From the book of sermons and talks of the Serbian Patriarch Pavle “Walk to Eternity. Selected Sermons. Interviews,” published by Sretensky Monastery.
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain (Mt. 4:33-41).
The Lord reminds us that we should not swear, that we should have such love of truth between us, such trust, that it’s enough to say “yes” and it will be “yes,” or “no” and it will be “no.” Of course, in important cases the Church allows oaths for the sake of ascertaining the truth, especially in court. We know from Holy Scripture that the Lord once “swore by Himself.” It’s not that you can absolutely never use oaths, but that we should try to be so truth loving, for God is Truth, and the devil is a liar and the father of lies. In this sense we must love Truth. And again I repeat it. In the old Mosaic Law it is said: eye for eye, tooth for tooth (Ex. 21:24). It was a higher rule of law than its predecessors. Lamech, having two wives, said he killed the husband to his wounding and the young man to his hurt (see Gen. 4:23). And the Law of Moses appears, saying: eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot (Ex. 21:24); as much as they did to you, so much you could do in return. And finally, the Lord instructs us to do more, to begin to resist evil. The Lord says: do not resist evil with violence. It’s not to absolutely never resist evil—that would be passivity, the destruction of the distinction between good and evil, but to not resist with violence, not to return evil with evil. And the apostle Paul says:
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (Rm. 12:21). This is the meaning of Christ’s speech, but, I repeat, not literally. Because, when He was before the court and when the servant struck Him, He did not offer the left cheek, but pronounced: If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? (Jn. 18:23). I think you understand, what this is about. We should be prepared to overcome the evil directed at us with good, to seek the opportunity to rectify the sinner, to do everything that he might understand the weight of his sin. In any case, we should not be passive, but should take the initiative and turn it towards the good. How many true miscreants have become Christians because Christians followed these words of Christ and loved their enemies, trying to guide them to repentance?
May the Lord help to establish a love of truth between us, to love even our adversaries: to pray to God, to show them with our very lives that they are tumbling in a spiritual abyss, in eternal darkness, and that they must repent and be saved.
May God bless you!
Translated by Jesse Dominick
His Holiness Irinej, Serbian Patriarch, received today, on 20 February 2013 at the Serbian Patriarchate in Belgrade, a delegation of the Association of the war volunteers 1912-1918. Serbian Patriarch received on 17 February 2013 in separate audiences Her Excellency Mette Kjuel Nielsen, Ambassador of Denmark in Belgrade, and academician Dragoljub Zivojinovic. On 14 February 2013 at Serbian Patriarchate Patriarch Irinej had an audience for Mr. Sinisa Pavic, Serbian consul in Thessaloniki.
It has been two years since the Holy Assembly of Bishops elected His Holiness Irinej, Serbian Patriarch for the successor of Saint Sava, for the first hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church. This event was marked on Sunday, January 22 in the Cathedral church in Belgrade where Patriarch Irinej served the Divine Liturgy. His Holiness at the Holy Service of God was concelebrated by priests and deacons of the Archbishopric of Belgrade-Karlovac, and the choir of the First Belgrade Singing Society chanted. Protopresbyter-staurophor Radic Radicevic held a sermon.
His Holiness Irinej, Serbian Patriarch received yesterday in the Serbian Patriarchate delegation of the Islamic community of Serbia led by deputy Reis-ul-Ulama Muhamed ef. Jusufspahic, Serbian mufti.
His Holiness Irinej Serbian Patriarch received yesterday in Serbian Patriarchate in Belgrade His Excellency Mr. Luis de Almeida, Ambassador of Portugal.
After morning service and church worship hours His Holiness Irinej, Serbian Patriarch has served today in Belgrade's Cathedral Church the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.