Gladsome Light Dialogues – An Orthodox Blog

A journey through our Orthodox faith as we live it every day

Gladsome Light Dialogues – An Orthodox Blog header image 2

Child Versus Gorilla – How To Live Together For The Kingdom

June 7th, 2016 by Fr. Vasile
Respond

Icon-of-creation

The recent child versus gorilla controversy has brought up an older moral question about the status of human life versus animal life. When one is faced with the decision of saving a human life endangered by an animal life what should one do? In our story the zookeeper clearly stated that their choice was easy because a human life is more valuable than an animal life.[Round of applause from all parents of toddlers] But what does a poor zookeeper know?  A recent tweet that condemned the gorilla killing went as far as blaming the entire humanity for the gorilla death saying:  “Humans imprison gorilla. Human enters gorilla prison. Gorilla gets shot dead for being near human. Humanity is a disease.” [Round of applause from animal rights activists]

People are very polarized around this issue primarily because as we grow more into a society that is delinked from Christianity we have forgotten the complexity of the relationships between God man and the entire creation in our current fallen world.

Man Fall Sin and Creation

Reading the Ethical Discourses of St. Symeon the theologian I discovered a striking perspective on the connection between man and creation. Referring to the exile of Adam from Paradise he says: “Therefore indeed when it [creation] saw him leave Paradise all of the created world which God had brought out of non-being into existence no longer wished to be subject to the transgressor. […] What then? God Who created all and made man […] now suspends the assault of all creation and straightway subjects all of it to Adam as before. He wills that creation serve man for whom it was made and like him become corruptible so that when again man is renewed and becomes spiritual incorruptible and immortal then creation too now subjected to the rebel by Gods command and made his slave will be freed from its slavery and together with man be made new and become incorruptible and wholly spiritual.”

The creation that we know is fallen and is not meant for eternity in its current form but the promise is that as the Book of Revelation also asserts that in the end there will be “a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” (Rev 21:1) Man is the key to this transformation but not alone with creation being at his right side.

Fr. Dumitru Staniloae mentions as well that creation was meant for us to be a ladder on which to climb to our lost paradise. God gave creation to mankind to be used by man to regain his glory the lost through the fall. Creation obeys the command of the Lord and provides man with all he needs while man at his turn has the duty to care for it and use it wisely exactly for this purpose. The misuse of creation by man through sin is what brings destruction to our world. Through sin the greatest gift freely received becomes therefore an idol and a fighting ground in between brothers. “For nothing else” continues St. Symeon“so soils the work of God and makes unclean what is clean as the deification of creation and the worshipping of it as equal to God the Creator and Maker.”

The worth of human life

Watching the current trends in our culture we see human life having less and less worth: abortions are justified by comfort and convenience popular culture validates euthanasia in movies like “Million Dollar Baby” or the more recent “Me Before You” governments step in to control population and so on. Of course all this is supported by extreme utilitarian philosophers like Peter Singer that goes as far as to declare that being human does not even give one the automatic right to live. One May say that we are not living a culture of life but a culture of death. All this streams from fear: the fear of overpopulation with the inevitable loss of comfort the fear of the self-destruction of our only habitat and ultimately the fear of the survival of humanity. In this way of thinking the individual is sacrificed for the sake of the community at large.

We celebrated recently the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ after going through His Passions and death for us on the Cross. He died indeed for the sake of the entire community of humans a death that He chose to fulfill: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

The rulers of the Jews in Christ times also made a choice: it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (John 11:50). They chose to kill a man that disagreed with their views a man that was different than them for the survival of the status quo of their nation.

There is a difference however between the two choices even if both of them have a man dying for the sake of the community. Christ’s sacrifice was voluntary and filled a greater purpose not to save a passing kingdom not to temporary alleviate the pains of a people even if it was a chosen one but to eternally grant life everlasting to the entire creation. He chose to drink the bitter cup that the Father entrusted Him. He was not forced to do it. The rulers of the Jews sent Christ to death without asking Him if He is willing to sacrifice Himself and condemned Him for their own selfish purposes.

A man dies in both scenarios that through God’s providence end up being one and the same but the consequences of the two choices are diametrically opposed. One leads to life and liberation the other one into suffering. The blood of Christ is for the salvation of those who follow Him and the same blood denounces those who deny Him voluntarily.

Christ did not die because the Jews have condemned Him although He knew they would; Christ did not die because He could not take on life anymore because He was disabled or old or bored or any other reason we hear popularized today in the propagandistic media Christ died as the final hero of all times one last death to spare from death an entire mankind. Christ the new Adam died and through His death no one else has to die anymore.  Our lives have now a new meaning that is found in the death and resurrection of that One Man. “We therefore were buried with Him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father we too May walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:9)

 Every human lives now in order to pursue the chance to reconcile himself to God and become a citizen of the Kingdom through Christ. A salvation that is not a pinpointed event in time but a process that passes through our death and continues into eternity. Only God knows how long this will take and is different for every person. All we know is that He said: “Thou shall not kill” (Exodus 20:1). He is the Master of life he gives it and He takes it in His great love and care for His Creation all we need to do is preserve and nourish human life to be fulfilled in the Kingdom.

The life in the Kingdom is the real life

I personally respect animal lives and I sincerely decry the death of Harambe the gorilla as a tragic accident but I also believe that we should educate ourselves more on the difference between the purpose of humanity and the purpose of the rest of creation from the perspective of eternal life and not with the limitation of out temporal human perspective. By preserving and nurturing human life by living lives that are focused on the Kingdom we are actually helping the entire creation to be redeemed to regain its former glory to reach its potential in God not for a few hundred year not even thousands but unto the ages.

We value human life because in man rests the key of the redemption of the entire fallen world. Animal lives are important and they should be respected as well and there is no teacher of the Church that denies that but as much as I dont like animals being killed and their habitats destroyed we cannot forget that we have a duty to learn first to respect human life to stop living in a culture of death to stop fighting amongst ourselves for things that will pass and start living a true life in Christ. As long as we tolerate abortion and euthanasia as long as we are directed by greed hatred and fratricide we have not understood yet the purpose of any type of life human or not.

On the cross Christ died with His arms spread out embracing the entire Creation bringing all of us together. On our way to salvation as humans we should not forget to embrace it as well to live in peace with ourselves and all Creation to use and not abuse what has been given to us as a gift.

Humanity is not a disease that plagues creation sin is the real disease and Christ is the only cure available. Only a humanity that has eradicated sin and joins itself with Him will be able to properly celebrate life into the eternity of the Kingdom. A humanity that will not choose someone to sacrifice for it but one that at the level of each person will choose to sacrifice for one another to care for one another more than for ones self just as Christ did for us

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Twitter

Tags: No Comments.

‚ Mystery and Divine Magnetism: a Conversion Story">Beauty Mystery and Divine Magnetism: a Conversion Story

April 15th, 2016 by Fr. Vasile
Respond

Come and Seeby Daniel Bishop

I often hear stories from people I’ve met along the way about the path that lead them to Orthodoxy. More often than not, these stories involve books by particular authors or saints whose writings made an influence on their perspective and opened them up to the wealth of the teachings of the Church. These are stories of beautiful and brilliant minds seeking truth amidst the pages of history, leaving no stone unturned until they found the true path. I sincerely wish I could give you such a brave story of my conversion. The thing is, I can’t manage to retrace my steps through books or knowledge, though I did read a lot while… Continue reading

Twitter

Tags: 1 Comment

The Christian Family Suspended Between Tradition and Temptation*

March 4th, 2016 by Fr. Vasile
Respond

Root of JeseeBeloved Brothers and Sister in Christ,

As you can see, even from my short greeting, this talk about family is actually a talk in the family. I am not here to preach to strangers, but to converse with people familiar to us who will be able to better understand what I have to say, because you are hearing it from within. You hear a lot from the outside as well; there is a lot of talk about family these days, with everyone trying to define, or rather re-define, what family is, many times based on personal thoughts and feelings or ideologies of various groups of interests, creating a lot of confusion. In the midst of all… Continue reading

Twitter

Tags:   · · · · · No Comments.

An Icon of the Christian Family

January 12th, 2016 by Fr. Vasile
Respond

Everyone’s favorite time of the year is the period before Christmas, when the air is filled with joy, peace and expectation. We are blessed to live in a country that looks forward to Christmas although we might seem to have lost some of its meaning along the way.  We have radio stations that air carols without ceasing, exalting the season, although many of them speak about snow, jolly figures carrying gifts, family time and other things that are all fine, but missing maybe the point of all this festival. It is wonderful that everyone celebrates Christmas, in their own way, and even people that don’t believe in God enjoy the season and try to be “good for goodness’ sake”, as a recent billboard from our atheistic friends reads recently (we… Continue reading

Twitter

Tags:   · · · · · · · No Comments.

Giving Thanks to God for All Things

November 10th, 2015 by Fr. Vasile
Respond

Holy 40 martyrsEvery year on Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks to God for our wonderful life. We rejoice in the fruits of the earth (with or without feathers) gathered around a table of abundance. A good thing indeed! Saint Basil the Great advised us to do this as early as the 4th century:
”When you sit down to eat, pray. When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the… Continue reading

Twitter

Tags:   · · · · · · · No Comments.

A Union for the Kingdom

June 26th, 2015 by Fr. Vasile
Respond

Greek-Orthodox-WeddingIn case you haven’t been following the news, the Supreme Court has recently ruled in favor of the recognition of same-sex unions throughout United States. Does this come as a surprise? Absolutely not! We knew it was just a matter of time. But how did we get here? How come that we need a court of law to decide what marriage is?

Before we start pointing fingers at the state for changing our understanding of marriage, we have to admit first that even in Christianity, there are different views of what actually marriage is. Most Christians would agree that marriage is a union between a man and a woman that mutually agree to spend their lives together, but looking deeper… Continue reading

Twitter

Tags:   · · · · · · No Comments.

Equal to the Apostles

May 21st, 2015 by Fr. Vasile
Respond

Constantine-signBlessed be the providence of God that makes all things evolve towards the order that best suits our progression in the Kingdom of heavens. All that God chooses to happen is for our edification in Him and for our development into His divine mold. This year for instance we celebrate the Holy Ascension (a moving feast) in the same day with the celebration of the Sts. Constantine and Helen (a fixed feast). One may say it is just random, at the end of the day even a broken clock shows the right time twice a day, but I don’t believe in coincidences.

Let me explain my train of thoughts in this particular instance. The Ascension of our Lord commemorates the… Continue reading

Twitter

Tags: 1 Comment

From Hearsay to Social media – a Tale of Rumor Spreading

May 19th, 2015 by Fr. Vasile
Respond

pillow“Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.” – Socrates

There is a story that circulates in Christian and Jewish circles about gossip. I was not able to track its origins but the story goes like this.

“There was a woman that liked to talk about other people’s affairs and spread unkind words around. One day however she felt remorseful and went to the priest to confess her sin. The priest listened to her confession and asked her if she truly understood the consequences of such hearsay activities. She uttered a rather unconvincing yes. Reading between the lines, the experienced priest offered her a penance, a small feat, he said, that will… Continue reading

Twitter

Tags:   · · · · · No Comments.

The Icon of the Kingdom

March 5th, 2015 by Fr. Vasile
Respond

St. John the Baptist GOC, Euless, TX - AltarEvery year, in the first Sunday of Lent, we celebrate our Orthodox heritage. It is a wonderful festivity involving a touching procession with icons, lifted up high, around the church and ending in the declamatory proclamation of the Synodikon of Orthodoxy.  Since we do it every year, it became so engrained in our fiber that we rarely stop to ponder about what does it really mean to us. It is important to know, after all, what we celebrate; otherwise it makes no sense to go on with a party that we know nothing about.

So let me start by asking you a simple question. What is Orthodoxy to you? A place called… Continue reading

Twitter

Tags:   · · · · · · · No Comments.

Blessed is the Way – On Suffering Death and Resurrection in the Orthodox Church

February 3rd, 2015 by Fr. Vasile
Respond

Judgement 001This is a talk I gave on January 31st at the NTOM conference “Falling Asleep in the Lord: An Orthodox Perspective on Dying, Death and Grief” at St. Demetrios Greek orthodox Church in Fort Worth.

Blessed is the way in which thou shalt walk today, O soul, for a place of rest is prepared for thee (Prokeimenon of the Apostle, Funeral Service)

Reverend Brothers, Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

When confronted with the reality of death most people reveal a deep-seated fear of such an event beyond any human control. This is especially acute nowadays when the science of medicine has made great strides in curing diseases that only a century… Continue reading

Twitter

Tags:   · · · · · · · · · No Comments.