Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Artistic Creativity

Forgiving One's Neighbour from the Perspective of the Holy Fathers

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Artistic Creativity

Forgiving One's Neighbour from the Perspective of the Holy Fathers

Article excerpt

On the concept of love / agape

Christianity is a religion of love and forgiveness. The Holy Scripture teaches: "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." (1 John 4: 7-8) The Saviour highly appreciated and valued love for one's neighbour and this is apparent if we understand what transpired during the Last Supper, when He introduced the commandment to love one another: "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." (John 13: 34) It is this commandment that He reinforced later in the evening: "This is my commandment, that ye love [[phrase omitted] / agapate] one another, even as I have loved [[phrase omitted] / egapesa] you." (John 15: 12) And then, once more, even more convincingly, He added: "These things I command you, that ye may love [[phrase omitted] / agapate] one another." (John 15: 17) There is no other commandment the Saviour asserted more, and none of His commandments was more insistently approached and reinforced than the commandment concerning love. We have mentioned here the Greek verb [phrase omitted] / agapao--in different moods and tenses--from the original text in Greek (Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine 2001: 586) in order to take note of the fact that St. John the Evangelist conveyed the Saviour's commandment (which he repeated three times) to love one's neighbour through the word in Koine Greek [phrase omitted] / agape.

[Please note: Some non-Latin characters were omitted from this article]

This term is translated as love, yet, this is not a simple kind of love, but it designates a special connotation that is completely different from other words for love. Thus, it is obvious that we cannot fully define it. The term is used to describe the love that exists between the Persons of the Holy Trinity, and also to reveal God's love for us, which is infinite, unconditional and self-sacrificial. As He gives Himself totally and completely to the world, we are invited to give ourselves completely to Him. In this situation there is reciprocal love and this extends to the brotherly love with which we love our brothers, as Jesus Christ loves them. Love / [phrase omitted] will never aim at anything else but absolute and ultimate love for one's neighbour:

[Please note: Some non-Latin characters were omitted from this article]

The way our neighbour treats us does not have any bearing on what we do toward him or her; who or what our neighbour is or does is not relevant. It is of no importance what our neighbour's attitude is toward others, we are to aim exclusively at our neighbour's ultimate and absolute good. The distinctive characteristic of Christian love consists in its obligation and capacity to love those who are neither lovable nor worthy of love, to aim at the ultimate good of others, no matter who that person might be, what he does or has done. (Barclay 1992: 70)

In other words, love for one's neighbour should be unconditional, profound, ardent and self-sacrificial, just as Christ demonstrated His love for us.

Exhortations to forgive one's neighbour

We will bring attention to the fact that the Saviour sets one single condition in the Lord's Prayer: "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." (Matthew 6: 12) If we utter "and forgive us as we also have forgiven" and then we do not exonerate our neighbour from his spiritual imperfections and shortcomings in regard to us, then we ask for punishment for ourselves. When we do not forgive the neighbour, we should be honest and utter: "do not forgive us as we also have not forgiven." Can we say this? We cannot! Tertium non datur. Thus, we should persevere and endeavour to forgive.

The Saviour will rather forgive sins committed against Himself than those against one's neighbour. …

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