Saturday, September 23, 2006

Speaking Against One's Neighbor

There is a parable told by Abba John the Dwarf, one of the Desert Fathers, about speaking against one's neighbor.

Once there was a poor man who had a wife and a concubine; but he was too poor to clothe them. A feast was being held across the lake, and both women wanted to go. So he put the two of them in a barrel and put them aboard a boat; and so they came to the place of the feast. It grew very hot, and the people at the feast went inside to rest. One of the women looked out of the barrel, and seeing that there was no one around, went to a pile of old rags and, joining them together, made herself a girdle and began walking about, seeing the sights. But the other, still naked inside the barrel, said, "Look at that whore who goes about shameless and naked." But the poor peasant said to her, "She at least has her nakedness covered; but you are completely naked, for all that it is hidden from the world by a barrel. Are you not ashamed to say such things?"

And thus it is when we speak against our neighbor: it is nakedness hiding in a barrel that criticizes those who walk about with rags.

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