“Nature of Divine Justice” – St Paisios
The following is a story told by Elder Paisios about a man who was seeking to understand the nature of Divine Justice. The man’s elder sent him to observe life from a hidden place and here is what He saw.
First, he saw a rich man stop along the road where there was a spring for a rest. He watched him take out his purse and count 100 gold coins. But, when he got back on his horse he absentmindedly left his purse lying there. Later, another man comes along and finds the purse and immediately takes off with it. Next, a poor man comes and sits down in the same spot to eat some bread. About this time the rich returns to retrieve his lost purse. He finds the poor man there who knows nothing about the purse. Thinking the poor man was lying, the rich man beats him thinking he stole the purse. He beat him so badly that he died. But when he examines his pockets he does not find the purse.
The man sent to observe life turned to the Lord in prayer saying: “Lord, what is the meaning of this Will of yours? Please explain how Your Benevolence can tolerate such injustice?” A angel of the Lord then answered him as follows: “Of all the things you just witnessed, some were by God’s concession, others were for education, and others had providential reasons. He who lost the coins was the neighbor of the one who found them. The latter had an orchard worth 100 gold coins. Being greedy, the rich man forced him to sell it for only 50 coins. The disadvantaged man turned to God in prayer and asked for God to take care of this injustice. Therefore his discovery of the purse with the 100 gold coins was God’s providence which had responded to his prayer to give him his money back two fold.”
“The poor man who was murdered unjustly also committed murder once in his life. He had repented and afterwards lived a God pleasing life. He constantly asked God to forgive him for the murder and to give him a death just like the one he had inflicted.” “Naturally, the Lord forgave him based on his repentance. God was moved by his sincerity and his efforts to live a life according to His commandments and his desire to pay for his crime. Thus the Lord granted him his wish and allowed him to die a violent death and then took him into His bosom.
Finally, the greedy man who lost all his gold coins and then committed the murder would have a disastrous end due to his greed and love of money. God therefore allowed him to fall into the sin of murder so that his soul would be severely pained and he would seek to repent. The result was that this person did repent and abandoned all worldly pleasures and become a monk. “Now in which of these cases did you find God to be unjust or cruel or insensitive?”