22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 5:22-6:2
“We cannot live in such a way that no one grieves or offends us, for the Apostle Luke writes: we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22), and bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). Let us therefore ask that we may bear sorrows with self-reproach and humility and not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good, and with the Prophet say: With them that hate pace I was peaceable (Ps. 119:6).” St Hilarion of Optina
Beloved, these words, first of the Gospel and then of the Holy Spirit, uttered by Saint Hilarion, give meaning and hope in this age of deceit and selfishness. So rich are these words from the Epistles of Saint Paul to the flock in Galatia that one could speak generously on each sentence and clause. If one ever had doubt as to the inner meaning of Christ’s teaching, they need only read this short pericope.
My friends it is one thing to respect others and it is an entirely different thing to bear another’s burden. What does this mean, to bear another’s burden? There are many examples of this ranging from the literal helping others to carry some great load of goods, to the more sublime realm of helping another to deal with depression, anxiety, or some deep sadness. Saint Hilarion also reminds us that another’s burden can be a harsh disposition and character that is wont to anger. This teaching of Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians transcends the simple notion of respecting on another, or even loving your neighbor. This teaching invites us to engage our brothers and sisters in a much deeper and almost inexplicable way.
Look around you and you will see many sad and broken souls. Are you willing to “walk a mile” with your neighbor, consoling them and weeping with them? Can we fulfill the teaching of Christ to visit the imprisoned, comfort the sick, shelter the orphan and widow? Their lot in life is their burden, may our Saviour soften our heart to approach them and help them to shoulder their troubles.
These words are yet more poignant as we draw ever closer to the Nativity of our Lord, God, and Savior. If we were present that evening, what would we have done to bring comfort to Mary, who was great with Child? Would we offer a place in our home? Would we offer a place in our heart? The spirit of Christmas, which the world seeks yet cannot understand, is to see Christ in everyone, and in so doing, to truly bear one another’s burdens.