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Love


We have spoken about hate; now let us speak of love. Love is the virtue opposite to hate. As bitter as hate is, so sweet is love, and as harmful and pestilent as hate is, so useful is love. And as evil and bitter the fruits of hate are, so good and sweet are the fruits of love.

Hate is bitter both to the hateful and to others. Love is sweet to both the lover and the beloved. Hate devours and binds the heart. Love looses and broadens the heart. Hate kills; love gives life. He that lives in hate is dead, he that abides in love is alive. Hate makes sorrowful. Love consoles, makes glad and joyful. Hate is hard and cruel. Love is soft and tender. Hate is proud and haughty. Love is humble. Hate is merciless. Love is merciful. Hate is impatient. Love is long-suffering.

Hate works evil. Love does not do evil but does good. Hate is hateful and loathsome. Love is welcome and beloved by all. Hate is condemned by all. Love is praised and extolled by all.

He that lives in hate is poor and wretched. He that lives in love is blessed and happy. He that lives in hate is loathed by God and man. God and man rejoice in him that lives in love. Hate is the seed of the devil. Love is the seed of God. Wretched, then, and exceedingly poor is the condition of hateful people, though they may be regarded as gods in the world. Most blessed and comforting is the condition of hearts filled with love, though they may be trampled down as dirt and scum. The former are outwardly beautiful, but inwardly contemptible. The latter are outwardly contemptible but inwardly sweet. The former glitter outwardly, but are dark and black within. The latter are not outwardly comely, but inwardly they have everything. The former are outwardly healthy, but rotten within. The latter are outwardly unpleasing, they do not know how to speak prettily and smoothly, but inwardly they are healthy, beautiful and pleasant. The former are like apples that are outwardly beautiful, but within are bitter and wormy. The latter are like apples that are not outwardly pleasing, but within are sweet and pleasant.

The former are an evil tree; the latter are a good tree. A tree is known of its fruits (Mt. 12:33), the fruits are of the same sort as the tree. But let us examine the fruits of love, that we may know love by its works, as we know a tree by its fruits. For love is known by its works and not by words.

Beloved Christians! If we had true love, then it would take every unhappiness away from us, and it would bring us happiness. Our cities, towns, villages, and homes would be a place of paradise, full of joy and sweetness, for there is no love without this. If there were love among people, we would not fear robbery, murder, violence and plunder, for love does not do evil to its neighbor.

If there were love, there would be no theft, robbery or other evils: love does not do evil to its neighbor. If there were love, people would not touch the bed of their neighbor [commit adultery]: love does not do evil to its neighbor. If there were love, people would not be subject to slander, reproach, abuse, railing, dishonor, and other evils: love does not do evil to its neighbor.

If there were love, people would not deceive us, they would not entice, they would not lie to us: love does not do evil to its neighbor. If there were love, we would have no need for places of judgement, for there would be nothing for which to judge and to condemn, inasmuch as there would be no evildoers or transgressors of the law. Trials were established for the sake of transgression. The man who truly loves is free of judgement as well as of sin.

If there were love we would not have any use for guards, locks and safes for the purpose of safeguarding our possessions, for they would not be in danger of robbers and thieves.

If there were love, people would not languish in prison for debts, foreclosure, and default, love would not allow them to come to this, "for love isÖ kind" (1 Cor. 13:4). If there were love, people would not go about in rags and half-naked, love would clothe them, for love is kind. If there were love, people would not wander about without homes, for love would not let them come to this, but would have given them a place of repose, "for love is kind." If there were love there would be no poor or wretched. The love of the rich would have supplied their wants.

If there were love, authorities would have no complaint against their subjects or the subjects against their authorities because authorities would have built up society and their subjects would be obedient to them. For this reason pastors would have no complaint against the people or the people against their pastors, masters against servants and peasants or servants and peasants against their masters, parents against children or children against parents, and so on.

If there were love among us, then it would stand for us instead of a strong wall, against Turks and the rest of our adversaries, and against all of our visible and invisible enemies. For where love is, there is God Himself, the helper and defender of love.

O love, lovely and sweet love! Without love everything is poor and miserable. With love everything is good and prosperous.

Now Christians love to live in rich homes, sit at a rich table, dress in rich clothing, ride in rich carriages and horses, though they may see the want and poverty of their neighbors. Hence it is evident that they only love themselves, and not God or their neighbors. From this comes every unhappiness, misfortune, and misery among people. Self-love is the cause of all this. For this reason, God, Who loves man, provided for our happiness and gave us this commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Mt. 22:39). That was at a time when Christians "were of one heart and of one soul" (Acts 4:32). Now we see the opposite. Now among Christians it is heart against heart and soul against soul; now all have their lips full of love, or rather flattery, but very rarely is love in anyone's heart. For already "because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold" (Mt. 24:12).

Christians, woe unto us without love! Where there is no love there is no faith, for faith does not exist without love. Where there is no faith, there is neither Christ nor salvation. Christians, we confess God, Who is love. "Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" (deaconís exclamation during the Liturgy). 

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