He showed me many trees that had no leaves; they were withered, and they all looked alike to me.
And he said to me, “Do you see these trees?”
“I see, sir, that they are all alike, and all withered,” I replied.
“These trees that you see,” he answered, “are those who dwell in this world.”
“Then why are they withered,” I said, “and why do they all look alike?”
“Because,” he said, “neither the righteous nor sinners are obvious in this life. They are all alike. For this life is a winter to the righteous, and they do not show themselves, because they live with sinners. Just as, in the winter, the trees that have lost their leaves are all alike, and we can’t see which are dead and which are living, so in this world neither the righteous nor the sinners show themselves, but they all look alike.”
That’s why we should not judge by appearances – the virtue really shines only after death.
Based on Hermas
Monks of the brotherhood venerating the cross of their reposed Elder (Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi)