It must come as a shock to bibliolators (Bible worshipers) to hear that the Word of God is not the Bible, but the Divine Logos, Jesus Christ, and that the Bible is a sacred scripture given by God’s permission to the Church, taking up human literature to represent, verbally, what Christ is, existentially.
It must come as a shock to ecclesiolators (Church worshipers) to hear that the Salvation won for us by Christ cannot be limited by anything we decree, define, or demand in the way of doctrines or requirements, but that it is universally bestowed on any and all who do not resist it.
It is nothing short of preposterous that the saving work of Jesus Christ, finished by Him as He hung upon the Cross, and effected universally by His descent into Hades and His liberation of its captives, was accomplished for the sake alone of those few congregants in that little chapel down the road.
Yes, He tells us that the way is straight and narrow that leads to life, and that only a few find it. Look about you in the world, the world of unbelievers. How many do you see going into life all on their own, without Christ? Then, there is the Church, that huge array of humanity, flocking toward heaven.
‘I am the way, the truth, the life.’
A Man appears who speaks as no man ever spoke, He acts with an authority that no man before Him has ever exercised, yet even seeing His miracles does not satisfy the unbelieving, untrusting heart, does not reveal who this Man is. Only the Father can give us the faith that reveals who He is, but we must ask.
Our asking, if we dare, becomes the answer of our lives. We look at this Man, but we see God. In the same manner, we look at the Church, that all too human thing, and we see Salvation. Yes, the Church is what Salvation looks like. Disappointed? Did you expect something more? Yet she too works miracles.
We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
Nothing that the Lord, Jesus Christ, says ever fails to come true. He is not only prophet, in that regard, but the Son and Word of God. He tells us that nothing that comes against the Church will prevail. This includes all our speculations, rumors, and regulations, and all who think they rule instead of serve.
Nothing that we can do can prevent the work of Christ in this world. All we can do is prevent it in ourselves, one by one betraying Him, disowning Him in ourselves. He has put all mankind on the road of salvation, but they are filthy, they must be washed, they are illiterate, they must be taught.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
We hear the Alliluia in the Divine Liturgy. If we were sitting, we stand up. We sign ourselves with the Cross and turn from all directions to face the Gospels held aloft and glistening with gold and icons. The Book is opened, the deacon reads, and we listen respectfully to that Holy and Divine Message.
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its savor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bushel. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
To everyone in the house. Yes, to everyone. This is the word of Christ, written and bound in a Book, lived and liberated in us, the salt that preserves the flesh, humanity, so it does not rot, the light that we are, that we cannot help but be, because Christ says so, that we must be reminded not to hide away.
Because light cannot be hid, no matter what we do to hide, control, or contain it. The nature of light is to spread, to be diffused through time and space, scribing larger and larger as it moves out from its source the territory that it enlightens. Where do we shine, on a lampstand or under a bushel?
Who is salvation for, brethren, for them, or only for us? Did Christ die only for our sake, or for all mankind? Are we willing to share the inexhaustible treasure of God’s grace, or reserve it to those few who claim to know ‘the secrets of the universe’ and have ‘the fullness of the faith’?
That little chapel down the street, whitewashed and silent, except for festal days, behind its fences, plunked amidst neighbors who ‘do not know their left hand from their right’ because they have no one to teach them, no one sent to preach the Gospel, nobody to be the Message of life to them.
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’