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2013-09-08 message

posted Sep 17, 2013, 12:32 PM by St. John's Webmaster   [ updated Sep 17, 2013, 12:32 PM ]

We saw how love does not seek its own when we reflected that, by its nature, love goes outwardly, towards the other. Thus, today, we will move to St. Paul’s statement that love is not easily provoked or irritated. This is related to the selfless nature of love in that our irritation is often caused by the ego. As such, we get irritated when others do not do things as we would want them to. It could be that they do not do things fast enough or well enough for our liking, or not in the manner we ourselves would choose. In these cases, the ultimate reason for our irritation is in our expectation that others conform to our norms (stated or, just as often, merely privately held).

It is entirely possible that some situations will cause us some sort of inconvenience and it is entirely reasonable, by worldly standards, to become irritated in these situations. However, Christian love brings about a different attitude. St. Paul tells us through his words to the Galatians to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). But the law of Christ is simply His new commandment: to love one another as He has loved us. Sometimes we are called to bear the burden of another who does not rise to our expectations and we are called to bear this burden not grudgingly, but with patience, love, and prayer.

There is a place for anger and irritation. We may be angry towards our sins and towards the evil done towards others (our own tribulations are a reason for thanks in the Orthodox tradition). This is our understanding of “be angry and sin not” (Eph. 4:26). I should say at this point that it can be difficult, even in seemingly justified circumstances, to not sin once anger and irritation begin to take hold. However, even in these difficult situations we need to continue to love those who do the evil (since we are called to love our enemies and we know that the Lord came to bring sinners to repentance) by praying for their repentance and salvation.

With love in Christ,
+Fr. Peter