Word Magazine October 1965 Page 13
THE ALMIGHTY AND HIS EARTHLY CREATURE
By Father James J. Laliberte
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Augusta, Georgia
In one of the Psalms of David, we find the saying that “the fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’” But the writer, in his wisdom and precise sense of reality, added that “they,” that is, the people of foolish behavior “are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is not that does good.” (Psalm 14: 1.) These are but a few words taken among so many others that want to bring forth the existence of God and the feelings of those who lived in Biblical times toward the Creator and toward those who did not recognize or did not want to acknowledge their Creator. Have things greatly changed? Have they changed so much, throughout the many years and centuries of history, to the point that modern man is much too independent to be concerned whether or not there is a God or if there is one, whether His words and His covenant, either expressed through the Bible or through the Church Life in general, have any value or specific meaning? One truth however surpasses all kinds of arguments and reveals that despite the many attempts of various segments of mankind throughout history to lead the world into forgetting about religion or the existence of a Higher Power, nothing was ever successfully accomplished and the believer as well as the so-called “unbeliever” can feel and sense that whatever he does or tries to do as a plain human being, there is someone above him who has the last word in many ways, proven more than once throughout his earthly existence!
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, a Father of our Church, wrote: “First in your soul, the dogma concerning God must be established: that God is one, alone, unborn, without beginning, unchangeable, invariable: who was not born from any other one, who does not have anyone else as successor in life: and who has neither begun life at one time, nor will end it at any time: and that he is good and just. . .” Therefore, as we are being asked to believe in a supreme being and as the existence of that supreme being is being explained as well as it is humanly possible, we are given the best reassurance of all, because we are not being led into some way of thinking or believing that will come and go, but we are being guided towards a world of unchangeable things, towards a world which does not vary with times, towards the very world of our own Creator, of our God, Lord and Master!
Man’s dependence on God entails obligations of one nature or another. In like manner, man’s plain participation in the life of his earthly society necessitates the observance in certain laws and the application of a certain pattern of behavior, depending upon circumstances, times, places and other changeable factors. And the most amazing thing is that even men, who were not directly committed to religious practice, as we ourselves know religious practice, nevertheless functioned during their lives according to a pattern that one would almost qualify as being God-inspired or provoked by the influence of religious principles as the ones of God’s followers and believers. How much greater then is our obligation to follow the word and commandments of our God, as we are supposed to be well acquainted with the teachings of the Scriptures and the life of our Orthodox Christian Faith.
Throughout the pages of the Holy Scriptures, we find special mentions addressed to the formative years of man, youth! It goes to say that the years of our youth are the most important of our life, as it is during those years that we are able not only to grow in wisdom and knowledge, but to pave the way for our future years. One would perhaps dare to say that it is never too late or that it is better late than never. Regardless of any prevailing thought that anyone of us might have, we surely agree that, when one enjoys an early start for his journey there are more chances for him to arrive at his destination safe and sound and in time!
And as we are delving with this topic of life preparation or present-day guidance towards future years as children of God and as Christians and earthly creatures of the Almighty, let us examine a paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer by the theologian Trembelas:
“When we pray, let us not ask, with a mechanical and superstitious petition of words, which our own mind does not follow or does not comprehend, irreasonable requests, as the pagans do, because they imagine that their meaningless exaggeration of words will be as a magical influence and that consequently they will be heard!
“Let us not become similar to them, because our Father knows the things which we have need of, even before we ask for them ourselves. Contrarily to the unrighteous, we must pray in the following way, acknowledging our fear of God and keeping all His commandments and divine instructions, as this is our duty as human beings: ‘Our Father, who are present everywhere, but who exceptionally show your presence in Heaven, may your holiness be recognized, so that your name may be glorified and worshipped in a just way. May your kingdom come through the free and willing submission of all men to you, so that through their obedience to your commandments, they may become real and devoted subjects of yours in every way. May your will be done also on earth among men, as it is done in heaven amongst angels and saints. Today, give us our bread, our daily and needed bread for the support of our substance and existence. And forgive us whatever we are in debt of on account of our innumerable sins, as we too forgive those who are our debtors on account of injustices which they committed against us. And do not permit that we fall into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, which is fighting us. We ask these things from you, because the kingdom is yours, as well as the power and the glory to never-ending ages. Amen.’”