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[II Cor. 11:31-12:9; Luke 6:31-36] The fundamental, original command ment is: love! It is a small word, but it expresses an all-encompassing thing. It is easy to say: you must love, but it is not easy to attain love to the necessary degree. It is also not exactly clear how to attain it; this is why the Saviour surrounds this commandment with other ex planatory rules: love as thyself; and as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Here is shown a degree of love that one can call boundless; for is there any limit to one’s love for oneself? And is there any good which one would not want for himself from others? Meanwhile, however, the instructions are not impossible to fulfil. The matter depends upon having perfect compassion toward others, to fully transfer their feel ings to yourself, to feel the way they feel. When this occurs, there will be no need to point out what you must do for others in a given situation: your heart will show you. You must only take care to maintain compas sion, otherwise egoism will immedi ately approach and return you to it self and confine you in itself. Then you will not lift a finger for another, and will not look at him, though he might be dying. When the Lord said: love thy neighbor as thyself, He meant that our neighbour should be in us, that is, in our heart, instead of our own selves. If our “I” remains in there as before, we cannot expect anything good to come of it.
Saint Theophan the Recluse.