Commentary on The Reading of the day provided by :
Dorotheus of Gaza (c.500-?),
monk in Palestine
Letter no. 1
“Then you will see clearly”
Some people change every food they absorb into a bad mood, even if the food is healthy.
The fault does not lie in the food but in their temperament, which changes the food.
Even so, if our soul has a bad disposition, everything harms it; it transforms even useful things into things that are harmful to it.
If you throw a little bit of bitter herbs into a pot of honey, won’t they change the whole pot by making all the honey bitter?
That is what we do: we spread a little of our bitterness and we destroy our neighbor’s good by looking at him according to our bad disposition.
Other people have a temperament that transforms everything into a good mood, even bad food… Pigs have a very good constitution.
They eat pods, date seeds and garbage.
But they transform that food into succulent meat.
In the same way, if we have good habits and a good state of the soul, we can benefit from everything, even from what is not beneficial.
The Book of Proverbs says it very well: “The one who sees with gentleness will obtain mercy.”
And in another place: “For the foolish person, everything is contrary.”
I heard it said of a brother that if, when he went to see someone else, he found his cell in a state of neglect and in disorder, he told himself: “How happy is this brother to be completely detached from earthly things and to carry his spirit on high so well that he doesn’t even have the time to tidy his cell!”
If he then went to another brother and found his cell tidy, clean, and in good order, he told himself: “This brother’s cell is as clean as his soul. As is the state of his soul, so is the state of his cell!”
He never said of anyone: “This one is untidy,” or: “That one is frivolous.”
Because of his excellent state, he benefited from everything.
May God in his goodness also give us a good state so that we might benefit from everything and never think badly of our neighbor.
If our malice inspires us to pass judgment or to be suspicious, let us quickly transform that into a good thought.
For with God’s help, not seeing what is bad in our neighbor brings forth kindness.