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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.

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