Sunday, 16 June 2013

Saint John Of Kronstadt-On Avarice

To what do you cleave? In what do you seek your life? Is it in money, which made Judas hang himself? 

 Excerpts from the diary of St. John of Kronstadt

 When your heart is struck by avarice, say to yourself: "My life is Christ, the Beloved of all. He is my inexhaustible wealth, my inexhaustible food, my inexhaustible drink. Our blind flesh dreams of finding life in food and in money, and bears ill-will against those who deprive it of these material means of life. But be firmly persuaded that your life is not money and food, but mutual love for the sake of love for God. Remember that God is Love, uniting all things animated by the laws of love, and bringing forth life from the union of love.

Do not be anxious about money; if you really need it, then God will send it to you, as He did the manna or quails to the Israelites. "The earth is the Lord's, and all that therein is: the compass of the world, and they that dwell therein."[1340] First seek the kingdom of God, the salvation of men, their strengthening in faith, the amendment of their lives; strengthen yourself in faith, cleanse your heart, conscientiously fulfil your calling, carefully perform your duties, and everything else, such as money, food, clothing, and so forth, shall be added to you.

God is good and all-goodness, and you, His image, must also be good. He is bountiful to all, and you too must be generous, and avoid avarice and grudging your neighbour anything material, perishable, as the greatest calamity and foolishness.

Avarice occasions a waste of love, and inspires hatred against those who deprive or rob us of our property; whilst hearty generosity arouses love for those, to whom we are liberal; forced generosity, however, also produces dislike. Avarice proceeds from — the Devil, generosity from — God. He is the Father of bounties. Every attachment to material things proceeds from — the Devil; neglect, contempt of material things and indifference to them, for the love of God — from God. Amen.

Furthermore, people worship money, this great god, the Jupiter of our age; for the sake of this idol many sacrifice their health, spending sleepless nights for its sake, swearing falsely for it, violating the laws of friendship for it, becoming cold to their relatives through it, all with the one purpose of accumulating as much money as they possibly can. There are money-lovers who, if it were possible, would turn everything into money, and would live by it, like Judas Iscariot, who wished to turn into money even the precious ointment with which the pious woman who loved her Lord with her whole soul anointed His feet, and then wiped them with her hair. Christian! it is not for your health, belly, dress, and money that you must care; you must strive after love for God and your neighbour, for these are God's two greatest commandments. "He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him."[1362]

God did not spare for our sakes even His Only Begotten Son. How, then, after this can we grudge anything to our neighbour: either food, drink, clothing, or money for his various needs? The Lord gives much to some and little to others in order that we may provide for each other. The Lord has so ordered that if we willingly share the bountiful gifts of His mercy with others, then they serve to benefit our souls and bodies, by opening our hearts to the love of our neighbour, whilst our moderation in using them serves to benefit our body, which does not become satiated and overloaded by them. But if we use these gifts selfishly, avariciously, and greedily, for ourselves only, and grudge them to others, then they become injurious to our soul and body - injurious to the soul, because greediness and avarice close the heart to the love of God and our neighbour, and make us repulsive, self-lovers, increasing all our passions; and injurious to the body, because greediness produces satiety in us, and prematurely impairs our health.

The Lord does not dwell in the heart in which reign greediness and attachment to earthly blessings, to earthly pleasures, money, and so forth. This is daily proved by experience. In such a heart dwell cruelty, pride, presumption, scornfulness, malice, vengeance, envy, avarice, vanity, and boastfulness; theft, deceitfulness, hypocrisy, and dissimulation; craftiness, flattery, cringing, fornication, profane speaking, violence, treachery, and perjury.

... do we not greedily seek for more, and are not satisfied with the little, or with that which God has given us? We do not thank God for what we have as we ought to.

If you see a wrathful brother, pray thus: "Lord, make this servant of Thine good through Thy grace." If a mercenary and greedy one, pray thus: "Lord, Thou Who art our incorruptible Treasury and inexhaustible Riches, grant that this servant of Thine, created according to Thy image, may recognise the deceitfulness of riches, and that, like all earthly things, they are vain, fleeting, delusive. For the days of men are like grass, or like the spider's web, and Thou alone art our riches, peace, and joy.

Our life is incomplex: because our life is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the most incomplex eternal Being, having no beginning. "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son."[565] Why, then, do we seek life in men, in enjoyments, in money, in honours, in dress, and so forth? There is no life for the heart in these things, but only affliction, straitness, and spiritual death. Why do we forsake the Fountain of living waters — the Lord, and hew out "cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water"? [566] Why do we toss about, and trouble about trifles? Why are we so greedy after enjoyments, money, honours, dress, and various other things? All these are dead, perishable, transitory. The Devil, who has the power of death, is also incomplex, and catches us in his snares, wounding us unto death; this is why we must be on our guard, and not attach ourselves to anything, so that we may not be hurt by him.

The end of everything on earth — of my body, of enjoyments, of dress, of all treasures is — destruction, corruption and disappearance, but the spirit lives for ever. May my soul remember this, and not grieve at the loss of anything temporal, perishable, but be zealous about eternal, imperishable matters: concerning God, concerning the fulfilment of His commandments, the unity of love, a peaceful condition, patience, temperance, chastity, self-denial, the heart's indifference to all earthly beauties and enjoyments, not greedy of gain (only striving to gain the Lord Himself), seeking the one thing needful; endeavouring not to imitate the crafty, and not to envy those that work iniquity. Let others take away your dross — do not mind this and do not be exasperated at it.

The Lord does not dwell in the heart in which reign greediness and attachment to earthly blessings, to earthly pleasures, money, and so forth. This is daily proved by experience. In such a heart dwell cruelty, pride, presumption, scornfulness, malice, vengeance, envy, avarice, vanity, and boastfulness; theft, deceitfulness, hypocrisy, and dissimulation; craftiness, flattery, cringing, fornication, profane speaking, violence, treachery, and perjury.

Greedy, covetous miser! is it money, is it bread that has given you life? Is it not God? Is it not His word which gave being and life to you and all other creatures? Does not the Son of God uphold "all things by the word of His power?"[824] Do money and bread, water and wine alone support your life? Does not man live "by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God"? [825] Are not money and bread mere dust? Is not bread the least of the things necessary for supporting our life? Everything was created and is supported by the word. The word is the source and preservation of life.

How and when are we to care for the imperishable raiment of the soul: meekness, righteousness, chastity, patience, mercy, when all our cares, attention, and means are directed to perishable raiment and the adornment of our body? We cannot serve two masters: for the soul is simple and single. How and when are we to care for the spiritual riches of good works, when we are only greedy after perishable riches and strive to amass it with all our might and means, when our heart clings to money, to the world, and not to God? How and when are we to care for the incorruptible spiritual food and for the blessed drink — for prayer, the reading of God's word, the writings and lives of the Holy Fathers, the Communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord, when we hardly let food and drink out of our mouths, and this stupefying lit-up poisonous smoke which many consider so pleasant? How can our soul rejoice in the Holy Spirit, when we are continually occupied by earthly, vain pastimes and pleasures? O, ruinous service to corruption, drawing us away from the life incorruptible, true and eternal!

God is inexhaustible in his gifts to men. During already 7403 years [1291] He abundantly feeds all creatures. Everywhere we see plenty and joy; only the greedy rich lay their hands on and keep in their treasuries too many of God's gifts, which might plentifully nourish hundreds and thousands of poor. Man! believe firmly in God's inexhaustibility in His gifts, and willingly "deal thy bread to the hungry;"[1292] the more you give, the more shall God send you. Such is God's law: "with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."[1293]

We ought to lay down our lives for the Lord and our neighbour, and not spare them; but meanwhile we grudge even food, drink, clothing, dwelling, money, books, and other things — this earthly dross. Our crafty and evil flesh seeks after the smallest pretext for self-love, greediness, and even grasping.

Why, then, are we anxious about our food? Why are we so greedy? Why do we surfeit and delight ourselves with dainties? Why do we grudge to share with our neighbour? O impiety! O blindness! O filthy self-love! O want of love for God and our neighbour! For God dwells in the person of our neighbour, and therefore we grudge His own gifts to God Himself. Remember how generously the spirit-bearing Prophet Elisha rewarded the Shunamite woman who received him in her house and entertained him in the simplicity of her heart! He implored God to give her a son, and afterwards, when this son died, he raised him from the dead.

"That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us."[522] What separates us from God and each other? Money, food, and drink — this dust, this dross, this corruption. Why? Because we have not living Christian trust and faith in God. We do not know, or we forget, that man's true life is love for God and his neighbour. Setting our life upon dust and trusting in it, we do not render to the Heavenly Father the glory that is due to Him, by putting our whole trust in Him, by casting all our care upon Him, as His faithful children in Christ should do. "If then I be a Father, where is Mine honour? [523] Where is your trust in Me? Where is your love for Me? Where is your detachment from earthly, corrupt things, and your hearty desire for the heavenly, spiritual, and eternal ones?

Luxuries, money are worse than ordinary dust and dirt, because they sully the soul; ordinary dust only sullies the body, clothing, or room. O, how necessary it is to despise luxuries, money, and dress besides!

The Lord sometimes suddenly sends bountiful material gifts, such, for instance, as: money in payment for some very easy work, and thus rewards you for the expenditure you have incurred in affording help to your neighbour; in general He freely bestows upon us the bountiful gifts of His mercy, in order that we should not grudge His gifts to those whom He sends to us, or whom He allows to take our property, which He has given us in order that we should not be at enmity amongst ourselves, but should live in love and harmony; should our neighbour rob us of our property, even then we ought not to be disquieted, but should bear it meekly, trusting to God to punish for the offence. You know, that the Lord Himself meekly allowed even His garments to be taken from Him, and His body to be tortured upon the cross — for your sake, to teach you meekness and gentleness in all misfortunes and offences.

"Who or what are our idols?" They are — some persons, and after these our transitory life; our mortal body full of passions and the things relating to it: food and drink, dress, ornaments, distinctions, money, house furniture, and so forth. When the tempter attacks you through attachments to visible things by trust in visible things, bread, money and so on, then steadfastly lift up the eyes of your heart towards the invisible and eternal: first to the invisible and eternal God — the Source of our life; secondly towards the invisible life that has no ending, towards the eternal bliss of the righteous after this transitory life. When he inspires you to seek life in corruptible things, you must strive after life in the incorruptible; when he attracts your eyes to the human body, disregarding its immortal soul, you must turn your mental gaze still more steadfastly upon the soul of the man, created after God's image and likeness, redeemed by the suffering and death of the Son of God upon the cross, made to inherit eternal blessings, affiliated by God, the temple of the Holy-Ghost, and the Bride of the Holy-Ghost. Avoid duplicity, that is, do not let your heart be divided between attachment to God and attachment to earthly things, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon"; [571] cling to God alone, put your trust in Him alone; for the Devil, by inciting us to duplicity, seeks himself to gain possession of our heart, which, is single and indivisible. And remember, that to attach yourself to God is always good, blessed, whilst to attach yourself to the world and its blessings is evil, painful, sorrowful, oppressive: for " attachment" to the world is a delusion of the Devil, and is his spirit.

We only call the Lord, God, but in reality we have our own gods, because we do not do the Will of God, but the will and thoughts of our flesh, the will of our heart, of our passions; our gods are — our flesh, pleasures, money, dress, and so forth.

We are — one body of love. Food, drink, money, dress, houses, all earthly attributes are — nothing, whilst man is — everything; nothing is so precious as man. Man, by his soul, is immortal, whilst everything material is perishable and ephemeral; everything material is like dust. Everything is God's, nothing is ours. Man! esteem the dignity of man, as the image of God and in the time of his need, do not grudge him any material help.

My heart ought to cling to God alone. "It is good for me to hold me fast by God "; [669] but — what blindness and perversion! it clings to earthly delights: to food, drink, carnal pleasures; to money, to this dross, to dress, to this corruption, to perishable colours, to patterns, to fashions, that charm the eyes, to luxuriously furnished rooms, and so forth. How strange it is! I, a Christian, a heavenly man, am occupied with everything earthly, and care but little for heavenly things. I am transplanted in Christ into heaven, but meanwhile I cling with all my heart to earth, and apparently would never desire to be in heaven, but would prefer to always remain on earth, although earthly things, notwithstanding their delights, oppress and torment me; although I see that everything earthly is uncertain, corruptible, and soon passes away; although I know and feel that nothing earthly can satisfy my spirit, can appease and rejoice my heart, which is constantly disturbed and grieved by earthly vanity. How long, therefore, shall I, a heavenly man, remain earthly? How long shall I, the child of God, be flesh, notwithstanding that I was born in holy baptism, "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God"[670] How long will it be before I turn wholly to God? Lord! draw my heart to Thee by Thy Holy Spirit. Lord! turn my heart away from earthly vanities. Lord! without Thee I can do nothing.

Do not put your trust in money, but in God, who unwearyingly cares for all, and above all for His reasonable creatures endued with speech, and especially for those who live piously. Believe that His hand does not fail, above all for those who are charitable, for man cannot be more bountiful than God. Your own life and the lives of all those who lived before and were charitable serve as a proof of this. Let God alone be the treasure of your heart; cleave wholly to Him as one created after His image and likeness, and flee from earthly corruption, continually contaminating our souls and bodies. Hasten towards the life that does not pass away, towards the life that never ages; draw there all others too, as far as lies in your power.

The Devil takes captive and conquers man in this world by excessively exciting his natural spiritual and bodily needs, such as: the need of food and drink (and as everything has to be bought with money, therefore of money, too), the need of clothing, the need of pleasures, the need of honours or fame, and of a good name. All these and other similar requirements of man, which God has put into the very nature of man, are continually perverted by the Devil, who carries them to extremes, sometimes quite needlessly (for instance, with eating and drinking), and thus ruins both soul and body, and diverts the soul from God through its attachment to material things, and through its falling into sensuality and into the passions of malice, pride, envy, despondency, slothfulness, gluttony, fornication, drunkenness, covetousness, ambition, and so forth. And therefore fasting, chastity, disinterestedness, kindness, meekness, humility, faith, hope and love, prayer and meditation, are necessary.

When we pray, then the holiest, highest subjects are strangely intermingled in our thoughts with earthly, worldly, trifling subjects. For instance, God and some object we love, such as money, dress, a hat, or some dainty dish, some sweet drink, or else some outward distinction, such as a cross, an order, a ribbon, and so forth. So heedless, so given over to the passions, and distracted are we! This ought to be natural only to the heathen, who do not know the true God and His Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, and not to Christians, whose treasure is not upon earth, but in heaven. Where, then, is the living water in our heart, springing forth in life-giving streams in hearts wholly devoted to God? It is not there, because it is thrust out of our hearts by worldly vanities and other passions. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon,"[1011] says the Truth.

What woman will forget to feed the children of her womb? But let us even admit that mothers who forsake their children may be found; "But I," says the Lord, "am not like such carnal mothers, and will not forget nor forsake you." What trust, what hope, the Lord Himself inspires in us by these words, in His Providence continually caring for us and never forsaking any one of us! You are sometimes anxious about what you shall eat and drink, and how you shall be clothed; you greatly afflict your heart if you part grudgingly, sorrowfully with your money, when it is necessary to give to another, although you have plenty left, and you thus show that you put your trust and hope in earthly dross. But why are you anxious? Why do you cling to dross? Cling to the heavenly Father; He will not forget you, and will not forsake you. Let the dross forsake you; you will only feel easier without it; for the more money you have, the greater the quantity of this dross that adheres to your heart, the more will your heart which is not earthly be afflicted. There is a saying amongst men that money is no hindrance, however much of it we may have. This is untrue. It greatly hinders our soul from rising upwards, or from meditating upon our heavenly country, and the more we have of it the more it drags our soul down to earth, inciting us to occupy ourselves with various earthly devices, such as buildings, rich furniture in our houses, rich clothes, luxurious viands and drinks, and thus depriving our soul of holy zeal and precious time, during which it ought to be earning future bliss for itself.

[522] St. John xvii. 21.[523] Malachi i. 6.
[565] 1 John v. 11.
[566] Jeremiah ii. 13.
[571] St. Matthew vi. 24.
[824] Hebrews i. 3.
[669] Psalm lxxiii. 28.
[670] St. John i. 13.
[824] Hebrews i. 3.
[825] St. Matthew iv. 4.
[917] St. Matthew xiii. 9.
[1011] St. Matthew vi. 24.[1291] Written in the year 1863.
[1292] Isaiah lviii. 7.
[1293] St. Matthew vii. 2.
[1340] Psalm xxiv. 1.
[1362] 1 John iv. 16.

Excerpts compiled from: My Life in Christ or Moments of Spiritual Serenity and Contemplation, of Reverent Feeling, of Earnest Self-Amendment, and of Peace in God, St. John of Kronstadt.

Αιμιλιανού Σιμωνοπετρίτου: Τα τέσσερα πράγματα που σκοτίζουν την ψυχή

Ο άνθρωπος για να έχει πνευματική ζωή, να έχει το φως στη ζωή του, πρέπει να έχει τελεία επικοινωνία με το περιβάλλον του. Από τη στιγμή που δεν έχει αυτή την απλή, την φυσική, την άνετη εγκατάλειψη και παράδοση του εαυτού του στον άλλον, και επομένως την βίωση του άλλου ως οικείου μέλους, δεν μπορεί να έχει Θεόν. Γι' αυτό σκοτίζεται η ψυχή, όταν κλονίζεται η σχέση της με τον Θεό.

Πως όμως κλονίζεται; Με το να μισεί τον πλησίον του. Το μισώ τον πλησίον έχει κατά κύριον λόγο ενεργητική έννοια και σημαίνει, κτυπώ, αρνούμαι, επιτίθεμαι εναντίον του άλλου. Εκφράζει την επιθετική διάθεση της ψυχής. Αντί να έχω φυσική σχέση με τον άλλον, να τον βάζω στην καρδιά μου, έχω το μίσος, που είναι μία έξοδος του άλλου από την καρδιά μου και από την ζωή μου. Μίσος λοιπόν είναι να βλέπω ως έτερον τον άλλον, να τον πετάω έξω από την καρδιά μου, να μην το θεωρώ ως είναι μου. Αντί να δω ότι ο άλλος είμαι εγώ, βλέπω ότι είναι κάτι διαφορετικό. Αυτό μπορεί να είναι φυσικό για τους ανθρώπους του κόσμου, αλλά για μας, που είμαστε σώμα Χριστού, είναι αφύσικο.

Το μίσος είναι εκ των μεγάλων αμαρτημάτων, διότι είναι απόρροια μεγάλης εμπαθείας και δείχνει ότι ο άνθρωπος δούλεψε πολλά χρόνια στην αμαρτία και τα πάθη, και έχει σκληρυνθεί τόσο πολύ η καρδιά του, ώστε κατά κάποιο τρόπο έγινε ανώμαλη και όχι μόνο δεν μπορεί να αγαπήσει, αλλά και μισεί. Χρειάζεται πολύ δάκρυ για να αποβάλλει κάποιος το μίσος. Δεν είναι υπόθεση μιας αποφάσεως απλώς ή αγώνος μιας μέρας. Όταν μισώ κάποιον, δεν μπορώ να πω, αποφασίζω να μην τον μισώ. Μπορώ να πω, αποφασίζω να μην τον χτυπήσω, να μην τον βλάψω, αλλά για να μην τον μισώ πλέον, χρειάζεται μια εσωτερική κάθαρσις. Το μίσος προς τον πλησίον φανερώνει μεγάλο βάθος πάθους, γι' αυτό και συσκοτίζει την ψυχή.

Πως αλλιώς κλονίζεται η σχέση με τους άλλους; Με την εξουδένωση. Με το να ταπεινώνεις τον άλλον. Με το να τον κρίνεις. Όταν όμως κρίνω τον άλλον, τον βγάζω πάντοτε μικρό, μηδαμινό, τίποτα. Είναι τόσος ο εγωισμός του ανθρώπου, ώστε τίποτε δεν μπορεί να σταθεί ενώπιον της κρίσεώς του, ούτε ένας Θεός, πόσο μάλλον ένας άνθρωπος. Το να θεωρώ τον άλλον ως κατώτερο, περισσότερο όμως το να το εκφράζω, είναι κεφαλαιώδες αμάρτημα.

Άλλη μορφή σχέσεώς μας με τους ανθρώπους, η οποία διαταράσσει την ειρήνη και την ενότητα, είναι η ζήλεια με όλες τις έννοιες. Ζηλεύω κάποιον από αγάπη, τον θεωρώ δικό μου και ενώνομαι αναπόσπαστα μαζί του. Η ένωση αυτή δεν είναι εν τω σώματι του Χριστού, είναι μία υποβίβαση του σώματος του Χριστού σε ανθρώπινη σχέση. Είναι επίσης μία πλήρης μοιχική εσωτερική ενέργεια.

Αν πάρουμε την ζήλεια με την έννοια ότι ζηλεύω αυτόν τον άνθρωπο και τον απωθώ, τότε η ζήλεια είναι έκφραση εσωτερικής αδυναμίας αλλά και ανώμαλης αγάπης. Δηλαδή τον αγαπώ κατά τρόπο εγωιστικό και αποκλειστικό, πιστεύω ότι έχω δικαιώματα στη ζωή του και ότι αυτός έχει υποχρεώσεις απέναντί μου, ότι πρέπει να μου δίνει λογαριασμό για το που πηγαίνει και τι κάνει.

Η ζήλεια λοιπόν είναι διαταραχή των σχέσεών μας λόγω περισσής εσωτερικής ψυχικής ενέργειας. Ζήλεια είναι κάθε στροφή προς τον άλλον, που ξεκινάει από κάτι υπερβολικό, από έναν ζήλο, από μία ζέση, από μία βράση. Επομένως ζήλος μπορεί να είναι το ενδιαφέρον μου, η αγάπη μου, η φροντίδα μου να τον σώσω, να τον βοηθήσω να βγει από την αμαρτία, να γίνει παιδί του Θεού. Αυτή η ζέσις είναι ένας αφύσικος εσωτερικός οργασμός, μία αφύσικη πνευματική συσσωμάτωση.

Το αντίθετο της ζήλειας είναι ο γογγυσμός, ο οποίος επίσης προέρχεται από αδυναμία της ψυχής. Γογγύζω σημαίνει διαμαρτύρομαι, αρνούμαι, παραπονούμαι, είμαι στενοχωρημένος, δεν ικανοποιούμαι. Αυτόν τον γογγυσμό τον εκφράζω στο περιβάλλον μου, στα γραπτά μου, στην προσευχή μου. Ζητώ λόγου χάριν, κάτι από τον άλλον, ή προσδοκώ ή απαιτώ κάτι. Δεν μου το δίνει όμως, γιατί και αυτός είναι απορροφημένος από τον δικό του αγώνα και πόθο, από την δική του σκέψη, αμαρτία, χαρά, από τη δική του ακολασία, αγιότητα ή αρετή. Τότε πέφτω σε έναν γογγυσμό, διότι περιθωριοποιούμαι στην σκέψη του. Προσεύχεται αυτός, νομίζω ότι με αφήνει μοναχό μου. Ενδιαφέρεται για μένα, νομίζω ότι δεν το έκανε από αγάπη ή ότι το έκανε ελλιπές.

Ο γογγυσμός είναι το ανικανοποίητο που νοιώθουμε στη ζωή μας και προέρχεται από ένα μειονεκτικό εγώ. Η ζήλεια προέρχεται από ένα εγώ υπερτροφικό, ενώ η εξουδένωση από ένα εγώ αυτοτρεφόμενο και αυτοδυναμούμενο άνευ Θεού, που βλέπει τον άλλον κατώτερο, μηδαμινό. Το μίσος είναι η διαφοροποίηση, η απώθηση του άλλου από την ύπαρξη μας. 

Aπό το βιβλίο "ΛΟΓΟΙ ΑΣΚΗΤΙΚΟΙ"



St.Theophylact of Ochrid-The Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council


The Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council

John 17:1-13

From the Explanation of the Gospel of St. John

by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

1–3. These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come: Glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee; as Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent. Having encouraged the disciples to face bravely the coming tribulations, Christ raised their spirits again, this time by prayer. By praying, He teaches us that when temptations assail us we should put everything else aside and flee to God. However, one could say that Jesus was not actually praying, but rather conversing with the Father. Do not be surprised that it is said elsewhere that Jesus did pray, kneeling on the ground (see Mt. 26:39). For the Lord came, not only to reveal Himself to us, but to teach us every virtue by His own example, as a good instructor. Showing us that He goes willingly to His crucifixion, He says, Father, the hour is come. See how He longs for the Passion, and embraces it. He calls it His glory, and His Father’s glory, for indeed, by the Passion both were glorified. Before the crucifixion, He was practically unknown, even to the Jews: Israel does not know Me (Is. 1:3), He said. Afterwards, the whole world flocked to Him.

What exactly is the “glory” that belongs to Him and the Father? It is the benefitting of all flesh by God’s gifts. This is the glory of God. The Lord had previously commanded His disciples not to go into the way of the Gentiles (Mt. 10:5). Now, grace is no longer limited to the Jews. It is offered to the whole world. To this end, the Lord was planning to send the apostles to the Gentiles. But lest the disciples imagine this plan was His own notion, contrary to the will of the Father, Jesus reminds them that it is the Father Who has given Him power over all flesh. In what sense does Christ have power over all flesh, when, as we know, not everyone believes? Christ strives to bring everyone to faith. If some refuse to heed Him, it is not His fault, but the fault of those who reject His teaching. When it is said that the Father “gives” something to the Son, or that the Son “receives” something from the Father, understand that such expressions are a condescension to the limitations of His listeners’ understanding, as we have pointed out before. Christ was always careful to avoid speaking openly about His divinity. The Jews would have been outraged to hear Him claim to be divine, so He said only as much as they could bear at the time. We employ similar condescension when speaking to infants: without naming the object, we point to bread or water, and ask, “Do you want this?” Remember how, at the beginning of the Gospel, the Evangelist stated boldly about Christ: All things were made by Him (Jn. 1:3), and, As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, (Jn. 1:12). How then can He, Who gives others the power to become sons of God, lack divinity in Himself and require it as a gift from the Father? And so, understand that an exalted reality underlies the humble statement. To as many as Thou hast given Him—here is the modest expression; that He should give them eternal life—here, the revelation of the power and authority of the Only-begotten Godhead.

If God alone gives physical life, how much more so eternal life? Christ calls the Father the only true God, in contrast to the false gods of the Gentiles, but by no means does He exclude Himself from the divinity of the Father. Because He is the true Son, He must also be true God, as the Evangelist insists in his general epistle: Jesus Christ … is  the true God, and eternal life (I Jn. 5:20). On the basis of the present text from the Gospel, the heretics would make a false god of the Son, and have the Father as their sole divinity. They should be careful not to forget everything else written by Saint John, who also tells us that the Son is the true light (Jn. 1:9). According to their reasoning, this must mean that the Father is a false light! And so, if the Evangelist calls the Father the only true God, it is to distinguish Him from the false gods of the Greeks, not from the Son. Incidentally, the heretics tie the passage, Ye … seek not the honour that cometh from God only (παρὰ τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ, Jn. 5:44), to the one we have been discussing. They imagine that this reinforces their argument that if the Father is the only God (ὁ μόνος Θεός), the Son cannot be God. What an absurd conclusion!

4–6. I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. I have manifested Thy name … We learn from this that the Father glorifies the Son in the same manner as the Son glorifies the Father. I have glorified Thee on the earth, Christ declares. Quite rightly did He add, on the earth, for the Father was already glorified in the heavens and worshipped by the angels, while the earth lay in ignorance. Having proclaimed the Father to all, the Son now declares, “I have glorified Thee everywhere on  earth by imparting the knowledge of God, and I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me.” The work of the Only-begotten Son Incarnate is: to sanctify our nature; to overthrow the ruler of this world, who made himself out to be God; and to plant the knowledge of God in the creation. But how had He finished this work, when it was hardly begun? “I have finished what is My part to do,” He explains. Indeed, Christ has already accomplished the greater part by implanting in us the root of every good, by conquering the devil, and by flinging Himself into the maw of the all-devouring beast of death. From this “root” would follow by necessity all the fruits of the knowledge of God. It is in this sense that He has finished the work. “I have sown, I have planted the root: the fruits are sure to follow. O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was formed.” At that point the nature of flesh had not yet been glorified: it had not been made worthy of incorruption and of sharing the royal throne. This is why the Lord declares, Glorify Thou Me, meaning, “Receive My dishonored and crucified human nature, and raise it up to the glory which I—the Son and Word of God—had with Thee before the world was.” After His ascension, Christ in our human nature was seated on the royal throne, and now He is worshipped by all creation.

Then Jesus explains His words, I have glorified Thee on the earth, as meaning, I have manifested Thy name. How is it that the Son was first to manifest God’s name, when Isaiah said, They … shall swear by the true God (Is. 65:16)? As we have often pointed out, God’s name was already revealed, but only to the Jews, not the whole world. Now Christ announces that God’s name will also be revealed to the Gentiles, since He has destroyed the devil, the teacher of idolatry, and planted the seeds of divine knowledge. If at that point the pagans already had some knowledge of God, it was only as creator-demiurge, not as Father. The Son revealed that the creator was the Father. Moreover, by His own words and deeds, Christ revealed not only His Father, but Himself.

6–8. I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee. For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me. By saying, The men which Thou gavest Me, the Lord makes two points: first, that He is not in opposition to the Father—“I did not snatch these men from You”; and second, that it is the Father’s will that the disciples believe in the Son—“You are well pleased that they have come to Me. Between us there is no rivalry, only love and oneness of mind. And they have kept Thy word by believing in Me and giving no heed to the Jews.” He who believes in Christ “keeps the word of God”—the Scripture and the law—for the Scripture proclaims Christ, and everything the Lord told the disciples was from the Father. As Jesus told the disciples earlier in this discourse, I speak not of Myself (Jn. 14:10). He also instructed them, Abide in Me (Jn. 15:4), and they did abide in Him and kept the word of the Father.

Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee. This means: “Now have My disciples known that (in My divine nature) I have nothing of My own and I am not different from You. Nothing whatsoever of the things Thou hast given Me were given by grace, as are the divine gifts bestowed upon created beings. Rather, they are of Thee,” which means, “They are not something I have acquired, but belong to Me by nature; they belong to Me as the Son Who has full authority over His Father’s property.” One might ask, “How have the disciples known this?” The Lord provides the  answer: I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me, which means, “They know this by My words and teachings.” Christ taught them continuously: “All that I have is of the Father; I came out from Thee; and, Thou didst send Me.” Throughout the Gospel the Lord affirms that He is not an adversary of God, for He does the Father’s will.

9–10. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them whom Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine. And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them. To make it clear that everything He has been saying to the Father is purely for the benefit of His disciples, the Lord now adds, “I pray for them, and not for the world. I love and take care of My disciples; I bestow upon them what is Mine; and I beseech You, Father, to protect them. I do not pray to You on behalf of coarse, vulgar men who think about nothing except this world; I pray … for them whom Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine.” When the Lord says, whom Thou hast given Me, this does not mean that the Father only recently gave Him authority over these men. It does not mean that there was a time when the Father had this authority, but the Son did not, nor that the Father lost this authority when that the Son gained it. To make this clear, the Lord declares, “All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine. For as long as they have been Yours, they have been Mine, for all Thine are Mine. They did not come into My possession a moment ago. And the fact that they are Mine in no way implies that they are no longer Yours. They have not been taken from You, for all Mine are Thine. Furthermore, I am glorified in them, which means, “I share the glory of My Father, just as the son of an emperor shares his father’s authority and glory: both are held in equal honor by their subjects.” If the Son were less than the Father, He would not dare to say, All Thine are Mine. The master owns everything that his servant has, while the servant owns nothing of his master’s. Here, on the contrary, what the Father has belongs to the Son, and what the Son has belongs to the Father. Thus the Son is glorified in all who belong to the Father, for the Son’s authority over all creation is equal to the Father’s.

11–12. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name. Why does Jesus repeat, I am no more in the world, and, While I was with them in the world? At first glance these statements seem to contradict the promises He had made: Lo, I am with you always (Mt. 28:20), and, Ye shall see Me (Jn. 16:16). The truth is that He tells the disciples only as much as they are able to understand at the moment. Since they were likely to be distraught at being left without His help, Christ declares that He has committed them to His Father’s care and protection. (For the disciples’ benefit) He says to the Father , “Because You are calling Me to Yourself, You must guard them by Your own name,” which means, “by the help and power that You have given Me.” What kind of protection does the Father give? He bestows unity, that they may be one. “If they preserve love for one another and do not separate into factions, they will be invincible.” Of course, Christ does not mean that they should become literally one person. He means that they should imitate the Father and the Son by acquiring unanimity of thought and will among themselves. Because the disciples would have found it impossible to believe Him if He had said, “Even though I am no longer with you, I will still protect you,” Jesus reassures them by calling upon the Father to be their protector. By appearing to entreat the Father on their behalf, He gives them hope. In the same vein, when Christ says, I kept them in Thy name, He does not mean that He kept them safe only by the power of the Father’s name. He speaks in this manner—as we have explained many times—on account of the weakness of His listeners, who as yet could not grasp that He was God. By doing so, the Lord strengthens and reassures them: “While I was with you, you were protected and guarded by the power of the Father’s name. Now you must believe that He will continue to guard you, for it is His nature to do so.”

12–13. Those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled. And now I come to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves.Those that Thou gavest Me I have kept: these words convey profound humility if one properly understands them. Throughout this chapter it might appear that Jesus is directing the Father to guard the disciples after His departure, like a man who gives his friend a sum of money for safe keeping and tells him, “Look, I have not lost any of this: neither must you.” But in reality, the Lord is consoling the disciples: “These things I speak in the world to reassure the disciples and give them joy. Knowing that You have received them safely and will guard them—just as I did, without losing any—they can again breathe freely.” How can the Lord claim to have lost none of them, when Judas fell away, and many other followers left Him as well (see Jn. 6:66)? “As far as it depended on Me,” He explains, “I have lost none of them. I did everything on My part to keep them, and I guarded them zealously. If some chose to reject Me, it is not My fault.” That (ἵνα) the Scripture might be fulfilled, meaning, every Scripture referring to the son of perdition. For he is mentioned in various places in the Psalms and in other prophetic books. As we have explained before, the conjunction ἵνα, (in order) that, is commonly used in Scripture to express the outcome of an event.
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