Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Is there such a thing as "the evil eye" that incurs hurt or damage upon people?

"Direct thine own intention aright then, and thou shalt never receive harm from any, but shall get the greatest gain, not only from the good but even from the wicked. For on this account, as I have before said, God has suffered men to be with one another, and especially the wicked with the good, in order that they may bring them over to their own virtue" (Homily III).

St. John Chrysostom explains that the "moral purpose" is the deciding factor making one to succumb to sin and evil. Although Eve blamed the serpent, the devil, for her misbehavior, which led to her expulsion from Paradise, it was she alone who made the decision not to remove herself from a dialogue that was declaring an outright lie. Certainly, the devil enticed her burning ears for more detail, but again, she willfully remained entertained by the discussion. St. John Chrysostom teaches that no matter the degree of evil purposed on God's children, albeit resulting from famine, poverty, illness, loss, catastrophe, etc., it is all a source of good for those who remain steadfast in God's love. For it is God who allows pestilence and grief in the world, not as punishment, but for chastisement of His beloved, to rid them of pride and move them closer to virtue so they may shine all the more. "But God made the gain greater than the loss, and brought our nature to the royal throne" (Homily I).

Evil exists all around us. The concept of an "evil eye" presumes that the person in question has some inherent covetous or envious disposition. This may or may not be the case, but harmful for you to assume that immense role of judgment. By these assumptions, you close your hand from doing "good" to him through championing God's benevolence and truth. You allow fear to guide your conduct rather than wisdom. If one flaunts or boasts of his prosperity, certainly the envious devils will seize the opportunity to instigate greed and resentment amongst the individual's brethren who may be already weakened by a sense of inadequacy. "And even if thou dost not suffer any of these misfortunes at the hands of God but owing to the insolence of men; and yet givest thanks and dost not blaspheme him who is able to prevent them indeed, but who permits them for the sake of testing thee: just as they who suffer at the hands of God are crowned, so also thou shalt obtain the same reward, because thou hast borne nobly the calamities which were brought upon thee from men, and didst give thanks to him who was able indeed to hinder them, but not willing" (Homily III). For if we are diligent and behave as though all we have are but loans, we may graciously return them to their Rightful Owner, no matter how lovely they may be. Therefore, it is not a mere zap of the "evil eye" that produces calamity. Each action and reaction needs prudence and bears spiritual responsibility.

"I will now conclude my discourse by repeating what I said at the beginning, that if any one be harmed and injured he certainly suffers this at his own hands, not at the hands of others even if there be countless multitudes injuring and insulting him: so that if he does not suffer this at his own hands, not all the creatures who inhabit the whole earth and sea if they combined to attack him would be able to hurt one who is vigilant and sober in the Lord." (St. Chrysostom: A Treatise To Prove That No One Can Harm The Man Who Does Not Injure Himself).

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