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“What you don’t know won’t hurt you!” Really? I’ve found that, sometimes, what I don’t know hurts me pretty bad.

But what’s worse is misunderstanding what I actually do know. In fact, I have misunderstood some things I thought I knew so bad that I might as well not have known it at all! And that, dear ones, is a deadly combination: to think you know something but get it so completely wrong you discover you really never knew it at all! And what you think you know is so mistaken as to either lead you to destruction or harm others. We don’t live in isolation and the ripple effects of our misinformation or uninformed reality don’t just harm us, but all around us as well!

Now, let’s apply this to our faith, and you get the real tragedy of discovery that what you say you believe isn’t what you truly believe at all. The Holy Scriptures allow us to eavesdrop on the Lord’s straightforward teaching during the days where He cleansed the Temple of the money-changers, warns His disciples that dark days are coming, and reaches out even to us to learn from their mistakes and avoid the ruin that came to these folks who really didn’t know what they thought they knew! It turns out ignorance really isn’t bliss!

Look at our Gospel Lesson today in Matthew 22:15-46; 23:1-39. We won’t quote the whole passage, but you should take the time to read the whole thing. We’ll focus on Matthew 22:23-33:

The same day the Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies, having no children, his brother must marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, to which of the seven will she be wife? For they all had her.”

But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ He is not God of the dead, but of the living. ” And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.

The Sadducees were the “in crowd.” They “followed the science.” They were buddy-buddy with the power brokers of their day. They were the politically correct of their day. They had the most to lose if Jesus was successful! These religious leaders who were members of the Sadducee group were usually the wealthiest and the most educated. They didn’t believe in all that “miracle” stuff. They were offended by the teachings of Jesus precisely because they thought Him beneath them with His teachings about eternal life. They were more interested in being “correct” than being righteous.

But they were put in their place by the Lord’s plain teachings and had to admit, they had no answer for Him.

Above this section, the Lord had also silenced the Pharisees. They were the second party in leadership among the Jews and they believed in the resurrection of the dead and miracles, but they, too, were offended by the Lord’s teachings because He laid bear their hypocrisy.

All these religious leaders thought they knew the faith and, because of their self-centered lives, even what they thought they knew did them no good when confronted with God in the Flesh right before their eyes! Their religious knowledge turned out to be no knowledge at all! And yet, Jesus commanded His disciples to honor their leaders in spite of their misinformed and uninformed status.

Today, we, too, must be willing to be confronted by our own shallow knowing that is no knowing at all. We are called by the intensity of our Orthodox Faith, of these prayers, these liturgies, these worship times, to see clearly our own distance from true knowledge that always leads to deeper devotion, a deeper love, and a deeper faith. If what we believe, or better, what we say we believe, isn’t producing this kind of deeper life, we must not make the same mistake as these religious leaders in thinking we can destroy the Lord and be freed from our poverty. Nothing could be further from the truth. No, even if we succeed in silencing that nagging voice in our hearts warning us of our poverty, we will only destroy ourselves, never Him. Are you alive in Christ? Are you Orthodox on Purpose?

P.S. Lord, give me the grace and the humility and the courage to see to my own soul and not judge my brother. Help me to busy myself in learning and practicing the Faith from a heart motivated by my love and devotion to You. Give me the curiosity to ask and to learn. Help me to not be so time-bound as to ignore centuries of wisdom that really teach me how to know You better. Give me the grace to hunger and thirst after righteousness and desire You above all others. Amen


  • John Outen
    Posted August 19, 2022 at 6:41 am

    Thank you Father Barnabas. I too come from your same background and in my journey into Orthodoxy I began a prayer practice of morning and evening prayers taken from my prayer book. That with my prayer rope has lifted the heart to know and experience Gods reality is sacramentalizing time. I thought I would miss “praying in the spirit .” As we used to say I was so wrong but now as Orthodox we experience “praying in the Trinity.” It it so true that being intentional as Orthodox is shaping our lives to walk in salvation as something not achieved but pushing forward. I continue to support the work their in Cummings Ga hoping that Orthodoxy grows in the hearts and lives of the Bible Belt….Your friend John

  • Gordon James
    Posted August 19, 2022 at 6:44 am

    An Alcoholics Anonymous saying:

    Sometimes the biggest lies we tell, we tell ourselves.

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