A young man once said to a priest, “Father, I will not come to church again!”
The priest asked him the reason behind this statement.
The young man answered, “Here I see a woman gossiping about another, my neighbor fell asleep, the Reader doesn’t read well, and the Chanters argue and fight. Furthermore, during Holly Liturgy, someone is playing on their phone, and not to mention many of them have such selfish behavior when they gather after Liturgy for Sunday coffee hour.
The priest told him: “You’re right, but before you leave the church for good, please do me one favor. Take this overflowing olive oil candle and go around our temple three times, without spilling a drop of oil. Finish this task successfully and then you may leave.”
“That’s it? Okay.” replied the young man.
The man did the three circles around the temple as the priest asked, and upon finishing, he said: “Father, I did it.”
The priest asked him, “When you were circling the temple, did you see anyone gossiping about somebody else?”
“No,” he said.
“Did you see anyone playing on their phone?”
“No,” he replied.
“Do you know why? You were focused on holding the candle without spilling a drop of oil. That is how it is also in our lives. When our hearts focus on Christ, then we don’t have any time to pay attention to the mistakes and shortcomings of other people. We are all sinners, so those among us who say they will leave the church because of the sins of their brothers and sisters, they certainly did not enter the church for the love of our Jesus Christ!
By Father Panagiotis Efstathiou.
Translated by Nikos Stergioy
I will not come to the church again