What is the truth?
We should keep the eyes of our soul continuously open to see the truth. This is the truth—let’s not forget it. When we hold on to the truth, we have nothing to fear. When Pilate asked our Christ who He was, and informed Him that he had the power to free Him or crucify Him, our Christ responded, “You would have no authority at all over Me, if it had not been given to you from above. I have come to bear witness to the truth” ( Jn. 19:11 & 18:37). Pilate then asked, “What is truth?” However, he immediately left the room because he was not worthy of hearing “what the truth is.” In order for someone to recognize the truth, he must be worthy. Thus, the truth will free him from the lie and deception of condemnation. What is the truth? It is this: We must correctly love our fellow man. Our love must not be contaminated with microbes, foreign elements, or ulterior motives. Today, mankind is in need of true, genuine, Christian Orthodox love.
We do not love correctly. If we did, our deeds would attest to it. Our deeds reveal the truth about our life and our thoughts. The basic constituent known as selfless and sincere love for our brothers (not only the living but also the deceased) must not be absent from our hidden work—the unseen spiritual work which every Christian must carry out.The pain of the person who is suffering from either a physical illness or depression, and the agony of the person whom God has condemned and sentenced to jail must become our own pain. When this pain becomes part of us, God will heal us. Cover others so God covers you! Be wronged, but do not wrong anyone. Overcome evil with virtue (cf. Rom 12:21)—this is the law of the Gospel. We should not try to avenge people who have harmed us. If we love them who love us, it is no great achievement. The tax collectors and sinful people do the same thing (cf. Mt. 5:46-47).
Furthermore, the Gospel teaches that if we loan something to others with the intention of getting it back, we accomplish nothing. Everyone lends because it is to their advantage. You must help without a motive, without expecting repayment. Only give. Don’t think of receiving. Give love without considering, “He did not show me love. I gave but I did not receive.” In such a case, it is better not to give at all. Make the decision to give without expecting anything in return! In this instance you are indeed helping. Christ gave love and, in return, He received wickedness from people. A certain elder asked a younger monk, “My child, who crucified our Christ?” “The Jews, Father.” “No, not the Jews, my child. The envy, jealousy, and wickedness of the people crucified Him.” Christ gave love, and the payback was jealousy and evil. He gave manna and received gall. Nonetheless, He did not protest but prayed, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Lk. 23:34). He was wronged, but He wronged no one. He gave love and received hatred. He praised others, and He was slandered. This is the spirit of the Gospel. This is the truth of Christ: to sacrifice yourself for the love of your brother, and for the love of your enemy! Then you will advance victoriously toward the brilliant light to meet Christ, our unparalleled hero of sacrifice and love.
Elder Ephraim of Arizona