Saturday, November 17, 2007

Our Great Denial

Last week I was attending the vespers for the Archangels at Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church. Although His Grace Bishop Christophoros was presiding, Fr. Peter Mentis (the parish priest) was asked to deliver the sermon.

Among the many excellent points that Fr. Peter made, one struck me as very insightful. He said, while talking about the spiritual realm, that many of us become so wrapped up in our earthly lives, that many times we forget to acknowledge that there is a spiritual reality as well. Furthermore, since man is made up of both the physical and the spiritual world, to deny the existence of the spiritual side is to deny a part of ourselves and in essence to deny God, who is ultimately part of that spiritual reality. This denial is what Fr. Peter called the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Now this got me thinking; "I never thought of it that way." But in essence he is 100% correct. In the Scripture, Christ says that the only unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This statement has perplexed theologians and scholars for many centuries because it seems that it goes against the rest of the New Testament which clearly states that all sins are forgiven through repentance. So what does it mean that this sin cannot be forgiven?

What Fr. Peter is trying to say is that in order for repentance to happen, one must realize that what they are doing is wrong in the first place. How can one seek a cure if they do not even know they are sick? And it is this point that I wanted to emphasize; by denying the spiritual realities of life altogether, we deny God. If we deny God, how can we ask Him to forgive us?

We become so focused on the day to day problems but we are not guided by the Word of God that is taught in His Church. Therefore, we do not even know what is right and what is wrong. If we cannot even distinguish the good from the bad, than how can we know what to be sorry for? It is for this reason that by denying the Holy Spirit, denying the enlightenment that it can bring to our lives, we effectively cut ourselves off from God. Therefore, we cannot be forgiven because we do not even ask for it.

This mentality is rampant in our society today, where most of us are content in living out our lives according to whatever we believe to be true. Our egos do no allow us to hear the voice of Christ, the voice of the Church. We do not listen because the Good News, to those who do not heed the Word, is really Bad News. And as we know, it is much easier to convince ourselves that we are good people, than to actually stop and look at our lives and deal with the scary possibility that we are not good at all; to face the fact that we are not perfect, or holy, or even moral. Most of us are broken, scared, depressed and spiritually diseased and we need help that is not of the world if we are to recover. If we cannot come to this realization and begin the long process of forgiving ourselves, how can we ever expect God to do the same?