Tag Archives: Gospel

The ethics of Paradise.

From a church bulletin:

THE ETHICS OF PARADISE

“…In the age before Constantine, Christians were able to be the salt of the earth without losing their flavor. They lived in close-knit community with one another without closing themselves off from their neighbors. Theirs was truly a way of life, not merely a religion. Their experience of God was metaphysical and meta-political. It was rooted in the ineffable revelation of the infinite, transcendent God Who kenotically [self- emptying of Jesus] irrupted into His orderly creation in order to cast out chaos and perfect human nature. He descended so that mankind, in Him, may ascend. We must recapture this orientation. Every thought must be taken captive to obey Christ (2 Cor 2:5).

“Becoming his disciple is ever a radical choice in a world filled with egotism, for faith propels us toward the other as we discover a universe in the soul of each person. In self-denial, we open ourselves up to eternity. Indeed, we only discover life once we are willing to lose it. In community we discover the love of the Father.

“It is for this reason that the Gospel cannot be reconciled with society and its false ideals of pride and power, comfort and pleasure. All of reality must be conformed to—or rather transformed by—the ethics of Paradise. Christianity is not a religion of self-actualization, nor a system of political and socioeconomic standards. It does not exist to affirm and fulfill our personal dreams or desires. Christ has come to save us from ourselves.”

—Father Joseph Lucas

Pure words and healing.

Current events had got me musing about words, silence, speech, and idle talk, even before my dear friend Myriah came to visit. She and I grant each other the exercise of free speech, even civil discourse, but I found that more than those are required by the law of  love. I hope to write further on these topics soon, though I feel woefully inadequate. Meanwhile…

After Myriah had gone home, she wrote to thank me, and to apologize for what she thought was her own “noise” as she “tried to make sense of everything.” She said, “I came home and planned to curl up and read the Bible.” But family demands prevented her. I realized that I had robbed her of what should have been a respite from confusion, talking as I had as though raging and clanging could be truly rational. Probably we should have spent some part of our two-day visit reading the Gospel together. (The garden did rescue us several times.)

These were my thoughts this Saturday morning, as I prepared to attend Divine Liturgy for the Leavetaking of Pentecost. I was present to receive Communion, but I had read the Gospel for the day at home. It washed over me as a healing balm, not because its subject matter or meaning are any more pertinent than they have ever been, but because I know the Speaker to be Truth and Love incarnate, and His speech is in stark contrast to the loudest human sounds that accost our ears and eyes. I remembered this verse:

The words of the LORD are pure words,
like silver refined in an earthen furnace,
purified seven times.
-Psalm 12:6

The Psalmist does not mean that God has to make seven rough drafts before He speaks, but that even our most refined and precious earthly things are only “something like” the Logos. These words of Christ from what is called “The Sermon on the Mount” were the Gospel reading for the day:

Give to the one who asks you, and do not reject the one who wants to borrow from you. 

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they?

So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.