What about people who are not Orthodox?
It is always a pity when people who claim to be Orthodox make judgements against fellow Christians. In the tradition of Orthodoxy, wherever we find beauty and truth, it is of God, and it is our calling, as Orthodox Christians, to rejoice when we see others have at least some portion of the Truth. Slamming others for what they do not have, does nothing to further their journey into Orthodoxy, and in fact may delay or sideline their journey towards the fullness of Truth.
There is the wonderful true story of Saint Silouan the Athonite who was traveling by train with an archimandrite, a zealot who was quick to correct others about the True Faith. Coming upon a group of traveling Roman Catholics, Saint Silouan’s traveling companion proceeded to tell them that they must become Orthodox because their faith was without grace. The saint asked him if it were indeed a fact that the Roman Catholics believed that Christ was true God, and that He was present in the Eucharist. The saint asked was it not true that these Catholics believed in the Trinity, and venerated the Holy Virgin and the relics of the saints. The archimandrite answered yes to all the questions. Saint Silouan responded that of all humility’s faiths we must know that we have perhaps more, but not to judge those who are not Orthodox. We must rejoice in the knowledge of what they do have. The saint told him that we should not be filled with such pride as to think we have the right to judge, correct or teach others.
This does not mean that we see the Church as divided, or that the Orthodox Church is anything less than the Church Christ founded. What it does mean is that we do not allow ourselves to think we have the right to correct or teach anyone. We must honor other peoples beliefs and not give in to the prideful stand that we have the right to teach or correct them. The truth that is found within Orthodoxy must be shared by living our faith in love, not in judging or correcting others. Truth, where ever it is found, is Orthodox Truth. If other religions embrace some of these truths that are Orthodox, we must rejoice and give thanks for what they do have.
People who love God and are trying to live holy lives pleasing to Him, according to the knowledge they have been given, are to be respected. They may not have the fullness of Apostolic Truth, but if they are believers in God and are trying to live a life pleasing to God, we must give thanks to Christ for what they do have. They have God as their Father, just as do we. They can have the Church as their Mother only if they see in us the difference Orthodoxy has made in our lives. Being arrogant in our evangelism does nothing to express the truth of Orthodoxy, and makes us no different than the pushy salesman at the door.
That arrogant archimandrite would better have shared the beauty of Orthodoxy had he embraced those Roman Catholics as fellow disciples of Christ. Then they would have seen Christ in him and known that Orthodoxy was indeed a faith centered in Christ. They would have known the truth of Orthodoxy by seeing in him, the love of Christ.
All this having been said, it is important that we remember Our Lord Himself has charged us to speak the truth. We must never fail to share the truth of our Orthodox faith for fear we might offend someone, for by “Speaking the truth in love, let us grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head (of the Church), even Christ (Ephesians 4:15).”
Love in Christ,
Tuesday January 2, 2018 / December 20, 2017
31st Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). Food with Oil
Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ.
Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-bearer, bishop of Antioch (107).
Repose of Righteous John of Kronstadt (1908).
Venerable Ignatius, archimandrite of the Kiev Caves (1435).
St. Anthony, archbishop of Voronezh (1846).
St. Philogonius, bishop of Antioch (323).
St. Daniel II, archbishop of Serbia (1338).
“Novodvorskaya” and “Lenkovskaya” (Novgorod-Severny) named “Rescuer of the Drowning” Icons of the Mother of God.
New Martyr John of the isle of Thasos (1652) (Greek).
The Scripture Readings
Do Good to Please God
6 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
The Model Prayer
5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Hear the Heavenly Voice
25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”
22 And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words. 23 Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly.
24 Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.
25 Grace be with you all. Amen.
2 The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him.
3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?”
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.”
5 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
10 In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. 11 So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”