Written by Vladimir Moss



     The Lord says to the Pharisees in today’s Gospel: “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” (John 10.32). Here Christ is rebuking the Pharisees for their ingratitude to Him. But He does it with such gentleness, such delicacy, without a trace of bitterness! Just a touch of irony… He Who did so many and such great works for all those on earth would just like to know, please: “For which of these works are you trying to kill Me? Not that these are My works really. Everything comes from the Father…”

     It is very hard not to feel bitterness at those who are ungrateful to us. This is universally acknowledged. The hatred of external enemies is much easier to bear than the treachery of friends, the ingratitude of those to whom you have done good. “Ingratitude is the essence of vileness,” said the philosopher Immanuel Kant. “Most people return small favors, acknowledge medium ones and repay greater ones - with ingratitude,” said Benjamin Franklin. “I hate ingratitude more in a man,” says Viola in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, “more than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness, or any taint of vice whose strong corruption inhabits our frail blood.” Perhaps the greatest work of secular literature ever written – Shakespeare’s King Lear – is built entirely on the ferocious feelings elicited by filial ingratitude, and the main character’s triumphant victory over them. 

     We have to overcome our bitterness. For bitterness at ingratitude is just another form of hatred of enemies. And hatred prevents us from receiving the remission of our sins…

     In Psalm 37 the great Prophet-King David exposes the illness and offers at least part of the cure: “My friends and my neighbours drew nigh over against me and stood, and my nearest of kin stood afar off. And they that sought after my soul used violence; and they that sought evils for me spake vain things, and craftinesses all the day long did they meditate. But as for me, like a dead man I heard them not, and was as a speechless man that openeth not his mouth. And I became as a man that heareth not, and that hath in his mouth no reproofs…”

     So the first part of the cure is silence. It is so easy to answer back – and so harmful for the soul. It is much more difficult – but much more fruitful in the long run – to let the sinners have their temporary victory. 

     However, is there nothing we can or should do? No, we can and should do something; we should turn to the Righteous Judge, to God: “For in Thee have I hoped, O Lord; Thou wilt hearken unto me, O Lord my God. For I said: Let never mine enemies rejoice over me; yea, when my feet were shaken, those men spoke boastful words against me.”

     So silence, prayer. And then there is a third remedy: repentance. For while Christ in no way deserved the ingratitude towards Him, that can never be said about us. Even if we are innocent in this particular case, there are many other sins we have committed in the past, for which God is now correcting and chastising us.

     And so: “I am ready for scourges, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare mine iniquity, and I will take heed concerning my sin. But mine enemies live and are made stronger than I, and they that hated me unjustly are multiplied. They that render me evil for good slandered me, because I pursued goodness. Forsake me not, O Lord my God, depart not from me. Be attentive unto my help, O Lord of my salvation…”

     Finally, we should look back on our good deeds towards our enemies, and examine ourselves: are we perhaps boasting of them just a little in the depths of our hearts, and forgetting that only good deeds done for the sake of Christ and by the grace of Christ are good in the eyes of God, the Giver of all good. The Lord shielded Himself from the charge of vainglory and boasting by ascribing all His indescribable good deeds to His Father. We should always and at all times and in all things ascribe all the little good we do to the Giver of all good – and be grateful.


May 7/20, 2017.




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