We begin to see here the cluster of ideas generated by the apparently simple words of Antony, Living in a Christian way with the neighbour, so that the neighbour is ‘won’ – i.e. converted, brought into saving relation with Jesus Christ involves my ‘death’. I must die to myself, a self understood as the solid possessor of virtues and gifts, entitled to pronounce on the neighbour’s spiritual condition.

My own awareness of my failure and weakness is indispensable to my communicating the gospel to my neighbour. I put the neighbour in touch with God by a particular kind of detachment from him or her. And, the desert writers insist, this is absolutely basic for our growth in the life of grace. Here is a saying under the name of John the Dwarf:    

‘You don’t build a house by starting with the roof and working

down. You start with the foundation.’ 

They said, ‘What does that mean?’       

He said, ‘The foundation is our neighbour whom          

we must win. The neighbour is where we start. Every

commandment of Christ depends on this.’

Silence & Honey Cakes

Rowan Williams ( page 24 and 25)

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