Dual DangersFr. Barnabas Powell
Christ is risen!
On this Bright Wednesday:
Let us pray to the Lord;
Lord, our God: Glory to you for this morning that gathers us before you once more, for this day whose light reflects the triumph of your Son over death. Perceiving when we are grossly ensnared in sin is easy, but seeing the subtleties of sin that can entangle us is quite another matter! Therefore, give us insight and understanding, together with the honesty we need, to free our minds and hearts of everything that leads to sin. Rid us of suspicion, fear, and anger, of greed and jealousy and resentment. Enable us, rather, to find our delight in good will and kindness toward all, helping others at every turn. Shape us into disciples who will not disappoint your Son and, when the time arrives, let us share in the joy of his resurrection for all eternity.
For you are the king of peace and the saviour of souls and we give you glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: now and forever, and unto ages of ages. Amen. (A prayer of Fr. Laurence)
There is a dual danger in the path of purposeful faith. Today, as we bask in the bright light of the Resurrection; it is an opportune time to allow that Light to expose these temptations and provide us with the remedy for our salvation.
The first danger is that of self-righteousness. It is the sin of the Pharisee “Lord, I thank you I am not like other men…” This danger comes to us when we are most pious; when we are most faithful. The evil one pollutes these precious moments in our lives by this danger by having us notice our own behavior and then compare that behavior to those around us. But that leads to the absolute undoing of all our piety. Hence, all the spiritual fruit of a purposeful faith withers in the sickness of self-righteousness.
The second danger comes from an equal focus on ourselves. It is the danger of despondency. This danger looks at my own weaknesses and says “What’s the use. I’ll never be a pious person because of (fill in the name of the sin that currently grips you).” This danger lies to us as well. It says that not even the love of God can overcome my weaknesses. Once again, the sin of pride intrudes on the path to holiness. Once again, the evil one convinces us that we are the center of the universe and our problems and weaknesses are more powerful than God’s love and grace.
So, what is the remedy for these dangers?
It is two-fold. First, we must learn to never compare ourselves to anyone else. Ever! We must say with the Apostle Paul that “I am the chiefest of sinners.” We must hold two contradictory truths together in our hearts: I am the chiefest of sinners and I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.
Second, we must not grow weary in well doing. This spiritual marathon is life-long. There will be ups and downs. Our path must be one of consistent growth and progress and not the fits and starts of unstable love. This can only be achieved through patient dependence on the grace of God and consistent prayer.
In other words – Go to church!
Today, on this Bright Wednesday, let us guard our hearts from the dual dangers waiting to steal the Light of the resurrection from our hearts.
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