homeland is the one that we "seek" (Hebr.13:14). However, for the time
being we are called upon to live on this earth. So, what kind of
association do we have with this world ?
The Lord, Who is
the eternal life (1 John 1:2), with His Incarnation revealed Himself to
us as God incarnated.(John 1:14; 1 Tim.3:16).
In this way, the Logos of
God - the second Person of the Holy Trinity - enters into the world and
sanctifies it. In this way, a new era arises for mankind and for the
entire world - a period that inducts us into the Kingdom of God.
The Lord Himself reassures us that the Kingdom of God does not belong
exclusively to the future, but that it has already begun for every
Christian from this very lifetime (Luke 17:21). The commencement
of this Kingdom is revealed through Christ's actions against the powers
of evil that dominate the world. (Matth.12:28, Luke 11:20)
present time is not per se the Kingdom of God fulfilled... or finalized.
It is only an image, an indicator, a prelude to the Kingdom of God,
which will be revealed in all its radiance in End Times, with the
presence of the Lord (Revel.20:11-22, 5; Isaiah 60:1-22).
however live within the light of the Kingdom, even if they aren't as yet
bathed whole in that light; even if they do not appear or are not always
"wholly light" and "wholly fire", as we often notice in the lives of the
Saints of our Church.
Christians' association to the world
the light of the world" (Matth.5:14; cmp.Philip.2:15-16); "you
are the salt of the earth" (Matth.5:13). These words by Christ
determine Christians' relationship to the world. Christians are
the light of the world, the salt of the earth, the spiritual leaven of
the world (Matth.13:33; Luke 13:21; 1 Cor.5:6 e.a.). In other
words, for the world, Christians are the heart and the ones who re-give
the world its true meaning, so that it might "be delivered from
the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of
soul is to the body, that is what Christians are to the world", says
an ancient Christian text: the Epistle to Diognetus. "The soul
is enclosed in the body, but it holds the body together. Christians are
likewise contained by the world as if inside a garrison, however it is
they who keep the world together."
This is the
reason that Christ does not ask the Father to remove Christians from the
world, but rather to guard them from the evil one (John 17:15), who,
after the Fall, had become "the ruler of this world" (John
cannot remain unconcerned before the daily toils of man confronting the
needs of life: "Go
to the ant, O lazybones,and zealously observe its ways, and become wiser
than it; for without having any cultivated land nor anyone that
forces it nor being under any master, it prepares its food in summer,
and it makes its provision plentiful in harvest time. Or go to the bee,
and learn how industrious she is and how seriously she performs her
Cmp.10:4, 20:4, 21:25).
Christians' duty does not finish with their persistent toil for
confronting of their own needs and their fellow-men's problems.
Christians' missionary labour in the world is to expel the demonic
element with Christ's presence and to restore the entire world once
again as a glorification to God. Prior to the Fall, man had been
placed in Paradise by God Himself, "to till it and keep it" (Gen.2:15),
so that he could be the master over all of Creation (Gen.1:28.
17:2-4; Wisd.Solom.10:2; Psal.8:1-10). But man did not keep his regal
and hieratic place in the world; he ceased to have God as his point of
orientation and thus led all of Creation to the Fall.
from which Adam fell away, is now given once again to the man of the new
Creation and is characterized in the Holy Bible as a "ministry of
reconciliation" between the world and God (2 Cor.5:18).
The entire world must be transformed, and in fact in a dual sense. Man
is called upon to labour, in order to discover the mystical powers of
the world; to transform them and to effectively confront the problems of
his daily living. In this point, man's potentials are
incomparable, because he is an image of God and he partakes to a certain
measure in the divine omnipotence. This fact therefore -of his
being an image of God- elevates man to a degree incomparably higher than
any philosophical and humanitarian system. Consequently, there is no
issue of boundaries and barriers -either with regard to man's degree of
development, or to the immense responsibility that he bears for the
vindication and the awarding of his own person, his own works, and of
the entire world (cmp.Psal.8:1-10).
Once, man had
dragged all of Creation down with him to the Fall and to corruption,
because he had ceased to offer it as a glorification of God and to ask
God's blessing for its use (Gen.2:16-17). In this manner, the man
of the new Creation is called upon to also transform himself in this
sense, as well as his works and the entire world, and to place it
properly in relation to God (cmp.Deuter.8:12-18; 1 Suppl.29:14-16).
disciples are called upon to descend from Mount Tabor, after having
acquired the certainty of transformation (transfiguration). They must
travel into the world in order to transform the world, so that
everything can become "new" (Matth.17:1-8; 2 Cor.5:17).
How, then, is it
possible for Christians to separate their responsibilities towards the
world? How can they abandon the world, if they had received the specific
instruction to remain in the world (John17:15), especially when given
such a huge Mission?
Christians' social responsibility
Each Christian's purpose is
to live "triadically" : their life has to actually become the image of
the life of the Holy Trinity. In other words, each Christian's purpose
is to live together with his brethren, or, better still, "within his
brother", because the Father is likewise "in the Son" and the Son is "in
the Father", just as the Holy Spirit is "in the Father and in the Son" (cmp.
John 17:21). This is the reality that the faithful are called upon
to live during the Divine Liturgy, and to transform that reality in
practice during their everyday lives (cmp.1 Cor.10:16-17). During
the Divine Liturgy, man and all of Creation re-live that forsaken unity,
because everything is assumed in the resurrected Body of Christ;
everything is once again offered to God as a thanksgiving (cmp.Zechar.14:20-21).
"Our selves and each other and our entire life let us appose to
Christ the Lord!" is a prayer that is repeated often during the
Divine Liturgy. There are no margins here for selfishness. The
centre once again becomes "Christ our God" - ou centre, and our
brother's, and our entire life's.
We thus know
that Christ presents Himself daily to us, in a very specific manner: in
the person of a brother, who awaits the fruits of our labors and our
toil so that he may receive relief and be able to breathe. Our entire
life, all our might and our potentials should be "in Christ", and this,
through our brethren (Matth.25:40) - in the service of our brethren.
And these potentials are unlimited, because man is -as we mentioned- an
image of the All-wise and Omnipotent God, and as such, he also
participates in His All-wisdom and His Omnipotence (cmp.Gen.1:28; Psal.8:1-10;
Wisd.Sirach 17:2-4; Wisd.Solom.10:2).
Who can now no
longer show concern for this life? For the wounds of mankind and of the
Of course a
Christian is invited to a freedom and a superior position opposite the
world; the Apostle Paul goes as far as characterizing everything as
"chaff" (rubbish) when compared to the unique treasure, which is Christ
(Philip.3:8. However this does not give us the right to separate our
responsibilities for the fate of the world and the scorching problems of
If the word of
God calls us to weep with those who weep (Rom.12:15), then our attempts
for effectively helping our brethren should be an even more imperative.
Let us recall at this point the words of James: "If a brother or
sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to
them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them
the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?" (James 2:15-16.
The vindication of Monasticism
things are indeed thus, then how is monasticism -one's departure from
the world- justified?
not outside the purpose that we just mentioned, because a true monk does
not live internally segregated from the world, nor has he abandoned his
responsibility towards the world. He lives for the entire world, which
he feels deeply connected to. His Mission and his gift are found in his
being a prophet and a herald of the Kingdom that is to come : a living
image and proof of the life to come.
In the life of
the world a monk is an indicator which is orientated towards the
heavens, revealing to the world another reality: the reality of heaven.
That is his most significant offering to the world. And this
offering is truly a great one, especially in our day and age, where
everything is orientated towards the earth and as such, destined to be
condemned to die!