Monday, August 1, 2016

Met Georges Khodr: Let Love be without Hypocrisy

Arabic original here.

Let Love be without Hypocrisy

Today's epistle reading is part of the ethical teaching put forward by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans. It is extremely simple and can be summarized in a single phrase, where he says, "Let love be without hypocrisy." Love comes from a simple, luminous, pure heart. There is no play-acting and no gaudiness in it. It is a love where one regards the other completely, a love where you know him as beloved and you know him as the site of divine visitation and divine mercy. And so you hold close to the other for the Lord's sake. This love for the neighbor only springs from sincerity before God, from a faith in Him that causes us to abhor evil and adhere to good.

Our ethical problem is that we waver between good and evil, so sometimes we entertain evil and even if we desist from it, we often like it. We do not commit it, but we love it to some degree. This hesitation between God and evil makes us unsteady, not resolute in good. Therefore, the Apostle says, "Abhor what is evil." Abhor it just as you abhor an illness that gradually devours the body's cells and if the cells die, the body perishes. Sin kills in this way. It makes you unable to act, unable to love. It shackles you and turns you into its captive slave.

Our problem with ourselves is that we do not want to train ourselves in good. One accepts himself as he is. He knows himself to be a drunkard and wants that. He knows himself to be irascible and is pleased with that. Just as we see ourselves and are pleased. We think that we are great and good. The Apostle James tells us that we are fooling ourselves, since we resemble "a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was" (James 1:23-24).

Our basic malady is laziness and apathy, such that one goes to church when he feels like it, sleeps in when he feels like it, fasts when he wants to fast and doesn't fast when he doesn't want to fast. All our affairs depend on passing fancies. We have nothing that could be called perseverance. Paul tells us that true Christianity is that we "are not slothful in diligence" because evil is sly. When it infiltrates into a soul and remains there without facing resistance, it overpowers it and kills it.

Therefore, we must constantly fight evil and ultimately suffocate it. We must strike it with a decisive blow before it overpowers us. How do we fight it? The Apostle Paul responds by saying that we should always be "fervent in the Spirit" and the rest will follow. That is, that we always be alert.

In Christianity, you do not accept yourself as you are. You do not relax with your sin. You do not find excuses for your faults. You do not compromise. You do not just go along with it. A Christian is fervent in the Spirit-- that is, he is constant in struggle, rising up against himself because he loves God, because he always sets his sights on the face of Christ and is not content with anything else. The face of the Lord shines in our darkness. It reveals to us our faults. It enters into the creases of our soul and we see the darkness that is in us. We see our ugliness. If we ignore what He reveals to us, if we fabricate excuses, if we are slothful and reluctant, then the darkness overcomes us and our soul grows in ugliness and so one day you will wake up in total darkness with a disfigured soul.

That Apostle's call to us today is that we live without hypocrisy, in a given love, looking to the perfection that is in Christ Jesus as our model. In this way we transform into His image. In this way we transform the entire world.

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