self righteous indignation

self rightous

Why are you concerned about your opinions? I do not like this…, “Why is it like this?  Why did he tell it like this?  I would have told it better.  Why did he do that? Etc..  These are the biggest evil and badness.

Taken from Elder Joseph the Heyscast

This is exactly what got Judas to deny Christ.

John 12:4-5

But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”

So the question, should be directed at me only. Christ said, why have you forsaken me while on the cross? But when it comes to those who crucified him, He says ‘Forgive them for they know not what they do’, eventhough what they were doing was completely wrong. So logical and rational thinking can make us deny Christ today, God forbid, if we don’t focus on our own brokeness.

 

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Lasting Love shows Trust

trust

Love believes all things 1 Cornithians 13:7

That is the kind of love we want for our marriage or for our friendship to last for a life time.  No love can grow without trust. We are called to love by our God.  Trust is the base of love.  We are talking about confidence, trusting and believing in people.  That is what love is actually.  I trust my fellows and that I have confidence in them.  Love and trust are intertwined. They go hand in hand.

There are three kinds of people in the world.  The first is the gullible people. People who are naive and believe everything and anything.  And that is the fear of most of us to be gullible.  The second is the cynical people who do not believe anything.  They are suspicious and skeptical of everything.  The third is the healthy people that can love and give people the benefit of the doubt.

What if we are not healthy?  Which option is much safer and much wiser for us?  To be more believing and trusting people or be more skeptical.  I think the natural response is to be skeptical.  A lot of pyschological studies have been done and the finding was that one of the saddest people in the world are skeptical people.

And the characteristic of the happiest people in the world are people who are more trusting.  The worst thing that could happen when we are trusting too much is that we will be burned. People will abuse our trust.  But which is better? That our trust is abused once or twice or ten times and we live happy for the rest of our lives or live skeptical having no relationship with anyone and afraid of anyone all our lives because we are afraid to be burned once or twice or even ten times.  And to live sad and lonely all our lives because we are skeptical of people.

They actually did some IQ test because they thought that the gullible people had less IQ.  But the test showed otherwise.  Trusting people have better IQ.  Trusting people know what they are doing.  It is a choice.  When we stop trusting people, then we stop relating to people and stop loving people.  If we don’t relate well then we breaking the commandment of love neighbor.  We can never say we love people without trusting them.

Trust means giving people a second chance when they mess up.  For example, we don’t leave a small group and say I will never come to this small group again. Or say I am never going to speak to this person again saying he/she embarrassed me and abused my trust.  Love that trusts gives a second chance.  How many chances have we gotten from our good Savior?  We can’t take this decision without giving a second chance.  For example, we mess up in a game and a good coach will let us play again.  But a bad coach will put us on the side and the self-esteem is down and we end up hating to play and hate the game all together.  Or when a youngster gets into an accident or someone who just started to drive gets into an accident, the worst thing is to tell this person to never drive again.  But the best thing is right after the accident, to let them use the car and start driving.  Give them a second chance saying, I trust you.  Very important to give this grace to people.  How many times we did something stupid by mistake and people punished us for the rest of our lives because that is a stupid mistake?  And how many times when we were given a second chance that we were so appreciative of that and we did our best because we are given a second chance.

Sometimes it is very hard to trust certain people.  How do we trust?  How can love believes all things?  When we are trusting people because of God and His commandments and because of the love and relationship, we are not really trusting them but we are trusting God.  We are taking a huge risk but it is a step of faith.  We are trusting God.  We are not trusting the people at hand.  Sometimes, we lose this trust even with God.  When God does something we don’t understand, we don’t give Him a second chance either.  We say O you messed up this, I am not talking to you again.  We say to Him you don’t love me and this and that.  When we fall into this trap, we need to recite the following verse.

But God says “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55: 8-9

We don’t understand the wisdom of God but we should trust Him.  One of the greatest gift that we can give anyone is the gift of trust.  Same way that God trusted us, the same way that God has given us more than we deserve, we should trust other people as well.  May God grant us His abundant grace to do just that.  Amen.

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The Problem of Emotional Immaturity

Many people know the truths of the Bible relatively well.  They can recite many of the Ten Commandments and articulate key principles for Christian living.  They believe wholeheartdly they should be living them.  The problem is they don’t know how!

The following is one simple, common scenario:

Almaz is a gifted manager in her company.  She has been a Christian her whole life and loves spending time with God.  When the vice presdient of her company was making schedules for mangers to meet clients out of town, he asked Almaz to pick up the weeks she would prefer to travel over the next three months.  Within the week Almaz emailed him the dates and eagerly awaited his confrimation.  None arrived.  Almaz called his office the following week.

His administrative assistant answered.  “Well, according to the schedule I have infront of me, the next three months are all full,” she said.  “I guess this means he does not need you right now.  But thanks for calling.”

Almaz sat stunned in her chair.  “Thank you, “she replied robotically and hung up.

For the next two weeks Almaz wrested with God and herself.  She asked God for forgiveness for the anger she was feeling.  She tried to figure out why the vice president had changed his mind.  She humbled herself to God.  She cried out in prayer for love toward her coworkers.  She lost sleep.

Finally, she concluded God was dealing with her stubborn self-will.

Over time Almaz distances herself from the vice president and other managers, avoiding them whenever possible.  During the next two years she worked hard, but she felt like she had hit a ceiling in how far she could go with this company.  Eventually, she took a position with another company.

Even though, Almaz is committed to the Lord Jesus Christ, her commitment does not include relating well to people in an emotionally mature way.  Instead, she misapplies biblical truth and follows, most probably, the relational skills learned unconsciously in her family growing up.

What assumptions is she making about her vice president?  His administrative assistant?  About God’s will for her life?  What might she have done to prevent her pain?  To preserve her relationships at work?  Unless Almaz receives equipping in this area, she will likely repeat the same pattern over and over again.

Part of growing into an emotionally mature Christian is learning how to apply practically and effectively the truths we believe.

Here is a brief summary of a mature emotional adults

. Are able to ask for what they need, want, or prefer—clearly, directly, honestly

. Recognize, manage, and take responsibility for their own thoughts and feelings.

. Can, when under stress, state their own beliefs and values without becoming adversarial.

. Give people room to make mistakes and not be perfect.

. Appreciate people for who they are—the good, bad, and ugly—not for what they give back.

. Accurately assess their own limits, strengths, and weaknesses and are able to freely discuss them with others.

. Are deeply in tune with their own emotional world and able to enter into the feelings, needs, and concerns of others without losing themselves.

. Have the capacity to resolve conflict maturely and negotiate solutions that consider the perspectives of others.

Almaz did not have the skills and emotional maturity to resolve her conflict maturely.  She also did not have the ability to state her feelings and beliefs without thinking adversarially.  The end result was an isolation and coldness in her relationship at work that resembled hell more than heaven.

A tragically misinterpreted verse in the New Testament is Jesus’ proclamation: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).  Most people think that Jesus calls us in this verse to be pacifiers and appeasers who ensure that nobody gets upset.  We are to keep the peace, ignoring difficult issues and problems, making sure things remain stable and serene.  When, out of fear, we avoid conflict and appease people, we are false peacemakers. For example, Achame is engaged.  She would like more time to rethink her decison but is afraid that her fiance’ and his family will get angry.  She goes through with the wedding.  She is a false peacemaker.

The way of true peace will never come through pretending what is wrong is right! True peacemakers love God, others, and themselves enough to disrupt false peace. Jesus models this for us.

Many of us believe loving well is learned automatically.  But we need to have some tools and excercises to learn how to love.  We need to ask God prayerfully to help us to love and relate well with others.

Besides prayer, we need to look two things very carefully namely assumptions and expectations.

Checking Out Assumptions

Checking out assumptions is a very simple, but powerful tool that elimnates untold number of conflicts in relationships.  It enables us to check out whether what we are thinking or feeling about others is true.  It enables us to clarify potential misunderstandings.

Every time we make assumptions about someone who has hurt or disappointed us without confirming it, we believe a lie about that person in our head.  This assumption is a misrepresentation of reality.  Because we have not checked it out with the other person, it is very possible we believe something untrue.  It is also likely we will pass that false assumption around to others.

When we leave reality for a mental creation of our own doing (hidden assumptions), we create a counterfeit world.  When we do this it can properly be said that we EXCLUDE God from our lives because God does not exist outside of reality and truth.  In doing so we wreck relationships by creating endless confusion and conflict.

Almaz, in our opening illustration made all sorts of assumptions about why the boss failed to schedule her to meet with clients.  Her life was driven by these assumptions in her head, which mostly likely were false.

Expectations

Unmet and unclear expectations create havoc in our places of employment, classrooms, friendships, dating relationships, marriages, sports teams, families and churches.  We expect other people to know what we want before we say it.  Expectations are only valid when they have been mutually agreed upon.  We all know the unpleasant experience of other people having expectations we never agreed to.

One of the greatest gifts we can give our world is to be a community of emotionally healthy adults who love well.  This will take the power of God and a commitment to learn, grow, and break with unhealthy, destructive patterns that go back generations in our families and cultures—and in some cases, our Christian cultures also.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.  Lord, we have unhealthy ways of relating that are deeply imbedded in us.  Please change us.  Make us a vessel to spread mature, steady, reliable love so that people with whom we come in contact sense Your tenderness and kindness.  Deliver us from false peacemaking that is driven by fear.  Lord Jesus, help us love well like you.  Grow us, we pray, into an emotionally mature adult through the Holy Spirit’s power. In Your Holy name, Jesus. Amen.

 

Excerpt taken from a book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero.

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Thinking, desiring and Acting

desire

The Three Powers

Christ caution in the sermon on the mount is not against repetition but against vain repetition which may be understood as saying the words of scriptures in our prayers mindlessly, thoughtlessly or saying them without striving for a life that embodies them.  That is vain repetition.  Repeating sacred words over and over is not vain repetition if they flow from the heart.  But saying even a single word heartlessly is.  Not only do we used repeated stories and words to drive into our hearts the truth of faith but we also use repeated motion. Consider Baptism.  In the Orthodox Christian tradition, we immerse 3 times into Baptismal waters.  It is because of the Holy Trinity but there is also another reason.  It involves our understanding how each of us overcome sin and experience healing.

A man thinks about his reputation, desire to be admired by others so he takes some opportunities to boast about some accomplishments.  A woman sees another woman feels jealous of her so she gossips about her to her friend.  A child remembers the ice cream in the freezer, craves it on a hot day and so he sneaks into the kitchen and spoon out a few bite.  Now, they may not know it but each of these common strugglers with their common struggles is revealing what the Saints of the Christian tradition identify as the THREE POWERS or THREE PARTS present in every human soul.

When God made man He created the soul to contain three parts or powers.  There is the INTELLEGENT OR RATIONAL POWER involving thoughts, knowledge and reasoning.  There is the DESIRING POWER involving yearning, longing and craving.  And then there is the INCINIVE OR ENERGTIC POWER involving energy, fervency and action.   So man as he is created to be in the garden would think about God that is his rational power.  He would long about God about whom he was thinking that is his desiring power.  And he would act on that longing by living in obedience to God that is his energetic power.  As long as these three powers of his soul thinking, desiring or acting were working normally life was paradise and man was happy.  It is not that the serpent was a game changer, it is what Adam and Eve allowed to happen inside of them after the serpent appeared.

How did these three powers work themselves out practically after the fall.  Do you ever do things you shouldn’t.  Ever say things you shouldn’t or think thoughts you shouldn’t or desiring some things best left undesired.  Ever feel conflicted like a part of you want one thing while another part wants another.  Ever act on an impulse where you later regretted.  Ever leave something Good undone or unsaid.  Ever feel that you are your own honest enemy.  Ever sin and ever wonder why?  It is because like me there is a breakdown in one or more of the three powers of your soul.  Thinking wrongly, desiring wrongly and/or acting wrongly.  This breakdown, this fragmentation, this inner conflict is our inheritance from the fall in the garden of Eden.  How do we know when our rational power is sick?  When we think wrong thoughts, we obsesses, reason poorly, loose touch with reality or we don’t pray because we are too busy thinking.  How do we know when our desiring power of our soul is sick?  We are controlled by craving and appetite, desires are extreme, we feel a bit animalistic.  We don’t pray because we are too busy craving.  How do we know when our energetic power of the soul is sick?  We are busy, super busy and out of balance or burned out or restless and lazy.  We don’t pray because we are too busy praying or too busy lounging.

Sometimes all three powers are sick together.  That was the Serpent’s plan to tempt Adam think about becoming God like apart from God.  And to desire that power in independence apart from God.  And to reach for that fruit and take a disobedient bite apart from God.  The temptation itself was not a game changer. Engaging the Serpent was.  Now we don’t think ourselves usually in terms of these three powers of the soul.  But there is not any hour of any day when they are not in play.  We think about something there is the RATIONAL, we form an attachment or an aversion to it, there is the Desiring.  And we put into a motion, a plan to acquire it or avoid it, there is the energetic.  When working according to nature, this is how we acquire virtue and grow, thinking on good things which nurtures a desire for good things which leads us to act on good thing. 

When not working according to nature, these three powers of the soul give the world as it is today.  From this tragedy, rises a question.  How then do we heal?  How are we restored to the same natural use of three powers of the soul?  THE SHORT ANSWER IS THE CHURCH.  The Church gives us the best chance for inner healing for salvation for union with God.  So that is why the Church begins with the Sacrament of Baptism.  How many times is a body of an adult or a child immerse into baptismal waters?  Three.  Is it because of the Holy Trinity?  Yes, but there is another reason why we immerse a human being three times in Baptismal water.  And it involves a whole understanding of the healing of the human person.   In Baptism, the Holy Spirit descends into the waters of the font and brings the literal presence of God in what we call GRACE.  That grace is healing grace.  When we immerse three times, we are bringing that healing grace into each of the three powers of the soul.  We immerse once so that grace can heal the rational power and help this person in their thought lives and their reasoning. We immerse twice so that Grace will heal the desiring power and help this person control and rightly channel their appetites.  We immerse a third time so GRACE will heal the energetic power and help this person to act wisely and to lead a well ordered life.

After the Sacrament of Baptism, should we fall in sin, we are given the sacrament of Confession.  In which, our merciful God forgives the misuse of the three powers of thinking, desiring and acting. And restores us to our Baptismal innocence, giving us a fresh start.  Finally, we are given a Sacrament of Holy Communion in which God gives us His very own life.  If Baptism is the beginning of the healing process, what is the end of the healing process?  IT IS CHRIST, OUR ONE AND ONLY EXAMPLE OF PERFECTLY HEALED HUMAN BEING.  The three powers within His human nature were perfectly integrated and in harmony, which is why everything about Him, His feelings, His reaction, His deeds and words were all perfect.  God became a person to show us what a person of God should be. Everything Christ is by nature we can become by GRACE.  His life becomes our life and that is what it means to be human.  A human who is comfortable with repetition.

Source:  Fr. John Oliver, Hearts and Minds podcast of Ancient Faith Radio.

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The Healing of the Paralytic and the Loneliness of Modern Man

Fr. George Calciu

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

John 5:2-4

What is most dramatic throughout this entire Gospel reading is the loneliness of the sick man. Did you hear it? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me (Jn. 5:7). The most tragic state a person can be in is loneliness, total isolation.

St. Cyprian of Carthage says that, “Each person falls in isolation, but we are saved in the community of the Church.” To be alone means to fall, to perish. Being alone means not thinking about anyone other than yourself, because you are overwhelmed by the surge of suffering in which you are being suffocated. You are depressed by the futility of life. This is because a life lived in loneliness, if you do not have God with you, is a futile, wasted life. Life lost its meaning back in that very moment when you became alone.

That sick man did not even have any family member or friend who would take him up when the water was stirred and throw him in, so that he would be healed. How many times do we find ourselves in a situation like that! How often are we lonely and sick, and we have no one to help us be healed, no one to deliver us from our suffering! Or perhaps in our loneliness and suffering we do not find anyone we can communicate with; or as the German saying goes, pain when shared becomes half as bad, but pain unshared is twice as hard.

That is how it was with this man. But Christ with great mercy asked him, “Do you want to be healed?”

We will see proof of this later, when the Savior meets him in the church and says, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee (Jn. 5:14).

What also touches us and others is that in the very minute that Jesus healed the man who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight whole years, instead of rejoicing that a man had regained his health, the scribes and Pharisees are angry, and say, “Why are you walking, why are you carrying your bed on the Sabbath?”

They didn’t say, “It’s great that you’ve been healed! Yes, go and thank God!” No, they were only interested in the formality of the law, which stated that it was forbidden to work on the Sabbath. They sacrificed a human being for the sake of observing this law.

And they asked him, “Who healed you?”

At first the healed man did not know how to answer them. But when Jesus met him in the church, he went to the Jews and said, “There, it was Jesus who healed me!”

This was not a denunciation to set the Jews after Jesus. This was the desire to announce for everyone to hear, “This Man helped me! He healed me! He was near me in my troubles!” We have to say it when someone has helped us. We have to testify to a miracle. Not in order to boast, but because we have been delivered from loneliness, sickness, and suffering! I have to say who helped me, who led me to the faith, who delivered me from sins and the cursedness of my heart—a priest, a believer, a friend… I have to say, “He saved me!” That’s how it was with this paralytic.

Beloved faithful! Modern society is isolating us more and more. The governments—not only the communist, but all governments—are more and more trying to isolate us, to make us more lonely, so that we would be less and less bonded with each other, so that we would not associate with each other, because all governments are trying to become totalitarian in order to control us. It is much harder to control tight communities of people than isolated individuals, and therefore governments are trying to isolate us.

The communists did this through force. The Westerners do not do this by force, they simply pronounce you unique, they say that you have rights, and you are independent. And this is so that you would become isolated, that you would not be attached to your parents, would not obey them if you are a child, so that you would not be in submission to anyone—after all, you are a free being.

Freedom falsely understood is rebellion against God; it is nihilism. That is how we have gotten to where we have gotten, to all of these crimes that are raging in the world. There are so many cities where fourteen-year-old children have murdered their teachers, friends, and parents. The human bond has been broken with the people next to us, with whom we live. Heartfelt relationships have been broken between me and my brother, me and my parents, between parents and children, between friends. We are becoming more and more alone in this exaggerated individualism, at the foundation of which lies the demonization of society.

Let us try to be united. Let us try to remain united by faith and love one with another, with Jesus Christ. Let us abide in unity in the Church, because the Church is the only positive social union. All other unions are leading us to self-destruction. They are all aiming to destroy the human being, to turn it into an instrument, an ordinary cog in this complicated mechanism of human society.

http://orthochristian.com/103292.html

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Our Thoughts about God determine our eternal destiny

destiny

If we consider some of the parables taught by our Lord Jesus Christ, we will discover that the right thinking about God is what really determines our eternal destiny.  One of these parables is the Parable of talents (Matthew 25:14-30).  In it the one talented man hides and buries his talents precisely because he thought of the Lord to be a cruel man. It reads in verse 24 of Matthew 25;

“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’”

Let’s draw some conclusions from this verse;

  1. This man hated the Lord, that is why he ignored his commandments. He considered Him to be his enemy par excellence. So his negation is his vengeance.  A lot of people today overlook God as if they did not see Him and pretend to be atheists.  Indifference is tainted by a deep hate. But nobody hates anything that does not exist.  The one talented man does not deny the existence of his Lord, he just hates him.
  2. If we hate the Lord or He is our enemy, then we don’t want to have a relationship with Him. All the complaining and grumbling of this man leads to severance of relationship with the Lord and man as well. If there is no love for God or if love for God does not burn in our hearts, then love for men will be dead too.
  3. Loss of love will ultimately lead to fear because we will turn to ourselves to solve the problem. Not being able to will lead us to the torment of fear. For the Lord says without me you can do nothing.
  4. It is interesting to note that the man does not accuse the Lord of being unfair. So he admits that there is a level playing field for all of them including the 5 and 2 talented men. His only problem then is what he thought about who the Lord is.
  5. Those who received 5 and 2 talents probably struggled with the knowledge of who the Lord is but they admitted their weakness and confessed their lack and as result sought to work out their problems within the context of community (Church).
  6. The one talented man made no effort to learn about God. He should have tried under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to learn about the Lord from scripture and Church Fathers.
  7. Rational thinking is what eventually led the man to his thoughts about the Lord. The logic of the world and the logic of God is completely different.  Much faith is needed and faith is the product of love.  As a result, this man finds himself in hell.

 

The story of the prodigal son is another parable where we learn how our thoughts about God determines our destiny.  What made the prodigal return is his thought about the goodness of the Father. He thought at least he will hire me as a servant.

Paradise and hell are one and the same River of God, a loving fire which embraces and covers all with the same beneficial will, without any difference or discrimination. The same vivifying water is life eternal for the faithful and death eternal for the infidels; for the first it is their element of life, for the second it is the instrument of their eternal suffocation; paradise for the one is hell for the other. Do not consider this strange. The son who loves his father will feel happy in his father’s arms, but if he does not love him, his father’s loving embrace will be a torment to him. This also is why when we love the man who hates us, it is likened to pouring lighted coals and hot embers on his head.

“I say,” writes Saint Isaac the Syrian, “that those who are suffering in hell, are suffering in being scourged by love…. It is totally false to think that the sinners in hell are deprived of God’s love.  Love is a child of the knowledge of truth, and is unquestionably given commonly to all. But love’s power acts in two ways: it torments sinners, while at the same time it delights those who have lived in accord with it” (Homily 84).

God is love. If we really believe this truth, we know that God never hates, never punishes, never takes vengeance.  As Abba Ammonas says, “Love never hates anyone, never reproves anyone, never condemns anyone, never grieves anyone, never abhors anyone, neither faithful nor infidel nor stranger nor sinner nor fornicator, nor anyone impure, but instead it is precisely sinners, and weak and negligent souls that it loves more, and feels pain for them and grieves and laments, and it feels sympathy for the wicked and sinners, more than for the good, imitating Christ Who called sinners, and ate and drank with them.  For this reason, showing what real love is, He taught saying, ‘Become good and merciful like your Father in Heaven,’ and as He rains on bad and good and makes the sun to rise on just and unjust alike, so also is the one who has real love, and has compassion, and prays for all.”

     Now if anyone is perplexed and does not understand how it is possible for God’s love to render anyone pitifully wretched and miserable and even burning as it were in flames, let him consider the elder brother of the prodigal son. Was he not in his father’s estate? Did not everything in it belong to him? Did he not have his father’s love? Did his father not come himself to entreat and beseech him to come and take part in the joyous banquet? What rendered him miserable and burned him with inner bitterness and hate? Who refused him anything? Why was he not joyous at his brother’s return? Why did he not have love either toward his father or toward his brother? Was it not because of his wicked, inner disposition? Did he not remain in hell because of that? And what was this hell? Was it any separate place? Were there any instruments of torture? Did he not continue to live in his father’s house? What separated him from all the joyous people in the house if not his own hate and his own bitterness? Did his father, or even his brother, stop loving him? Was it not precisely this very love which hardened his heart more and more? Was it not the joy that made him sad? Was not hatred burning in his heart, hatred for his father and his brother, hatred for the love of his father toward his brother and for the love of his brother toward his father?  This is hell: the negation of love; the return of hate for love; bitterness at seeing innocent joy; to be surrounded by love and to have hate in one’s heart. This is the eternal condition of all the damned.  They are all dearly loved. They are all invited to the joyous banquet.  They are all living in God’s Kingdom, in the New Earth and the New Heavens. No one expels them. Even if they wanted to go away they could not flee from God’s New Creation, nor hide from God’s tenderly loving omnipresence.

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Providence of God

provdence

why did God create His angels in grace, knowing in advance that some of them would offer resistance to God and would be eternally rejected by Him for their sin? Why did God settle Adam in Paradise, knowing that Adam would not live in Paradise for long, but would be expelled from it?  Why did God wish to anoint Saul to the kingdom, if He knew in advance that the latter would subsequently fall into iniquity and end his life wretchedly?  Why did Christ add Judas Iscariot to the circle of the apostles, knowing in advance that the latter would become a traitor to Him? What is the reason for such changes in God’s determinations?

The blessed Jerome responds to such questions thusly: “Would you like to learn the reason for such changes? Here it is: God does not judge future deeds, but present ones, and does not condemn anyone by His foreknowledge, although He knows that a good man may subsequently change into an evil one; at the same time, by His mercy he places man in the situation which he deserves at the present time, and thus gives him strength, in the case of a fall, to return to the true path by means of repentance.  Adam did not sin because God foresaw his sin, but the reason God foresaw it was because Adam was to sin on the basis of his free will.”

St. Ambrose says the same: “Adam did not sin because he received the commandment, nor did Judas sin because he was chosen to be an apostle, for God did not lay upon them the need: for one to transgress the commandment and for the other to become a traitor. Both of them, had they faithfully held on to their responsibilities, could have abstained from sin. Those of whom God knows that they will subsequently lead a virtuous life, are often evil in the beginning, while those of whom He knows that they will sin, are often initially good. You are presently standing, but beware lest you fall. The holy Apostle Peter fell – and you should be careful; Judas fell, in order to deter you from falling.”

No effort on our part can protect us without God’s help, but by the same token, God’s help without man’s wish (will) will not bring any benefit either, as we see in the examples of Peter and Judas. We should avoid one-sidedness: we should not remain indolent, placing all care upon God, but equally we should not believe that by dint of our own effort, without God’s help or will, we can do good. For God Himself does not do everything, in order not to leave us in idleness, but equally does not allow us to do everything, in order to protect us from pride and vanity. God leads us away from everything that may harm us, but He urges us towards everything that is beneficial for us and helps us attain it.

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