Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: anonymous

“A novice monk sought out the advice of a certain elder of discretion: “If the behavior of one of my brothers scandalizes me, should I ask his forgiveness?”

“Ask his forgiveness,” the elder answered, “but cease associating with him. Have you not heard what Arsenios the Great advises? ‘Have love for all, but be detached from everyone.’”

This is certainly the opposite of what my family taught me.  And maybe school and my society, too.  I was taught that when someone did something that I thought was just horrible, that that person had to change.  That I was right and that person was wrong.  I can tell by the choices others make that they were taught the same thing.

We have been taught incorrectly, I have come to believe, especially if we call ourselves Christians.

What I have come to understand is that a lot of the time I am choosing to be judgemental. When I am judgmental of another person, I must ask their forgiveness because I have wronged that person.

As for having love for all but being detached… Jesus tells us to love our neighbor and teaches us that everyone is our neighbor. As for being detached, what else does that mean but ceasing to invest myself in the actions and choices of another person and concern myself with my own actions and choices?  A matter of the splinter and the log, I believe.


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