THERE IS NO OTHER, GREATER EVIL IN LIFE, THAN SIN!
Unfortunately, and especially in our time, this is something that many do not understand!
Modern man, imagining himself to be the representative of a highly defined age, will be greatly put to task in trying to find an answer to the question of "What is the greatest Evil that Exists?" "From what do people suffer most?" And that, while it should be clear, that this is the most important question raised by human existence. With what else should people occupy their thoughts, than the definitive determination of life's principal evil, in order to free us from that evil.
In our day and age, many so-called "social" and "political" workers' like to occupy themselves with the resolution of this issue, and all to no avail.
Some see life's chief evil to lie in the imperfection of the state system and try to arrive at what they believe is a perfect system. Others see life's chief evil to be the lack of education, the absence of widespread instruction, which they understand to be the teaching of all possible human sciences and their assimilation by all human beings. Still a third group see the evil of life to lie in social inequality, in the unequitable distribution of wealth and every other of this world's blessings, and fruitlessly and unsuccessfully attempt to establish universal equality among people. A fourth group maintains that life's greatest evil is poverty, un-employment, and so forth and so on.
All of these people, some of whom are talented and intellectually powerful, but at the same time spiritual blind, limited in spirit, their moral sense atrophied ... share an exclusively superficial approach to the question of life's greatest evil, and therefore they are impotent to resolve it in any satisfactory way, and will never resolve it.
And why should we even waste so much effort arguing the point, as if we were straining to break through an open door, when these most important, most urgent and relevant question has long since been answered for us who are truly sincere Orthodox Catholic Christians.
LIFE'S GREATEST EVIL IS SIN! Free human existence form the presence of sin and all our life must be immediately transformed: it will become tranquil and happy, a veritable earthly paradise. Let sin remain to rule among people and you will never by no external means, impose sense and order on life, nor make it prosperous, fortunate, and joyous for all.
It is precisely of this all encompassing, all wasting power of sin that today's Gospel reading speaks.
With His one word alone, the Lord healed an invalid who had lain for 38 years near a healing spring, hoping to made well, but vainly. And, raising him up from his sick bed, He cautioned him respecting the future, "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee" (St. John 5:14).
With these portentous words, the Lord indicated that the cause of the unfortunate man's fearful infirmities lay in the sins he had previously committed. In addition, he warned that sin inevitably brings with it not only such dire diseases as a paralysis, but even more dreadful ills.
"Sin no more!" - - - it is these words of Christ's warning that should be the principal, founding motto of our human existence. He who forgets this great God-given truth will have vainly wasted his own efforts in making his life as well as the lives of other people's peaceful, joyous, prosperous and happiness.
He who loves sinning will inevitably sooner or later fall prey to the oppressive affliction of spiritual and physical feebleness. The sufferings of body and soul will be his lot, and in the life hereafter - - - everlasting, unremitting torment.
Is it not in this position of the infirm man, lying hopelessly by the Sheep's Gate pool, that all mankind finds itself today, madly rejecting Jesus christ the Savior, refusing to acknowledge the existence of sin as such, and seeking various paths of life and salvation other than those which Christ, Our Lord pointed out to us? Isn't this also the cause for many a problem of a pastor, priest and layman in this life who know the words of Christ, but fail or refuse to take such to heart and mind, body and soul alike, whose own self imaginations are about the "letter" and not the spirit, who themselves are suffering form the effects of the "Correctness Disease" so often repeatedly raised as a warning by St. John Maximovitch and his disciple Father Seraphim Rose?
Sin reigns ruthlessly among the people of today, smiting both the body and soul with its death wielding venom. And, for so long as sin maintains its dominion, there can be no liberation or deliverance for the world from all the evils that beset it, and it is even meaningless to talk of its prosperity and preservation.
It would seem that experience in life should long since have made this clear and comprehensible to everyone, but Alas poor fools that many of us are! Engulfed in the depths of sinful life, led about by diabolical pride and culpable self love, self-confident people, who put all their trust in themselves alone, especially many pastors, priests and other clergy, easily forget the lessons which life itself teaches them, and no matter how many blows they receive in the course of their existence, whereby the Lord Himself instructs them, nevertheless it is frequent among them that, as God's Word instructs us, "according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again: and the sow that was washing to her wallowing in the mire" (II Peter 2:22).
According to Christian tradition, that is exactly what happened to the invalid upon whom the Lord had shed His bounty. He did not heed the warning, "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." The lesson for the fourth week after Pascha, the week of the invalid, says that this infirm man, so wondrously healed by Our Lord, was the very man who struck Our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cheek during the trial before the High Priest (St. John 18:22), for which he obtained "a trial worse than the weakening of limbs" - - - "that eternal fire, not for eight and thirty years alone, but unto time everlasting, should torment him."
You see to what extreme can come those who do not remember the mercy and generosity of God. Pride and sinful self-esteem can lead the person who is unmindful of himself to the state of a madman, acting irrationally, rashly and doom himself forever! The desire to ingratiate someone, to gain someone's favor, attention and therefore some personal reward, frequently drives those who become infatuated with their sinful selves to such truly insane deeds that trail in their wake the most frightening and incorrigible consequences!
It is for this reason that God's Word ranks the servile cultivation of other's favor, the desire to please other people, as one of the most serious and dangerous sins, of which the Apostle Paul speaks in his epistle to the Gallatians, "If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10).
As the Catechism instructs us, that man, whom we try to please to the point of forgetting God in our fever pitch of excitement to action, becomes for us to some degree "another god" instead of the true God, this makes us to transgress against the first commandment of God's law: "I am the Lord, they God: thou shalt have no other gods, but Me."
The One God, our Creator and Benefactor, we must please in all things, and more than anything else in the world, we must fear and avoid sin, which our Lord despises and finds displeasing, and which serves as the main reason for the evils of all possible kinds, that afflict us in this limited earthly life, as well as of everlasting doom in the future life that awaits us all. Christ our Savior came into this world, and was Crucified, and Rose from the dead, precisely to vanquish sin - - - life's greatest evil - - - and to grant us freedom from its oppressive power.
The joy of the Resurrection is the joy of victory over sin. This joy is beyond the reach of those who stubbornly persist in their love of sin, who have no desire to cast it off. They who do not wish to wage battle with sin, and who thoughtlessly and inconsiderately continue to sin, valuing transgression as naught, holy joy of the Resurrection... For them, it is as if Christ had not risen. The true, light-filled joy is unknown to them in spirit even them who speak the words of endearment of and about the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ. Here their lot is perpetual anxiety, remorse, spiritual yearning, and futility, and there await them hereafter, eternal gloom and unbating sufferings.
All of us who have prepared for Communion, confessed and partaken of serious prayer, partaken of penance, partaken of Communion of the Holy Mysteries during the last Great Lent, by that itself were healed of our afflictions, and now it is only necessary for us to hold steadfastly by Christ's warning, made to the invalid: "sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee."
Archbishop Averky's writings is unique in that it warns of the reality of the cosmic dimension of Jesus Christ. While one may be, as a Christian, a part of the Body of Christ, the Church; one can, in this life, still fall into the pit from which there may be no return except through sincere, active and aggressive prayer, repentance, confession, serious and active penance, and then on to forgiveness of those from whom one may believe they were offended by and those whom they know they did offend, followed by participation in the Holy Mysteries of the Church as provided by Christ Himself through Holy Spirit.
If one does not maintain vigilance over them self through, daily self-examination, coupled with meditation, repentance, penance and forgiveness, partaking thereafter on Sunday of the Holy Mysteries; they will truly fall into the pit through the trap prepared by Antichrist.
The Antichrist has so skillfully concealed from external observation the Satanic evil rooted in him.
Antichrist's opponents who are daily vigilant will indeed be considered trouble-makers and enemies of the general welfare and good order, finding themselves eventually the victim to both the concealed and open persecution, torture and, in some instance, execution.
Those who maintain aggressive daily vigilance over themselves are diminishing world-wide. Their small numbers as true strugglers in the faith does seem insignificant before those who have already begun the journey in and with the spirit of Antichrist.
The small diminishing numbers of such faithful, maintain constant aggressive daily struggle in their prayer life as well as in their outer and inner life; for the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ. Their opinions are more and more being ignored because of their diminishing numbers from both the Pulpits in the Church and in spirit and truth. Such are thought to be feeble opinions, subject to general contempt in these times, causing for hatred, slander and even now, many of them are facing oppression. Those who are causing such, often times are those from within their very own jurisdiction or faith who have fallen away in spirit and joined in the journey with the Antichrist where 'anything' that elevates self-aggrandizement is accepted. More often than not, it has become rather vogue for even those in authority in civil areas to slander these innocents as being mentally unsound, more especially if they speak out to teach the unadulterated understandings of the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ.
While it may be that violent death will eventually be some of their lot in life, one must remember that which Jesus Christ had said, "... whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake, will find it," (Matt. 16:25, 10:39).
All to often those who have joined in the journey with the spirit of Antichrist are clergy and faithful who have taken up the cry of the people for the sake of material ambitions and greeds, not spiritual !!!
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