CONCERNING POOR MANKIND
WEALTH THAT AWAITS HIM
All humans are mortal, and all humans desire to avoid death wherever possible, and here is the dilemma, that even though we love life above everything, there appears to be no possibility to escape the constant threat and certainty of death. The media repeatedly reminds us of death, citing many caught up in death by terrible accidents, devastating storms, tragic plane crashes, by vicious criminals and the threats of enemies. These all bring to the forefront the incessant threat of death and remind us of the ultimate end of our existence. Seeing only with his physical eyes, man observes the constant inflow of births, and outflow of deaths, realizing that as quickly as men are being born, others are dying. On the subject of death many think they have established that we differ little from animals, and we like our animal forbears just return to the earth.
Men see themselves as species of some animal from whom we descended, the difference being that we invented tools and became educated, established schools, advancing ourselves but always remaining the same perishable flesh as animals. However, holding such ideas they deny the spirit and the true spiritual nature in man, and his creation by God, who breathed His spirit into Adam. They consider this and the scriptural account of Adam and Eve, the first created pair, as a myth with the conclusion that there is no spirit in man. Thus there is no God or anyone one superior to man, for he just evolved and has no master because he is free.
Humanism then proclaims man to be the measure of everything. Not believing in the spirit they fail do see that there is a Creator of all that exists, thus there can be no divine law, followed by our individual judgment before the Judge that cannot be bribed. Consequently man can do what he wills, for there is no sin or judgment by the Lord. Hence, cheat, lie steal, but don’t get caught. Marriage? Who needs it when we can enjoy marital pleasures. Anything goes, so indulge! If it feels good, do it for there are no consequences. Every sin is permissible without a law or a judge to apply it. So men fill their souls with constant talking and texting, forms of communication and entertainment, such as music, videos, TV, and other media. They rarely hear the quiet voice of God who speaks to all men through their conscience. And if they hear that small voice, to avoid hearing it, they crank up the volume!
No matter where we travel, what and where we eat, how we dress and who we have as our companions, we never acquire pure joy unmixed with sorrow, deciding that there is no such thing. So let us eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. Why do men see things in this manner? It seems the way things really are, for we learned in schools and colleges, that we are all just advanced beings who descended from animals, look at us now how we are exalted among all the other animals. There is no end what man can do! We praise our children and others, with the comment, you can do whatever you want, why you can become great, instead of teaching them the sweetness of humility.
Man learns that he is highly exalted not only because he invented tools, but he also developed his keen mind and has performed great things as recorded in history. Men become scientists, doctors, inventors, investors, teachers, factory workers, and many other endeavors. Great men become the measure of others being highly exalted as examples of good men worth imitating, regardless of their morality. Pericles, Homer, Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and thousands of great men in many fields. Others were inventors and researchers, such Thomas Edison, Alexander Bell, Wilbur and OrvilleWright, Henry Ford, and Louis Pasteur. They’re all dead and are gone forever, and this will continue as men are born and then die, for the process of life and death is now perpetual.
As man became the only measure in life during this period of humanism, someone frustrated with the vanity of everything, created a bumper sticker describing the aimlessness of life without spirit: “Ain’t life a bitch; and then you die!” What a sad and depressing outlook but it reflects on the man who is always a companion of death. This mood does not only apply to an atheist or unbeliever, but to all those who are outside the Church, all those who remain without baptism in Christ, and are not communicants of His Mysteries, accessible only in the Church He founded, for only members of the Body have access with the Head which is the Lord.
We live in the age of humanism, which there is no God and He exists he has nothing to do with us, as for man, he is the measure of everything. Although they exalt man, yet he lacks any lasting value for surely he will die, and worms will dine on his flesh, and that’s the end, he is gone forever. We honor dead men but they cannot accept that honor because they have gone out of existence. Paupers and famous men die, evil and good men die, criminals, lawyers die. The elderly die but so do the young. Poor men die but also the very rich. Generally men prefer life to death, but death always remains an evil necessity! The tyranny of death dominates mankind, and no one escapes its authority. Death strikes all men and humanists say that those who did good things are not rewarded, nor are the guilty punished.
What good is the research of those scientists who tell us that the sun will only last some billions of years more, or that global warming will wipe out coastal regions? In the name of science men cannot logically speak of the much greater problem of death for they also fear the same enemy. Some scientists worry about the growing world population, global warming, famines, water shortages, all being a threat to precious life.
What can be sadder than being committed to death, when there is an escape? What can be more despised than death which always stands over us like a dark shadow, and sooner or later will threatens to stamp us out like an insect? We love and thrive on life doing everything possible to prolong life and avoid death. Hence, doctors are honored who treat us, medicine, no matter the price, hospitals, diets and exercise, firemen and policemen, ambulance service, armies and navies, everything possible is utilized to save and protect our precious lives.
We are helpless against our greatest enemy — death! It can snatch away husband or wife, son or daughter. If man cannot go on living, for what purpose did he come into existence and what is his ultimate end? As Wisdom says: “Everything is vanity!” These things show that there can be no happiness or bliss as long as the sword of death hangs over our head. What is needed is a conqueror of death!
THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM
Under the guise of science, many schools teach the children that man came from animals or beasts, therefore we should always be kind to them as they are our forbears, and this idea is embedded in their minds affecting their behavior and entire outlook on life. For the big question in a young man is: Who am I? Despite all this, man considers himself as a progressive and loves to speak of great leaps of progress. Being progressive is considered a great virtue and leaders of men show themselves as being progressive, but they do not say toward what goal. The truth is that this progress, like everything, always ends, not in life but in death! Where there is death there cannot be progress.
Parents also contribute to their children’s knowledge and to their beliefs. So it is not the schools alone that fail their children. Parents do not go out seeking the solution of the problem of death, thus they just pass the problem on to their children from generation to generation.
BEHOLD THE CONQUEROR OF DEATH
AND AUTHOR OF LIFE
Standing against spiritless humanistic-centered progressive man is another man who desires and is able to free man from the tyranny of death derived from faithlessness and even worse, the second death. This man is Christ’s man, shining brighter than the sun, he penetrates into the souls of the death-destined man, offering him joy in place of sorrow, happiness in place of misery, and eternal life in place of death. Man is not man unless he lives in God his Creator. God did not create man to just live and die, but destined him to an abundant and endless life, to live in happiness in this world and to pass peaceful into a much better world, through the door of death into the glory of everlasting life. This is life in the Godman, it is an ascetic life filled with its own rewards as well. For pleasures alone can never bring happiness.
Jesus Christ is the perfect Godman who was crucified, died, and was buried, but being both God and man, it was not possible for death to hold Him. On the contrary, death was confronted by the Living God, and the lord of death is defeated losing his authority, for after His resurrection Christ victoriously holds the keys to heaven and earth, saying: “All authority has been given to me,” By His lifegiving death Christ has put death to death and Hades has been vanquished. The Gospel is the call to free men to come and follow me. The Church cries out as did their Head: “Come unto me all you that are heavily laden and I will give rest to your souls.”
“Whoever fails to heed His merciful call remains under the tyranny of the Evil One and death and a fate worse than death, for following the first death of the body is the second death of man called Gehenna.
How is this freedom from the tyranny of death achieved? Christ is risen! It is the wholehearted faith in the risen Christ. Sincerity is the main prerequisite, and the details of the attitude that places us on the road of hope and salvation is found in the words of Psalm 50/51, which says: “Have mercy upon me O God according to your great mercy, according to the multitude of your pities, wipe away my iniquities . . . against you alone have I sinned and done evil in your sight . . . cast me not away from your presence; take not your holy spirit from me . . . restore to me the joy of your salvation!”
What can separate us from the love and intimacy offered by Christ? Can murder, robbery, arrogance, or fornication? None of these, for the love of Christ is greater than all the sins ever committed by men. What separates us is our refusal to believe with all our hearts, and then approach Him in deep sorrowful repentance for offending such a kind, merciful and Good Lord! Confessing our sins to the Priest. Christ did not refuse the kisses of the harlot, nor the plea of the robber crucified with Him, nor did he turn from the ugliness of the lepers, for He is Almighty God the Creator of all and the only Lover of man!
What separates us from the love and intimacy of Christ? Unbelief, pride and the refusal to humble ourselves, unwilling to place our total confidence and faith in Him, lack of love for ourselves, by not seeking the one thing needful for our souls.
Faith in Christ, replacing the hideousness of death with the joy of the resurrection, and seeing the beauty of immortality when we choose to enter the newness of life filled with new hope. When we have Christ within us, and eat and drink Him, our souls being fed with such divine food, are nourished and come to life, already tasting immortality, and we will be aware of this. Every day will be to them the same as the day of resurrection! Just as the father said of his prodigal son in the parable: My son who was dead is alive! This is the essence of Pascha – the Feast of the Resurrection! We can reflect and remember that we were spiritually dead and now live in Christ!
“Christ’s man follows the way of divine perfection, overcoming, by means of evangelical virtues, sin and evil in himself and in the world around him. He is always advancing from good to greater good, from the greater to the greatest, never stopping, never pausing, because every pause means spiritual paralysis and death. Through every pure thought, every hopeful feeling, every good wish and kind word, he grows towards resurrection, towards immortality and eternal life”
The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism by Archimandrite Dr. Justin Popovic p 96