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Gripped (Enslaved)

“To be perfect, one must willingly sacrifice all and follow Christ. Nothing is gained unless this sacrifice is given freely. The specifics of how one follows Christ will be different for each person. Because wealth had such a grip on this rich man [Mark 10:17-27], his only hope was to sell and give away all his possessions. St. John Chrysostom tells us that giving away possessions is the least of Christ's instructions here; following Him in all things is a far greater and more difficult calling.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 19:21)

“Is it any wonder then, that we are frightened by the Word of God no less than the young man who came to Jesus? The truth is that many of us in today's world and today's church have an embarrassment of riches which we hold very dear. But because we have become so accustomed to these comforts, we no longer see ourselves as wealthy. We have allowed yesterday's luxuries to become today's necessities. The fact remains, however, that while much of this world goes hungry, we remain trapped in the grip of consumerism. But as St. Paul reminded us, the Word remains a double-edged sword and we stand under its judgement. There is no escape. And so each one of us is called to personal assessment. If God becomes our all, then we live more simply, ask more questions about accumulating possessions, and are more conscious of the needy. It is not so much a question of surrendering things; that just creates a feeling of emptiness. Rather it is a question of acquiring a spiritual treasure in our hearts that does not leave room for the endless acquisition of earthly goods.” (Fr. Andrew Demotses)

“When life becomes too easy, we take our blessings for granted, ceasing to view the basic necessities of life—warmth, food, shelter—as pure gift. Only by first accepting that normal life is difficult are we freed to come to grips with the vulnerability, pain, and complexity inherent in being human.” (Robin Phillips)

“As the Accuser, Satan can lure us into the snare of unhealthy self-condemnation. In this deceitful trap, we think that the accusations of the self have greater power than the mercy of God. Despite the Word of divine forgiveness through the blood of Christ, the devil prevents us from letting go of regrets, memories, and self-reproaches. Under the power of this temptation, we find that though God forgives us, we cannot forgive ourselves. If this self-condemnation grips us, we must not listen to our hearts. We must hear the Word of God as He proclaims His grace to us. In today’s reading, the apostle writes, “God is greater than our heart and knows all things” (1 John 3:20). If the omniscient God can see sins that are hidden even to us, and if He still forgives us for the sake of Christ, then we must believe that divine mercy is far stronger than any guilt or remorse.” (Fr. Basil)

“Father Alexander Schmemann famously said that Christianity is “the end of religion.” But if Christianity is not a religion, what is it? In a word, it is the source of a new birth, a new nature, a new kind of human being. Apart from Christ, all people share a human nature that is weak, fallen, darkened, vulnerable to evil spirits. As Saint John wrote, “the whole world lies in the Evil One” (1 John 5:19). In Christ, we have the possibility of having a new human nature, one strong, upright, filled with light, safe from the grip of the Evil One, sheltered in God. The world therefore consists of two kinds of people: those who have been born only once, and those who have been born twice. The Church is the home of the twice-born.” (Fr. Lawrence Farley)


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