If You Would Celebrate Pentecost – Love Your Enemies

sophrony.jpg

From the Elder Sophrony’s St. Silouan the Athonite.

This commandment of Christ’s, ‘Love your enemies,’ is the reflection in our world of the Triune God’s all-perfect love, and constitutes the corner-stone of our whole teaching. It is the ultimate synthesis of all our theology. It is the ‘power from on high’ and the ‘abundance of life’ that Christ gave us. It is the ‘baptism of the Holy Ghost, and with fire’ that St. John the Baptist speaks of.  The bidding, ‘Love your enemies’ is the ‘fire on the earth’ that the Lord brought by His coming. It is the uncreated Divine Light which shone down on the Apostles on Mt. Tabor. It is the ‘cloven tongues like as of fire’ wherein the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles in the upper chamber of Sion. It is the Kingdom of God in us ‘come with power.’ It is the fulfilment of the human being and the perfection of likeness to God.

However wise, learned, noble a man may be, if he does not love his enemies – that is, love his every fellow-being – he has not attained to God. Contrariwise, however simple, poor and ignorant a man may be, if he carries this love in his heart, then ‘he dwelleth in God, and God in him.’ Away from the One True God, it is impossible to love our enemies, declared the Staretz [St. Silouan]. The bearer of such love communicates in eternal life, to which his soul can testify. He is the tabernacle of the Holy Spirit, and in the Holy Spirit knows the Father and the Son, knows with authentic and life-giving knowledge. In the Holy Spirit he is the brother and friend of Christ – he is a son of God and a god through grace.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.



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6 responses to “If You Would Celebrate Pentecost – Love Your Enemies”

  1. fatherstephen Avatar

    The Photo is of the Elder Sophrony.

  2. Justin Avatar
    Justin

    Fr. Stephen,

    Lovely quote. Thank you.

    Elder Sophrony, judging form the picture alone, seems a humble and jolly fellow. Quite a lovely picture. ^_^

    Justin

  3. fatherstephen Avatar

    Justin,

    He was a very deep man of God. He died in the 90’s. The community he founded, the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex, England, continues and is something of a living testimony to his life and teachings, as he was of St. Silouan, his spiritual father. We are blessed that such communities exist.

  4. maximus daniel greeson Avatar

    Fr.
    And again I have another question prompted by this reading from Archimandrite Sophrony. Who are our enemies? What does it mean to have an enemy?
    These seem like simple questions, but sometimes I am at a loss as to how to “define” an enemy.

  5. Fr. William Teska Avatar
    Fr. William Teska

    Perhaps it means all who are “alien” to us, that is – as Starets Sophrony says, “every fellow-being”. Perhaps it is a mystical teaching about human personhood, in which we are to become as united to one another as the Three Dvine Hypostases: still distinct and unconfused, but undivided and inseparable. To “Love your enemies” is then to fulfill the commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself” – because your neighbor, including even those so alien that he might be called “enemy” IS yourself.

  6. Frank Kroncke Avatar

    Fr. Teska: Can you share your contact info? Bill Tilton of the “Minnesota 8” asked me, also one of the 8, if I had contact info for you. Hope this reaches you. Frank Kroncke

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