Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hymn of Kassiani

The Hymn of Kassiani is based on the text of Matthew 26:6-16, which speaks of the sinful woman who annointed Jesus' feet with costly fragrant oil. It is one of the most beautiful hymns in existence and is sung on Holy Tuesday evening at the Bridegroom Matins service.

O Lord God, the woman who had fallen into many sins, having perceived Thy divinity received the rank of ointment-bearer, offering Thee spices before Thy burial wailing and crying: "Woe is me, for the love of adultery and sin hath given me a dark and lightless night;

 Accept the fountains of my tears O Thou Who drawest the waters of the sea by the clouds

 Incline Thou to the sigh of my heart O Thou Who didst bend the heavens by Thine inapprehensible condescension;

 I will kiss Thy pure feet and I will wipe them with my tresses.

 I will kiss Thy feet Whose tread when it fell on the ears of Eve in Paradise dismayed her so that she did hide herself because of fear.

 Who then shall examine the multitude of my sin and the depth of Thy judgment?

 Wherefore, O my Saviour and the Deliverer of my soul, turn not away from Thy handmaiden, O Thou of boundless mercy.

Beautiful, yes? For me the feeling after hearing this was always one of rightness - the sinful woman acted rightly in asking Jesus to forgive her many sins and be merciful. I know I have often felt the great weight of my own sins and have known the need for repentance and turning away from sin and toward Christ. But something else has only recently become clear to me in this. When I am aware of my own sinfulness my response is self-loathing and the feeling that I have no right to turn to God. He could not possibly want someone like me, even if I come in repentance.

That is my own pride. That's me saying I know better than God. I wouldn't want someone like me, therefore He wouldn't either. But this woman was humble enough to go to Jesus in spite of what He might think of her. She wanted Him more than anything in the world and so she went to Him offering the most precious gift she could think of. She forgot her own self because she could only think of Him.

And so I think I need to learn from this woman. I need to gaze upon Christ so much that I forget everything else but Him. I need to put my sins behind me and not allow the guilt to weigh me down, but instead be so full of Christ that His love and mercy cover them over. I am not even capable of doing it without His help, but I know that He desires my salvation even more than I do, so if I will only invite Him in He will fill me with Himself. 

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