St. Paisios the Athonite states, “One who justifies himself with excuses makes no progress in the spiritual life, nor can he find any inner peace.”
I must understand that when I try to justify myself with excuses, I’m in a wrong state of mind. I cut off my communication with God and am deprived of divine Grace, because divine Grace does not come to one who is in a wrong state. The moment a person justifies the unjustifiable, he is separated from God…There is no stronger barrier to the Grace of God than excuses!
When you accept an injustice and are prepared to justify your neighbor, you accept Christ himself into your heart, Who was often wronged and maligned. It is then that Christ cannot be evicted from your heart and fills you with peace and gladness.
He who does his spiritual work correctly finds excuses for everyone else in order to justify their shortcomings, but never justifies himself, even when he is in the right…
For example, he sees someone stealing and thinks to himself, “If I had not been helped by God, I would now be stealing more than he is”…Or, if he sees a certain shortcoming in another person, be it serious or trivial, he will excuse him with good and positive thoughts. He thinks of his own many shortcomings…
Self-justification leads to our destruction.
We read about it in the opening chapters of Genesis when Adam and Eve fell. What did they do? Adam blamed Eve who in turn blamed the serpent. Then they were all exiled from Paradise. And in the same way, when we excuse our behavior, we exile ourselves from experiencing Paradise right now with God and possibly in the future.
When someone is constantly justifying himself, considering that others don’t understand him, others are unjust, and he is the suffering victim, from then on such a person is beyond control…Self-justification is a satanic interpretation of reality.
Saint abba Moses the Ethiopian of Scete said:
If the monk does not think in his heart that he is a sinner, God will not hear him. A brother asked, ‘What does that mean, to think in his heart that he is a sinner?’ Then Abba Moses said, When someone is occupied with his own faults, he does not see those of his neighbor.
If we are on the watch to see our own faults, we shall not see those of our neighbor…To die to one’s neighbor is this: To bear your own faults and not to pay attention to anyone else wondering whether they are good or bad. Do no harm to anyone, do not think anything bad in your heart towards anyone, do not scorn the man who does evil…Do not rail against anyone, but rather say, ‘God knows each one.’ Do not agree with him who slanders, do not rejoice at his slander, and do not hate him who slanders his neighbor.
Do no evil to anyone, and do not judge anyone. Observe this and you will be saved.
If we keep remembering the wrongs which men have done us, we destroy the power of the remembrance of God. But if we remind ourselves of the evil deeds of the demons, we shall be invulnerable.
St Paul says, ‘Carry one another’s burdens, because it is the way in which you will have fulfilled the law of Christ.’
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh says, Let us therefore pray together during this service, bring to God true repentance of what we are and what we have been, but also bring one another to God.
Moving towards Calvary, moving towards the resurrection has been compared by one of the ancient writers to travellers who board the same ship. They will never arrive safe if there are quarrels between them, if they are not at one. Let us be at one, with Christ who is at the rudder, with Christ who has given His life for each of us, however difficult we are for one another. And when we say, ‘Yes, I forgive,’ it means, ‘I accept you as you are with whatever consequences to me. I accept you, and give my life as an offering for yours.’ Amen.
O ranks of angels, O beauty of Paradise and all the glory of the garden: weep for me, for in my misery I was led astray and rebelled against God.
O blessed meadow, trees and flowers planted by God, O sweetness of Paradise: let your leaves, like eyes, shed tears on my behalf, for I am naked and a stranger to God’s glory.
O Savior, in Thy compassion Thou hast clothed me in Eden with a divinely woven garment; but, persuaded by the devil, I neglected Thy commandment and was stripped naked in my wretchedness.
Cleanse me in the waters of repentance, and through prayer and fasting make me shine with light, for Thou alone art merciful; abhor me not, O Benefactor of all, supreme in love.
Forgiveness (Cheese-Fare) Sunday – (Matt 6:14-21)