Митрополит Антоний Сурожский

Sunday after the Exaltation of the Cross

October 4, 1998
Theme: Love, Human values   Place: London Parish   Period: 1996-2000   Genre: Sermon

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

On the day we remember the Cross, we must pay particular attention to what Divine Love is. God so loved the world that He gave His Only-Begotten Son unto death, so that no-one, no-one  should be forgotten and left aside.

But if that is true, how should we look at one another and treat one another? If each of us is so meaningful to God, if He loves him to such an extent that His life is given, His death is accepted — how should we treat our neighbour?!

There are people whom we love in a natural way, who are akin to us in mind, in emotion, in so many ways — but is that love? Does that mean that we love this person as the most precious person in the eyes of God and the most precious person in my eyes, because I want to be with God, share His thoughts, His attitude to life.

And how many there are who are indifferent to us: we wish them no evil — they don’t exist for us! Let us look around, here, in this congregation, now and week after week, and ask ourselves, ‘What does this person mean to me?” — Nothing; just someone who attends the same church, who believes in the same God, who receives the same communion — and we  forget that those who have received this same communion have become part of the body of Christ, that God Himself lives in them, and that we should turn to them, look at them and see in them the temples of the Holy Spirit, an extension of the Incarnation /to the limit/ of communing with God.

Let us ask ourselves severe, pertinent questions about the way in which we treat our neighbour and we see our neighbour. Let us devote a whole week perhaps to thinking of one person after the other and ask ourselves, ‘Is there any love in me for this person?’ Not a sentimental love, but the kind of love which in the light of God makes this person precious, — precious to the point that I should be prepared, ultimately, yes, to give my life for this person.  This is not asked day after day, but what is asked is that we should give some warmth, some compassion, some understanding, some recognition to the existence of this person. And when we come to confession next week, let us bring that, among other things, to God: does my neighour exist for me? Who is he to me? To God he is everything; if he is nothing to me, where do I stand /with God? Amen.

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