Today’s icon follows the theme of the last post in being another icon of Christ Pantocrator [meaning Almighty, ‘Pas’ being Greek for ‘all’, and ‘Kratos’ being Greek for ‘mighty’]. This is the oldest known icon of ‘Christ the Almighty’, dating back to the sixth century AD. What you notice immediately about this icon is that Christ has a different expression on each half of his face. One side represents Christ the Judge, and the other Christ the Saviour. When I first saw this icon, honestly, I found the two different emotions on one face a little strange; but, the more I’ve looked at it, the more it has grown on me. I now have it as the background on my phone, and contemplating these two roles of Christ – whenever I look at it for a few seconds, while using my phone – at once has enriched my prayer life and my understanding of Christ. I think having it on my phone is also a good opportunity for witness, as not only is it an icon of Christ, but also – because it looks unusual – it has the potential to elicit questions from other people who see it, which can begin a fruitful discussion.
I thought it might be nice if I tried to find a theme for each post of quotations. So this one is on how we should respond to sins in others (including against us).
‘He who busies himself with the sins of others, or judges his brother on suspicion, has not yet even begun to repent or to examine himself so as to discover his own sins.’ – St Maximos the Confessor
‘Be extremely careful not to offend anyone in word or deed, for it is a grave sin. When someone is offended, God, Who loves the man is also offended, for their can be no offending man without offending God.’ – St Tikhon of Zadonsk
‘Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness.’ – St Isaac of Syria
‘Let the mouth also fast from disgraceful speeches and railings. For what does it profit if we abstain from fish and fowl and yet bite and devour our brothers and sisters? The evil speaker eats the flesh of his brother and bites the body of his neighbour.’ – St John Chrysostom
‘If you cannot forgive, do not force yourself. It is better simply to pity them: they have done wrong and have hurt you, but most of all they have hurt themselves. Pity them, and then gradually you will forgive them.’ – Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
‘Forgiveness is difficult. Learn to pity, and find, if not justification, then an explanation for the actions of those who have hurt you, and always put yourself in the place of these people. Hatred only burns you.’ – Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
‘Do not seek justice from God, but seek mercy. If we are to be judged, we are all condemned. But through mercy and grace we are forgiven and loved.’ – Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh