My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE EPOCH OF LYING, DECEPTION, AND HYPOCRISY.
"Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or
‘There!’ DO NOT BELIEVE IT.
For false Christs and false prophets WILL RISE and show
great signs and wonders (miracles) TO DECEIVE, IF
POSSIBLE, EVEN THE ELECT" (St. Matthew 24:23-24)
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES! for you are
like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful
outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all
uncleanness. Even as you also outwardly appear righteous to men,
but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness" (St. Matthew 23:27-28),
In his second epistle to the Christians of Corinth, Saint Paul writes, "Now I pray to God that YOU KNOW NO EVIL, not that we should appear approved, but THAT YOU SHOULD DO WHAT IS HONORABLE, though we may seem disqualified. FOR WE CAN DO NOTHING AGAINST THE TRUTH, BUT FOR THE TRUTH." (2 Cor. 13:7-8).
"Jesus said to him, I AM THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME" (St. John 14:6).
"However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will GUIDE YOU INTO TRUTH; FOR HE WILL NOT SPEAK OF HIS OWN AUTHORITY, BUT WHATEVER HE HEARS HE WILL SPEAK, AND HE WILL TELL YOU THINGS TO COME" (St. John 16:13).
The Church IS CHRIST! Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is The Truth and therefore the His Church is the Church of Truth! Guided and protected by the Holy Spirit, The Spirit of Truth! The Holy Mission of the Church is to spread the ‘Good Tidings", the Holy Gospel, the Gospel of Truth to all of the ecumene. The Church CANNOT BE DIMINISHED TO A HUMAN OR EARTHLY INSTITUTION. An institution that is spiritually and morally corrupt.
Our Savior condemns lying, deception, and above all, hypocrisy. More dreadful is our Lord Christ’s description of the hypocrites who are like "whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness" (St. Matthew 23:27). Our Lord and God Jesus Christ who knows what is in our the hearts cannot be deceived. "In the day when God WILL JUDGE THE SECRETS OF MEN by Jesus Christ," (Romans 2:16) is a fact and inescapable. No man, however, has the divine gift or the ability to know what is in another man’s heart and, therefore, can never judge another human being without falling into sin himself and to the transgression of hypocrisy.
The Pharisees had not only transgressed but were deceivers, hypocrites, and had not remained faithful to God’s Law. The holy Apostles writes, "Let God be true but every man a liar" (Romans 2:4). When the Pharisees attempted to entrap Jesus they said to Him, "Teacher, a woman was caught in adultery, in the very act, and according to the Mosaic Law should be stoned, but what do You say? Jesus said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone" (Saint John 8:4-7).
On judging others our Lord says, " Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your eye? "Hypocrite, first remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye" (St. Matthew 7:1-5).
The humble and meek person considers themselves first, as many of our Saints did, as "the greatest sinner of all sinners." He does not ever place himself above anyone else, but quietly says the words of the publican, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner" (St. Luke 18:13). No Christian should ever be self-righteous, prideful, and arrogant, nor be ready to condemn others. No one should even think, no matter who he is or what rank or office in life he possesses, to foolishly believe that he can replace the Lord and usurp Gods Authrority, Who is the only True Judge of all.
One who is aware and alert of what is happening in society, and the world that we live in today, can clearly see the increase of dishonesty, disrespect, and blatant deception among people of this so called ‘modern world.’ I find it most troubling that there is almost a complete absence of conscience, of self-respect, and most of all, fear of God. It seems to some people that it is much easier to lie than to tell the truth. But the sincere Christian knows better "For our citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20) and that his or her life and values here on earth must reflect that very fact.
Christians are committed to the truth. Jesus speaking to His disciples says, "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing, but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men" (St. Matthew 5:13). Just as the salt has preservative powers and sustains food, so does the Christian believer preserve God’s covenant and give the proper flavor to the world through righteousness, holiness, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, morality, dignity, respect, love, and Christian virtues. Christians shine as lights in a perverse world.
No one should place himself or herself on a pedastal and condemn others as hypocrites. I recall many years ago in one of the parishes which I had served, the words of one very bitter person who confronted me and said to me, "Why should I come to church, Father, with all those hypocrites?" I was surprised and saddened to hear those judgemental words coming out of the mouth of a Christian woman. However, Jesus, Who knows what is in our hearts, good or bad, would still have compassion on her and seek her out to save her, knowing that she was a troubled soul, confused, and a ‘lost sheep’ suffering inwardly. We must always be very careful not to quickly judge and throw stones at others. "He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone" (St. John 8:7).
As a priest I have witnessed numerous people who, over the years, lost their way but by the grace of God returned to the Church. The Church, the Ark of Salvation, has saved countless souls throughout the thousands of years of her existence. Is this not the Divine Mission of the Church to bring everyone to our Savior Christ? The Church is indeed a fishing vessel and the clergy are the fishermen. Did not our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ call His disciples, the fishermen, when He said to them, "FOLLOW ME, AND I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS OF MEN" (St. Matthew 4:19).
The Divine Mission of the Church is the same mission as that of the holy Apostles of Christ. Jesus commissioned them to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commended you" (St. Matthew 28:29). The Divine Mission of the priest is the same as that of the holy Disciples of Christ, "baptizing" in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, "TEACHING" the people "TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS" that our Lord has "COMMANDED", to minister to the spiritual needs of his flock, to offer spiritual guidance and encouragement, to love them unconditionally, and do all these things for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ. It is the priest that leads them to the Good Shepherd, to the Redeemer, to the Physician of our souls and bodies. But it is only by the grace of the Holy Spirit that the believers are made disciples of Christ. The priest, who is commissioned by Christ, will direct them to the path to salvation and His Kingdom. We can never forget that the Church’s Divine Mssion is to save souls!
As Orthodox Christians we believe the Church to be a spiritual Hospital. The people entering it have one purpose, to be healed and restored to health by the Divine Physician, Jesus Christ. They come to be loved, to be restored to health, both body and soul, to regain their strength, to be renewed, to be regenerated, to be sanctified and forgiven, to commune with God personally. The world can be a beautiful place, but it can also be a cruel and dangerous place, and living in it can be hazardous to one’s health. It is true that a person living in the world is usually pulled in different directions and, just like swimming in the sea, there is always the danger of undercurrents. Undercurrents, whether at sea or in life, are dangerous, can be very powerful, and can drag you out into the deep where drowning is possible. People are always looking for a safe harbor, a place away from threatening storms, dangerous waves and the undercurrents of life. The Church is the only real hope of the world where humanity can find safety, calm, and peace.
When Jesus Christ, our God, and Savior founded the Church, He knew that the hope of mankind rested on her to provide everyone with everything that He provided when He lived on earth. He was the Teacher and so He taught, He was a Healer and so He healed people of all illnesses and evil possesions. He freed people from sin by forgiving them. He was a Provider and so He provided them not only with material food, but also, most importantly, with His Divine Teachings and commandments. He was a Father and so He treated all His children with the love of a true father. He was their Guide and so He guidad them and set them on the path to His Eternal Kingdom. He was their Savior and so He saved all of mankind from sin and death. He, as the Lamb of God, sacrificed Himself on the Cross and so He opened the gates of Paradize just as He did for the ‘good thief’. Our Holy Mother Church has all these attributes and "charismata" for one thing only, to bring the human race to salvation.
Do not be like the hypocrites when you pray to God. "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly" (St. Matthew 6:5-13).
Do not be like the hypocrites when you fast. "But you when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to others as someone who is fasting, but to your Father Who is in the secret place; and your Father will reward you openly." (St. Matthew 6:16-18). "For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light" (St. Mark 4:22).
"Therefore, laying aside ALL MALICE, ALL DECEIT,
HYPOCRISY, ENVY, AND ALL EVIL SPEAKING, AS
NEWBORN BABES, DESIRE THE MILK OF THE
WORD, THAT YOU MAY GROW THEREBY IF INDEED
YOU HAVE TASTED THAT THE LORD IS GRACIOUS".
(1 Peter 2:1)
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me,
the work that I do he will do also; and greater works
than these he will do" (St. John 14:12).
"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