The Concept of Struggle for Christ
In a Cosmic Dimension
Part II
Compiled by: +Thaddeus, SSJt., Ph.D.

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(c) American Orthodox Church (North America) and +Joseph Thaddeus, SSJt., Ph.D.

WHEREIN LIES LIFE'S GREATEST EVIL?

Archbishop Averky of Syracuse, New York (Holy Trinity Monastery) (of reposed memory) answered this question in a most brilliant fashion.  To understand the answer, many may become more active in one's constant daily struggle to ferret out those things that are most assuredly the killer of our soul and body before we attempt to help others as a blinded one trying to help another who is blind.  The following is the answer from Archbishop Averky:

After His glorious Resurrection from the dead, Our Lord Jesus Christ remained on earth for an additional forty days.  During this time, He came to His disciples on more than one occasion, "speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).  Accordingly, for forty days we glorify Christ's Resurrection, singing joyous Paschal hymns in our heart, mind and at Divine Liturgy.  In addition, the Sundays of this season are dedicated to the commemoration of the people and events that are independently associated with the feast of Christ's Resurrection such as the week of St. Thomas, and the week of the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women, or else of those events that took place precisely at this time of year, the Pentecostal period, and which brilliantly attest to the Divine Glory, Kingly majesty, and omnipotence of our Lord Jesus Christ; to His sovereignty over the natural world and its laws; intending by this presentation of His Divine power and authority to prevent any shades of doubt in the great truth of His most glorious Resurrection from the dead.

In the fourth week after Pascha, it is remembered how Our Lord Jesus Christ, with His word alone, healed the oppressive malady of a completely incapacitated man who lay for thirty-years by the pool near the Sheep's Gate, which was visited once each year by an Angel.  Descending from Heaven, the Angel would agitate the water, imparting to it the power to heal, but only that one invalid, who would be the first to descend into the pool immediately after the visitation.

A fearful affliction is such total paralysis!  And one can imagine, how great must have been the moral agonies of that unfortunate man, when he, who for so long lay near the source of healing, could not be healed because he did not have anyone who could lower him into the pool immediately after the agitation of the water in the pool.  When he had dragged himself to the pool with great difficulty, "another stepped down before him," and all his painful efforts and hopes proved to be in vain.

Seeking this miserable man, the Lord took pity on him and with His one authoritative word, raised him up from the bed of infirmity.  "Arise, take up your bed and walk!"  He said to the paralyzed man, and this was enough for the miracle to take place.  The infirm man was instantly healed of his severe, long-standing illness, rose to his feet, took up his pallet, and walked away.

Some time later, the Lord met him in the temple, and desiring to impart to him healing of the soul, in addition to the healing of the flesh, gave him this portentous counsel: "Behold, thou are made whole: sin no more lest a worse thing come unto thee," (St. John 5:14).

It may be inferred from this that the fearful illness of the paralytic had been brought on by some previous sins of his.  From the Lord's words it is also evident that every sin is followed closely by physical infirmities and ills of different kinds.  Remember that Christ also said, "It is not what goes into the body and passes through the bowels that counts but by every word that comes out of the mouth that judgment shall come," thus in some cases the relation is quite obvious to all: we know for example, that such sins as gluttony, over abundance of drinking, unchastity, not infrequently give rise to grave and even incurable diseases and ills.  But, even sin, no matter how insignificant it may be, always reflects detrimentally on the body's health.

All sin, to a great or lesser extent, troubles the conscience.  This in turn reflects poorly on the nervous system, on the activity of the heart and the circulation of blood, which is the principal guarantor our physical well-being, and so, the physical health of the sinner, in proportion to the growing frequency of his transgressions becomes progressively undermined.

Thus, the reading from the Gospel convinces us that even the diseases of the flesh being one of the most unpleasant and tormenting evils of our temporal earthly life, ORIGINATE IN SIN, and ultimately lead the sinner to the death is inescapable for all, the death that is, as God's Word teaches, nothing than "the wages of sin" (Romans 6:23).

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