20 June OS 2021: Saturday of the Second Week of Matthew; St. Methodius, Bishop of Patara, Hieromartyr
In today’s reading from the Apostolos (Romans 3:19-26), St. Paul tells us flat out that no human being is naturally pleasing to God.
Brethren: Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Today everyone is yelling and screaming to prove that they are better than that other person, who is totally evil and needs to be silenced and destroyed. St. Paul has the answer to this: For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Today everyone is casting about for materialistic solutions to what are essentially spiritual problems. St. Paul has the answer to this: For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Today people think they can discover the roots of evil through psychology or sociology or political science or historical analysis. St. Paul has the answer for this: For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
We need to remind ourselves constantly that apart from the grace of God and the forgiveness through Jesus Christ, apart from enlightenment and protection from above, we are naturally in continuous communion with malicious demons who are invading our minds every minute, giving us false opinions, aggravating our sinful passions, and impelling us to bad decisions, sinful behavior, and the destruction of community, family, and self. This is just the way it is. And this is true of everyone, not just the obviously wicked.
Though we are baptized Orthodox Christians, we easily forget this truth, rely on our own righteousness, forget to abide in constant mourning over sin, forget death and God’s judgment, and live in delusion. Every single person is in some measure of delusion, except for those who sincerely believe themselves worthy of every temporal and eternal punishment, who cast their care entirely on the Lord, and abide in constant repentance.
Grant us, O Lord, in this holy fasting season, the grace of repentance!