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THE SHEPHERD OF HERMAS

by their own pleasure. And so this kind of luxury can be profitable for the slaves of God, and provides life to such a per­ son. But the harmful luxuries that I men­ tioned before provide torments and pun­ ishments. If people remain in them without repenting, they provide death for themselves.”

Parable Seven (VII) After a few days I saw him in the same plain where I had seen the shepherds, and he said to me, “What are you looking for?” “I have come here, Lord,” I said, “to ask you to order the punishing angel to leave my house, be­ cause he is afflicting me terribly.” “You need to be afflicted,” he replied, “because this is what the glorious angel com­ manded for you. For he wants you to be put to the test.” “What evil thing have I done, Lord, to be handed over to this angel?” I asked. 2 “Listen,” he said, “your sins are many, but not enough for you to be handed over to this angel. But your household has committed great sins and lawless acts, and the glorious angel is embittered by their deeds. This is why he commanded you to be afflicted for a time, to lead them to repent and cleanse them­ selves from all worldly desires. When they repent and are cleansed, then the punishing angel will leave.” 3 I said to him, “Lord, even if they are acting in ways that embitter the glorious angel—what have I done?” “It cannot be otherwise,” he said. “They cannot be af­ flicted unless you are as well, since you are the head of the household. For if you are afflicted, of necessity they are too; but if you are flourishing, they can ex­ perience no affliction.”

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4 “But look, Lord,” I said, “they have in fact repented from their whole heart.” “I myself know they have repented from their whole heart,” he replied. “But do you think,” he said, “that the sins of those who repent are forgiven on the spot? Not at all! But the one who repents must torment his own soul and become might­ ily humble in his every deed and be af­ flicted with many and various afflictions. And if he should endure the afflictions that come upon him, the one who created and empowered all things will be fully compassionate and bring him some healing. 5 This will certainly happen if he sees that the heart of the one who repents is pure from every evil deed. And it is to your advantage, and to your household’s, to be afflicted now. But why am I telling you so much? You must be afflicted, just as that angel of the Lord commanded, the one who delivered you over to me. Give the Lord thanks for this—for he consid­ ered you worthy to have the affliction explained in advance, that by knowing about it in advance you could endure it strongly.” 6 I said to him, “Lord, be with me and I will be able to endure every affliction.” “I will be with you,” he said. “And I will also ask the punishing angel to afflict you less severely. You will be afflicted for a brief time, and you will again be restored to your place. But continue by being humble, serving the Lord with a pure heart, you, your children, and your household, and proceed in my command­ ments, which I have given you, and your repentance will be able to be strong and pure. 7 And if you guard these matters, along with your household, every afflic­ tion will leave you. And affliction will leave everyone who proceeds in these my commandments.” . . .

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