Divine Liturgy, Star Dojran ( 08.10.2007 )
Today, on the feast day of Venerable Euphrosyne and Venerable Sergius of Radonezh, Metropolitan Nahum of Strumica celebrated Divine Liturgy in the church of the Holy Tsar-martyr Nicholas, in the monastery of the Holy Myrrh-bearer Mary Magdalene, Star Dojran. Interpreting the Holy Gospel today, His Eminence among else said:
“’But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either’ (Luke 6:27-29).
Why should anyone become our enemy? Why should anyone hate us? Why should anyone curse us? Why should anyone offend us? Why should anyone slap our face? And, why should anyone wish to take away our clothes? It is for two reasons: we’ve either done him some evil, or he’s demon-possessed and so thinks we’ve done some evil to him by our very existence. There is no other reason. In both cases, regardless of whether we have done him evil or he thinks we have, he who does the abovementioned things truly is under the demon’s influence.
As for us, we’d better be among them who because of their struggle in obedience or because of their illumination (with no evil done to anyone) are attacked by those who are under the demon’s influence, rather than join them who under the demon’s influence do evil and then by like demoniacs are reciprocated.
Therefore does the Lord say: love them, bless them, pray for them, offer them your other cheek, and give them also your tunic, so that you be merciful as your Heavenly Father is, so that you be perfect as your Heavenly Father is. I would add: so that you bear witness you are children of your Heavenly Father, adopted as sons in your Lord, the Godman Jesus Christ, through His Body – the Church, in the Holy Eucharist; so that they do not say your father is the devil and you do what you’ve learnt from him (‘You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it’ – John 8:44).
My children, do you know with what inner attitude you should experience the people’s enmity and evil against you? It should be as though someone wants you to answer him the question: Do you love me…? And, it is exactly what is going on: “the enemy” seeks to find in us, even if subconsciously, a crumb of love so that he catches at something and gets out of his slavery to the demon (yet about this some other time). All people seek solely love; the road though is narrow and only few know where to find it and few are they who find perfect love in this world and age. And the road, according to the Holy Fathers, is firstly: free and of our own volition absolute obedience in good towards the spiritual father until the acquisition of the gift of heart’s opening and of mind-and-heart prayer (not afterwards as well, since that would be idolatrous relationship and idolatry); and secondly: daily several-hour residing of the mind through the prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me…) in the heart and love towards the enemies. There is no transition from the stage of illumination to the stage of deification without love for the enemies, too. This is the final exam.
However, let us start from absolute obedience, which for them who are accustomed to trusting to their own reason is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, on which they stumble, being disobedient to the word… (1 Peter 2:8), whereas for them who wish to be perfected it is joy in the carefree state of the children of God, abundance of grace, and an unshakable foundation of prayerful stillness. Therefore: absolute obedience until the acquisition of the gift of the mind-and-heart prayer, so that you do not become slaves of the demon, since you were bought at a price; and, there is no obedience after the gift of the mind-and-heart prayer has been granted to you, since you were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men (1 Corinthians 7:23).”
(as recorded by the monastery Sisters)