Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Part Eight


     Whoever has faith in Christ has made a good beginning which needs to be brought to fruition. Faith in Christ without works, as James the Apostle says, is dead. The works are accomplished by hearkening to and carrying out all that the Son commands, for He speaks what His Father wills, thus we all need to listen and obey. Christ speaks as follows: “You have heard that it was said to them of old time, you shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment, and whoever shall say to his brother Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whoever shall say you fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

     The law of Moses subjected murderers to the penalties of justice. Christ’s legislation differs by forbidding  the lesser behavior that leads to murder, such as anger, insult and blasphemy forbidding and penalizing these things preventing the crime of murder. To be guilty of these lesser things must be shown as being related to the potential crime, for example, all types of anger do not lead to murder. Also whoever called his brother raca ( similar to “worthless” or “good for nothing”) makes him liable before the council,” and possible condemnation. 

The Gospel Laws established by Christ are for those who believe in Him and strive to keep His commandments as members of His Church. All Orthodox Christians are brothers and sisters of Christ and what they do to each other is done to Christ who said: “Amen, Amen, I say unto you as you have done to the least of these my brethren you have done it to me” (Mat.25:40). Therefore a Christian unreasonably angry with another is also unreasonably angry with Christ. He who calls his brother a fool, knowing him to be the brother of Christ, evidently calls Christ a fool. And he who calls Christ a fool blasphemes against the Holy Spirit. For whoever is a fool is a fool because of his folly, and folly indicates a spirit of foolishness and senselessness. That means he has called the spirit in Christ a spirit of folly. Christ was maligned by the Pharisees and said: “whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit., it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come” (Mat. 12:32).

     “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled with your brother and then come and offer your gift. When you know your brother has been wronged go to him and be reconciled then offer your gift.” Not just remembering our own ill feelings toward a brother, but also those of him towards us, requires us to seek reconciliation with him.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Part Seven


     When the Jews heard Christ command them not to work for the food that perishes but for the food that endures unto everlasting life, they asked him what they ought to do in order to do the work of God?  Jesus told them: “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.” He makes it clear that faith in Christ is the work of God leading to eternal life. But why does Christ refer to faith in Him as being work?

     Our souls believe when we accept with certainty that what is being said is to be taken just as said.  This certitude is what is called faith. However the soul does not act  unthinkingly but goers through the process of work within itself, comparing, judging and reasoning. Thus believing is indeed work, not physical but mental work, where the soul distinguishes between truth and falsehood, always seeking and accepting truth. This work is most difficult and intense for the soul is drawn to the good teaching of Christ and is also drawn away by the evil and worldly enticements which surround it on all sides. 

     The souls of men continually seek happiness and reject sorrow and sadness whenever possible, for happiness is a continually desirous human goal for which men always reach but few find. Happiness can never be found in the pleasures or works of this world no matter how benevolent they may seem. Giving alms to the poor, feeding the hungry, showing kindness to strangers, are good works for which the world offers its thanks. But if they are done for worldly praise and self-aggrandizement they are without any value in Christ’s eyes. Because He is the source of everything good, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end of all things and is so preached. He saves those who know him and perform works in His name, and consigns to fire those who remain ignorant of Him.