My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
ON GOD-CREATED INEQUALITY (Part III)
By Saint Nikolai Velimirovic, Bishop of Ochrid.
The wicked and faithless complain, for example, when God takes their children from them: "See," they cry, "how He mercilessly takes our children before their time!" On what basis are they yours? Were they not His before you called them yours? And how before their time? Does not He who created time know when their right time has come? Not a single householder on earth waits until his entire forest has grown to maturity, and only then cuts it down, but he cuts it, old or young, as he needs it--both that which has been growing a long time and that which has just sprouted--to put to use in his house. Instead of railing against God and cursing Him on Whom depends every breath they take, they would have done better to say with righteous Job: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). Then also the wicked and faithless rail against God when hail destroys their grain; or when their ships, laden with merchandise, are lost at sea; or when they fall into sickness or helplessness. They rail and cry out that God is harsh. However, they say this only because they do not remember their sins, or cannot draw teaching from this for the salvation of their souls.
The Lord replies to this false self-justification on the part of his servant: "Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed. Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury." Usurers are money-changers. They are those who change one currency for another, and in so doing gain their usury. But all this also has its figurative meaning. We must, by the usurers, understand benefactors; by the money, we must understand God's gifts; and by the usury the salvation of men's souls. The Lord desires in this way to say to the slothful servant: "You have received a gift from God. You were not willing to use it for your salvation; why, though, did you at least not give it to some benefactor, some man of sensitivity, who would both wish and be able to hand this gift over to others who have need of it to aid in their own salvation? And I, when I come, would find more men on earth among the saved; more who are faithful, ennobled, compassionate and meek. Instead of this, you have buried your talent in the earth of your body, that has rotted in the grave (for the Lord will say this at the Last Judgment or Second Coming) and that is now of no use to you."
Oh, how clear and terrible a teaching this is for those who have great wealth and do not give to the poor; or great wisdom and keep it locked within themselves as in the grave; or any sort of goods and skills and show them to no one; or great power and do not protect the poor and miserable; or a great name of renown and will shed no ray of light on those in darkness! The best that could be said for them is that they are thieves for they count God's gifts as their own, taking what belongs to others and concealing what is given to them. They are not just thieves but also murderers, for they do not help those they could to salvation. Their sin is no less than that of the man who stood on a river bank with a rope to save himself. The Lord will indeed say to such men what He said in this Parable about the wicked servant: "Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto Him which hath ten talents. For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
It often happens in this life that the little that one man has is taken and given to a man who has much, and this is simply an image of what happens in the spiritual realm. Does not a father take money from a loose-living son and give it to a wise one who will know how to make use of it? Is not a gun taken from an unreliable soldier and give to a reliable one? God takes His gifts away from unfaithful servants even in this life; hard-hearted rich men generally become bankrupt and die in want; selfish sages end in imbecility or madness; saints puffed up with pride fall into sin and end as great sinners; violent rulers suffer ridicule, shame and loss of power; priests who have not taught others by word or example fall deeper and deeper into sin until, in great torment, they take leave of this life; hands that have not been willing to do what they were capable of doing begin to tremble or stiffen; tongues that would not speak the truth of which they are capable become swollen or dead; and all who conceal God's gifts end as empty-handed beggars.
This Parable gives us clear teaching that not only will he that does evil be condemned but also he that does not do good. The Apostle James teaches: "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (St. James 4:17). All of Christ's teaching, like His example, urges us to do good. Keeping ourselves from evil is the starting point; but the whole of a Christian's life-path must strewn with good works like flowers. The doing of good works (works of charity) is of immeasurable help in keeping ourselves from evil works. It is hard for anyone to keep himself from evil if he does not, at the same time, do good, and to keep himself from sin without practicing benevolence. (Source: Orthodox Heritage)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God