A Wise Word 


He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly. . . .  A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. (Proverbs 14:29… 15:1-2) 

A story from the desert fathers to illustrate the above aphorisms: 

They used to say of Abba Macarius the Egyptian that he was once going up from Scete to the Mountain of Nitria and when he drew near to the place he said to his disciple: ‘Go on ahead a little.’ As he went ahead he encountered a priest of the pagans. The brother called out to him shouting: ‘Hey, hey demon, where are you running to? [The other] turned round and dealt him a few blows, leaving him half dead, then took his club and ran on. A little further on Abba Macarius encountered him running and said to him: ‘I hope you are well, I hope you are well, you who toil.’ Amazed, [the Pagan] 51636291703_16b1d18681_wcame to him and said: ‘What good did you see in me that you saluted me?’ The elder said to him: ‘It is just that I saw you toiling and you do not know you are toiling to no avail.’ The other said to him: ‘I was pricked in my conscience by your greeting and I learned that you were on God’s side. Another monk, a bad one, met me and reviled me so I gave him a few blows [and put him] to death.’ The elder perceived that it was his disciple. The priest grasped his feet saying: ‘I will not let you go unless you make me a monk.’ Coming to where the [disciple-] monk was they picked him up and brought him into the church of the Mountain. [The brothers] were astounded when they saw the priest with [Abba Macarius] and they made [the priest] a monk; many pagans became Christians through him. Abba Macarius used to say: ‘A harsh word makes the good bad but a good [word] benefits everybody.’  (GIVE ME A WORD, pp 191-192) 

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