The Elder speaks on the circumstance of being harmed by a brother in Christ:

If it is necessary to grieve at all, then we should grieve for the loss of that person who has harmed us, not for the loss of our possessions. For, that person has done injustice to himself by being cast out of the heavenly kingdom. ‘Wrongdoers shal not inherit the kingdom of God’ (1 Cor. 6:9). As for you that have been done injustice, the person that has wronged you has in face procured life for you. It is indeed said: ‘Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven’ (Matt. 5:12). Yet, instead of grieving over the loss of one of Christ’s members, we sit and weave thoughts about corruptible and insignificant matters, which are easily lost and worth nothing. We are truly and rightly condemning ourselves.”

In effect, God has placed us in an order of many members, which have Christ our God as their head, as the Apostle said: “Just as the body is one and has many members, and the head of all is Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12). Therefore, when your brother afflicts you, he is hurting you like a hand or an eye that suffers from some illness. Yet, even when we are in pain, we do not cut off our hand and throw it away; nor do we pull out our eye, but consider the rejection of each of these as being a very serious matter. Instead, we place on these members the sign of Christ, which is more precious than anything else, entreating the saints to pray for them, as well as offering our own fervent prayers to God on their behald. In addition to this, we apply medication and plaster in order to heal the sore member. Therefore, in the same way that you pray for your eye or your hand to heal and longer to hurt, you should also do that for you brother. Nevertheless, when we see the members of Christ hurting in this way, not only do we not grieve for them, but we even curse them. Truly such conduct is appropriate for someone without any compassion.

From the Reflections of Abba Zossimas

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.





21 responses to “Compassion”

  1. Karen Avatar

    Thank you, Father. This was indeed very pertinent for me today and a blessing to read.

  2. mic Avatar

    yessir, that strikes my heart very deeply. i am going through such a thing currently with one whom i consider a brother…grievious indeed, but even more so is my reaction to that brother, woe is me, wretch that i am!

    pray for us Fr., please!


  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Veronica du Bruyn and Ζωντανό Ιστολόγιο, Fabio Leite. Fabio Leite said: Compassion: The Elder speaks on the circumstance of being harmed by a brother in Christ: If it is necessary to gri… […]

  4. Jeremiah Avatar

    I feel like David after cutting the hem of King Saul’s garment, whose “heart smote him”. If we truly saw the wrongs done to us as securing our salvation, then I think we would really be transformed. Now I think I get why Jesus said, “Blessed are you when men shall revile you…etc.”
    I used to wonder, as a Protestant, how one can be “blessed” through troubles, except by telling yourself that “someday” heaven will be better than this present age. It is true, but just a small part of the puzzle. If, as you pointed out in your post “Time and History”, the Kingdom of Heaven is a present eschatological reality, and not something of the past and future, then I think I can grasp the meaning of our Lord’s words, and the reflection of the Blessed Elder.
    Thank you for sharing that.

  5. Anna Avatar

    Father Bless,

    What is the difference between admitting someone actions are hurtful and wrong and actually judging the person. I often try not to admit that someone has done me wrong, for fear of judging them, but based on the pain I feel from their actions, in frustration I do judge them. Sometimes I feel like it would be more effective just to admit that they have committed a hurtful action, and go no further, but once I have admitted that, it always seems to turn into judgment.

    Thank you,


  6. leonard nugent Avatar
    leonard nugent

    I grieve the separation of the eastern and western church and pray a lot for people in both. I also pray with my brothers and sisters in the eastern church as much as possible. Abba Zossimas is so right!

  7. fatherstephen Avatar

    Go ahead and admit it, and pray from there.

  8. Lina Avatar


    When we physically get hurt, we don’t worry about the how it happened we treat the wound, break, et

    When we are spiritually hurt we can treat it the same way. God, I hurt. Will you please heal my hurt. And let Him at it.

  9. Arnold Avatar

    “Unearned suffering is redemptive.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
    I have struggled with this maxim since I first read it, especially since Dr. King made it clear that injustice redeems not only its victim, but the perpetrator as well, when the victim confronts the injustice nonviolently with love and compassion for the wrongdoer. I am coming to believe he was correct, but that places a terrible burden upon the oppressed, who may choose not to redeem their oppressors.

  10. Athanasia Avatar

    Well, this is timely because Sunday a week ago I was verbally assaulted by a parishioner because we say “Many Years” to her daughter who was leaving for college that week and she had promised said daughter “no blessing, no prayer, no pontification” would occur. I was unaware of said prayer. Ignorance is no excuse. Nonetheless, at the instruction of my priest I prayed for this mother, for God’s mercy on her. While doing so, God healed my angry heart for which I am grateful because now the anger has been replaced with a little compassion. (I’ll take ‘a little’ rather than the ‘none’ that was there before.)

    I will admit, it is hard to pray for one that offends you. Therein lies my sin.

    Gosh, this Christianity thing is hard. Sigh.


  11. MrsMutton Avatar

    It seems that others have had my own experience, but I’ll ask about it anyway: How do you handle it if you have “wronged” a person because they received false information? I know a priest who seriously believes I complained to his Bishop about him. I didn’t, but he was told that by someone he trusts, and obviouisly I have no way of proving that that wasn’t the case. Is there anything I can do for him besides pray for him?

  12. Karen Avatar

    Mrs. Mutton, ouch! What a conundrum. I wonder would it help to ask his forgiveness anyway (accepting the blame for someone else’s sin, knowing there are many times we all sin against others without their knowledge, if only in our own hearts)? It sounds like you will have to work to forgive the person who wrongly implicated you as well. Painful, indeed! I will be interested to see what Fr. Stephen says.

  13. MrsMutton Avatar

    Karen — I tried e-mailing him, but had no response. “Plan A” has always been to ask my spiritual father, but he just got back from vacation, and is so snowed with work that I may not get to confession with him for another month. As for forgiving the other person involved, the one who got the information wrong in the first place, there’s actually nothing to forgive — he just misunderstood from the get-go. So I’m interested to see what Fr. Stephen says, too, since I can’t possibly be the only one in this dilemma, and if I get a chance to talk to my own priest before this thread dies out completely, I’ll post his response here, as well.

  14. Karen Avatar

    Mrs. Mutton, at times like this the fact that “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him . . .” can be a comforting assurance. May the Lord have mercy on all and work all out according to His good plan (and grant you His peace!).

  15. John in Denver Avatar
    John in Denver

    Gotta love those Reflections and Beneficial Chapters of Abba Zosimas!

  16. Barbara Avatar

    Mrs. Mutton,

    The counsel I’ve received from my priest in similar situations is to let God untie the knots. Sometimes even our best and well-intentioned efforts seem to only make matters worse. It sounds like you have done your best, let God do the rest. (sorry, didn’t mean to make that rhyme, but it works :)!

  17. ernie Avatar

    O Lord, remember not only the men and women
    Of good will, but also those of ill will.
    But do not remember all the suffering they inflicted on us;
    Remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to
    This suffering – our comradeship,
    Our loyalty, our humility, our courage,
    Our generosity, the greatness of heart
    Which has grown out of all this, and when
    They come to judgment let all the fruits
    Which we have borne be their forgiveness.

    The foregoing is a prayer from the Holocaust, found beside the body of a dead child at the Ravensbruck death camp, according to Cynthia Bourgeault in her book “The Wisdom Jesus”

  18. MrsMutton Avatar

    Barbara — no question, that’s the very best approach of all. Just want to make sure that I don’t have any further responsibility here. I’m willing to do whatever I have to, so that this priest has peace of mind — including shutting up about it, and “letting go and letting God.” 😉

  19. Barbara Avatar

    Thank you, Ernie, for the beautiful prayer.

  20. Nyssa Avatar

    Thank you! This is timely for me, as well, because a dear friendship ended two months ago due to hardheartedness and abuse. It’s been tough to deal with, especially since it came from a brother and sister in Christ.

  21. Fr. Dn. Paul Avatar
    Fr. Dn. Paul

    Dear Brother in Christ,
    Glory be to Jesus Christ!…….Glory and Forever!
    Thank you for the inspirational messages. These are cause for reflection and action.
    Yours in Christ Jesus,
    Deacon Paul
    Port St. Lucie Fl

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