indeed, blogging the Sermon on the Mount seems to me now to be a spiritually unprofitable task, although trying to live my life according to those principles seems much more rewarding in comparison.

Give me another 19 years and I may have mastered one or two verses.


About Pete Mladineo

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