Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Fight Against Greed

Today’s Reading from Old Testament: Isaiah 5:7-16 - Thus says the Lord: For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry!  Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land.  The LORD of hosts has sworn in my hearing: "Surely many houses shall be desolate, large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant.  For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah."  Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening till wine inflames them!  They have lyre and harp, timbrel and flute and wine at their feasts; but they do not regard the deeds of the LORD, or see the work of his hands.  Therefore my people go into exile for want of knowledge; their honored men are dying of hunger, and their multitude is parched with thirst.  Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude go down, her throng and he who exults in her.  Man is bowed down, and men are brought low, and the eyes of the haughty are humbled.  But the LORD of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness.
It was just Friday evening during the first Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos, that we heard Jesus say, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” (John 15.5) If we combine the reading from Akathist and today’s reading from Isaiah, we can understand that we (Orthodox Christians) are not a new established Church, but a continuation of the ancient people of God, the House of Israel that is referenced in today’s reading from Isaiah.

Look again at the state of the vineyard as described today by the Prophet Isaiah. The Lord saw bloodshed, selfishness, people who cared more about parties than the Word of God. We also read of the murder of Abel by Cain in today’s reading from Genesis, the first bloodshed in the Lord’s vineyard. Greed is the root of every human sin. We either want something we don’t have, or we have something we don’t want others to have.

Our Great Lenten journey is about defeating our passions by increased prayer, increased fasting, and increased almsgiving. As you continue through your second week of Great Lent this week, consider how you might show signs of greed in your interactions with others. We ALL have these tendencies as an inheritance from Adam and Eve. But God is righteous and has put in motion a plan to save us from ourselves....if only we allow Him.

Have a blessed Lent,

Father Athanasios

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