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March 2, 2008

Meat-Fare SundayFrgeorge

"Then they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal Life." Matthew 25:46

To be sure, many can recite the Creed by heart, but the question is, if those who recite it, do understand the theology of its 12 Articles, which is the basis of the Christian Faith. The Creed is in capsule form, of everything we believe in, as Christians.

The 7th article of the Creed was the last article defined by the 318 Fathers in the 1St Ecumenical Council in the year 325 A.D. The remaining 5 Articles were defined in the 2nd Ecumenical Council in Constantinople, and to this day, it is proclaimed in the Orthodox Churches throughout the world.

The 7th Article as mentioned, emphasizes two basic teachings of our Church. Firstly, that our Lord Jesus will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and secondly, that His Kingdom will be Eternal, with no end. This Article was composed by our Holy Fathers, based on the many verses throughout the New Testament. Our Lord came into this world into the humblest of surroundings, but His 2nd coming is vividly described in the 25th Chapter of St. Matthews Gospel as follows: "When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the Holy Angels with Him, then, He will sit on the throne of His Glory. All Nations shall be gathered before Him, and He will separate them from one another, as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats."

Without this Judgment day, no moral law can stand. Among the many attributes of God, who is all-powerful and merciful, we believe that He is also absolute justice. Upon the basis of this justice, He will judge the world.
Truly, it is distressing at times to hear various laymen's "Theology." Even though they are baptized Christians, they come forth and declare that they don't believe in the resurrection of the dead during the 2nd coming of the Lord! In continuity we hear their brand of theology when they say: "It is in the life of this world that we pay or get paid for our acts. It is in this life, that we experience heaven or hell!"

These theories are personal and truly unfounded without any supporting basis, and, they are not only contrary with the Lord's teachings, but they also contradict every logic and justice. It is true, that we often see or hear of honorable people, who live by the book, who become victims to scheming and dishonorable individuals. We often hear of humble and sincere individuals, who are victimized by conniving people.

On the other hand, we see transgressors, who not only are brought to justice, but they are often lauded, as being some type of heroes! It is so heart breaking oftentimes, to see the honorable cast aside by the crooked, --- the pure, many times being taken advantage of, etc.

Very frequently honor is substituted by dishonor, --- truth by false hoods, and uprightness by hypocrisy. How then, can these inequalities and injustices be remedied? The skeptic says: "With the laws as they exist." But we recognize, that the laws are powerful only to a certain degree.

Oftentimes though, we see how weak and ineffective the laws are. The laws are powerful only to a certain degree. Many are judged and condemned. Many transgressors though, escape justice, because of loopholes or what have you, and they seem to be above the law. It is a parallel to the spider, which knits its web, and is able to trap small insects, but when it comes to anything larger, the spider as well as the web is destroyed.

I'm sure, that many of you must have heard people say: "It's not worth it in today's world to walk the chalk line." And they continue their thinking, which goes something like this: "As things are today, one has to resort to schemes to be able to survive!" To this line of thinking, the answer is rather simple, and it depends how they conceive their purpose in life, and how strong their faith is in God, and how they perceive Judgment Day and Eternal Life.

There is no doubt, that many God-fearing individuals suffer many trials and tribulations in life, while those, who exist for the material things in this world, seem to enjoy this life without any serious

happenings to them. Thus the question arises quite naturally, "where is the justice of this world?

That is why it is a veritable truth, that there will be a Judgment, separating the just from the unjust, during the Lord's second coming, and there will be eternity in God's glory for the just, as well as eternal condemnation for the great transgressors. That is why, Judgment Day is not only logical, but indeed believable.

Our Lord very graphically taught the future judgment with the Parable of the merciless rich man and the poor Lazarus. In that Parable we vividly see the condemnation of the merciless rich man and the rewarding of the poor Lazarus for his patience during his great suffering.

So many people refrain from hearing or thinking of the coming judgment Day, only because, they refuse to give up their materialistic living. They are somewhat like the proverbial ostrich, which seeing the danger approaching, buries its head in the sand, thinking that it will avoid the oncoming danger.

To sum it up, the coming Judgment Day is an undisputable truth because, 1. Our logic believes it. 2. Our heart longs for the future Glory with our Lord, and 3. while the philosophical mind spends a lifetime investigating, the mouth of the Eternal Truth, our Lord and Saviour declares it and certifies it.

Thus, being only one week away from the week, after which the 40 day Lenten period approaches, let us think seriously about the Eternal Truths, which give us all the guarantees of sharing God's glory.

Only when we honestly and faithfully seek to apply the Lord's Commandments in our everyday living, can we truly become God's children. Only then, we shall sense deeply in our hearts the Lord's words: "Come you blessed of my Father; inherit the Kingdom, which has been prepared for you, from the foundation of the world!" Amen.
 
+ Fr. George Papadeas

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“Therefore brethren stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught whether by word or our epistle.” - Thessalonians 2:15