David the prophet and king when he was driven away from his throne by his son, Absalom who wanted to take his place left Jerusalem with his slippers in his hand, barefoot, in ragged clothes with his soldiers and all the royal court. One of his slaves cursed him on the road saying: You are guilty. You are an incapable.
But David did not answer, showed patience. Then his general said: Your highness, let me behead him because he offends the elect of God.
`Don`t behead him. Forgive him. Let him curse me cause maybe the patience to his curses will make me worthy to return to my kingdom!
And this is what happened indeed. Absalom had long hair. Running on his horse his hair got tangled in some branches and while hanging like that an officer beheaded him. In this way the fight between father and son ended and David returned to his kingdom.
There will come the time when a great storm will burst.
They will offend us, they will slander us, they will judge us. But we must show patience and don`t say any bad word and forgive from the heart and speak nicely and pray for these people. Defeat the evil with the good, let yourself be wronged but do not do any wrong, let yourself be offended but do not offend. This is the law of the Gospel. When we stand against any trial in this way naturally the one who endures receives much blessing from God. Every time the man hears he is told bitter poisoning words, in that moment those words pierce his head like thorns and he endures a wreath of thorns. He feels pain in his heart but Christ endures his wreath of thorns and God will crown him with honor and glory. He will gain this crown with his own blood but it is worth.
I will tell you about a soul who amazed me with his nobleness. Here in Diaspora a few years ago was a woman who was left by her husband. Another woman had come to their house took her husband and they left. This woman came once to the place where I had the confessions and approached lovingly and respectfully. She knelt down and cried:
`My daughter why are you crying? What`s going on with you?`
`You know father, I am not crying for a sin, I am crying for my husband to be enlightened and repent because he made the mistake to leave with another woman and sinned before God. He comes into my house with that woman, I receive them, I lay the table before them, they go to sleep then leave. I kiss my husband, I kiss that woman too, I give them gifts and bless them then they leave. Afterwards they come back.`
`And why are you doing this, my daughter?`
`Christ doesn`t He say in the Gospel to love our enemies? This woman is for my my greates enemy since she took my husband. But I must love her. And since Christ asks us to love our enemies and offer them our whole being and love this is what I do myself. And I cry so that God may enlighten them and give them repentance. Please your holiness pray for them too!`
Can you see the virtue of this woman? Can God not forgive her no matter what she would have done? And her tears were for nothing else than for the wreath she was given, for this great triumph of love. See what kind of people are created when the Gospel is applied. And is not a fool at all, she is very smart and strong. A hidden heroine of the Gospel unknown to anyone.
While we the wretched – and the first one of all it`s me – would have never done this. We could have cursed, slandered, hit those people. But you see what the Gospel did with such a beautiful person. This woman on the Day of Judgment will judge another woman who had the same trouble but faced it in a different way. And that one will not have any justification before God to tell Him: Since the injustice done to me was so big what else could I do?`
`See what this woman has done. This is what you could have done too if you had followed the command of the Gospel.
The Gospel can be put into practice by any man. And whoever keeps it in its essence may become a noble man. We cannot say that God gives power to some people and to others He doesn`t. The Gospel shines as the sun for us all. But we see the sun in accordance with the health of our sight. Have you got good eyes? You see the sun in all its splendor. You haven`t? Then you need glasses.
And if we humble our spirit before God and understand who we really are in our inner self with the passions, weaknesses, impurities we have and we bend our head and ask for forgiveness from God and from our brothers and we love and sacrifice ourselves for all the people, without considering anyone impure, when we forgive anything our neighbor has done to us then we resemble God. Let us forgive and pray for our enemies. Every day and night pray for those who harmed you. And if you pray your vessel will not be broken. If it is broken and we pour in it and from its bottom it leaks it won`t ever be filled. Meaning that if you pray superficially and you have inside hate and hostility and you don`t forgive your prayer is broken. If you want to have a fruitful prayer pray first for your enemies and then the prayer will reach God, your demand will be answered and your sins will be forgiven.
Do you remember the life of saint Dyonisios from Zakynthos ? One night someone knocked at the door of the saint and said:
`Please saint of God hide me.`
`Why? What have you done my son?`
`I killed a man…please hide me.`
And the saint hid him. After a while he saw people from that island running and looking for the killer. When they came to the saint they asked him:
`Did anyone passed by the place? Because someone killed your brother and we are looking for him.`
`I don`t know, nobody passed by. But why did he kill my brother? Go somewhere else and look for him.`
The saint had hidden the killer of his own brother. Those men left and of course they didn`t find him. Then the saint went and asked the killer:
`What did that kind man do to you to kill him? Do you know that he was my brother?`
`I sinned, saint of God! The devil darkened my mind with the passion and I committed this murder.`
Imagine in what state was the murderer!
`Come, man, to show you which way to run away so that they cannot catch you! And repent for what you have done`
And he led him in secret to be able to run away.
See what a lack of malice and what a long lasting endurance and evangelical love he had.
What the Saints and the Hermits and all the Holy Fathers of the Church sought was to love their neighbor with an evangelical love. And thus they reached holiness. And we the sinners who have so many burdens which we carry on our backs have the opportunity, the assurance from God that we can get rid of this burden and become free to fly to heaven. Do not care about any wrong, no matter what they might do to you.
Forgive from all your heart with all your soul and know that you shall be forgiven by God too.
Once some people went to Constantine the Great and told him:
`Your highness, in Antiochia they destroyed your statue, they ruined it. Order a punishment for those who have done this!`
What did the emperor do? This one who had a royal heart and the Gospel in his soul what did he answer?
They didn`t cause me any bruise, they didn`t take out my eyes, they didn`t hurt my nose. If they did something, they did it to a lifeless thing and it`s no harm. Why punish them? Let them be forgiven.
That`s why, my sons, when they judge us, when they slander us, when they tempt us, when they humiliate us and do any injustice to us we must forgive them. With what heart, with what power, with what disposition we will give our forgiveness, we will receive not a hundredfold but a thousandfold of blessings as a reward from God. This is the path! This is how we can save our souls! This is the gate through which we will enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
In the end I want to give you my best blessings springing from my humble heart and I, the insignificant and the impure, wish you spiritual progress. If I confused you with anything at all, please forgive me, because I am a man too and as a man I make mistakes. I humbly pray that these few words I have said here from the words of the Gospel, this divine seed which is sown in your hearts may not fall on stone or on barren land or on the road, where nothing gets roots, but in a fertile land and give plentiful of fruit for ever more. Amen.
(Homily held at a reunion of the Christians from Diaspora in 1989)
Excerpt from the book The Art of Salvation to be published by Evanghelismos.