22 September OS 2018 – Friday of the 1st Week of St. Luke; Holy Hieromartyr Phocas
In today’s Gospel, the Lord’s own relatives and townsmen reject Him out of envy:
At that time, the people wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of Jesus’ mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way. – Luke 4: 22-30
There is something inconsistent here: First they marvel at the Lord’s gracious words, but then they turn against Him. First they think, “How marvelous, how beautiful, how true!” Then they think, “Wait a second: this is just some other ‘guy’ from our own town, not anyone important. Who does he think he is, anyway? He is not better than we are!” In other words, they were envious. They were so envious that they tried to murder Him.
It was envy that caused the Nazarenes to reject the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was envy that caused the high priests, Pharisees, scribes, and rulers of the people to hate Him.
It was envy that caused Judas to betray Him.
But this is not surprising, because it was envy, at the beginning of creation, which caused Satan to tempt our first parents. God had created man to take the place of the fallen angels, and they cannot rest until they destroy us. Or, rather, they will never rest for all eternity, because the more they destroy, the more envious they become. Their hunger grows the more it is satisfied, and they will be endlessly more and more tortured for all eternity.
In the same way, an envious person – and, sadly, such a person may be an Orthodox Christian – cannot rest until he destroys the person he envies. He is constantly thinking about him with anger: “Who does he think he is? Why does the think he is so great? Why does he get to have such-and-such or be such-and-such?” And this hatred, this anger, this internal torture has no end. Even if he succeeds in utterly destroying the happiness of the other person, even murdering the other person: Far from having rest, he will grow even more tortured, constantly revolving in his mind how bad the other person was and justifying himself. And this torture continues after death and increases endlessly for all eternity.
Today, on a global scale, we are suffering from the consequences of envy. Once the Christian nations lived under a legitimate and God-blessed hierarchy of Church, king, aristocracy, intellectual class, merchant class, working class, peasantry, and so forth. This hierarchy reflected the hierarchy in creation itself, in which God is the king, and the angels and saints in heaven are His ministers, and on earth all men are arranged in stations, ranks, and classes according to the divine constitution of the Church and according to age-old, organically developed and traditional laws of those nations whose laws reflect the Law of God, and according to their birth and ability. Some men are necessarily higher than others. Some cultures are higher and more beautiful than others. There are men and cultures and traditions that are high and noble, and others that are low and ignoble. This is reality.
For generations now, however, the formerly Christian nations have listened to the siren song of envy, and now they have handed themselves over to the power of wicked demagogues who promise “equality” and teach, “No one and nothing is better than or different from anyone or anything.” With all boundaries, all standards, all traditions, all true hierarchy abolished, we are now reduced to the law of the jungle: Power is all, and might makes right. Darwinism, utterly bankrupt as a science, has certainly succeeded as a maniacal religious and political ideology, for we are ruled by a criminal class of demonized and envious predators. This is the politics of envy: if I can destroy you, this is the only justification I need. This is the “revolutionary justice” of Marxism, of “civil rights,” of the sexual revolution, of feminism, homosexualism, and every other -ism that overturns the Christian order of society. It is a revolt against reality itself, ultimately against God. And – apart from a miracle of repentance by a critical mass of mankind – we are living in the final stages of it. This is the end game.
For our part, let us courageously refuse to be part of this demonic anti-hierarchy of envious pseudo-justice. The first step in refusing the politics of envy is to cleanse our own hearts of all envy of other people, the great and the small. We have no worldly control over the vast changes that are overturning normal life all around us. But we do have the kind of control that counts: We can choose to stay in the Faith, to pray, to obey the commandments, to order our households according to God’s Law as best we can, and to tell others the truth and obey our consciences in the choices that face us on a daily basis. We do have control over our minds and wills, to turn away from evil and do good.
Let us ask ourselves, “Do I nurture envy in my heart against those who seem to prosper while I suffer? Do I wish evil to others?” And let us fall down and beg the Lord to cleanse our hearts, to give us that peace which He alone can give, which the world cannot give and the world cannot take away. Let us forgive our enemies, and like St. Stephen we will see the heavens opened and Christ standing at the right hand of God.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!