The Most Difficult Commandment

Due to lots of circumstances, I have not actually sat down to write…. please forgive.

Though Abbot Tryphon has written many short essays that actually mean so much, cover so much, and praise God so much!  So here I share another of his recent articles.

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THE MOST DIFFICULT COMMANDMENT
Whom do we see when we look
into the face of another?

Our world is polarized in ways not seen in many generations. This polarization is bought closer to home because we now live in a nation that is far more cosmopolitan than in the past. Even small towns across our country are now home to people from Africa, India, Pakistan, Mexico and China, to name but a few. We have communities of Sikhs with their colorful turbans, and Muslim women wearing their hijab, living among us. Our children attend schools with students who are members of religions that are relatively new to American shores, and the racial makeup of our country is changing.

This is certainly not the first wave of immigrants coming to make a new life for themselves on American shores. Past generations of Italians, Germans, Norwegians, Irish and Welsh, made American their home, and in doing so infused a wonderful blend of diversity, culture, food, and religion into society that greatly enhanced our nation, and contributed to making America the great nation that she are today.

That we sometimes resisted the influx of peoples from foreign shores can not be denied, and discrimination suffered by these “foreigners” is a disgraceful part of our common history. Now that we are witnessing increased conflict in the Middle East, and attacks on our troops coming from within the ranks of supposed allies, we are tempted to look toward many of the new immigrants with suspicion, or even fear. As Christians we must make sure the present strife in our world does not become the vehicle for the virus of hate to enter our hearts.

We can not let our revulsion of Islamic violence in the Middle East become the corner stone for internment camps in the United States. The mass expulsion of Japanese Americans from our farming communities, towns and cities on the West Coast, into such internment camps, must never be repeated again.

Nowhere in our Christian Scriptures does it suggest we must avenge our God against anyone who would insult the Holy Trinity. Nowhere does it say that anyone who has defiled our Bible, or insulted the Holy Name of Jesus, should be murdered. Nowhere in our Bible are we, as Christians, given a directive to mass in our streets with anger, and murder innocent people for any perceived insult to our Saviour, Jesus Christ. That peoples of another faith are told by their religious leaders that they must do such things, in no way can be seen as a directive for our behavior.

The most difficult commandment Christ gave to His disciples was surely the one that we must love our enemies. If we translate that directive into the simple task of being nice to the crabby old man next door, we will have missed the point. Jesus said, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).” Easy? No. Possible? Yes! “And Jesus looking upon them said, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible (Mark 10:27).”

Whom do we see when we look into the face of another? It is Christ! It is either Christ glorified, or Christ crucified. That we have all been created in the image and likeness of God, means that we are all His children, and therefore brothers and sisters to one another. That some of our brothers and sisters have chosen to be our enemies does in no way lessen the truth that we are all the children of Eve, charged by Christ to love each other. If we be of Christ, we must follow His commandments.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

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About padrerichard

I am a Priest with ROCOR and serve as Rector at St. Joseph of Optina Parish in Virginia Beach, VA
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