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“ ‘And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure’ (1 Corinthians 4:12). The apostles have endured all kinds of humiliation, being treated as filth, and instead of fighting back have responded with love toward their persecutors—all for the joy of serving Christ and reconciling the world to God.” (Orthodox Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 4:12-13)

“As we plot our strategies, here is St Paul reminding us that we who are apostles – we who are sent forth – are called to a higher standard: “…when reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when insulted, we forgive.” We are not only to absorb the blow of evil, as the cross absorbed the horror of sin, but we are to respond with love – a dynamic, proactive, conciliatory gesture. Sweat-producing, too; it’s probably why the great Christian writer G.K. Chesterton wrote that “the problem is not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting; the problem is that Christianity has been found difficult, and left untried.” To respond to villainy with blessing, to answer persecution with patience, is contra-instinctual. It is to override our instinct toward self-preservation. So, to override a powerful instinct, some power greater than ourselves is required.” (Fr. John Oliver)

“The Way into the Kingdom of Heaven is not through punishment, through suffering imposed by a wrathful God whose justice outweighs His mercy. It is through love: the boundless, self-giving love God has for us, to which, in an attitude of ongoing repentance, we respond with love for Him and for one another (1 John 4:16-21).” (Father John Breck)

“Be as Christ to those around you, just as Christ was with His disciples. Walk with them, talk with them, shower them with love, eat and drink with them, live with them, sacrifice for them, and die for them. This is how Christ taught us. This is what Christ showed us. When you live this life of love, which is what the life of self-denial is, another thing you may notice is that you will be offering the same freedom to those around you. They are in a sense being given permission to return to innocence, to deny themselves as well. You inspire them with your love to respond with love. The way of love becomes contagious, multiplying in other people. This is all why Jesus is able to say to us in Matthew 11:30 that His “yoke is easy and [His] burden is light.” Coming to Jesus is actually the way of rest, the way of peace.” (Father Andrew Stephen Damick)

“Why are we here on earth? To show our love for God, to learn to love God more than sin and to respond to the great love of God. We are given this brief life on earth as a school and an examination." (St. Nikolai Velimerovich)


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