Friday, February 19, 2010

“To forget God is the cause of all sins.”

This brief quote from “Lenten Spring” by Father Thomas Hopko is a grand statement. In his daily mediations for today, the fifth day of Great Lent, he reminds us that we are living in a foreign land. We were created to live with God in Heaven and our journey on Earth is only temporary but we cannot become complacent as the Jews did in Babylon. They became accustomed to living in a foreign land and forgot God.

Many of us no longer consider our journey here as visitors because we have settled and made this foreign land our home. I am not speaking of living as foreign immigrants in America, though there are definitely similarities. Most Greek immigrants never intended to stay when they first walked through the gates of Ellis Island. My grandfather, for example, only intended to stay a few years – just long enough to earn some of the gold just lying around at the time. He arrived in America at 23 years old and was buried here at 84. He did go back “home” but it was a visitor. America became his home and he became an American.

As Christians, we can never forget that life on this Earth is only temporary and that our life with God will be for all eternity. We cannot allow ourselves to become accustomed to life here, surrounded by temptation and amoral standards of life. We must struggle every day to remain focused upon God and our relationship with Him.

This is the benefit of our Great Lenten journey. We have the opportunity to rekindle our relationship with Him before it is too late. We have the chance to dedicate our lives to Him rather than to the “American Dream” which is dependent only upon selfish desire and individual moral interpretations. We must embrace our Great Lenten journey with prayer, fasting and almsgiving as a “living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” (Romans 12.1)

Referring to Psalm 136 (Septuigant) Father Thomas Hopko writes, “The things of the world creep up on us to destroy us. We hardly notice it happening. Lust and pride and covetousness begin, little by little, to take over our lives. Their enslaving power always begins with little things. This is the spiritual meaning of the last line of Psalm 136, which scandalizes many people when they first hear it in literal terms. The “little ones” must be killed. The small temptations, the petty demons, the little sins, seemingly so innocent, insignificant and harmless, must be dashed upon the Rock of Christ. Otherwise they grow big and become strong and destroy the heedless and negligent with their lethal power.”

Psalm 136 (King James Version)
The Mourning of the Exiles in Babylon

1 By the rivers of Babylon,

there we sat down, yea, we wept,

when we remembered Zion.

2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.

3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song;

and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying,

Sing us one of the songs of Zion.

4 How shall we sing the LORD's song in a strange land?

5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,

let my right hand forget her cunning.

6 If I do not remember thee,

let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth;

if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

7 Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom

in the day of Jerusalem;

who said, Rase it, rase it,

even to the foundation thereof.

8 O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed;

happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Rev. 18.6

9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth

thy little ones against the stones.

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