Orthodox Thought for the Day


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On sinners and penitents

It is necessary to distinguish a sinner from a penitent.  If you have taken it upon yourself to rebuke a sinner, take care that you do not rebuke the penitent also.  The parable of the Prodigal Son demonstrates how dear a repentant sinner is to God.  Therefore, let one who has become dear to God, be very dear to you.

One time, a monk succumbed to sin, for which he was banished from his monastery.  This monk went to St. Anthony, confessed his sin, repented, and remained with Anthony for a period of time.  Then Anthony sent him back again to his monastery, but they did not receive him, and again drove him out. Again, the penitent went to St. Anthony.  Again, Anthony sent him back to the monastery, with a message to the fathers there:  “A ship suffered shipwreck and lost its cargo, and only with great difficulty did that boat reach the harbor—and you want to sink even that which was saved from sinking!”  Hearing this wise message, the fathers received the penitent brother into the monastery with joy.

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