Sunday 28 after Pentecost

Matthew 23:1-36

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, Amen.

In today’s Gospel, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ calls the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites. This is because outwardly they appeared righteous to men but inside they were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. The Pharisees and scribes were being judged by Christ because they set up buildings and monuments, not in honor of the prophets who were slain, but rather to make a show of the murderers and to say “we would not have been partakers with them.” As our Holy Father Saint John Chrysostom says, “The scribes and Pharisees spoke out of vain glory and were practicing virtue in words only, but in their works doing the contrary”. Their whole atmosphere, their whole way of life, and their mind set or phronima was unhealthy. They viewed the law as a rigid set of rules that judged one’s actions for the sole purpose of punishment, rather than viewing the law as a boundary, or spiritual aid for our salvation. In other words, the scribes and the Pharisees did not have the mind of Christ, or the mind of the Church, but had their mind set on earthly things.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ. We must remember that Christ is not just speaking to the scribes and Pharisees in today’s gospel but to you and I as well. We must not appear virtuous on the outside and full of dead men’s bones on the inside. We should strive to attain the mind of the Orthodox Church, which is the mind of Christ. As the Apostle Paul says: “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”

So just what is the Orthodox ecclesiastical mind? In keeping with our patristic tradition, I will first tell you what the mind of the Church is not: according to Hierotheos Vlachos, some may identify the mind of the Church with a blind obedience to some general laws or else connect it with outward things, or external things and characteristics which are constructs according to one’s passions.

According to the Holy Fathers, the mind of the Orthodox Church is the whole turn of mind, which prevails in a man from the way in which he lives, and from the relationship he has with God. Our thought, life, mode of living, our desire, our will, should be altered by the good alteration effected by the life of the Church. Acquiring the mind of Christ and His Church is a process, a journey. Through our small offerings and efforts with patience and perseverance, God will take our broken person and transfigure us into healthy, spiritually minded persons. We must remember to trust God as the foundation of the spiritual life, as Saint Theophan says: “nothing will happen all of a sudden; everything will come about in its own time. Everything you seek with faith will come. But when? When the Lord is ready to grant it.

We should, in hope, continue to come as often as we are able to Church, making the life within the Church our priority, we should read the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Holy Fathers, and to call on the name of our Lord as often as we remember throughout the day. It is through this way of life and atmosphere that we, by God’s grace, will begin to acquire the mind of the Church, and slowly be granted health, freed from spiritual blindness as we work out our own salvation.

To Him be all glory, honor and worship to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.