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The scandalous commandment

Maybe the most scandalous commandment given by Christ was the one in connection with the neighbour. “Love the God with all your soul and your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”. For the modern man, a lazy and an irresponsible man, this simplification sounds very encouraging and trifling. But for a Jew this is a real scandal. All the Jew’s life was a skilful slalom among the multitude of laws and rules that seemed to determine his salvation. To reduce the life to two commandments, for some men who used to make themselves a dilemma whether to eat or not an egg on Saturday, is the same as to order a woman who is accustomed to change her dresses every time when she goes out, to put on only a single dress, with the right to wear it on both sides.

This simplification cost Jesus his live. But a part of believers adopted the scandalous philosophy and formed a new religion, a new way to see the world. Because of the name of the scandal’s initiator, these believers were nicknamed “Christians”. Yes, those insignificant and illegal groups of that time had the same name as the so wide-spread Christians of today have. How come they got so many? Many say this is a divine miracle, a sign that this faith is true. I, nevertheless, have a big doubt that the things are like that. I believe that the cause of such a rapid and sure spread of Christians relies, once again, on the scandalous commandment. Since this commandment has been put away, the number of Christianity’s followers increased terribly. In exchange the Christians have today a lot of other commandments, maybe not fewer than the Jews, commandments for which, I am sure, if Christ once again came to reduce all of them to the commandment of love, they would kill Him.

The Christianity is love, the Christianity is also pain. The Christianity is love resulted from pain. What is this strange commandment brought by Christ, but pain? What actually means, to love your neighbour? To buy him a hamburger? To give him some money? Sometimes this also. But if the pain of your neighbour cannot be relieved neither with a hamburger nor with money, if it is beyond your power? In fact, it seems to me that any trouble and any pain are beyond our power. Then the single thing that we can do for our neighbour is to grieve for his pain, for the pain of all the world, if it is possible. The archimandrite Sofronie Saharov, writing to an ill woman whose eight year old son died, tells this story. “Once I was together with the St. Siluan and we were looking near our cell from the Saint Mountain at a small boat caught in the tempest. The panicky people had to choose whether to remain in the boat and wait until the end of the tempest or to come with the boat to the shore. Both variants were equally dangerous. Then one of the monks sighed and said “Ah, how I grieve for them”. Then St. Siluan said him “If you have grieved for them, it means they are saved”. Truly, all those people reached the shore. “I also believe”, the blessed Sofronie continued his letter, “that the pain in which you are, will be healed, because I grieve for you”.

How many of those who are going to church on Sunday, can boast of having this miracle-making pain in their hearts? I think however, together with Christ, that this is the single thing we should covet and struggle for. Maybe the greatest good that we can do to the world is just to come to the window and look at the street, until our heart will be fulfilled with this almighty pain. What is the use of it, if anyway those people do not know anything? Even if we could not change anyone with this pain of ours, yet we will be of a great use. Even for the fact that, at least in those moments, we will exempt the world from our personal evil. And this is a great good that we can do to the world.

“Timpul”, 25 October 2002


Translated from Romanian by Veronica epistola7@yahoo.com

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