Yesterday’s gospel reading (Mark 10:32 – 45) is a timely reminder of what orthopraxis is all about. Christ tells us: “and whoever of you desires to become first shall be slave of all.” Let us consider this: where are we seeking to become first? Answer: in the kingdom of heaven!; Where do we then need to be a slave of all? Answer: in this world! This necessitates the abrogation of self in favour of the other whomever it may be. What a radical teaching. Slaves were property – something to be owned; something whose will was dictated to by the master. Who on earth would sell themselves into bondage?
Let us remember that Christ is obedient unto death. Christ voluntarily assumed the sins of the world. He knew what would become of him. The difference between Christ and a slave is that Christ was free to do as he will and yet at Gethsemane he prays: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36).
If we are to be followers of Christ, we need to imitate Him. If Christ is prepared to submit to the will of the Father then should not we? God wants us to be with him but there are no favourites in heaven. Nor can good works be transferable. All of us will be judged by how we live our life on this earth. As Christ tells us: “I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and my judgement is righteous, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent me.” (John 5:30)
Do you now see why Christ says: “to sit on my right hand and my left is not mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared? “Each one of us, through our actions, is identified as a soldier of Christ or not. Every tree is recognised by its fruit. And, the fruit of those who seek salvation are manifested in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Now, do you see how important orthopraxis is? Faith (Orthodoxy) without works (Orthopraxis) is dead.
Why is it that we consider it an entitlement to receive, an imposition to give and get angry when we call on God to grant us something and not receive? Perhaps St John Chrysostom got it right when he said that when you are weary of praying and do not receive then consider how often you have heard a poor man calling upon you and you have not listen to him yet this poor man has not been angry nor insulted you. So, from that example let us all await patiently, without anger and without expectation for the good things to come.
Till next time.
Father John Athanasiou 0411 061 554