Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Love of Neighbor Leads us Closer to God and Love of God Leads us Closer to Love of Our Neighbor



Saint Dorotheos of Gaza quoting Scripture says, "as it is said, 'Love covers up a multitude of sins', and again 'Love thinks no evil...hides everything.'  He tells us that if we want to be saved we must not look at the shortcomings of our neighbor, but have compassion on them and think only of our own shortcomings and how to eliminate them. This is how we love God and come closer to Him.  He then gives us an example from the Fathers.

Suppose now I were to take a compass and insert the point and draw the outline of a circle.  The center point is the same distance from any point on the circumference. Now concentrate your minds on what is to be said! Let us suppose that this circle is the world and that God himself is the center; the straight lines drawn from the circumference to the center are the lives of men.  To the degree that the saints enter into the things of the spirit, they desire to come near to God; and in proportion to their progress is the things of the spirit, they do in fact come close to God and to their neighbor.  The closer they are to God, the closer they become to one another; and the closer they are to one another, the closer they become to God. Now consider in the same context the question of separation; for when they stand away from God and turn to external things, it is clear that the more they recede and become distant from God,the more the become distant from one another. See!  This is the very nature of love.  The more we are turned away from and do not love God, the greater the distance that separates us from our neighbor.  If we were to love God more, we should be closer to God, and through love of him we should be closer to God, and through love of Him we should be more united in love to our neighbor; and the more we are united to our neighbor the more we are united to God.  

Love is the essence of a Christian life.  Elder Porphyrios is a modern day saint who emphasizes the fundamental nature of of love in our spiritual development.  Any time we cannot love another person we cannot love God.  As we come loser to loving every person, the closer we are to God.  The more we love God the more we will love our neighbor.  This is the main spiritual rule that Jesus has given us in His universal commandments to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Reference: Dorotheos of Gaza: Discourses and Sayings, pp 138 - 139

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