Sunday, September 29, 2013

Come, let us drink of that new river…

The commandments of Jesus, if obeyed, absolutely turn the world ‘as it is’ upside down. We don't have to understand why He gives us these commandments. We just have to fulfill them. They aren't many, either. In fact He Himself reduced them down to just two basics. ‘Love the Lord your God, and your neighbor as yourself.’ These commandments are both the easiest and the hardest, just as the yoke of Jesus is both the easiest (as He tells us) and the hardest. Easiest, when we decide to follow them, and do. Hardest, when we inwardly reject them, but try to do them for whatever other reason; in other words, when we resist.

A specific commandment of Jesus? Pray for those who persecute you and willfully abuse you. In other words, pray for your enemies. Your enemies, mind you, not His. At least, there is no one that He makes His enemy, though people make Him their Enemy. We do too, when we resist Him by holding back from following His commandments. But pray for your enemies. A radical thought, from the perspective of the world. But if followed, that world is brought to its knees. Interesting. We bring ourselves to our knees for the world our enemy that persecutes and abuses us, and that brings the world to its knees.
How so?
Because it is vexed. 

Epikránthi! It was vexed! The word we shout at the end of the liturgy of the Resurrection, the night of Pascha, many times, as the sermon of John the Golden-Mouthed is read to us. We shout it at the service after the midnight hour, yet in the daylight, we often cannot see how we are to achieve this vexation of the world that afflicted Hades when Christ descended. Yet, it is only by following Him there in our world day by day, praying for our enemies just as He emptied Hell of His, even after they put Him to death. What we shout in the night, by following the commandments of Jesus, we can live in the day.
‘Come, let us drink of that new river…’

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