October 24, 2021
I’ll start today asking the question: Why are you Orthodox?
Before I found the Orthodox Church, I was being pulled into the ministry. I found myself in a seminary class amongst a host of folks from other western faith traditions. We spent a good bit of time studying scripture and its origin. Time and time again, backed by different interpretations of the original text, we argued as to what the writer originally meant. After all, the belief that the Word of God is living and adapting to the changes in the world was prevalent in that setting. We were all seeking the same thing, weren’t we? Or were we trying to prove our limited understanding within the confines of our little pea-brains and find divine acceptance for the crooked path we were on?
We remember St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all be speaking the same thing, and that schisms may not be among you, but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same sentiment.”
The early defender of the faith from the fifth century, Saint Vincent of Lerins is quoted: “The apostle says, ‘God set for Himself some in the Church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers [1 Cor. 12:28].’... Whosoever, therefore, shall despise these, who had their appointment of God in His Church in their several times and places, when they are unanimous in Christ, in the interpretation of some one point of catholic doctrine, despises not man, but God, from Whose unity in the truth, lest anyone should vary, the same apostle earnestly protests. ‘I beseech you, brethren, that ye all be speaking the same thing... [1 Cor. 1:10].’ But if anyone dissent from their unanimous decision, let him listen to the words of the same apostle: ‘God is not a God of confusion, but of peace [1 Cor. 14:33].’” [A Commonitory, Ch. XXVIII(73) in Nicene, 2nd Ser., 11:153.]
I ask these questions because if you are totally okay with the person you are right now and see no need for improvement, you’ve come to the wrong hospital! You have a contagious deathly condition better known as MTIG or Me-Thinks-I’m-Great. People inflicted with this type of virus quit coming to the clinic and are usually a self-made authority on their definition of life and faith and everything in between. Their definitions or understandings may contain some truth but it misses the mark or at the very least one tire is in the ditch on the narrow road to eternity.
Now believe you me, we all run off the eternity road every once and a while but this MTIG virus is deeply rooted in the evil one and it deplenishes your energy to do good and causes a momentary or extended loss of the divine light that normally illuminates the path on the narrow road to salvation. Perhaps a simpler way of defining this condition is to ask this question: DOES YOUR DEFINITION OF WRONG MAKE IT RIGHT? If so, you are showing MTIG symptoms!
Let’s hear how St. Maximus the Confessor draws our attention to this condition: "As man I deliberately transgressed the divine commandment, when the devil, enticing me with the hope of divinity (cf. Gen. 3:5), dragged me down from my natural stability into the realm of sensual pleasure; . . ." (Philokalia II, p. 167) Yes, the MTIG virus is drowning in self-pride, after all we are justifying our actions as if we were the great Creator! And we then read St. John Climacus [of the Ladder] who writes: "Pride is denial of God, an invention of the devil, the despising of men, the mother of condemnation . . . the cause of falls. . . ." (p. 138). And then St. John goes on to tell us" Where a fall has overtaken us, there pride has already pitched its tent: because a fall is an indication of pride." (p. 139). This condition left untreated leads to this deathly disease.
As a Christian battling the many voices blowing in the wind, sometimes it is hard to discern which voice smells like wolf breath. The wolf is clever and cunning and attacks a good Christian lamb like you and I by suggesting a slight deviation from the teachings of Christ; after all we are to love our neighbor, hugs and kisses, warm and fuzzies and everything is great! [Lk. 10:3] However true compassion does not couple or encourage choices or behaviors that stray from the exact teachings of Christ! Sin is sin! Only deep repentance can help cure the Me-Thinks-I’m-Great virus.
It is also important to know that we are all made in the image of the Creator and have a great value. But we must realize every hour of every day that are two paths in life, the straight path of inclination and the crooked path that many times leads us around in circles chasing our tail like a dog impressing his master. The wolf is the master of the crooked path leading us to the slaughter, and the Great Sheppard is the Lord of the Straight and narrow path that directs us towards salvation. Listen to the instructions from St. Kyril: “How can a sheep prevail against a wolf? How can one so peaceful vanquish the savageness of beasts of prey? ‘Yes,’ He says, ‘for they all have Me as their Shepherd—small and great, people and princes, teachers and taught. I will be with you and aid you, and deliver you from all evil. I will tame the savage beasts, I will change wolves into sheep. I will make the persecutors become the helpers of the persecuted....For I will make and unmake all things, and there is nothing that can resist My will.’” [Hom. 61, Commentary, Ch. 10, 264.]
So, does your definition of wrong make it right? The answer is definitely “NO”! But through self study and surrender, repentance and confession and loving God more than who you have become, healing can be found in the Chalice.
Glory To God!
Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-24-2021
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