Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
JESUS SAID: "No servant can serve two masters; for either he
will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to
the one and despise the other. YOU CANNOT SERVE GOD
AND MAMMON." (St. Luke 16:13).
Where does our loyalty lie? Christ our God and Savior says to us that we cannot have divided loyalty. "You cannot serve two Masters," He said. We have to chose to be loyal either to one or the other.
He, of course, is addressing the corrupt Jewish hierarchy, the Pharisees who were hypocrites. Jesus points out very clearly that no one can pretend to be loyal to God and Mammon because "God knows your hearts" (v.15). We cannot hide anything from our Creator. He knows what we think and what we feel, and He sees vividly our actions.
Out of love for us, God has given us free will so as to make our own choices without any fear and/or coercion. He wants us to make independent dicisions and not to do anything by force. If we were to make a decision under duress or threat of retribution, it would have no value at all. We would simply act as puppets or marionettes, and not as free beings. Under those conditions, we could not be held responsible for actions on any matter, if they were wrong or offensive. The Lord created Adam and Eve to be free and to assume responsibility for all their decisions and actions. God never intended to create man to simply enslave him and control him and his actions. Simply put, we are NOT God’s slaves, but His children, whom He loves and has set free to exercise their own will.
Mankind, as we can see throughout human history, loses its way and many times becomes confused about what it wants. At times, man feels that he can "serve two masters" and becomes misguided as he believes that he can please and be loyal to both. With this attitude, he reveals his immaturity and lack of wisdom and knowledge.
We all know for certain that in the 21st-century humanity has been conquered and enslaved by materialism and consumerism. We have reverted back to idolatry. Our new idols are wealth (mammon) and pleasure (hedonism). Almost everything is centered around these two things, wealth and pleasure. The human being today has become a glutton and it seems at times that he cannot get enough of either one. It has reached the point of obsession or addiction. It is obvious to all, just by paying attention to the commercials on the radio, television, or the internet, that all of these marketers are targetting those of us using them. They convince us of how important it is that we purchase their product. The result is that people end up buying blindly things that they truly don’t need or will ever use. We in America are known as the greatest consumers in the world.
It is said that things will bring us happiness and a sense of satisfaction. We know, of course, that this premise is wrong. True happiness does not come from possessing things. These materials are inanimate objects that cannot offer us anything of value. They do not give us happiness, they do not give us love, they do not give us fulfillment, they do not give us reasons for living, they do not give us the warmth of friendship, they do not inspire us, they do not answer to the meaning of life, they do not satisfy our philosophical questions, they do not strengthen our faith in God, they do not build friendships, they do not give us answers to the immortality of our souls and eternal life, they do not offer forgiveness of sins or of our many errors, they do not offer us guidance, and they do not improve us intellectually or spiritually. They are just things! Things that can be stolen, rust, or destroyed by a storm, fire, earthquake, or tornado in an instant.
How often have I witnessed parishioners of mine caught up in increasing their earthly possessions and, at the end, soon after they die, their things accumulated over a lifetime are disgarded, auctioned off by their relatives or even given away to some charity. In one specific case that I recall, their possessions were out on the curb with a sign to passerby’s, ‘take whatever you want.’ Isn’t it foolish that we have spent time and funds on things that really don’t have any value instead of spending time helping others that have nothing? It is more important that we spend time showing kindness and compassion to our fellow man than wasting time accumulating things that give us nothing in return. Wasting funds that can bring so much comfort and help to those who are homeless, to the many orphans, to the many widows and widowers who have no one to care for them, to those who have been displaced by war, poverty, cruelty, or a storm, to those women and children that are running away from an abusive situation, to those who are enslaved by human traffickers, and to those who are mentally ill and need medical assistance. This is what should be our priority, this is what would please God, this is of great humanitarian value and significance, this is what can make a real difference in the lives of others…and in our own lives.
Through kindness and genuine love, we show that our choice is to "serve God." Christians who know and understand the Gospel know that our loyalty is to God alone. We, as Christians, are to serve Him, and serving Him means that we must serve our fellow man. Jesus says it plainly for everyone to understand. He says, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you BLESSED of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ASSUREDLY, I SAY TO YOU, INASMUCH AS YOU DID IT TO ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE MY BRETHREN, YOU DID IT TO ME.’" (St. Matthew 25:31-40).
The above biblical account is an account of God’s Universal Judgment at His Second Coming when He will come in His Glory. The STANDARD OF HIS JUDGMENT OF MANKIND WILL BE BASED ON THE MERCY OF THE NEEDY AND ALL THOSE WHO SUFFER. The needy are the intimate "brethren" of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christ identifies Himself with the poor, the outcasts, those who suffer, those who have no one to love and care for them. Those of us who are compassionate, carrying, loving, merciful, to our fellow man are the "righteous" of God and He will reward the righteous with the crown of glory or Light (‘photostefanos’).
It is a very powerful message to today’s generation who feel that everything is about ME. As you can see from our Lord that it is NOT about the individual, but about our fellow man. The universe does not revolve around me! The so call ‘me’ generation’s attitude is a very selfish and a hollow one and lacks compassion and love. Also, it is very important to understand that when we speak of ‘charity,’ it does not always involve money. The word ‘charity,’ as far as I am concerned, should be replaced with the Greek word, ‘Philanthropy,’ which literally means ‘loving your fellow human’ or ‘fellow man’. God created man out of love and for the man to love and be loved.
"WATCH, THEREFORE, FOR YOU KNOW NEITHER
THE DAY NOR THE HOUR IN WHICH THE SON OF
MAN IS COMING" (St. Matthew 25:13).
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George