My brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
“JUDGE NOT, THAT YE BE NOT JUDGED” (Matthew 7:1)
As Orthodox Christians begin the holy fast during the first fifteen days in the month of August, the Holy Church guides them spiritually so that they may all profit from this spiritual ascesis (struggle) or challenge.
The purpose of this lenten period is to avoid committing sins and transgression as much as humanly possible, especially grave sins, and to concentrate in living a more spiritual life and practicing our Christian faith diligently and deliberately. In other words a more virtuous life, a life in Christ. Sins, create for all of us, obstacles in reaching our spiritual objectives and goals. They add to our burden and create frustrations and bariers to everything good that we are attempting to achieve. Our target is always our Lord Jesus Christ. It is common for most of us as we struggle in our effort to follow the fasting rules of the Church, to lose sight of Him and why we are doing what we are doing.
Everything in our spiritual effort must be Christ centered for everything revolves around our Master. Wherever we do must be done for His sake and for His glory otherwise whatever we do is in vain. Every spiritual exercise must be directed to achieving by the grace of God in strengthening our relationship with Him, to come closer to Him, to be able to hear Him, to feel His agape for us, to become one with Him. We cannot accomplish anything without removing from our daily life all of the debris and dirt from inside of us. Over the many years we have accumulated tons of debris and dirt that needs to be removed completely in order for any of us to move forward. We need to be spiritually cleansed by the Holy Spirit. Holy seasons such as this are a way of beginning this process and by the grace of God continue it from here on end.
One of the greatest spiritual challenges is to cease judging others which is a most serious sin. Why because there is only one Judge, Christ God. He, our Savior forbids judging and condemning others. He forbids condemning others, but not reproving others. A reproof is for another’s benefit, but condemnation expresses only scorn. Saint Theophylact says, “You may understand that the Lord is speaking of one who, despite his own great sins, condemns others who have lesser sins of which God will be the judge.
Jesus says, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but CONSIDER NOT THE BEAM THAT IS IN YOUR OWN EYE? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’ ; and look, there is a beam is in your eye? Hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5). There should be no doubt that we will be jud4:24ged with our own level of “judgment” because we are guilty of the very things we judge others (Romans 2:1). We ourselves have failed in repentance and in fleeing from sin. To pass judgment is to assume God’s authority. The secon part of this verse is found in Mark 4:24 and in Luke 6:38, each in a different context, as Jesus no doubt repeaed this particular message many times.
Saint Theophylact says the following: “He who would rebuke others ought to be BLAMELESS HIMSELF. If he himself has a beam in his eye, that is, some great sin, and he finds fault with another who has only a speck, he causes that man to be eene more shameless in his sin. The Lord shows that he who has sinned greatly is not even able TO SEE CLEARLY THE SIN OF HIS BROTHER. For how could one who has a beam in his eye even see another man who is only slightly injured.” The reality, of course, is that we are spiritually blind and yet, we refuse to believe it.
Spiritual blindness means that we are living in darkness. This darkness, of course, is a product of a sinful life. A life devoid of Christ and His Divine Teachings. A worldly life filled with all human weaknesses and passions. A sinful life that creates this blindness also creates confusion and uncertainty. The person cannot think clearly about anything of any substance. When there is no light not only externally but internally the spiritual darkness is profound. Jesus says, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body WILL BE FULL OF DARKNESS. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23). We all understand the value of light in our lives. As the eye is the “lamp of the body”, so the mind (Gk. nous) is the spiritual EYE OF THE SOUL: IT ILLUMINATES THE WHOLE INNER MAN. Keeping our spiritual eyes “good”, that is, WHOLESOME AND PURE, is fundamental to a Christian life.
It is up to every Christian person to strive to grow in Christ and reach spiritual maturity. Nothing can be accomplished without our Lord’s help and guidance. Everything is spelled out for us in the God-inspired Holy Scripture and it is up to the individual to follow those instructions faithfully and to implement them throughout his or her life. Otherwise we don’t want any help, we just want to wallow in our misery and hopelessness. It means we love darkness more than the Light. It is much easier to blame everyone else and to judge all others but not ourselves. We do not know it, we don’t want to believe it, but we ourselves are the problem. Once we realize that and repent and seek after the Light, Christ, then we can see clearly.
Kalo Dekapentavgousto! A Blessed Fifteen-Days of August!
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God