Word Magazine June 1967 Page 19


By Very Rev. Father Michael Baroudy, Pastor Emeritus
St. George Orthodox Church, Vicksburg, Mississippi

There are sixty-six books in the Holy Bible. 39 in the Old Testament, and 27 in the New, that cover at least seven thousand years of recorded, sacred history, having to do with God’s dealing with man. To be cognizant of what transpired during these times is to be amazed at the abundance of God’s mercy and man’s recalcitrance to conform to God’s revealed will. As a matter of fact, man is a poor performer on the stage of life. His is a succession of failures, a glaring, shameful and flagrant violation of the will of the Eternal. While this is true in the majority of cases, God has witnesses to stand for Him, to speak on His behalf and to endure trials and tribulations at the hand of Godless, wicked men.

The lesson of Scriptural revelation is that God is seeking men to be co­workers together with Him, that He, God, is a covenant-keeping God wishing to be a partner with man in all the complexities and diversities of his life. God tries time and again to point out that man cannot manage without Him, while man seeks repeatedly throughout the course of history to go it alone. Of course, a person might succeed handsomely in many other respects — socially, professionally, economically — but victorious living cannot be achieved without taking into account and consideration that God must be the center of life, a vital, overwhelming, over-mastering Force, directing and supervising the affairs of man. Said the Sacred Writer of Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge ye Him and He will direct your path.” And again, “The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom and the knowledge of God is understanding.” Our worldly wisdom, it matters not how great in any field of endeavor and education, will not profit the individual, spiritually speaking, unless God is at the helm of that life.

The Scriptures pinpoint for our consideration the seven social sins of human society. The first for our study is “POLITICS WITHOUT PRINCIPLES.”

It would be indeed immoral if not downright wicked for a candidate for an office, or for one already in power to use means and methods that do violence to our American way of life, to bribe to attain his purpose, or to use people for the promotion of self-interests than for the promotion of righteousness. Listen to what the Sacred Writer said in this connection, “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

The second social sin is “BUSINESS WITHOUT ETHICS.”

It is exceedingly unethical for a big corporation to advertise an inferior article, claiming it to be a miracle worker when they know that there is no modicum of truth in what they claim. Thus they use means and methods that are ungodly and deceptive in order to make material gains only. Holy Scripture pinpoints that in the story where Jesus cleansed the temple from the money changers who were trafficking in the name of religion even on sacred ground. They were deluding themselves and others that they were doing good service. The people who came to the Feast of the Passover had the coin of the country where they lived, and which had to be exchanged for the kind of currency used in Palestine, thus enabling them to buy an animal or a fowl which they wished to offer. It was a deceptive practice done in the name of religion. But consider what took place. It aroused the ire of Jesus to such an extent that he horsewhipped them out of the temple saying indignantly, “My Father’s house is called a house of prayer and you have made it a den of thieves.”

I am wondering what the Divine Master would do were he to visit our places of worship and see those of us who are trafficking in the name of religion, allowing bingo and dancing within the sacred premises of the church, thinking that since it is for the material benefit of the church, God must approve of it.

The third social sin of society is “PLEASURE WITHOUT CONSCIENCE,” which is that degrading, wicked “pleasure” where it is claimed that having lots of fun consists in letting one’s self go, thus lowering the spiritual pulse of the human personality made in the image of God. We should remember always that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit and should be kept immaculately clean, fit for the dwelling of the Eternal, for if we don’t, we incur God’s displeasure and bring misery on ourselves.

The fourth social sin of society is “KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT CHARACTER,” which means being arrogant about what one acquires of knowledge to the extent that he loses sight of God and of service to humanity. The Bible pinpoints this for us by example of the haughty, proud Pharisees in Christ’s day who were so overtaken by their own wisdom and understanding that they had nothing but disdain for others exclaiming upon one occasion, “These people who know not the law are cursed.”

We have their counterpart in the church today, who clothe themselves with an air of superiority which makes people shrink away from them, the “holier than thou” folks. The inspired sacred writer said, “Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth.”

The fifth social sin of society is “WEALTH WITHOUT DEEDS.” There is perhaps nothing more pitiful than to see a wealthy person so rich though very miserly, who clutches the dollar until the eagle screams! Yet these poor rich people fail to realize that, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” and that shrouds have no pockets. The sacred writer said, “We have brought nothing into this world, and we carry nothing hence.”

Wealth without deeds is pointed out by Christ himself, which we find in the sixteenth chapter of Luke’s gospel. It is the story of Dives and Lazarus. Lazarus, the poorest of the poor, was brought to the gate of a very rich man who dressed in the costliest of clothes and ate the finest food; yet he failed to lend a helping hand to a man who gratified his hunger by eating the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table and were dumped into the garbage can. But wealth without deeds had an ingloriously sad ending, because when the rich man discovered his sad condition and tried to do something about it, it was too late. Abraham, to whom he appealed for help, told him that things after death comes are unchangeable. “For there is a great gulf fixed between us. There is neither passing nor trespassing.”

The sixth social sin of society is “EDUCATION WITHOUT HUMANITY.” We live at a time in history that education is one of the most desirable acquisitions. No person in his right mind would deprecate it. To educate the mind without educating and instructing the heart leads to a most dangerous acquisition. But education which takes into consideration the knowledge of and the fear of God is the crown of wisdom, a wisdom which makes for a well-rounded education. We as well as the other nations are glorying in our scientific achievements in being able to use nuclear power to destroy our brother man or in reaching outer space. Even if we succeed in landing on the moon, it would do us no great good if we harbor in our hearts the destruction of our brother man on either planet. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Indeed blessed are the people, the homes and the rest of men whose God is the Lord.

The seventh and last of the sins of society is “WORSHIP WITHOUT SACRIFICE.” Sacrificial living is the very heart of worship and it must take into consideration the need of our fellow human beings. The spiritually hungry must be provided with the bread of life as well as those who are physically hungry. The Bible says, “He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord.” It is indicated in the 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, “Because you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Jesus’ involvement with humanity was the reason for his condescension, in his incarnation taking upon him our form, dying vicariously for our sins. The Apostle Paul said, “He made him to be our sin-bearer that we might be the righteousness of God in him.”

We have said above that man’s history is punctuated with a series of failures and that he is at times a poor performer on the stage of life. But this is only a phase of his existence and to leave the matter stranded there is a travesty of the truth, for there was another side to his life, the Divine-human partnership consummated, which made man invulnerable to trials and tribulations. Therefore, throughout the Old and New Testaments we read about paeans and triumphal songs, especially in Psalms. Listen to these joyous exclamations. “I have set the Lord before me. He is on my right hand, I shall never be moved . . . “

“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear . . . ”

“The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid.”

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want . . . He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

When Christ came into the world these concepts of God became deeper and more meaningful. At the outset of his ministry, Jesus tells us about his mission. “I came that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.” — “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except by me.”

Jesus made such an impact upon humanity, revolutionizing the thinking of man, so that H. G. Wells in his “Outline of History” exclaimed, “He (Jesus) was easily history’s most conspicuous figure.”

Jesus infused his disciples with the same spirit, that of love and good will, so that they lived victoriously in all their dealings with their fellow-man.

A particular passage of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans deeply impresses us. “We are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Is that possible? Yes! Because of the holy warfare against sin and all evil, against everything contrary to the Will and Word of God, against everything that drags man down rather than lifts him up. To this holy warfare men everywhere are called who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer. You and I are among the number. His grace makes us more than conquerors. Most of the world’s conquerors, almost without exception, have failed to conquer themselves — their lusts and passions. These conquerors left ruin, misery and hate in their wake. When they were through, humanity had to begin again at the bottom in the struggle for freedom, well-being and brotherhood.

It is our mission to bring help and healing, love and good will to all men everywhere. This is the spirit of Christ who went about doing good. Who will follow in his train? Let us begin right here and now!