Saint Zosimas of Palestine: Someone Who Brings You Insult and Harm Represents the Burning Medicine of Jesus.


Saint Zosimas of Palestine gives st. Mary of Egypt the Holy Communion, Cretan school XVII century

Abba Zosima also said: If someone perceives that another person has brought affliction or harm or slander or any other evil, and in return the same one weaves thoughts against that other person, then one is actually conspiring against one’s own soul, just as if the demons were doing this. One is actually able to bring this upon oneself. What do I mean by “weaving”? If one does not imagine the other person to be like a healer, then one is bringing upon oneself the greatest harm. Why do you say that the other person has caused you suffering? That person has actually brought you cleansing. Moreover, you should think of that person as a healer, sent to you by Christ. You ought to suffer for the sake of that person (Acts 9.16), and you should regard that person as your benefactor.

If you have not been alienated from evil, and do not wish to be alienated from it, then the Lord your God is not to blame for this. The act of suffering is quite appropriate for a soul that is unhealthy. Were you not unhealthy, you would not be suffering. Therefore, you owe your brother a favor; because it is through him that you have come to know your illness. You should accept whatever he offers you, as if it were healing medicine sent to you by Jesus. Yet, not only do you not express gratitude to him, but you even weave thoughts against your brother. What you are really saying to Jesus is that you do not wish to be healed by Him; you do not wish to receive His medicine; you prefer to decay in your wounds; and you wish to submit to the demons. What, then, can the Lord do? For, inasmuch as the Lord is good, He gave us His holy commandments in order to purge our evils, by cauterizing and cleansing them. Therefore, anyone who wishes and longs to be healed is obliged to endure whatever the doctor offers in order to be delivered from the illness. Indeed, no patient is happy being amputated or cauterized or cleansed with laxative. Rather, every patient thinks about such things with disgust. Nonetheless, that same patient is convinced that it is impossible to be healed of one’s illness without these. One surrenders, then, to the doctor, knowing that, in return for a small amount of disgust, a great deal of healing will result for an unhealthy condition and chronic illness. Someone who brings you harm represents the burning medicine of Jesus. [Reflections of abba Zosimas of Palestine:4]

Nevertheless, what can be easier than to listen to that holy and practical teacher, Abba Ammonas, who says: Pay close attention to yourself. Then, if someone should afflict you in any matter whatsoever, you will be silent. You will not say anything at all until your heart is softened through unceasing prayer. Afterward, you are able to console your brother. For, a person that longs for the true and straight way will rebuke himself harshly when troubled by something like this. That person will always practice self-examination, saying: My soul why have you lost your mind? Why are you troubled like those who who are insane? It is precisely this, which indicates how unwell in fact you are. Had you been healthy, you would not have been troubled.  Why do you neglect to blame yourself and begin accusing your brother for revealing to you your illness both in deed and in truth? Learn the commandments of Christ: “When He was abused, He did not return abuse; when He suffered, He did not threaten (1 Pet. 2.23). Listen to Him, when He says and when He shows us in reality: “I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who beat Me. I did not hide My face from insult and spitting” (Is. 50.6).  Yet, you, wretched soul, just because of a single insult and dishonor, sit there and weave thousand of thoughts, ultimately conspiring against your own soul in the manner of the demons. After all, what more can a demon do to such a soul, that it has not already done to itself? We see the Cross, we read of His passion each day, what He suffered for us. Yet, we cannot endure the slightest insult. We have indeed deviated from the straight way.  [Reflections of abba Zosimas of Palestine7]