The Lord’s Patience

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From a talk given by Bishop Atanasije (Jevtic), “The Heart is Deep: St. Gregory Palamas and the Essence of Hesychasm”:

“There was a Greek, Photios Kontoglou, a good writer from Asia Minor who became a refugee in Greece and a fine iconographer, who wrote an article in which he said: ‘Why did the Pope choose the Apostle Peter as the patron for his infallibility? If he had spoken of some Apostle who might not have sinned, then this might still have made some sense. But Peter made 300 mistakes’. Of course, the Lord chose Peter as His foremost disciple, but always as equal to the others, since Peter was a human being, understood human weaknesses, and indulgent to others. If He had chosen and angel, St. John Chrysostom says, the angel would not have understood someone who sinned, twice, three times, seven times, seventy-seven times. The angel would have had enough!

It is recorded that the following marvelous event took place on the Holy Mountain of Athos in the sixteenth century. There was a sinful man, a poor thing, who had a weakness of the body; he renounced it many times, beseeching God that he would not sin. He went to church, wept, made promises to the Savior, and then left – and once again sinned, and once again returned. This went on for a long time. Once many years later, he came and wept before the Lord, repenting: ‘O Lord, help me; I will stop!’ Suddenly the devil could stand it no longer, and said to Christ from the porch of the church; ‘That’s how you are; You don’t understand a thing! This one swears and weeps to You while he’s here, but as soon as he leaves he’s mine and will do whatever I want. Why do you put up with him?’ Then the Lord answered from the icon: ‘Why do you come to him when he is Mine? I do not bother you when he is yours. I accept a man in the condition in which I find him.’ And at that very moment this man died.

This is how the Lord took him. Such is the Lord’s patience!”

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