I am unfamiliar with the stylization of “saints” in the Russian Orthodox Church. John of Kronstadt is a saint, I believe, of that patriarchy.
There are among us ways to interact with ourselves — and with those who are not of the household of God. Often times, we see even our brothers and sisters in Christ as opponents. There can be no reconciliation if, in the end, one side has lost. Indeed, when any body becomes factious, it has ceased to be a body.
In reading Christian Century yesterday, I came across this quote from John of Kronstadt:
Never confuse the person, formed in the image of God, with the evil that is in him, because evil is but a chance misfortune, illness, a devilish reverie. But the very essence of the person is the image of God, and this remains in him despite every disfigurement.
I wonder how this would play out, I mean if we actually felt this way, in the way we treat secular prisoners or those we have so easily deemed sinners? Could we stop seeing them as wretches and then begin to see them as unhealed (Revelation 22.2)?
In another part, John says:
Remember that every man is an image of God, and that all his glory is within him, in his heart. Man looks upon the face, whilst God looks upon the heart.
Christ, the Son of God, the Most Holy God, “is not ashamed to call us sinners brethren;” therefore do not at least be ashamed to call brothers and sisters poor, obscure, simple people, whether they be your relatives according to the flesh or not, do not be proud in your intercourse with them, do not despise them, for we are all actually brothers in Christ — we were all born of water and the Spirit in the baptismal font and became children of God; we are all called Christians, we are all nourished with the Body and Blood of the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, the sacraments of the Church are celebrated over all of us, we all pray the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father…” and all of us equally call God our Father.
How unified would we be if we actually treated the waters of baptism as the blood of family?