Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Being fulfilled

We are standing halfway through the second decade of the century that will see Orthodoxy the lone survivor of Christianity in the world, and what is slowing us down, what is keeping us from our Christ appointed commission, ‘Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:19-20a)?

‘Go, then, to all peoples everywhere,’ not only in far off heathen lands, but to the heathens in our town, in our apartment block, in our neighborhood, the heathens next door, in our own household, even (if that’s where we find them) in our own hearts. No need to fly far, but only to turn in divine friendliness and friendship to the one standing next to us, without qualification, without prerequisite or expectation, to offer in person the tender mercy of Christ.

‘Make them my disciples,’ not our disciples, not the disciples of this or that program we have whipped up, not even the disciples of the Church fathers (who themselves were, in the first instance, the disciples of Christ, not of each other), nor of any teacher (for we have but One teacher, the Christ), nor of any holy hierarchs (for none is holy but God), nor of any pope or patriarch (for Christ alone is the head), but disciples of Christ (who is) in our midst.

‘Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,’ immerse them, not bodies only in the holy mystery that Christ ordained, but in the life of the blessed, consubstantial Trinity, the unearthly Triad who in Christ has entered the waters making them all-holy, trod the earth sanctifying it forever, not only wearing the form of man but being a man, remaining with us, in us, even as us, who live with each other in the perfect unity of the Spirit.

‘And teach them to obey everything I have commanded you,’ not human rules and regulations, neither the canons of the Church nor the protocols of political correctness, only everything that Christ commands. And what is this ‘everything’ that He commands? ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment, and the second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:37-39).

‘That was easy,’ you say to yourself, ‘That’s nothing new. We’ve all heard it before, and we’re tired of trying. It doesn’t work. We still have enemies, the unbelievers. You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.’ But that doesn’t let us off following the commandment, ‘Go, then…’ nor excuse us for working against the very prayer of Christ, ‘I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one’ (John 17:21). We may help, but cannot hinder, the work of Christ.

Nor can we stop His prayer to the Father being fulfilled.

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