Thursday, August 5, 2010

How Can We Love When Someone Harms Us?


First, we should never expect others to speak to us politely. This expectation is an ego-centric trait of ours. We need to let other speak as they wish . Elder Porphyrios says, “we shouldn’t become beggars for love. Our aim should be to love them and pray for them with all our soul.”

But what do we do when someone injures us with slanders or insults. This is a difficult teaching. Here is how Elder Porphyrios approaches it. 
When someone injures us in whatever way, whether with slander or with insults, we should think of him as our brother who has been taken hold of by the enemy…. We need to have compassion for him and entreat God to have mercy both on us and on him… A person who condemns others does not love Christ. Our egoism is at fault. 
He gives us an example: 
Let’s suppose someone is all alone in the desert. Suddenly he hears a voice crying out in distress in the distance. He follows the sound and is confronted by a horrendous sight: a tiger has grabbed hold of a man and is savaging him with his claws. The man is desperately shouting for help. In a few minutes he will be torn to pieces. What can the person do to help? Can he run to his side? How? It is impossible. Can he shout for help? Who will hear him? There is no one within earshot. Should he perhaps pick up a stone and throw it at the man to finish him off? Certainly not, we would say. But that is exactly what can happen if we don’t realize that the other person who is acting badly towards us has been taken hold of by a tiger, the devil. We fail to realize that when we react to such a person without love it is as if we are throwing stones at his wounds and accordingly we are doing him great harm and the “tiger” leaps onto us and we to the same as him and worse. What kind of love do we have then for our neighbor and even more importantly, for God?.. We should regard our brethren with sympathy and behave with courtesy towards them, repeating in our hearts with simplicity the prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ,” so that the grace of God may strengthen our soul and so that we don't pass judgment on anyone.
Our task when we are injured and we see an vice in another person is to inundate him or her with the grace of God and have the upmost compassion so he or she may be healed. 
In everything, do to others what you would want them to do to you. This is what is written in the Law and in the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12) 

Reference: Wounded By Love, pp 182 - 183

1 comment:

  1. Last night I worked at the library. A stranger came in. He spent a lot of time there. He wasn't all too normal, obnoxious also. He made noise. He made a lot of demands. He asked for many things. He nearly emtied the candy bowl we have out for people. The longer he stayed the more I could feel the jugement rise up in my heart. I tried to have compassion on him, but in the end, I was very glad when he finally left. In the end, I merely put up with him and I missed an opportunity to offer the love of Christ. I'll remember this story from the Elder Porphyrios, but also be on guard for what I expect from others. It is true about the ego and the need to be loved. Peace be with you.

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