The Greatest Form of Love: To Love One’s Enemies

“The highest expression of love, and the surest criterion of Christian truth, is love of enemies, says the Saint [Silouan the Athonite]. True love cannot suffer a single soul to perish. For Christ there are no ‘enemies’, for the very word implies rejection. They are brothers and sisters who need our love and prayers. Christ prayed for those who crucified Him. Saint Stephen the First Martyr prayed for those who stoned him.

So we must urge ourselves to love those who revile or injure us. If we can not love, at least let us not revile. A person who reviles or despises those who are against him, brings spiritual injury to himself and shows that an evil spirit is working in him. But divine love cannot be attained by human beings without divine grace. We cannot love our enemies without having the Holy Spirit. When we humble ourselves and pray for those who affront us, God works the impossible things in the heart.

On one occasion Silouan states that the soul is so wounded by divine loves that it ‘loses it wits.’ Even devils can rouse its pity because they were once God’s creatures now fallen from the good.” (Theodore G. Stylianopoulos, The Way of Christ: Gospel, Spiritual Life and Renewal in Orthodoxy, pp 122-123)

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