by Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky
from The Word, November 1968
“Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee:. . . From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matt. 4:12, 17)
The chief problem in communicating today is that people do not always say what they mean. Just notice how often people begin a sentence with, “I’m sorry, but ... I was here first;” or, “I’m sorry, but . . . you’re in my way.” What they mean is that they are not sorry at all. They use the word to pretend they are sympathetic to your plight, but in fact they take the opportunity, while they are still speaking, to argue in behalf of their own personal interests.
Sorry does not mean just sorrowful. One who is truly sorry for his acts recognizes that his behavior is wrong and regrets his actions. In no way does he justify his deeds. On the contrary, he repents, seeking a new course of action.
The very first words spoken by our Lord at the beginning of His ministry were, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17). Those to whom he spoke knew what He meant. He was demanding a total conversion of the inner self, which includes: (a) recognizing that one’s way of life is contrary to God’s plan for man: (b) giving up all self-reliance and surrendering unconditionally to our Creator: (c) converting one’s whole being to the Will of God.
For many modern people, that demand of Christ is incomprehensible. To understand Him, one has to know what God Is; that there is a Power and a Being beyond existence as we know it, and yet within it. More than that, one has to have the capacity to give oneself over totally, selflessly and irrevocably to God. There are people who profess belief in God, yet who are incapable of feelings for any person except themselves.
Such an attitude is encouraged by today’s leaders. In civil rights and in labor unions, for example, the emphasis is on demands that others must meet. To be effective in gaining one’s goals, a person should be totally committed to himself. If he dares let a glimmer of concern, of responsibility for the effects of his demands upon others filter through his wall of self-interest, a conflict of interest will divert him from total selfishness.
It is not that God is dead in our times; it’s just that His power is being effectively resisted. Since God will not abide in man, or in our society against our will, we are permitted to live godlessly. It is His will that we invite Him under the roof of our soul, and into our cities - He will not barge in without an invitation:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20)
St. Longinus the Centurion - October 16
O Longinus, thou didst behold the King of Glory nailed to the Cross yet shining on those in darkness. Thou wast enlightened by His rays and didst become a martyr and dost save those who cry: Glory to Him Who has strengthened thee; glory to Him Who has crowned thee; glory to Him Who through thee works healings for all.
Kontakion of St. Longinus, Tone 4
Today the Church rejoices in memory of the glorious Athlete Longinus, crying: Thou art my strength and my stronghold, O Christ.