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Κυριακή, 20 Ιουλίου 2014

We too are anxious as Prophet Elijah !....“A gentle Breeze"

There is a great lesson that we are given this month through the commemoration of the  Prophet Elijah, those of us who have the Church at heart and thirst for its purity. We  receive this lesson by reading chapter 19 of book III of The Kings. What is said at this part of the Old Testament is the following:  The fiery Prophet Elijah, with a soul exhausted and almost broken hearted as a result of  his struggles against the idolatry which plagued the state of Israel, is found in a cave of  the mountain Horeb. He opens his heart in prayer before God and overflows with  feelings of grievance: “I have served you with zeal,” he says to his Divine Master. 

“See,  however, the reasons which have discouraged me. The sons of Israel betrayed me. And,  in spite of all that I did for them, in spite of the castigation which I addressed to them,  and in spite of the punishment of the priests of Baal which your power brought about,  the same situation continues to apply. Your altars are still ruined .  Your Prophets are  assassinated. And I have remained alone but my enemies seek to put me Then, the Prophet Elijah heard a voice which said to him: “Tomorrow you must come  out of your cave and you must stand at the peak of the mountain.” This is indeed what  happened. The following day, the Prophet came out of his cave, and climbed up to the  top of the Mountain. What a dreadful moment! A terrible thunderstorm had broken  out. It  seemed that its force would dissolve the rocky mass of Mount Horeb. At this  moment he heard a voice which said to him: “

The Lord is not inside this violent and  destructive storm .” Then the storm passed and a terrible earthquake occurred. But again  the voice informed him that the Lord was not inside this earthquake either. And then,  the rocks of Horeb brought out flames. And the voice said to Elijah that the Lord was not  in that fire either. After these breath taking phenomena, a  gentle Breeze began to blow. The Lord was in it. This is what the voice said to the Prophet, and he believed it and  understood what God wanted to teach him. The lesson is this: that the presence of God  is not expressed in any other way but as “ a gentle Breeze ”, as the sacred text cal ls it. 

This is an eternal lesson ,  which is addressed to us as well . We, too, often become as anxious as Elijah. Our zeal makes us feel violent like the  storm, and like the earthquake and vehement like the fire. Our sacred indignation  pushes us to words and acts which do not have the freshness and the gentleness of the  Breeze.  We believe that The Church, this new Israel, will not be cleansed from sin, unless we  move vigorously, imitating the activity of Elijah, before he received this superb lesson on  the m ountain Horeb.

But the Lord loves His Church more than we do. He is concerned much more for her well  being than we are. His grievance which he feels because of our sorry state is  uncontainable not only in our heart, but also in our imagination. And yet, He tells us that we must not be impatient and uncharitable. Rather we should  be merciful and condescending as He is When God came down to the earth, and became a human being. He repeated this  lesson to us. We may recall here the verses from Isaiah which St. Matthew the  Evangelist recalls in order to show the simplicity which characterizes the Son of God in  his behavior towards those who   exhibit an evil behavior in the Church. “

He will not  wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; he will not brake a  bruised reed, or quench a smoldering wick ” (Matth.  12:19 20).  It is exactly because the  Lord loves his Church more than us that he is genial and caring and delicate. He does not  like screaming, lengthy expostulations of wild criticism,  or unbridled victimization. He  knows, because he is the only one who knows our heart, and so, even in the worst  guises of evil, which stigmatize the body of the Church, there is always the hope of  recovery. This recovery is accomplished only under the life giving and distinctive breeze  of the Spirit. Love, forbearance, meekness, humility, affection should distinguish the  workers of the Church. The workers should imitate their divine employer, the Lord of  the Vineyard. There is no room in them for rage, ange r, or a judging tongue. What has to  be gained on behalf of Christ on the earth will not be gained by force, but with love,  harmlessness and non aggressiveness. 

Indeed, the Son of God himself teaches this most clearly in the parable of weeds among  wheat. We see the weeds among the wheat and this sight is unbearable to us. Our zeal  pushes us to cut out the weeds. Nevertheless, this impulse is not the finger of God, but  the finger of Lucifer. God does not want us to cut them out. Listen to what he says to us, when we take it to ourselves to strike persons and situations in His Church: “It is not I  who inspires you to do so. This behavior is thoughtless and prejudicial . 

Because where  you direct your beating, there are souls around which will be scandalized by your action,  and you may damage them and even uproot them together with the evil which  purportedly you tried to uproot.”  Do not misappropriate what is not your own task. I will purge my Church from all weeds  on the Day of Judgment. Your judgment, your holy indignation, your anger will not bring  only good, but also evil. You may uproot from the Church myriads of pharisees, vicious  culprits and bribe takers, but if with them you cast out even one soul which is  scandalized by your behavior, for whom I shed my  Blood, the damage to you will be  infinitely greater than the benefit.

Do you want to bring glory to my Church, or to work for its progress and her purity?  Imitate me .  Do not run to cut out the weeds .  Do not take recourse to violence. Become  and remain to the end as “ a gentle breeze, ” because I am not present either in the  storm, or in the earthquake, or in the fire. I am only present in the refreshing breeze .

(Taken from the « Κιβωτός » απάνθισμα , vol. 2)

Translated  from  the  Greek  original  by  Fr.  George  Dion.  Dragas

source: “THE FORERUNNER” « Ο ΠΡΟΔΡΟΜΟΣ »
Saint John the Baptist Hellenic Orthodox Church

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