Zeal vs. Divine Grace

 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. [1 Cor. 13:1]

Saint Makarios, the famous Desert Father, had decided to go to a church festival along with the monk who was subservient to him. The young monk had gone on ahead. He was a beginner and had a beginner’s zeal. As he was walking along he met an idolater, a priest of a pagan temple. He spoke harshly to him and said:

“Where are you off to, you deluded soul?”

The priest was enraged and attacked the novice, leaving him virtually unconscious.

A short time later the priest met the elder. When Abba Makarios, blessed as he was by divine grace, saw the man in a state of shock and aggravation, he said to him: “Good man of God, where are you going to?”

As soon as the priest heard these words his heart softened, he stopped in his tracks, and said:

“Your words have calmed me down.”

“Yes,” said Abba Makarios. “I see you’re in a hurry, only you don’t know where you’re hurrying to.”

But he said it in an humble and brotherly tone of love.

“When you speak,” said the idolater, “your words open my heart, but a short time ago another monk spoke to me in a very different way and I gave him a good beating.”

Abba Makarios spoke to him in such an inspired way, that the idolater gradually changed his beliefs, became a monk and was saved. With his good words and manners he communicated the good spirit. He communicated the uncreated energy and entered the soul of the idolater. The novice, on the contrary, communicated a spirit of anger and aggression from the spirit he had within him.

-Abba Makarios in Wisdom of the Desert Fathers quoted in Wounded by Love by Elder Porphyrios

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