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Love toward God and your neighbor


40. He who loves himself cannot fully love God, but only he who does not love himself because of his strong love for God, truly loves God. That person would never wish glory for himself but only to GodÖ.For a God-loving soul, filled with feelings of God, it is natural to seek glory only for God, as for itself ó rejoice in humility. Glory is fitting to God because of His greatness, while to the human ó humility.

42. When a person begins to sense a strong love toward God, he then begins to love his neighbor, and having begun ó doesnít stop. This is precisely what the Holy Scripture teaches. At the time when carnal love evaporates because of the slightest reason, spiritual love ó remains. In a God-loving soul that is situated under Godís influence, the union of love is not interrupted even when someone exacerbates her. This is because a God-loving soul, although it sustained some type of grief from her neighbor, is warmed by its love toward God and quickly returns to her former benevolent disposition and readily reinstates its feelings toward the neighbor. The bitterness of discord in her is completely overwhelmed by Godís sweetness.

40. A novice once asked a "starets": " Father, who can fulfil all the commandments when there are so many of them?" The "starets" replied: "He who emulates our Lord Jesus Christ and follows Him step by step." ó "But who can emulate the Lord?" reiterated the perplexed novitiate, "After all, the Lord was God, although He did become a human, while I am a sinful human, enslaved by countless passions. How can I emulate Christ?" The "starets" explained, "From all the people that are hostage to earthly cares, none can emulate the Lord. Only those that can say with the Apostles: ĎWe have left all and follow Youí (Mat. 19:27) receive the strength to emulate the Lord and walk along His commandments." Then the novitiate exclaimed: "But father, the Lordís commandments are many and who can remember them all, let alone fulfil them, especially such a feeble individual as I? I would like to hear a brief directive from you, so that I may be saved in following it." The "starets" responded: "While there are many commandments, they all fit into one: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself' (Luke 10:27). In trying to fulfil this specific commandment, that person fulfils all the others. However, he who doesnít free himself fully from material attachments is unable to really love God and his neighbor. Consequently, donít worry about the physical only, but according to your strength undertake the task of focusing your mind totally on your inner self, "For ó according to the Apostle ó bodily exercise profits a little, but Godliness is profitable for all things." 

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