Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fasting Is Great, But Love Is Greater


by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Fasting is a great thing but love is even greater. If by fasting demons are cast out, passions tamed, the body pacified, the spirit composed, then, by love, God takes up abode in man. The Lord Himself emphasized fasting as necessary but stressed love as the main commandment.

In the first half of the last century, Jeladin Bey ruled in Ochrid, a renegade from the Sultan and an independent ruler. At that time, the Church was governed by Metropolitan Kalinikos. Even though of different faiths, Jeladin Bey and Kalinikos were very good friends and often visited one another. It happened that Jeladin Bey condemned twenty-five Christians to be hanged. They were scheduled to be hanged on Great and Holy Friday [Good Friday]. The Metropolitan, totally disturbed because of this incident, went to Jeladin Bey and began to implore him to be more lenient with the punishment. While they were conversing, the time for lunch arrived and the Bey invited the Metropolitan to dine. Lamb was prepared for lunch. The Metropolitan excused himself, saying that because of fasting he could not remain for lunch, and he prepared to leave. Bey was sorry and said to the Metropolitan: "Choose; either you will dine with me and free twenty-five men from the gallows, or you will not dine and allow them to be hanged." The Metropolitan crossed himself and sat down to eat and Jeladin freed the condemned from the punishment of death.

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