True charity

Wednesday of the 5th Week of St. Luke

The reading today from the Holy Gospel is Luke 9:44-50.

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The Lord saidLet these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying. Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

In commenting on this passage, St. Theophan the Recluse chooses to write about the words, “…whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me…”

…whosoever does not confess the Lord does not honor God, because he does not confess the God Who is the true God. The true God does not exist without the Son, Who is co-eternal and co-unoriginate. Therefore, once you cease to confess the Son, you no longer confess the true God. Only God will discern what your confession is worth; but since God is revealed to us as the true God, apart from this revelation one cannot have the true God.   – Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, p. 233

The God Whom Abraham worshipped is the same Holy Trinity Whom Christ revealed and Whom the Church confesses.   There is no other God. The Trinity is not one of many ideas about God, or even simply the best idea about God.  The Holy Trinity is God. There is no other. 

Yet today many supposed experts, including nominally Orthodox bishops and theologians, tell us that Jews and Moslems also worship the same God as do the Christians, the God of Abraham.  This, however, is not true, and for an educated Christian knowingly to make this assertion in public is a formal act of apostasy, for by saying this he denies the only true God, Who is not only the God of the Christians but also the only God of all men and all the universe – God the Holy Trinity.  

How do people who consider themselves Christians delude themselves into accepting such a fundamental error?   When one examines this question, one usually discovers two reasons, an intellectual error and a spiritual problem.

Many, if not most, Christians today, including nominally Orthodox Christians, have false assumptions they are not aware of, assumptions that they have breathed in with the pestilential air of the times, to borrow an apt expression from the late Fr. Seraphim Rose. These assumptions include the idea that God is just out there somewhere, that no one really knows much more about Him than anyone else, and most human beings are basically good people who sort of grope their way to some understanding of God based on their cultural background and do their best to worship Him in whatever way they can.  Everyone needs to do what works for him, i.e., what provides psychological comfort and social belonging. Theology is a hobby for priests and professors, and dogmas are really just opinions of one faction or another; all that matters is to be a good person who has some kind of religion.

The spiritual problem coupled with this intellectual error is the lack of heartfelt love for Christ and the lack of desire for the salvation of one’s neighbor.   If someone understands Who Christ is and what He suffered for us, the blasphemy that “all religions lead to God” horrifies him; he cannot remain indifferent. Intellectual indifferentism, then, is the twin of spiritual indifference: the lack of faith coupled with the lack of zeal, and, ultimately, the lack of the most essential virtue, which is charity. True charity must involve charity towards God, first of all, and how can one love God if one stubbornly denies that which He has so plainly revealed about Himself? True charity towards one’s neighbor, means, above all, desiring his salvation. But there is no salvation apart from Christ.

The odd thing is that people claim that their indifferentism is a manifestation of love, when in fact it is the opposite: it is a manifestation of malice, i.e., bad will, manifesting itself as a fundamental indifference to the true good of one’s neighbor. 

Let us pray for our hearts to be filled with the burning love of Christ Crucified for us, an essential mark of a true Christian, so that our prayers and our words will act with divine power for the enlightenment and salvation of our neighbor.

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