Wounded by Love, By St Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia
We should be zealots. A zealot is a person who loves Christ with all his soul and who serves his fellow men in Christ’s name. Love for God and for a neighbor; they go together and could not be divorced. Passion, yearning and tears along with contrition, not for a purpose, but all is overflowing of the heart!
Fanaticism has nothing to do with Christ. Be a true Christian. Then you won’t leap to conclusions about anybody, but your will love will cover all things. Even to a person of another religion you will always act as a Christian. That is to say, you will show respect to him in a gracious manner irrespective of his religion. You will care for a Muslim when she is in need, speak to him and keep company with him. There must be respect for the freedom of the other person. Just as Christ stands at the door and knocks and does not force an entry, waits for the soul to accept Him freely on its own, so we should stand in the same way in relation to every soul.
In missionary endeavor we need to employ a very delicate manner so that people accept what we are offering, whether it be words, books or whatever, without reacting negatively. And something else: use a few words. Words often provoke irritation. Primarily living example find resonance. Living faith moves people, regenerates them and changes, whereas words alone remained fruitless. The best form of mission is through our own example, our love and our meekness. Listen and I’ll give you an example.
A priest once happened to attend a talk that was being given to an audience of intellectuals. A cousin of these had taken him along. The speaker spoke long and eloquently about some Marxist topic. The audience gave him an enthusiastic reception and clapped vigourously at the end. But while the speaker was still standing on the podium he caught sight of the priest and said:
“This evening we have a priest in our audience. Perhaps, if he could, he should say something to ask about the subject from a religious and philosophical point of view”.
He said this ironically, believing that he would humiliate the priest and make the Church look foolish. The priest rose to his feet and said:
“What indeed could I tell you about the subject my dear friend? I don’t know. I’ve heard however, that this wise thinker says this is in this book and that philosopher says in that work etc. Moses says this in chapter and verse on Isaiah that, and David says such and such, and Christ refers to the matter in this way”.
He then continued, quoting the passage from St Paul:
“Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world to confound the wise…so that no flesh may boast before God”.
The wise speaker was dumbfounded. What was most telling was the fact that the priest spoke in the mildest possible manner and without a hint of egotism. The priest in question was in fact a bishop belonging to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
He finished by saying:
“I confess I know nothing. It’s up to you to judge what is right”.
With no little embarrassment the speaker said: “The priest has indeed spoken to us very well! He has overturned everything I said”.
Mastery of the subject is a great thing when it is combined with meekness, graciousness and love. This is true in all fields. When you have the relevant mastery of the subject, then speak. Otherwise, speak to your example.
In debates, if you say a few words about religion you will prevail. Let the person who has a different opinion give free rein to his thoughts and speak as much as he likes…Less sense that he’s addressing himself to a calm and uncontentious person. Influencing through your graciousness and prayer and then speak briefly. You achieve nothing if you speak heatedly and tell him, for example, “what you are saying some true, and downright lie!” What will you achieve? Be as a sheep among all this. What should you do? Show indifference outwardly, but be praying inwardly. Be prepared, know what you are talking about and speak boldly and to the point, but with saintliness, meekness and prayer. But in order to be able to do this you must become saints.