Real Communion!Fr. Barnabas Powell
Christ is risen!
St. Maximus the Confessor says “Food is not evil, but gluttony is. Childbearing is not evil, but fornication is. Money is not evil, but avarice is. Glory is not evil, but vainglory is. Indeed, there is no evil in existing things, but only in their misuse.” So, the evil one only wants to get you to misuse the good and make it a detriment to your soul! And this can be seen clearly in the counterfeit of true communion – codependency!
You see, codependency is a counterfeit for true relationships lived out in the mutual love of self-denial, just like the communion enjoyed by God in His Trinity of Persons. And this image of the Holy Trinity is the standard by which all communion must be discerned and compared. Jesus even prays in John 17 “Father, let them be one as You and I are one.”
Look at our Lesson today in John 5:17-24:
The Lord said to the Jews who came to him: “My Father is working still, and I am working.” This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these he will show him, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
Our Lord Jesus tries to teach these religious leaders the power of authentic communion and self-denial, but they are too blinded by their self-centered ways to see the power of true communion over the counterfeit of false community they had reduced to mere racial membership in their “chosen” group.
But true communion destroys the counterfeit codependency in three ways!
First, True Communion is Focused on the Other. Jesus tells these men that the Son does nothing on His own. He only does what He sees the Father doing. Of course, the only way the Son can do this is by focusing all His attention on the Father!
Second, True Communion Experiences Selfless Love. Some may respond that if they focus their attention only on the others, then who’s going to look after them? Aren’t we supposed to watch out for number 1? Well, let me ask you, how’s that working out for you? Actually, the power of true communion rather than the counterfeit of codependency is that while you are focused on the Other, the other is wholly focused on you! See the wisdom here! I don’t have to worry about getting my needs met because someone else in communion with me is focused on me!
Finally, True Communion always leads to Discernment. Why does Jesus say “greater works than these he will show him, that you may marvel.” Because true communion always leads to deeper insight, clearer vision, stronger purpose, and unlimited spiritual strength! True communion, as opposed to the counterfeit of codependency, sets me free to know myself so well and know the other so well that selfish judgment becomes irrelevant; revenge becomes ridiculous, and hatred becomes impossible! The counterfeit is ALWAYS self-centered, but true communion sets me free to love even my enemies!
Today, as we continue to press out the deeper implications of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, let’s know true communion so well that we can spot the caustic sickness of codependency a mile away. Be so formed by the Faith that you can discern where the modern world and its childish slavery to fads and movements and “identities” leads us down the dark path of destruction and human misery. Allow the wisdom of the Faith to make you a light in that darkness. And we can know true communion as we use our best energies to know God, the Holy Trinity, know His life, know His love, and know His ways and be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Dear Lord, all around me the world is filled with false delusion, and it is only in Your Face and in Your Church that true communion can be discerned and grasped. I am so tempted to settle for false visions of unity, relationships, and even my own self-identity. But You call me to union with You that is true salvation and true humanity. Give me the strength and humility to embrace unity with You and Your Body so that I will finally be who I really am. Amen.