January 2009

Fr. Antony Portrait

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

If Christ died for us "while we were yet sinners," then he was also born for us "while we were yet sinners." Had God been tied to some ideology, like many of us are, conservative, liberal, or whatever, then he would have attached string to his coming and the Lord would have died only for those who agreed with Him. But clearly there are no strings attached and God associates with no ideology. Therefore, all are included in his divine mission. He was born for all, He died for all and He has raised all. Read a little Orthodox theology and pay attention to our hymnography and you will find a most radical view of whom and what deserves compassion.

St. John writes in his first epistle that we cannot love God whom we cannot see, if we first do not love our neighbor whom we can see. We are exhorted to put people above ideology. Why? Because that is what God does and we are called to be like Him. When we do the opposite we end up serving only our egos because we make ourselves judge and jury of all who deserve to be loved. Of course, we think we are serving God when we make demands on others based on our sensitivities, but really we are nothing more than control freaks who make converts, as Jesus said to the Pharisees, "twice as fit for hell as they are themselves." It is a great sin to try and remake our neighbors in our own image.

Thus, Jesus calls us to the most extreme way of life; a life of utter self-denial and humility without which, Holy Scripture says, it is impossible to please God. When Jesus commands that we not judge one another lest we fall under the same judgment, he is saying that for our own good we are to mind our own business, for believe me, there is quite enough business going on inside of each of us for a lifetime and more of minding. And anyone who claims to be minding other people's business for the sake of the Gospel, or because of some misguided idea of "love," is a liar and a hypocrite. "He, who says he is in the light and hates his brother, is in darkness ..." (1 John 2:9)

So, in this great season in which we celebrate Light, Illumination and Revelation, let's make a decision to walk in the Light and not in darkness, that is, to enter more deeply into the LIfe and Mind of Christ, turn away from ideology and embrace one another. There is no other way to follow Christ. Love is the preeminent commandment.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Antony