Life of Mar Aba – chapters 25 and 26

We’re now back to history.

It is never safe for oriental potentates to be away from the centre of power.  They tend to get overthrown.  Being away from court, Mar Aba was now vulnerable to court intrigues.

25.  After the saint had spent seven years in this way, without ever crossing the threshold of the house in which he lived, being constant in fasting, prayer, and writing letters excellent in every way, which he sent out in order to govern his subordinate provinces, Satan became full of envy and could not endure these magnificent things.

He caused a second Judas, unworthy of the name of  Petrus Gurganara, who from a spiritual pastor had become a ravening wolf, to deny Christ and embrace the error of magianism, because the purity and integrity of the church expelled him from its womb because of his many abominations and immoralities, like a splinter from the eye, and, with the traitor, his associates.

He went to the chief magian and at the command of the king obtained a order of apostasy[1], that any of the bishops, priests and deacons ordained by the blessed one who did not resign should be thrown into prison, and that no-one should refer to him[2] as Catholicos, because he only became a Christian in later life.

26.  When this command was broadcast by the machinations of the apostate and his associates, some fearful people were influenced, and all prayed to God that he would have mercy on his church and not deliver it into the hands of the destroyer.  But when the traitor got this order and took it to Azerbaijan and convinced the Mobed of the area to prosecute the disciples of the blessed one before him and, because of his murderous ambition,  to treat the blessed one in the same way as his disciples, the Lord did not fulfil his wicked desire.  Instead he inspired the Mobedan (Mobed) and the magians to call him[3] before them and to question him in the way he[4] wanted.  And the Mobed said, “I do not have the authority to question him.”[5]  Some of the magians mentioned said, however, “He shall come before us as we are very determined to see him.” 

And because he was persuaded to, he came before their assembly and they let him seat himself in great honour.”  And because they heard sound thinking from his mouth, they reviled and beat the apostate, so that he hid himself from them. 

When he saw his hopes come to nothing, he sought another way to kill the saint.  He hired some rascals and came with them to the place where the godly one lived, to murder him and give as an excuse that he[6] was escaping from custody. 

But God, who knew the thoughts of the traitor, did not allow it.  For when the traitor arrived secretly at night with his men, entered and searched for his disciples, he heard the voice of the blessed one, and from fright and shame became weak and trembly and could not lay a hand on him.[7]  The men of the house found out, and the people of the village, and they came, beat the apostates, and drove him away, together with the magians that he had brought with him.

The attempt to dispose of Mar Aba, first by legal and then  by direct means, was clearly very amateurish and failed.  But it was a wake-up call for Mar Aba.

  1. [1]The writer seems to mean that the order itself indicated that the person brandishing it was an apostate.
  2. [2]Mar Aba.
  3. [3]Mar Aba.
  4. [4]Petrus Gurganara.
  5. [5]Is this “question” as in “being put to the question”, i.e. torture?
  6. [6]Mar Aba.
  7. [7]Not an experienced conspirator, it seems!

Leave a Reply