TABLE OF CONTENTS
and practical Orthodox theology
as a communion of love
healing of the Soul
way of the Cross
Between God and religious mentality
you so stupid, that you can't love anyone?
, morality and the role of the Church
Q & A
the period for John's Gospels, and you know how theologically rich
he is... that's how great he is - the Theologian, John the
Theologian, the first one of the Church - and he was in fact
referred to like that, because he was a student of Love:
"...being replete with that Love, he has likewise become replete
with theology", in the words of our hymnology.... whoever is filled
with love, also becomes filled with theology.
1. Love and
practical Orthodox theology
is no love for God there cannot be any theology; there can be
legalism, there can be justice, there can be..... but there can't be
theology. One must love God in order to theologize properly,
because if one doesn't love God, his theology will be hostile to man
and to God -
regardless if that person realizes this and regardless if he is
seated "upon a lofty theological throne".
the Lord to His disciples: thus I command you, to love one another"
it says in here. The only commandment that I give you is to
love one another. Of course we all know just how weighty this
commandment is, and that it is essentially the point where all of
Christian reality converges - all struggles, all ascetic labours.
purpose of ascesis in the Orthodox Church is not the acquisition of
charismas; it is not about acquiring virtues - no, not even virtues
- but to attain love. It is a struggle that is undertaken, because I
am aware that I do not love.
And he is
fortunate, who has perceived that he cannot love.
fortunate, who can perceive that his true illness lies in the fact
that he cannot love - to love sincerely, in the manner that love
truly is. When you see a couple that claims they love each
other and remains the same for entire decades, while they are each essentially confined to themselves, what kind of love is
that? Love is that which Abba Isaac describes as "I love
to love"... I want to love, I enjoy loving... but, unfortunately, it
is not an easy thing to do!
thing, love: how does one go about learning how to love? What
is this thing, this vast lesson about? The vast lesson is to firstly
love, and afterwards, when I have learnt to love, the charismas will
otherwise, charismas are catastrophic.
No matter what charisma I may receive, if I haven't learnt to move a
little in the direction of love (even if by falling and getting up
again), that charisma - whatever charisma it may be - will destroy
will also be used by me to destroy others, inadvertently.
acquisition of ascesis is the acquisition of love; Orthodox
asceticism is a social asceticism. Ascetics and monks don't head
for the mountains because they hate their fellow-man. If one does
this, he will be deluded as a monk. An ascetic goes out to
learn - to somehow depart from the turbulence, to sequester
himself in his inner cell, to remain carefree for a while, to become
indifferent, to relax a little from the cares of the world and to
observe his own weakness and seek the appropriate medicines.
That is what monasticism is about. It is not an indication of
automatic sanctity; it is however indicative of a person who
understands what he has to do. Because unless we too who live in
the world become likewise carefree, unless we too become less
preoccupied, unless we too discard cares and cease working for a
little while, unless we too don't confine ourselves to our spiritual
matters and our selves, we won't be able to figure things out for
a monk realizes that that's how things are, he immediately takes the
next big step. This step is an eschatological one. I can
praise monks, because I'm not a monk myself. If I was a monk, you
would say that I'm praising myself. But I am not a monk, so I can
say these things.
that's how one moves on, and that's where he realizes his huge
deficiency; in other words, one realizes that God - for some reason
that we can't know and can't imagine - is Love... and in fact an
ineffable love - a tremendously humble one... a love that is
inconceivably noble. In this way, I begin to become aware of
my own illness. And by understanding my weakness, I embark on
ascesis in order to move towards where the Lord is calling me.
why a monk relinquishes all ownership of things... we here don't have
that; instead, we have the law of needs, don't we? In other
words, what do we need? That's what we should seek. To possess
things, as though we don't have them, right? So, why does a
monk do it (relinquish ownership)? So that he can focus his mind
constantly on this matter: to follow the One Who shows you the inner
light and Who offers you the Kingdom - the path leading to the
2. God as a
communion of love
words - "to love one another" - "thus
I command you, to love one another" - is a comprehensive
command, which is why elsewhere we read that "...on this
commandment hinges the law and the prophets": everything
leads us there. When one has love, he has everything: "whether
there be tongues, they shall be abolished; whether prophecy, it
shall cease..." Only love shall remain forever - love, which
is God's manner of existence. It is the way that God understands
Himself. It is the manner in which He exercises His freedom,
within His very existence.
you see, God the Father is not the governor of the other (two)
Persons; He wants them consubstantial - He begets a consubstantial
Son, He begets a consubstantial Spirit. God is not a tyrant.
It is not "the Father" and "the Son" (separately). It is the Father
and the Son in the manner of "the Father in the Son" : "I am in the
Father, and He is in Me". Freedom, therefore, as love.
And freedom as love outwardly also.... He could have been a
tyrant, but He is not an oppressor....
phrase used by the Fathers here in order to explain this, is the
expression "analogy". Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, Saint
Maximus the Confessor and other Fathers say that the manner in
which God communicates with people is analogous. What does
"analogous" mean? It means that God does what He does,
to what a person needs and to who that person is.
uttermost reaches of that "proportionately" is the Incarnation - do
you understand? God enters into human affairs. Why does
He enter? So that He can support man - it is what man needs.
That is what he needs... man doesn't need orders. The reverse
case would be for God to stay "outside" - the way it is perceived in
Islam - and to give orders, from above.
don't have orders. What do we have? We have the introduction
of the First-born into the world.
comes along and He assumes.
What does He assume? Me, my death, my irrationality, that
which I am today... this body of sin - but not the sin itself - only
the intention. Except that His intention is free of sin. The
consequences of sin however (the death and corruption that I am
subject to), these are what He assumes.
of sacrifice is this? “He Who cannot be contained in anything,
was contained in flesh". Why? This means He enters
"proportionately", because of His love, into my difficulties, into
the condition of my fall. If one could only understand these
things, can you imagine how much he will love God? If he begins to
understand just how huge these things are? The Incarnation
wouldn't have been necessary. We could have just had a
celestial dynast, the way we did in the Old Testament... the way we
have Him in the Koran and (the way that) we are told by Islamists nowadays (the
Elder knows that I have been invited to participate in the
Islam-Christian dialogue) that they cannot perceive that the
Incarnation has taken place.... Do you have any idea what a
terrible thing that is? A world without the Incarnation is
a world without God; it is a world in which God is just the
projection of a dictator. That's how God would have been then...
He would not have bothered....
you do with a child of yours (assuming you have a child)? Don't you
help it to walk on all fours first? Right? At first you carry
it in your arms - you carry it, you don't order it to walk - and you
also feed it with milk. Then what do you give it? Mashed food.
Whoever of you here has children knows how the story goes.... the
infant then crawls on all fours, and you, instead of discouraging
it, will say "Try to walk! Yes! That's good! Come on!" Then it
will stand on its own two feet and you will be there to catch it and
hold it and eventually the child will become a champion and achieve
a 100-metre sprint in -say- 10 seconds. Essentially,
what you are doing is
ONLY assisting it. Well, that's what God does.
He enters into man's circumstances, into his
life, and becomes like him. You have seen how all parents
become silly dads and silly moms, and that if they don't, they are
probably sick in their souls... if both the parent and the child
don't... if you don't play with your child and you don't roll around
on the grass with your child, right? Your child won't be OK if you
don't enter into its life - the child will have a psychological
problem tomorrow, and you already have one.
So, you can see that this is the same as what God does. This
is what the Incarnation is; this is what real loving is. To love
in deed is like... well... we can't fully envisage what it is,
because as much as we may love - let's say - dogs, you will refuse
to become both a dog and a human in order to help dogs from within,
and thus lead them to their liberation. Do you see what I'm
saying here? This is a huge thing. It is that love -
that love proven by our acts - and that love is a really huge thing.
THAT is the kind of love that God wants from us also.
In other words, it is the kind of love that by
definition will enter. Enter where? Into the other's troubles.
This is the kind of love that will enter into the other's problems.
It will not keep out. That is why we don't have love...I myself
who is speaking to you don't have such love... it is not only
you, not any of us.... this is our illness. We need to
understand what God is and how God loves, in order to gradually
enter into that love.
healing of the Soul
We need to obtain blessing and grace in order to
enter into that kind of love: to love the other from within him.
From within him, not outside of him... to love like that...how can I
describe it... with fondness. Can you understand what I'm
saying? How different a thing that is! It is not the same as
that delightful image of love that we have been taught in our day
and are inclined to believe that we all are so easy when it comes to
loving and regard it to be something easy. Well, it is not
easy; it is necessary, we desire it, we are inclined towards it, but
it requires the grace of God for one to achieve it, to promote it,
so that it will bear fruits. It requires grace, it requires a
In one phrase alone it says "if the world hates you (plural), know
that it first hated Me". There is hatred in the world, and a
Christian will encounter hate also in the world. That is why
it says all the more that we should love each other, so that we
don't have the hatred of the world between ourselves also - isn't
that so? "If the world hates you, know that it first hated
me." A query is created here - a question: What does it
mean, when it says "the hatred of the world for Christ?" What
a strange statement... Well, the answer is given immediately
after: "if you were of the world, the world loves its own
kind... but you are not of the world, for I have chosen you from the
world, and for that, the world hates you."
You do not resemble the world, and I do not
resemble the world, and somewhere along the line, the world will
display hatred, if you were to find yourself in an environment the
way that I happen to be in myself - and perhaps others (I don't
know) in here/ In an environment of intellectuals, you will
see that you can easily talk about the values of the Gospel, about
love - for example. You can easily talk about the secondary
things of our faith, but, for the main ones - the essentials - like
the Virgin birth, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, you will
doesn't sound like the things we're accustomed to hearing", the
others will say to you; "Talk to me about social justice." (as if
there is any social justice, or, as if those who do talk about
social justice have anything to do with it!) Well anyway... We
cannot talk. Why? Because all these things overturn the world's
logic. Anything that overturns the world's logic is considered
dangerous by the world. Whatever it is that overturns the world's
logic requires extreme caution. You can't just go ahead and
talk, to go forth and talk about turning the other cheek: the other
will say "What slap on the other cheek are you talking about? Is
that possible? You're telling me that the servant and the master are
equals? What are you telling me?"
contains many things that are very difficult to grapple with - the
most daunting one being the Cross.
The Cross, because they can readily understand what it means to
fight against one's ideological opponents. But what it means to be
crucified for their sake - for me to actually ascend the Cross
instead of them - well, that is a shocker! It will be an
awesome thing, if the world comprehends what the Cross is... it is a
thorough stake that's driven into a person's natural intellect.
And God Himself being crucified? The One who by definition is
the authority? Don't forget that Christ was crucified for that
exact reason: because they wanted Him in order to crucify others:
"We hope He is the One who is destined to liberate Israel"... When
they saw Christ raising Lazarus from the dead, do you know what
crossed the Judeans' minds? "Ah, here we have a perfect army;
we will move forward, and He will be in the rear, raising all those
that are killed." Can you imagine an army like that?
Christ behind them, blessing; the Hebrew soldiers in front, and
Christ - presto! - just one blessing over each one who is killed and
the dead soldier stands up again. With an army like that, the
entire roman empire could easily have been seized, in a matter of
That was why they welcomed Him with palm fronds
on Palm Sunday. And when He said: "Look, this Cross is
ours, not the others'...", that "the Cross is intended for Me
to love the Romans, and not to annihilate them", the moment
arrived when they said to Him: "So, that's what you're about?"
.... A psychological mechanism - all that affection is reversed and
is turned into hatred, within seconds. Yes, or no? When
my ego's ideal is offended, then the one who is the embodiment of my
ego's ideal - according to psychoanalysis - immediately becomes the
object of maximum hatred, whereas a while ago it was the object of
maximum desire, of maximum love.
Well, from that moment on, the crucifixion itself
was a matter of a few days away. You can see what a formidable
thing it is, when your conscience confronts the conscience of
Christ. There is no chance that it won't. Even we at
some point in time (each one of us) will clash with Christ, and that
is the worst thing of all. We who are here, in this room, will
at some point in time clash with Christ.
If we don't, then
something is wrong.
If Christ is continually the sweet-talking
teacher, Who tells us all sorts of nice things and we cheerfully
follow Him, then something is amiss. We will eventually sense
that difficulty of the Cross. We will sense that the path
that Grace is leading us towards is a path that is tough on our
self-love. That is what we will feel, and it is the precise point
that our faith lies. This is the precise point where our
relationship will be tested, and if it passes, we will become
authentic disciples of Christ.
Do you understand? A critical moment will come, when
you will be asked to focus on that which -
in your self-love - you regard as precious. That will be
the moment of the Cross. We cannot expect someone else to be
crucified for us; we ourselves must be crucified. "In Me is the
world crucified" says Paul, "along with passions and desires" -
isn't that so? The world is crucified in me, and me in the world...
4. The way
of the Cross
formidable statement indicates that the Cross is a path, a road. In
other words, it is the road on which my self-love will be
hard-pressed... it will be pressured, pressured, pressured... and
from it, the true meaning of love and life will surface; from there
I will discover who I really am and who God really wants me to
become. I will discover it existentially, if you understand
what I mean. But, this is what the world hates; the world
wants you to vindicate it, nothing more. It wants you to say
"bravo" - isn't that so?
can see what the major political parties do, don't you? They
dupe the world. One of them comes along and says: "All you outcasts
- the hour of great vindication has arrived"; then the other says:
"All you outcasts of the outcasts will now be vindicated". And
so, this time the ones will be "vindicated", the next time around
the others will be "vindicated"; they come into power and each party
wreaks a portion of destruction. Isn't that so? It is so,
because this kind of vindication is unmerciful. There
is no love in it. It has the "right" to obtain that which I am
deprived of. Regardless if you do or don't actually deprive me
of it, I believe I am being deprived of it. So, I then come
into power and take back whatever it is that I believed you deprived
me of. We can therefore see that political parties and all the
rest basically want to vindicate man, but in the wrong sense.
They say: "It doesn't matter whether you're backward, or foolish, or
crooked, or avid, you're just fine the way you are." But
Christ comes along and tells him: "look, it is not possible from a
certain point onwards to continue to be like that". Woe to
a religious person
this kind of denuding!
have met very few religious people who could stand being bared like
that... they can't... everyone is asked "to support my narcissistic
triumph" - the spiritual father, the elder, the monastery - all
these are called upon to help my narcissistic ego - this image of
And when the hour of judgment comes, the "other person" is always to
blame. There are very few people (and this is something
that spiritual fathers and any others involved are familiar with)
who will stand before them and say: "I am to blame, I am to blame, I
am to blame" - and mean it, when they say they are to blame. They
are very few. Most Christians - as a French thinker had
once said - find a mysterious way of making themselves comfortable
on the Cross.... That is not essentially crucifying oneself.
Crucifying ourself means precisely to perceive the evil element
inside me, inside me, inside me - that which I am denying. It is
that which I am denying. All of psychoanalysis (and this is from
someone who you know began from there) was built upon this...
psychoanalysis was built upon that very denial - the denial that
involves the traumatizing of my narcissism.
Every defence mechanism therein aspires to preserve that
narcissistic homeostasis - that narcissistic balance of mine.
All of the defence mechanisms that we know in psychology aspire to
just that. Which means it is really important for one to be
Christian - that is, it is really important for one to place on that
narcissism a question mark and say to oneself: "Is it possible that
things aren't the way I think? Could I be the one to blame?" But
don't say "Could I also be the one to blame?" The word
"also" is enough to make me deviate again. So, I should really ask
myself: "Am I to blame?"
have noticed how they go after saints, by claiming: "He is
deluded".... Yet the response they get is: "Yes, I was deluded
indeed. I am deluded..." And you see such incomprehensible
reactions - like Abba Joseph the hesychast, who took a stick and
began to beat himself, saying: "Be silent, you deluded one!
You are deluded! Take that, you deluded one!"... (The Holy Spirit
teaches these things)... He acted like that because he hadn't
attained the fullness of Grace, and situations like these are very
lofty ones. For others. For us, things are much easier,
because we have the Cross, we display it, we use it wherever it
is needed to exorcise evil, but
we do not climb onto
We take great pains to not climb onto it...
right... "I have a right..." Abba Dorotheos had once said: "If
the will is combined with the right, man inevitably becomes a beast".
You cannot handle that type of person: "I demand and I also have the
right....". If Christ were to say: "But I too have a right to
be below the Cross", what would have been the outcome? He
would have become just another warlord, dividing the world into His
enemies and His friends, isn't that so? The enemies would then
kill the friends, the friends would kill the enemies, right?
And there would be one more case of major bloodshed again on earth.
But, by conceding to be raised onto the Cross, He is the only One
who accepted to make the sacrifice and He did, "so that in Himself
He would restore everything" - He would create the restoration of
everyone. Do you understand? He would restore and
reconcile (that's what he means by "restore") everyone.
spread Your arms and did join whatever was previously apart"....
Right? Do you understand? He did not make any followers;
He related to everyone. He related Himself to His persecutors,
and at His hour of death He said: "...for they know not what
they are doing..." Do you realize what a formidable
thing that was? To refuse to be separated from those who were
killing Him, and to make evident to them that "this is
genuine love, and this love is salvific". That is why you can
see that the universality of this Sacrifice is -precisely- the
grandeur of Christianity. Christ did not make any followers, the way
that Mohammed did.
they persecuted me, they will also persecute you."
Right? "If they kept my words, they will also keep yours".
Clear-cut things. "If you proceed along My path, know that it
will be thus; but they will do all these things to you for My name's
sake, for they did not know the One Who sent Me.."
Note something here: "they will do all these things
(He says), because they believe I am just an ordinary common
man and they don't know who sent me - they don't know the Father,
who is behind it."
difficulty - of seeing God in Christ - is the other huge problem for
people. Is Christ God? I remember before entering the
Church how I had no problem accepting Christ as a teacher, Who - OK
- said quite a few things, maybe overdoing it a little in some
cases... fantasizing about Himself was greater than His powers,
obviously... nevertheless, I accepted Him like that... well, next to
Buddha, next to Mohammed, let's include Him there too...
when I began to show more interest in Christianity, I remember
having a conversation with a very great man of God - he was a pupil
of father Porphyrios - and telling him: "Look, I have no problem
with regard to Christ; OK, I can read the New Testament, I can place
it into everything that Plato says..." - to which he replied (and I
can still remember the impression it made on me): "No", he
said, " that's not the point; the point is that Christ is God."
And that was when I realized that I didn't believe!
I said to
him: "Is that what Christianity is?"
He replied: "Yes, it
is. Christianity begins, from the moment that Christ is God.
Everything else cannot be called 'Christianity'." And it's
true: you can read the New Testament as much as you like; you can
take away the faith in Christ as God; you can say that the
Resurrection was a misunderstanding by the Disciples on account of
their love for Him; you can say that the miracles were just an
exaggeration.... but then it's over! You are no longer a Christian.
well read the New Testament... That's what Muslims also say
nowadays: "We concede that Christ was a prophet".... they have no
problem at that point... "but don't tell us that He is also God."
God doesn't have a son, He doesn't send Him.... He sends
prophets etc., but God doesn't Himself actually enter the human
condition..." Thus, Christianity begins from the moment that
Christ is God. From the moment that I look upon Christ's
divinity inside His humanity, from that moment - and only then -
does Christianity begin to be Christ's Church; The Church,
which is fashioned by Christ (and not as though He is just another
of the prophets, but as God Himself Who assembles) implies that He
is the One who brings together all of Creation. And He
assembles it in His Body, precisely because He is God - He has the
right to do that, whereas we don't have the right to create
churches, isn't that so? We can't make two or three followers
for ourselves there; we will depart from that "church", and the
followers will also depart from it. "Church" implies that
the One Who fashioned the world is the One Who assembles the people
- Who renders them a corpus, a body, which He engulfs in His
do not look upon Christ as being the Son of God; instead we see in
Him a teacher, and that is why the world crucifies Christ. In fact,
it doesn't see (and this is the most delicate point) that God could
only be God in that way. He can only be God for that reason
alone: because He has that kind of love, that kind of behaviour...
this is what we don't see...
a slandering of God hiding behind this - ie., that God must surely
be a dynast, that He must be a mandator; He must be a judge,
and not a God that would enter into my irrationality and my death:
"God surely cannot surpass His superior status and become someone
like me. God is not that free - to the extent of freeing
Himself of His superiority, and because of His love, enter into my
circumstances. I cannot accept such a God; a God like that
makes me feel uneasy." Do you understand what I'm saying?
Have you ever tried to love a very haughty man and humble yourself
before him? He will feel uneasy - he won't be able to understand
that... It is because we are too haughty - a God like that is not
easily accepted by us. Can you understand that? We expect a
God who whips us, the way that we whip those who are below us.
A God like that we can comprehend much better, which is why we often
Islam is far more
natural as a religion
- much closer to fallen man -
and that Islam will have a great future in
Europe. It will have a superb future in Europe, because it is such a
It tells you that you are a loser; it tells you that you have a
kismet that you cannot escape from; that there is a celestial dynast
who gives commands and if you obey them, he will make sure that you
will have a good time..." He will provide you with four or
five women, he will give you authority over others. he will allow
you to wage a holy war (jihad), right? Just as long as you
don't enter within yourself; don't work internally. Understand?
Don't do any work inside yourself, because faith is a purely
extrovert thing here. Do you see? Then there is a
"paradise" that awaits you in the end - similar to the one that you
desire, with the "houri" maidens of paradise, the mountains of
pilafs and all the rest.... Strange things... and yet, they
are all so close to fallen man...
But these are difficult matters, which is why they are for God. They
aren't human imaginings. Mohammed's God resembles Plato's God;
he resembles the God of the Old Testament; he resembles the God of
oriental religions (if such an individual exists at all)... He is
just a human invention... He is a God in the image of my own
conceit, my own disastrous fall... He is a God that resembles me.
God's humility is His love - a thing that I cannot comprehend. That
is why I can't understand deep down why the Incarnation was
necessary and how it took place. The event of the Incarnation
makes me feel uneasy. Can you understand this? Just like a
very haughty person is made to feel uneasy if you went up to him and
ministered to him and said:
"I am ministering to you, here, free of charge"
He would say: "Now, what do you want in return?"
"No, you definitely expect something in return"
And if he didn't succeed in finding the reason you were serving him,
he would act like a psychoanalyst and tell you that:
"What you have now is a latent erotic desire for me, which you
cannot however express for one reason or another - social or other
reason - and so you are expressing it as a ministering service; you
are masking it." ....As if you had to imperatively find some
self-serving excuse for your offer... but he just couldn't handle
selfless ministering and love. Well, that's how we too can't handle
the Incarnation, because it doesn't belong to our horizon. We can't
become incarnated for the dogs we love, or for the cockroaches or
the mosquitoes... to become mosquito-men and cockroach-men
ourselves, as much as we may love. Do you know how horrendous
that is? It is horrendous, because it contradicts my logic deep
inside me, and when I do acknowledge it, I am crushed. That is
the reason saints are crushed. All saints feel crushed.
Why crushed? Because to them, the Incarnation is a reality;
because they have seen Christ as God and as Man and once you've seen
that, well, that will be the end of all
excuses. "Ah" (you will say to yourself), "things
are really serious here; far different to what I had imagined." As a
friend of mine in the outside world once told me: "I understand (he
said) - this thing isn't a joke." At first, we take this
lightly, like a quaint anecdote or myth. Then, when we actually see
it (as I told you), we see God's power and wisdom and love, and we
see nothing less than that.
"Whosoever hates Me also hates My Father"... this is another
theological point... this text is so thick with theology... It says
that whoever hates Him, is in essence also hating the
Father...because His Father is the One that is being introduced; He
is the Father of such a Son, and He condescends to a manifestation
of that kind. Thus, whoever hates Him, also hates the Father,
because he doesn't know Who He is. He believes that the Son is
a holy dynast - a gendarme, a judge, a celestial dictator. And
that is how he also slanders the Father: "If I had not done those
things among you, which no-one else had done, then I am to blame.
But now, they have both seen Me and have hated Me and My Father."
(John 5:24) What He is saying here is that if He hadn't done
anything, they would have been right in believing something like
that; it would have been only human. But He did all the acts that He
did; and people witnessed His acts, and yet they came to hate that
method of Theophany. They hated that kind of God.... Those people
are just asking to be whipped; they want to be flagellated - a God
that will whip them, and will give them a whip so they can whip
others... They can't accept a God that crucifies Himself voluntarily
for our sake, and who asks us to crucify ourselves for others. Do
you see that? People like that want the kind of God that they
have in their own minds, right? And that's what is so
"but that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their law,
that they hated me for nothing"... This doesn't mean anything more,
except that it says "they hated Me for free - they hated Me
unfairly, precisely because they didn't understand". "When the
Paraclete comes, Whom I shall send to you by the Father - the Spirit
of Truth, Who proceeds from the Father - He shall testify about
Me..." Now we have here another significant chapter:
pneumatology (pertaining to the Spirit). "These matters" He
says "are for the present. You don't understand them very well at
present; it is only human that you don't understand them, because
the Holy Spirit has to come along, so that you are enabled to
understand things they way they actually are." It is a fact,
that the understanding of such matters passes through the state of
enlightenment. One can't comprehend these things with ordinary human
logic. They must pass through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.
One can ask for that understanding, in which case, he will
essentially be asking for the Holy Spirit to also provide him with
the inner information that Christ is God; and that such is the way
of Theophany (the "viewing" of God); that this is the way that God
acts; that this is the kind of thing that God is; this is what the
God you seek is like, but it can only be so, if it is done in the
Holy Spirit. In other words, it cannot be attained just like that -
I cannot achieve it on my own. I cannot attain this kind of
theology on my own; there is no human power that can lead me to that
kind of theology - to the theology of such a God. I told
you that the human boundary is the Old Testament or Islam.... that
is the limitation of man: a God who commands, who orders, who
directs, and me the one who beneath him offers the appropriate
obedience or an attempt to be disciplined... that is this God,
nothing more... The God Who enters, Who loves, Who becomes
incarnate, Who steps into danger, Who ascends the Cross, is
unfamiliar. It is the Spirit Who teaches us that God is somewhat
different - the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit arrives,
this knowledge becomes embedded inside man and gradually becomes an
experience. But this does not happen - as I told you - unless man
humbles himself, unless he asks for God's help, and unless he
becomes aware of his own deficiency. It is just not possible.
"And you shall bear
witness that from the beginning you have been with me. I have said
these things to you, so that you do not be scandalized. They shall
excommunicate you; but the time will come, when all those who kill
you will be offering worship in glorification of God."
"They will drive you
out of the synagogues; they will kill you"! See here? He is
prophesying about the martyrdom of Christians here. "And they
believe that they are offering worship to God". Which God is
that? It is Moloch, the God that they have in their own minds. This
God, who is indeed a superior God, is the image of my utmost egotism
and the image of my utmost hardheartedness. It is the God whom I
understand and the one that I am worthy of. Because the
other God - of Christ - is a ridiculous God. This is what
Christ says: "I am presenting you with a
God that is ridiculous for human measures; too delicate
and too noble to be comprehended." (That is, compared to our
barbarity, it is so delicate and so noble that it is ridiculous.)
I don't know how many of you have read
Dostoevsky's "Idiot"... Is there
anyone who hasn't read him? Perhaps then most of you have seen
that movie with Tom Hanks - "Forest Gump"... You will notice that it
is overwhelming. I believe that the film director was inspired
by Dostoevsky, when he said - what? That "this infinite giving of
his, to offer yourself and to give yourself to another, can
only originate from idiocy." Thus, Forest Gump is a
person who is entirely defenceless in the face of human wisdom; he
is entirely foolish; he is an idiot... but as an idiot, he does some
very great things. So the theological question that is posed
when you see the movie, is: "Could it be, it is this idiocy
precisely which does all the great things in the world?" It is
what the Apostle Paul says: "the folly of God"... "the
folly of God" (he says) "is wiser than the wisdom of men";
because "He has chosen the foolish". "The folly of God" he remarks,
and says: "We proclaim Christ crucified; to the Judeans, it is a
scandal and to the Hellenes, folly."
Hellenes it was stupidity. If you ever read the Hellene
philosophers - what they say about the Cross... yesterday I happened
to be reading Celsus, and they are so abusive! "What Cross?!
they say. They have vacated the meaning of the world. The One is
transcendental; the Logos is high up. What are you saying, about
Crosses and the like? It is the destruction of philosophy; the
destruction of the human spirit in the name of Christianity!"
That neo-Platonist philosopher, Celsus, is abusing them grievously -
do you understand? And Paul says: "To the Judeans, it is a
scandal" (to the Judeans, it is a scandal that the Supreme God
- Yahwe - would descend to be among us) and "to the Hellenes, folly"
(to the Hellenes, it was seen as foolishness). But to us, it is
God's wisdom and peace and power and "the folly of God is wiser than
men". This folly of God (because it is folly)
is therefore a
which means that it is by far wiser than the wisdom of humans,
which is indeed very cruel.
Can you understand what I'm saying? Today I'm telling you difficult
things, right? That which makes us kneel in church is
precisely that sensation, you know... We don't kneel because we are
encountering that supreme element which we are afraid of; we kneel
for a different reason (whoever of us does kneel, because that too
is another big issue - how many people do kneel, in the existential
sense). When we do kneel, what we are kneeling before is
that folly of God - that huge thing that God did - that
indescribable thing, that unexpected thing, which no-one expected.
This has not yet been assimilated by the world. There are some
who say "We are living in a meta-Christian era". It is my
opinion that we are in a pre-Christian era; this thing has not yet
been assimilated - understand? And because it has not yet been
assimilated, it cannot bring forth fruits - all the fruits that it
can bring forth. Right? It is not easy to assimilate. It
is a huge section within History, this thing... We expected God to
be different, and He shows up totally different... He reveals
Himself differently, and that "differently" is something -as
I told you- that will take all of us here an entire
lifetime to comprehend it.
As for those who think that they do understand, well, they are the
ones who will take much longer than the others to understand.
take much longer, whereas those who are certain that they don't
understand and are trying to understand it, will shorten that road.
But the others who think they do understand... well, the other
day my daughter was telling me that they organize catechist lessons,
they organize camping excursions,
and the things the
catechist teachers say - well, those children (whom no-one has
taught of course) are most of the time more dangerous than the bad
habits that they strive to remove from the children that they talk
Do you know how difficult a thing theology is? Do you know
what a difficult thing it is, to say the right things in the realm
of the Church? Believe me, it is not at all easy; it is
ponderous - not an easy thing at all - because most of us confine
ourselves to saying the minimum of the things which we understand.
And we say them as though they are the only things, which is why
Christ's sermon nowadays has been slandered. That is why, when
a priest speaks nowadays, people say: "Uh-oh! I'm leaving now - the
priest is going to start with all that priest stuff." And the
priest will say... he will talk about a God Who is afar from the
world, Who hates the world, Who envies man and Who tells man "don't
here, don't there, don't this, don't that..." Well, I want to
live free, you guys! What's all this "don't, don't, don't..."?
Have you got a path of life to propose? Have you got a path of life
that you can offer me? Whoever does have a path of life to offer,
will be hearkened to... and he will be hearkened to when he never
God and religious mentality
talk to people that none of you expected or imagined would be people
with queries. And yet, they are the ones with the profoundest of
queries and the most in-depth quests... it is with those people that
I have a better understanding than anyone else. They
understand. They understand, because they are seekers - right?
Church people are rarely seekers - unless they have in rare
case entered the Church as seekers. More often than not,
they are people who are looking to be mollycoddled, to be covered,
to be hand-fed - nothing more... they only want all those
self-understood, simple things, along with self-vindication.
Thus, we merely are a research item.... but, will we discover
something more that way?
shall link this to today's Gospel reading (because I am tempted to
do so, as it is the end-product of the things we spoke of): the
paralytic man. Today's story is of a very unfortunate person.
What does it say here? The man in the story says: "I have been
sitting here for years - for thirty-eight years..."
Thirty-eight years, sitting right next to a pool of water, without
anyone to be found who will give you a kick and throw you in so you
can be healed... I mean, that must be one of the worst cases of
torture.... And yet, let me tell you, every time I read that Gospel
passage, something overcomes me and I get pretty annoyed with that
Do you know what a
terrible thing it is, that nobody wants to even give you a shove?
Can you just imagine what a horrible thing that is?
You know, we normally focus on the tragic aspect only - that is,
when he says "I have no person...". But his man - if you stop to
think about it - who has no-one to give him a push into the water -
have you stopped to think that it may well be possible that he
himself may have hated all the others around him immeasurably?
Do you know what it is, to have no-one to give you a slap in the
face at a given moment? Couldn't it be very possible, that you
yourself have made sure that you won't have anyone there for you?
Not even to give you a push? Because most people - when
approaching the paralytic - will usually say "oh, the poor man... he
hasn't got anyone..." Well, that's how we are - we aren't
close to the unfortunate ones either... That is the moral
interpretation here. Couldn't the existential interpretation
of this case however signify what I just mentioned? In other words,
that this may be a case of a person who, despite his infirmity, has
not "softened" at all. Thirty-eight whole years in the same
spot, and he didn't make a single friend? Sitting for
thirty-eight whole years in the same place, and not having made a
single friend? Not having shared your suffering with ANYONE?
Not having shown compassion yourself towards another person?
Which other person? Well, all those that were right next to
you and were suffering just like you...
had made friends with someone, wouldn't that friend have pushed you
into the water? If he was a friend, wouldn't he have waited
for hours and days until the water was troubled? Yes or no? In
other words, could that paralysis - the infirmity of that man - have
been an infirmity of the soul, and not a bodily infirmity only?
That is the question that comes to mind every time.... perhaps I
think of it in that light because of my mentality and my tendency to
look at the obverse side of things a little bit more (on account of
my mentality as a former psychologist). But the thing is, that
aggressiveness is not unilateral. That display of indifference
towards the other person is a form of aggressiveness, you know...
His environment is displaying aggressiveness towards him, by not
placing him in the pool. This kind of aggressiveness is rarely
unilateral. It usually requires two poles in order to exist. And by
the looks of it, it is quite possible in this case that the other
pole did exist - and in fact it may have been the more dangerous
pole of the two - ie., that this man may have striven to remain
totally isolated and likewise had no love for others - that is, to
likewise have had no desire to help someone else into the pool.
Our solitariness is not attributed to the others' meanness only.
Our solitariness is often attributed to the fact that we ourselves
do not desire to become the others' neighbour. To say that
the other person is not my neighbour and that he doesn't help me is
only a half-truth; the other half is that I don't want to help, or
to endeavour to make that man my neighbour - to solace him... Do you
understand what I'm saying? And that is even more tragic.
This man is doing a penance - the penance of his own solitude. He is
doing penance for his own cruelty, believe me. Thirty-eight whole
years, and he was incapable of making one single friend that could
feel compassion for his tribulation... This is a terrible
incompetence; one that touches the boundaries of a spiritual
disability. Why? Because when I am happy, it is easy
for me to not need friends. When I am miserable, I am in need of
friends. I am forced to. That is normally when a person
needs to have friends, and yet, this person - despite his disability
- has made no friends, he doesn't have a single person with him.
So what does Christ do? He comes along and deprives him of
that kick. Why? Well, He doesn't give him a kick;
instead, He says: "pick up your bed and walk" - as though saying to
him "your penance is over; go and assimilate these things at
home".... and it was not because the man said "Lord, push me into
the water"; notice how he didn't say "throw me into the pool", nor
did he say "why don't You take my place?"... the man did not beseech
Him at all. Why didn't he beseech Christ? Because he had not
learnt to have relationships; he had not learnt how to ask because
he himself didn't give... he hadn't learnt this kind of transaction
- of sentiment and of relationships... he doesn't know what it's
Al he says to Christ
is: "behold, I've been here for thirty-eight years - just sitting
here." The Gospel doesn't say something like: "....I
have no person... although I come here, another one before me
descends into the pool"... (He tried on his own) ....well, why don't
you push someone else into the water, and next year he will push you
in it, in turn...." Yes, or no? Do you understand what I
Did you happen to see
the TV program that I had made with professor Yannaras on Easter
Day? If so, you will have heard the story that I told at one point,
about the room? Do you remember it?
This ascetic had asked his guardian angel one day, to tell him
what "Paradise" and "Hell" are. He was very curious to learn
this. So the angel "transported" him to a very big room, like this
one. Now just imagine this room with a huge table - one that
is so large, that it is almost as large as the room itself...
At the centre of the table there was food, and each person who was
seated at that table had a huge spoon that reached - say - fifteen,
or maybe twelve metres away... from here to there. Each of
them reached the food at the centre of the table, but they were all
distraught, they all quarreled among themselves in there, and they
all ended up hungry. They all managed to scoop up the food,
but when they tried to bring back their spoon, the food was
spattered on the wall and they were unable to eat it. Others
brought the spoon towards themselves but it collided against the
wall to the left or the right... those spoon handles were far too
long... Just imagine the food sitting there on the table, steaming
hot, with a delicious aroma, and everyone dipping into it to eat,
then bringing back the spoon and all of them eventually quarreling,
swearing and yelling at each other in there.
So the angel says to him: "THIS is Hell. Now let me
show you Paradise".
So they went to another, identical room, with a table exactly the
same as the other one, with people sitting around it holding the
same kinds of long spoons, with the food in the middle of the table,
and yet everyone was absolutely happy - all of them were singing and
"What's going on here?" he asked the angel.
"This here (he replied) is Paradise."
"And how is it different to Hell?"
"Ah! In here, they have learnt to feed each other."
8. Are you
so stupid, that you can't love anyone?
merely feed the one that I can reach... Neat, isn't it?
Do you see how great that is? Push someone into the pool this
year, and God will push you in next year, or the year after, or in a
short while. Every now and then, the water was stirred up - I
don't know every when it happened, how often... it doesn't say every
year, it says from time to time... It could have taken place
every two weeks, or three, or every month.
that stupid, that you can't love anyone?
a deal: "Come here, my brother, let me throw you into the water
now, and you can throw me in afterwards." He couldn't even
make a simple deal - that's how alienated an existence he was.
Understand? And then Christ comes along and heals him - do you
know for what reason? It is to tell him: "Now look here - I am
healing you right now, therefore (note this point) there is at least
one person in the world for you, and that is Me.... Now see that you
do the same, and likewise approach other people." That
is the lesson He was giving that man. "I have no person..."
No more excuses! Here is the first person who is appearing
before you and is also performing a miracle on you. Get up,
and from now on, cease that "I have no person..." You now have
someone. So, from now on, make sure that you change yourself, and
become a person for someone else.
day, when we all find ourselves together in some place, if you
happen to see that you are being fed by others, it will mean that
you are in heaven - and do you know just how theological an
observation that is? That is exactly how Saint Maximus the
Confessor - in writing and speaking theologically - describes End
Times. He tells us that everyone will be resurrected.
Everyone will be resurrected; since Christ was resurrected, then
Creation will be resurrected. Everyone will be resurrected,
but not everyone will participate. They will have a view of
God (they will be able to "see the food in the middle") but very few
will partake and eat of that food. The ones who do eat - who do
partake of those delicacies - say that they are living in Paradise.
Those who can see but cannot partake of that feast, that is Hell.
That's what Saint Maximus tells us. That is the official
teaching of the Fathers about Paradise and Hell:
the sight and the partaking is called
Paradise, while the sight without partaking is called Hell.
words, God does not punish anyone;
God does not chastize;
there is no Hell on God's part.
This is a
Patristic teaching, which you will find in many Fathers. God
does not punish. "Hell" is that which you have taught yourself
to do in God's realm, and in God's affairs. That's how you
learnt to live... you aren't aware of this thing and it scares
you... it is called 'narcissistic panic'. We see it in
couples, in relationships, quite often. As soon as he takes hold of
the spoon with the intention to feed the other person, he becomes
panic-stricken! "I'm not going to eat! I'm not going to eat
now - I'm will be depriving myself of this...." And that's
where he loses his life. But if he conquers that fear (this is
where the Cross lies) and says: "I don't care if I die, as
long as the one across from me lives", then, after a while - when
the other person does recover, he will reciprocate by taking the
spoon and feeding him in return; that is when he will remark "My
God, this is what life is!" That's the formidable threshold
that we arrive at.... Formidable.... formidable.... I think
spiritual fathers have significant experiences such as these...
ago, I met up with a couple which had deprived each other for two
and a half years.... Two youngsters - very young people and very
classy... Anyway, those two had stopped having sexual relations for
two and a half years, which resulted in a huge problem... very, very
serious... So I began to examine the matter. They had come to
me, after they had reached the boundaries of madness, after they had
gotten sick, after becoming exhausted...that's when they came to me.
Anyway, we got to talking. I could see that I had two people here
who loved each other. But - notice this - each was punishing the
other. The one had offended the other... she wanted to somehow be
superior to him, and he wanted to be superior to her... there was a
certain competitiveness between them, and they reached the point of
not wanting to ask each other for the slightest thing. (Pay
attention to what I'm telling you here, because these things are
awesome and bizarre at the same time...) The slightest thing, so
that she won't feel belittled, or he seem inferior, that their very
sex life no longer functioned (because one of the two had to make
the first move). Do you see? Because someone had to
start it off. Well, that "someone" didn't exist! Do you see?
Do you understand what I'm saying now? Do you see the situations
that we bring ourselves into? They were punishing each
other with an erotic and an emotional embargo, and as a result both
of them became sick - as I told you - because they had that
terrible problem. As I told you, this is called "narcissistic
panic": I pick up the spoon and I say "this is mine - it is
for me only.' I make a move to give it to the other person and
I tremble. That's self-love; that 's the name of this sickness...
This is my sickness - the feeding of the other person - because if
that person eats, then what will I eat? Meantime, the food is
diminishing, so, what if that person asks for a second bite and a
third one? What if he asks for ten bites and only gives me one
in return? What will become of me? Do you understand
this? How awesome these things are! They are the things
which convince me that the Gospel - as I've told you - is not
according to man... it is not written by man... these aren't human
things... If they were, we would have discovered them before.
But we didn't. If you read Plato, you may read whatever you
want, but you won't find these things anywhere in there! Anywhere!
The only things you will read in there are about power, punishment,
centralism, and they are full of blood and battles... that's what
you'll find in there - nothing more. You will find nothing
else in there - this wisdom - it is nowhere in there... nowhere,
which is why we need to preserve it like the apple of our eye,
because without it, I don't know if we can ever escape... I don't
mean how to save ourselves; I mean how we would be able to tolerate
everything, the way things are today, and the way they will be
for our children...the young children that I see nowadays (I too
have children, like you do)... And you see these youngsters, you see
their schoolmates and they are scary. I ask myself "how will
they ever live together? How will they ever be friends? How is it
possible?" You know, in a few years from now (and this is what
I also tell my students and they wonder),
revolutionary act that you will be able to do (in -say- 20 years, or
maybe even sooner), is to get married.
Whoever does get married, they will say "Wow! A hero!
How about that! Awesome! He got married!" Can you
imagine that? What does television say? You must have noticed
how it suggests that we continuously enter new relationships... to
aspire to what? Responsibilities? We need only draw up a
contract in the worst case. If the other partner is overly
demanding, or if the situation seems a bit difficult, or if the
attachment is perhaps a little too intense, well, we prepare a
contract for those cases also. But where is the "feeding of the
other person" here? Where is the support of the "other"?
Where is the child - that poor, afflicted child? How can there
be children in such relationships? Can there be children that way?
If you don't deposit love for your child,
deposit...deposit....deposit.... is it ever going to yield anything
for you? That poor child will also become a demented thing,
and one day, it will even decapitate you if it can... it will
despise you and will depart, only to become something worse.
9. Love ,
morality and the role of the Church
issue is that things aren't going at all well, as you know.
I'm not concerned
with morality... morality can get lost, for all I care...
It is existence itself that I care about; I am concerned,
ontologically, inasmuch as people won't be able to live properly
in a few years from now, and they will be running away from reality
with narcotics... and as an American rock star pointed out, when
they can no longer tolerate drugs, they will return to reality once
again.. But that's not the point; if this wisdom is not
brought to light, what do we put in its place? Let me look for it...
let me look for it... let me look for it... well, if you can't find
it anyway, will you merely state that "there's a way out"?
Take a look around you... everyone is traumatized.... everyone is
wounded... and when you approach them, they all form one big
wound... and you hear them say "nobody understands me... so-and-so
did this to me... she did that to me..." and so on, and so on... all
this thing... just one big complaint - like an audible droning sound
- a lament...
those who are insensitive will, at a later stage - when they have
reached old age and sickness has found them - tend to shrink
back; they are tormented and they complain more than the others, as
you know... At first they pretend to be tough, but after they're 40,
45 and 50, such torture and such suffering and complaining begins,
that it makes you wonder where that supposedly tough person had all
that whining hidden inside him... Understand? A person cannot
live differently, and he becomes even lonelier and deserted and
isolates himself even more....
the biggest discovery of our time - you need to know that this will
be it, in these years that are left.... In the following years
that remain, those who remain alive and sane (because we can't know
that - so many things will be happening) - they will be
discovering this here truth; this will be their great discovery...
But the ones who will be discovering it (the Book of Revelations
mentions it somewhere, if you recall) will be those who are coming
from the great tribulation. Have you read it? They come
along with glorifications, it is said. When that final image
of the celestial kingdom appears, do you recall how it speaks of the
thousands who "have come from the great tribulation"? What is
the meaning of that statement? It is the people who have come
out of immense sorrows on this path. And as I told you, I think this
is one of the privileges of our era and the eras to come: There
is no way you can convince a child that its mother has justifiably
not loved it. Can you understand this? That child is sick
and it is wounded. Either it will become a saint or a
killer... most probably the latter.... There is no way you
can tell a couple that your wife is justifiably scorning you and
cheating on you, day and night. You can't say that. The other
person already feels trampled on... Do you understand? There is no
way, and because there is no way, the only way is this one here: the
Gospel. There is no other way for a person to live, unless
someone discovers that way and tells us in time... but even so, it
will be a way that includes the word "sacrifice" in it - sacrifice.
There must always be a Forest Gump who will leave his mind open so
that we can camp in the vacancies of his mind - in the folly of his
naiveté, in the folly of his love. If no such person exists, we will
devour each other between us and until the last one remaining
commits suicide, because what would he do afterwards, all alone?
because all these things are apparent in our day; their traces are
visible... they can be seen, even in Greece. In the past, we
used to talk about this phenomenon happening overseas, but now it is
apparent here too. It is more than obvious, if you watch TV. You can
see there - right away - how today's families seem to be heading in
that kind of a direction. And if we don't tackle this in a
spiritual manner, well, it will be something in whose black hole of
misfortune our entire society will eventually sink. The Church has
this role: She is a workshop in which all these things are healed
and man takes another direction. Then he begins to "feed the other",
to pick up that long spoon, then two; the one will not seem enough,
so he will proceed to "feed" everyone. And what is even more
awesome, is that afterwards, he will be fed in turn by everyone -
which is why the saints are those individuals who are satiated by
love and meaning, while the rest of us die alone and desolate,
having enjoyed on our own whatever we thought we should have
need to give some thought to all these things.....
is where I finish my talk... this is where I stop. So, I will
extend my greetings to you all; if you have anything to say, or the
I would like to say something as a continuation of what Father
Sophronios said. Father Sophronios says that the path to
perfection relates to God's perfect love; which means that, for
someone to be able to enter the realm of perfection - as he calls it
- he must enter the realm of ignominy - the way that Christ
did - and he brings up that example of an inverted pyramid, where
God reached the uppermost limits of the summit of the pyramid of
values (let's say of human values), but this was an upside-down
pyramid, and as such, He bears the weight of all the world on Him.
That is the perfect ignominy of God; the perfect act of humbling
Himself... which is the direction that every man must be led
towards, in order to find that path of perfection in the Holy
Spirit. He cannot find the path with his logic. In fact,
he says - with regard to monks: "Any monk - any candidate for
monkhood - turns to monasticism taking with him the wealth of his
logic and his will, must see to discarding that wealth, because if
he embarks on monastic life like that, it will be very difficult for
him to find the Faith's path to salvation. The "vacating" by
means of humbling oneself - where God condescended to bodily be
stripped of His garments (just imagine!), then be placed in a tomb,
and descend into Hades... It is said that this was His path of
descent, and it is this same path that each Christian person must
likewise descend, otherwise he will not be able to step onto the
path of ascent. The path of descent is up to us - it is
subject to our freedom - whereas the path of ascent is up to God.
Because we will meet with Him in the furthermost depths of the
earth, from whence He will elevate us, above the skies. Human
nature (he says) cannot - as much as we may pressure it and force it
- be extorted and thus reach the way of salvation that God offers,
as father Nicholas mentioned earlier; however it can "descend" here
of its own free will once again - with the help of God - because
egotism and self-love cannot be easily extricated so that it
(nature) can reach that furthermost point (can dare to), because it
is a matter of daring for it to soar like an eagle at such heights
that it can observe the void between the eagle and the earth -
observe it safely, with peace and tranquility. Otherwise (he
says) it will walk (and be correlated) alongside human logic -
according to which it would be inconceivable for it to think it
could ever concede itself, its sense of judgment and its volition to
another person; it would perceive that as an extreme display of
servitude and a substandard -say- annihilation of itself. On the
other hand, someone who applies this teaching of Christ without
comprehending it, will place it outside his logic simply because
Christ Himself said so. Then (he says) the Holy Spirit comes
and reveals to him that immense mystery - the mystery that ascent
comes after a descent. A ball must be thrown down, in order
for it to bounce upwards.
leave, are there any pressing questions?
Father Nicholas, you
told us that the Christ of the Gospel is not like the God of Plato,
the God of Islam, the God of the Old Testament... you mentioned this
twice. Isn't the God of the Old Testament like the God of the
is indeed the God of the Old Testament, and you did well to mention
it because it requires a certain clarification; because the Old
Testament is actually revealed in the New - and He is the God of the
Old Testament. This was once said to me publicly, and I said the
same thing that you just did. The Old Testament on its own, if
it isn't interpreted in the New Testament, well, that God in there
Who continuously promises that He will send a Messiah Who will save
the world but is not seen as keeping that promise, well, that God
eventually becomes a callous God. That is why you see that
the biggest atheists of the 20th century are Jewish. Marx is a
Jew; Freud is a Jew; and many others are also Jews. Spinoza before
him is a Jew - one or two centuries before him... Understand?
Many Jews become atheists, because God seems to be toying with them;
He resembles a sadist God, because He continuously promises
He will save Israel, and yet, no Messiah appears... But if you
realize that Christ IS the Messiah, the whole of the Old Testament
becomes an illuminated source, which points towards the New
Testament - understand? I am referring to the Jewish religion,
the way it actually is today - with the Old Testament being read the
way they do, and not the way that we read it. We read it
"through" the New Testament. We can say: "There it is! Look - He
promised it, and He kept His promise!"
Elder: Not only
"through" the New Testament, but also through the Prophets.
The Prophets opposed the Jews, just as the Jews were opposed to the
...AND through the Prophets... I told you that: the way we see it,
the way we read it, the way that Christ reads it, the way the
Apostles analyze it, the way the Gospels analyze it, the Old
Testament is fulfilled and manifested in the Person of Christ.
HE is the Messiah, and He says it Himself a thousand times... "It is
Me Whom you have been waiting for - Me, Me, Me..." He said it
so explicitly: "Do not wait for anyone else; other false
Christs will come; they will mislead you, they will be fakes.
I am the One you have been waiting for."
But you see, they don't believe Him. The Jews believe that a
merciless Jewish God is born - not because He is actually like that
- but because they have made Him to be like that: A God who
continuously promises and never makes good His promises...
He is the Jews' authoritarian God; To them, He is not the God of the
Prophets and the Saints of the Jews... The God Who revealed Himself
to Moses on Mount Sinai is the same God Who revealed Himself in the
Son, in later times. The Prophets were always the admonishers of the
people, but the people were the murderers of the Prophets. There has
always been that kind of reaction, and still is today.
Did the potentates
of Byzantium believe in God the same way that the Saints did?
Weren't the potentates of Byzantium likewise opposed to the Saints?
Weren't the Saints likewise subjected to martyrdom, even during
Fr. Nicholas: Innumerable times.
that God, Who always reveals Himself to the Saints, is a God
different to the one that people concoct - even faithful people -
regardless whether they are heretics, or activists, or important
personages, or potentates, or deluded...
May I ask
something too? It seems far lighter and easier to be unjust
than to be subjected to injustice and to torture rather than be
tortured; to ascend the Cross or to take someone down from it...
But this somehow seems to contradict what Christ had said "come with
Me", because He said "My Cross is light and the burden is not
result - if you slap someone without him being at fault for
something - is that you will feel pangs of conscience inside you
that will not leave you in peace. If someone strikes you with
a slap, without you being at fault, you will feel at peace and sleep
lightly. That is the result - the "lighter burden" - but only if
you accept a slap "in Christ"...