Someone asked an Elder about some apparent injustice he had suffered. Here he gives us the Elder’s answer. “One day,” he started to tell me,
“…You are walking quietly on your way and see your brother walking in front of you, also quietly, when at one point a crook jumps out in front of your brother from a side road and attacks him. He beats him, pulls his hair, wounds him and throws him down bleeding. Faced with a scene like that would you be angry with your brother or would you feel sorry for him?”
I was puzzled by the Elder’s questions and I asked him in turn: “How could I possibly be angry with my wounded brother, who fell victim to the criminal? The thought didn’t even cross my mind. Of course I would feel sorry for him and I would try to help him as much as I could.” “Well, then,” continued the Elder:
“. . .Everyone who insults you, who hurts you, who slanders you, who does you an injustice in anyway whatsoever is a brother of yours who has fallen into the hands of some criminal demon. When you notice that your brother does you an injustice what should you do? You must feel very sorry for him, sympathize with him and entreat God warmly and silently both, to support you in that difficult time of trial, and to have mercy on your brother, who has fallen victim to the evildoer, the demon. Because if you don’t do that, but get angry with him instead, reacting to his attack with a counter attack, then the devil who is already on the nape of your brother’s neck will jump on to yours and dance with the both of you.”
The advice was obvious: the people who did me an injustice had fallen victim to the criminal devil, but I only saw the physical not the spiritual image. The result was that I got annoyed with them and the devil that was on the back of their necks also jumped on to mine, so all of us, victims and supposed victimizers would dance the demonic dance, in a group and without knowing it.
The Elder’s example could apply to all interpersonal relations. It could function like a general spiritual rule. Living in an age of tension and the spread of aggression of every kind, from the height of refinement to the depths of coarseness, I felt that the Elder’s message was a direct and timely wake-up call. Discernment and a prayer alarm were needed to confront evil.