Divided by Politics or United in Christ?

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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!

George11/20/2016 10:58 am
Put not your trust in princes, in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation... (Ps. 143).
John11/19/2016 9:20 pm
Dear brother Anthony,
Your heartfelt sentiments about our country's interference in other parts of the world is shared by many here, Orthodox and non. But your annoyance expressed towards what is written in the article is misplaced. You must remember that Orthodox Christians are a tiny minority here. While you live in what is basically an Orthodox country, Christianity is becoming more and more marginalized here. We few Orthodox Christians cannot afford to be fighting with each other, but must learn to support each other. Furthermore we here are the only exposure to Orthodoxy that most in our country will ever know or see. How can we lift the scales off of our non-Orthodox neighbors' eyes if we are busy gouging each others' eyes out? How will that help our Orthodox brothers and sisters in Cyprus or Serbia or anywhere else?

I believe this article was intended to remind Fr. James' parishioners of who they are in Christ, and to maintain peace in his own local parish, rather than to gloss over or minimize the importance of the issues of the day. Try to consider the context in which things like this are written, before lashing out. God bless you.
Fr. James Guirguis11/18/2016 4:58 am

Your points are well taken. In fact I have not said anything about either candidate. The point of the homily is to remind our people not to fall into the ways of the world with regards to politics. Within the walls of the Church we are one and our unity is not to be compromised due to misguided zeal.

May God bless us all with wisdom and may He bless the world with peace.
Gregory 11/18/2016 4:02 am
I am a Native American. My family goes back many generations in the USA. I agree with much of what Anthony has to say. This election was not just about two persons or even about all the other down ballot races that had to be decided. Rather, it was about which direction our country is going. Americans rightly decided that the direction was wrong and needed an about-face. My vote is my voice . God has given me this by virtue of the time and place He has placed me and I must use this vote this one vote for turning toward the good.not that we have arrived at the good but that we at least need to face that direction and begin to travel the road of repentance as a country.
Raymond Marcin, Professor Emeritus, The Catholic University of America School of Law11/17/2016 6:03 pm
Well said! On election eve, I prayed to God that He give us the President that we don't deserve. I trust that He did.
Anthony11/17/2016 4:19 pm
What an annoyingly patronising load of cobblers has been written here. I am not Amerikan but I, like any right thinking Orthodox Christian whose country has been on the receiving end of Amerikan interference for decades (and which ended under partial turk occupation which Amerika is trying to legitimise) had every reason to be concerned about this election's outcome. Anyone who is a Christian would want to avoid war and it's a basic fact that the corrupt pathological lying loser who stole the Dem nomination and has supported every illegal Amerikan war of aggression was aiming for outright confrontation with Russia. Since when should we not be concerned about politics. I am Greek Cypriot - have a look at our own saints St Paisios and St Kosmas Aitolos. They spoke about politics and prophesied. St Paisios said Greek people should vote for true Orthodox leaders. Well Amerika never had that choice but at least for once enough people woke up and saw the kind of evil the loser embodied- All manner of evils from abortion to illegal wars of aggression that we should be standing against. So yes this election result matters immensely and people have every reason and every right to be speaking about it. Don't like well turn off the tele.
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