From a sermon by Blessed Isaac of Stella, abbot
The preeminence of charity
Why, brothers, are we so little concerned to seek one another’s well-being, so that where we see a greater need, we might show a greater readiness to help and carry one another’s burdens? For this is what the blessed apostle Paul urges us to do in the words: Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ; and also: Support each other in charity. For this surely is the law of Christ.
Why can I not patiently bear the weaknesses I see in my brother which, either out of necessity or because of physical or moral weakness, cannot be corrected? And why can I not instead generously offer him consolation, as it is written: Their children shall be carried on their shoulders and consoled upon their knees? Is it because I lack that virtue which suffers all things, is patient enough to bear all, and generous enough to love?
This is indeed the law of Christ, who truly bore our weaknesses in his passion and carried our sorrows out of pity, loving those he carried and carrying those he loved. Whoever attacks a brother in need, or plots against him in his weakness of whatever sort, surely fulfills the devil’s law and subjects himself to it. Let us then be compassionate toward one another, loving all our brothers, bearing one another’s weaknesses, yet ridding ourselves of our sins.
The more any way of life sincerely strives for the love of God and the love of our neighbor for God’s sake, the more acceptable it is to God, no matter what be its observances or external form. For charity is the reason why anything should be done or left undone, changed or left unchanged; it is the initial principle and the end to which all things should be directed. Whatever is honestly done out of love and in accordance with love can never be blameworthy. May he then deign to grant us this love, for without it we cannot please him, and without him we can do absolutely nothing, God, who lives and reigns for ever. Amen.