My dear Christians:
Two people once came to me to confess their sins. Their names were Peter and Paul. I want you to
listen and let me know if I judged them correctly or inappropriately.
Peter came and told me, “My spiritual father, from a young age until now I have always fasted and prayed, I have given money to the poor, I built monasteries and churches, and I have done many other good things as well. However, I do not forgive my enemies.” When I heard this, I
concluded that he was headed straight for Hell.
Next, Paul came and told me, “From the day I was born until now, I have never done even one good deed. On the contrary, I have murdered others, I have fornicated, I have stolen, I have set monasteries and churches on fire. I have done every possible evil; however, I forgive my enemies.” Now pay attention to what I did. I immediately embraced him, kissed him, and gave him permission to receive Holy Communion. Did I judge them correctly or inappropriately?
Certainly you will blame me and ask, “Peter had done so many good things, and just because he did not forgive his enemy, for such a trivial thing, you concluded that he would be condemned to Hell? Whereas Paul had committed so many crimes, and just because he forgave his enemies you pardoned him and also permitted him to receive Holy Communion?”
Yes, my children, this is how I acted.
Do you want to understand why? Just as a small amount of yeast that is placed in one hundred pounds of dough has the power to ferment all the dough and make it rise, the same thing holds for all those good things that Peter did. The small amount of enmity he had, with which he did not
forgive his enemy, fermented and turned everything he had done into poison of the devil. This is why I ruled that he was going to Hell. Paul’s sins, on the other hand, resembled a large pile of sticks and twigs that were set on fire with a small flame.
The forgiveness he gave to his enemy served as a lit candle that completely burned and consumed the entire pile of kindling, that is, his sins. This is why I concluded that he would go to Heaven.
St. Kosmas Aitolos