Christ is risen!
When I was a police officer, we were trained on how to spot counterfeit money. But the interesting thing is we weren’t trained to spot bad bills by studying the fake money. We were trained to spot the fake bills by being obsessively familiar with the real money! We knew each nook and cranny of a real $100 bill (the most counterfeited bill in the world) and when we saw the fake bill, it hit us like a ton of bricks – “Hey, that’s not the real thing!”
But you know, what’s true of fake money is also true in life. It seems the enemy of our souls has a counterfeit for everything in the spiritual life. And the fathers warn us of the deceptive nature of the evil one and just how quickly we can be led astray by these counterfeit paths. St. Maximus the Confessor says “Food is not evil, but gluttony is. Childbearing is not evil, but fornication is. Money is not evil, but avarice is. Glory is not evil, but vainglory is. Indeed, there is no evil in existing things, but only in their misuse.” So, the evil one only wants to get you to misuse the good and make it a detriment to your soul! And this can be seen clearly in the counterfeit of true communion – codependency!
You see, codependency is a counterfeit for true relationships lived out in the mutual love of self-denial, just like the communion enjoyed by God in His Trinity of Persons. God knows Himself as Persons in Communion and these Divine Persons relate to One Another completely focused on the Other! Father, Son, and Holy Spirit never focus on Themselves but on the Other!
Look at our Gospel Lesson today in John 5:17-24:
The Lord said to the Jews who came to him: “My Father is working still, and I am working.” This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these he will show him, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
Our Lord Jesus tries to teach these religious leaders the power of authentic communion and self-denial, but they are too blinded by their self-centered ways to see the power of true communion over the counterfeit of false community they had reduced to mere racial membership in their “chosen” group. They were blinded by this counterfeit so deeply that when the Lord revealed His authentic communion with the Father, they saw it as blasphemy!
But true communion destroys the counterfeit codependency in three ways!
First, True Communion is Focused on the Other. Jesus tells these men that the Son does nothing on His own. He only does what He sees the Father doing. Of course the only way the Son can do this is by focusing all His attention on the Father!
Second, True Communion Experiences Selfless Love. Some may respond that if they focus their attention only on the others, then who’s going to look after them? Aren’t we suppose to watch out for number 1? Well, let me ask you, how’s that working out for you? Actually the power of true communion rather than the counterfeit of codependency is that while you are focused on the Other, the other is wholly focused on you! See the wisdom here! I don’t have to worry about getting my needs met because someone else in communion with me is focused on me!
Finally, True Communion always leads to Discernment. Why does Jesus say “greater works than these he will show him, that you may marvel.” Because true communion always leads to deeper insight, clearer vision, stronger purpose, and unlimited spiritual strength! True communion, as opposed to the counterfeit of codependency, sets me free to know myself so well and know the other so well that selfish judgment becomes irrelevant; revenge becomes ridiculous; and hatred becomes impossible! The counterfeit is ALWAYS self-centered, but true communion sets me free to love even my enemies!
Today, as we move toward the selfless courage of the Myrrhbearers this Sunday and we continue to press out the deeper implications of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, let’s know true communion so well that we can spot the caustic sickness of codependency a mile away. And we can know true communion as we use our best energies to know God, the Holy Trinity, know His life, know His love, and know His ways. And the best way to do that is to constantly be exposed and participate in the rhythm of Orthodox life in liturgy, prayers, and fasting! Becoming Orthodox on Purpose means we truly enter into True Communion! Interested?
P.S. I am looking forward to our NEW Faith Encouraged LIVE program this Sunday with my special guest Khouria Frederica Mathewes-Green. We are going to be discussing Women in Ministry in our Orthodox Faith. It promises to be a wonderful discussion and you’re invited into that conversation this Sunday night at 8 PM on Ancient Faith Radio. Call a friend and listen together!
Erm…… this strikes me as dangerously ambiguous advice to those of us who happen to have the misfortune to be married to addicts/narcissists or other codependent-seekers, and are trying to find godly ways to save our marriages.
It’s not a denial of communion to refuse to lose oneself in relationship with a mentally unhealthy person. Sometimes taking care of other people means taking care of yourself. Boundaries and air-masks, you know?