The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 10:25-37
At that time, a lawyer stood up to put Jesus to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read?” And the lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”
For some it has been a difficult week. For others a week full of hope and joy. In both cases we find that our responses are somewhat immature. Who are we as Christians, even, as Orthodox Christians…to be dismayed or exuberant over the winner of a political contest? Sadly if this election has shown nothing else, it has clearly demonstrated that we as Christians are often far more interested and passionate about human candidates than we are about the living God!
Psalm 146 reads “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God” (Ps 146:3-5)
If we are honest with ourselves perhaps we can see that we’ve been doing what the word of God warns us against. Perhaps we have put our trust in princes and princesses instead of looking to God as our help and our hope. My brothers and sisters, in this we are found to have failed in doing what is commanded by Our Lord Himself. He tells the lawyer that if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength and mind. And if you love your neighbor as yourself, you will live. When we allow the politics of power and the earthly kingdom to invade our hearts and steal our peace, we are in fact showing ourselves to be sons of the corrupt and fallen men of this world and not sons and daughters of the kingdom.
St. Paul writes “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies” (Titus 3:1-9).
Let me be clear so that no one misunderstands the point here. We as a Church pray for our elected officials. We even pray for our leaders regardless of how they came to power. Let me also be clear that we as a community and God’s family will not spend time reflecting the idolatry and misguided zeal of the world around us. We will not engage in endless foolish controversies because if we do then we are saying that our fleshly opinions and thoughts are of more value than the peace and love that we enjoy through Christ who came to die for each and every one of us. If you want to have long political discussions please go and do so over coffee with one another in private, but leave these careless and foolish discussions for another place because our unity is far more important than our feelings at this time. The release of our feelings is often an exercise in pride and the emboldening of the passions, while our silence and prayer is a mark of humility and gracious charity towards all. Do not risk destroying the peace of this holy place and the hours of prayer that you’ve cultivated today, by speaking hastily about things that are passing away.
I want you to live. I want you to have life. This is God’s desire for you because God is life. So let us help one another. Let us pray for one another and for the peace of the nation. Let us encourage one another. Because our real problems have nothing to do with our leaders and everything to do with our willful disobedience to our rightful Master. Let us refocus our minds and hearts and souls and strength on the living God and His only begotten son Jesus Christ, who alone deserves our passion, who alone deserves our allegiance, who alone deserves our admiration and who alone is worthy of our worship and our love…to Him be the glory, now and ever and unto ages of ages. AMEN!