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Letting Go of Resentments

by Fr. John Jillions
James 3:11–4:6
Mark 11:23–26

And when­ev­er you stand pray­ing, if you have any­thing against any­one, for­give him, that your Father in heav­en may also for­give you your tres­pass­es. But if you do not for­give, nei­ther will your Father in heav­en for­give your tres­pass­es. (Mark 11:25–26)

St Niko­lai Velimirovich
Saint Niko­lai Velimirovich (1881−1956) was bish­op of Ohrid and of Zhicha in Ser­bia. He suf­fered under the Nazis (includ­ing impris­on­ment and tor­ture in Dachau) and after WWII moved to the Unit­ed States, spend­ing his final years at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery and Sem­i­nary, where he was Rec­tor. When I served Holy Trin­i­ty Church in Rah­way, NJ (1987−94), the late Father Dragoli­ub Sokic, a retired Ser­bian priest who had been Bish­op Nikolai’s last sec­re­tary often came to the Litur­gy with his wife Olga. He spoke warm­ly of this deep man who active­ly prac­ticed love of ene­mies and let­ting go of offenses.

Saint Niko­lai was an influ­en­tial and pro­lif­ic the­o­log­i­cal writer and preach­er and was can­on­ized by the Ser­bian Ortho­dox Church in 2003. In addi­tion to his Pro­logue from Ohrid, a col­lec­tion of saints’ lives and med­i­ta­tions, he wrote scores of prayers and poems, includ­ing this one.

(Saint Niko­lai Velimirovich)

That God may for­give us, let us for­give men.
We are all on this earth as tem­po­rary guests.
Pro­longed fast­ing and prayer is in vain
With­out for­give­ness and true mercy.
God is the true Physi­cian; sins are leprosy.
Whomev­er God cleans­es, God also glorifies.
Every mer­ci­ful act of men, God rewards with mercy.
He who returns sin with sin per­ish­es with­out mercy.
Pus is not cleansed by pus from infect­ed wounds,
Nei­ther is the dark­ness of the dun­geon dis­pelled by darkness,
But pure balm heals the fes­ter­ing wound,
And light dis­pers­es the dark­ness of the dungeon.
To the seri­ous­ly wound­ed, mer­cy is like a balm;
As if see­ing a torch dis­pers­ing the dark­ness, every­one rejoic­es in mercy.
The mad­man says, “I have no need of mercy!”
But when he is over­come by mis­ery, he cries out for mercy!
Men bathe in the mer­cy of God,
And that mer­cy of God wak­ens us to life!
That God may for­give us, let us for­give men,
We are all on this earth as tem­po­rary guests.