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ReligionChristianityGod gives shepherds according to the heart of the people

God gives shepherds according to the heart of the people

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By St. Anastasius of Sinai, ecclesiastical writer, also known as Anastasius III, Metropolitan of Nicaea, lived in the 8th century.

Question 16: When the apostle says that the authorities of this world are set up by God, does this mean that every ruler, king and bishop is raised up by God?

Answer: From what God said in the Law, “And I will give you shepherds in your hearts” (Jer. 3: 15), it is clear that those princes and kings who are worthy of this honor are appointed by God; while those who are not worthy, they are set over the unworthy people according to their unworthiness, by God’s permission or will. Hear some stories about this.

When the tyrant Phocas became king and began to carry out the bloodshed through the executioner Vosonius, a monk from Constantinople, who was a holy man and had great courage before God, turned to Him with simplicity, saying: “Lord, why did you make him king?”. And after he had repeated this for many days, an answer came from God, which read: “Because I have not found a worse one.”

There was another very sinful city around Thebaid, in which many vile and indecent things happened. In this city, a very depraved resident of it suddenly fell into some false love, went, cut his hair and put on a monastic habit, but did not stop doing his evil deeds. It happened, therefore, that the bishop of that city died. An angel of the Lord appeared to a holy man and said to him: “Go and prepare the city so that they may choose as bishop one who comes from the laity.” The holy man went and did what was commanded. And as soon as the one who came from the rank of the laity was ordained, i.e. the same layman of whom we have mentioned, in the mind of (the new bishop) came dreams and high-mindedness. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him: “Why do you think highly of yourself, wretch? You did not become a bishop because you were worthy of the priesthood, but because this city is worthy of such a bishop.”

Therefore, if you see any unworthy and wicked king, chief, or bishop, do not wonder, nor blame God’s providence, but learn and believe that because of our sins we are given over to such tyrants. But even so, we do not move away from evils.

Source: Φιλοκαλία τῶν Νηπτικῶν καί Ἀσκητῶν (Ἀναστάσιος ὁ Σιναΐτης), τόμ. 13Β, Ε.Π.Ε., ἐκδ. “Γρηγοριος ὁ Παλαμᾶς”, Thessaloniki 1998, σ. 225 ἑξ.

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