4 September OS 2017 – Saturday of the 15th Week after Pentecost (15th week of Matthew); S. Anthimos of Nicomedia, Hieromartyr; S. Theoktistos, Monk
On the fifteenth Saturday of Matthew in 2015, I posted these thoughts on today’s Gospel:
Today’s Gospel reading is the beginning of the Lord’s great eschatological discourse towards the end of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. Here it is:
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. – Matthew 24: 1-13
The Lord states very clearly why the love of the many will grow cold in those days: “…because iniquity shall abound.” Here the Lord directly contradicts the preachers of the new “love” we hear about everywhere today, “love” that “blesses” every manner of evil and perversion: infanticide, sodomy, adultery, fornication, atheism, devil worship, false religions, usury, the endless pursuit of mindless vanity in the entertainment industry, the ever-spreading cancer of gambling, and on and on. The only “sin” today is to denounce evil, which proves that “you have no love.”
Today materialists call themselves “humanists” and state that they condone sin because they “love people,” and that the Church is “anti-human.” The Lord states otherwise. The true humanist, that is, the person who truly loves other human beings, is not the person who condones their self-destructive sin, but he who points it out and tries to fight it. St. Theophan the Recluse, in his commentary on this verse, says the following:
…Love is destroyed by transgressions; the more sins there are, the less love there is. Where all is sin, do not look for love. Therefore, he who seeks the spread of love and the diminishing of he lack of love ought to be concerned with decreasing sin and curtailing the love of sin. This is the true foundation of humanism! Having taken up this work, one must use all means to oppose sin. Outward sins are the fruit of inner sinfulness. Inner sinfulness is rooted in egoism and its offspring. Consequently humanists need to make it a rule for themselves to suppress egoism by all means. Egoism is suppressed most forcefully by not allowing one’s own will. Do not allow yourself to have your own will, and soon you will overcome egoism. On the other hand, no matter what means you want to use against egoism, you will not be able to do anything if you give freedom to your will. Hence it follows that wherever people seek their own little will in all things, they are seeking an expansion of egoism and the drying up of love, and they are seeking greater evil. Yet such is the spirit of the current time – and evil is growing. – Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, p. 194
By re-defining what love is and what sin is, today’s “wisdom” is destroying man. “Love” = condoning the other person’s selfishness. “Sin” = calling it like it is. The only sin is “intolerance.” The only permitted intolerance is intolerance of the truth.
The most obvious sins condoned today by the new “love” advocates are the sins involving sexual immorality. Not only the Church, however, but even honest secular psychologists and physicians can tell you that the more – and the more varied -“partners” someone has, the more fragmented and ruined a person he becomes. This is common sense. Illicit sexual behavior hardens the heart, darkens the mind, and ruins the person. Such a person cannot love. After awhile, such a person cannot even think. All the “love” they believe they feel with this or that “partner” (another ruined word!) is simply the delusive warmth arising from the mutual approval of sensuality and self-worship. It is a diabolic shadow play, a hellish dance of destruction.
True love is seen above all in the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. This love is made manifest in the world in the lives of the Saints, who crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts, and arrived at purity of heart, at holiness, apart from which no man will see God. The only path to true love is the path to Golgotha. There is no other way.
Now how do we, in 2017, fight the evil that St. Theophan said was growing in his time (1881!)? First of all, we must reject the least concession to any new definitions of what love is, what good is, what evil is, and what sin is. We must give wholehearted and absolute adherence to the teachings of the Church, which have not changed in thousands of years. “We do not serve the times, but God,” as St. Athanasius once said. Simultaneously we must apply ourselves wholeheartedly to rooting out the egoism in our own hearts, by heartfelt prayer to God, by repentance, by crying to Him with tears for our sins and the sins of the world. God promised Abraham that He would not destroy Sodom for the sake of ten righteous men. Let us try, by the grace of God, to be one of the ten righteous men. And if there are not even ten, let us imitate the Righteous Lot and flee up to Zoar in time.
There is no use pretending that the love of the many has not grown cold. It has. We must recognize our situation and deal with it. But we cannot dwell on the evil in the world. The world will go its way, and we will go our way, and the two ways have always diverged; today it is simply more obvious. We must dwell in our minds there, where our true life is. Face it – if we are really Christians, we are already dead men: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).” Whatever short span of life is given to man after Baptism is simply a working out of the implications of that reality. Let us, then, rejoice, for the Lord is nigh, even at the door.
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. – Revelation 22: 11-20