Saturday, February 4, 2017

Get Justice for me from my adversary

As we prepare for the beginning of the Triodion, which begins tomorrow, I wanted to spend a few moments on our relationship with each other and God. If we are going to benefit at all from the coming season of Triodion and Great Lent, then we best consider what God is REALLY offering to us. When we hear the Holy Scriptures we must remember they are never JUST stories. They are life. Consider today’s Gospel reading:
"There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. "Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, 'Get justice for me from my adversary.' "And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 'yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.' " Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said. "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? "I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18.2-8)
For us to receive the full benefit of the Triodion and Great Lent, we need to understand what type of justice and adversary Jesus is speaking about in this parable.

Let’s start with adversary. Our only real adversary in life is the devil who never stops trying to distract us from God. He will never stop trying to temp us into falling away from faith. He will never stop trying to confuse us with his trickery. He isn’t known as “ο πονηρός – the cunning one” for nothing. He is our true adversary. All others we encounter are brothers and sisters many of whom the devil has tricked into fighting against us. We may “feel” their attacks but it helps to remember the words of Psalm 50 “Against You, You only have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Your sight” If our sin is only against God, then everyone else’s sin is also only against God. We may fell the physical affect of the sin, but that is because someone else fell to temptation. The real adversary is the devil and today’s parable is a promise that God will “avenge” us “speedily....but will He really find faith on the earth?”

Now let’s look at justice. If we aren’t supposed to look at our brothers and sisters as the adversary, then what sort of justice is Jesus talking about? Normally we think of justice as punishment being handed down from a court bench. We often demand justice for victims of crimes. Since the adversary is the devil, what sort of justice could God have planned? God came that “you may have life” (John 20.31) but the devil wants you to die. It all goes back to Genesis. Knowing that God had warned Adam and Eve that death would follow if they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the devil said to Eve, “You shall not die.” (Genesis 3.4) WE WERE TRICKED into believing we wouldn’t die.

The same thing takes place every time we are confronted with temptation. We are tricked into thinking our actions cannot hurt us. But they often cause us great pain, both physical and spiritual. Our annual journey through the Triodion and Great Lent is an opportunity to refocus our attention on God rather than ourselves.  The sort of faith that God wants to see in us when He returns is our desire to live rather than die. But the life God desires for us, the sort of faith He expects from us, is not about earthly life which is focused upon our pleasure, but heavenly life which is focused on God.

If we are willing and able to journey through the Triodion and Great Lent with this understanding, the many parables and teachings the Church brings to our attention will bring us closer to God. As we grow closer to God, the devil will lose more and more. He won’t stop trying, so we can’t stop fighting, but the devil will lose this battle. We will get justice. Have a blessed journey.

No comments: