By Photios Kontoglou
When you talk to pseudo-christians about hard asceticism of the body and spirit for the love of Christ, they become angered, calling you a fakir, pagan or barbarian.
If you want to test the faith of a Christian, talk to them about asceticism. The faithful will feel compunction, while the lukewarm, those who are fake and faithless, will protest.
What about the sayings of Christ: "Blessed are they who have left all and followed Me," or "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force," or "In the world you will have sorrow," or "Tight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life."
We want to be Christians without Christ, without spiritual sorrow, without lifting the difficult cross, and would rather to walk along the wide road. Such false Christians, when you speak to them about a hard and impoverished life, about sacrifice, about asceticism, reply that Christ does not want such things, and that they are antics.
But, o foolish man, in Christianity nothing can be overdone. For all human things one could say they are antics, but it is only within Christianity that antics do not exist. What antic is there in loving the one who killed your father? What antic is there in turning the other cheek? What antic is there in hungering and thirsting contempt, in doing what God asks of you, such as loving your neighbor, talking sweetly to one swearing at you, not judging the one who judges you, to be humble before the most destitute people, and while doing all these things you say that you are a "worthless slave"?
What antic is there in believing that our bodies will be raised as immortal at the blink of an eye, and how the whole world will change at once, and that a new world without corruption will come about? So is there anything in Christianity that is an antic?
Christianity is the most outrageous of all that is outrageous, the most unbelievable of all things unbelievable.
This is why the door by which one enters the exotic country of Christ is only one - faith. And in faith there are no antics, while unbelief has sly prudence, moderation and compromise. This is why such pseudo-christians cannot withstand the fire of faith and have turned Christianity into a moral system, beneficial for worldly life, which is why it does not entirely need Christ. Because the unbeliever is scared, but whoever believes "is bold as a lion", according to the Prophet.
Whoever loves God, is ablaze without showing it, rejoices without laughing, is crushed in the depths of their selves. The love taught to us by Christ is something else besides so-called philanthropy. This is why philanthropists do not taste of this love of Christ, which is "water that wells with eternal life". The philanthropy people make today is a social debt. These philanthropists, and whoever is a practical person, are not Christians.
Whoever loves Christ and His Gospel, loves that which is worth loving above everything else. In Christ they can find all worthwhile things: love, humility, pain, gentleness, spiritual sorrow and spiritual joy - which are both sweet when done in the name of Christ.
"Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Give us rest? We do not want to even hear it. We want to be saddled with our passions, with our enemies, with our wars, with our cares for ambition, for the flesh, with contaminated blood, with pistols, with cannons, with bombs. What will we do without these things, Mr. Peacemaker? How can we live in rest? With what will we fill our emptiness, since for us life is only these things?
You give us peace, but peace is our death, because it is the death of our beloved passions! If You said "I will load you with other such burdens, that you do not recognize; I will enrich your souls with other such riches, that you may have no peace", then we would come near You, and receive You as our God.
We want gods that will load us, vindictive ones, like Aries, Zeus, Cronos and deceivers like Hermes, and others. We want to live in wickedness, for it is alive and strong.
"Yes, come Lord!" cries out John with joy to Him who comes on the clouds at the Second Coming. You must be a saint, righteous and even a John in order to rejoice at the coming of Christ and wait for Him. But we cry out "do not come Lord". Because we are sinners, and the wrath of the Lord is coming upon us.
With the "atom bomb" we consider these things. Once learned, fear comes upon every heart. Blessed are those who are ready at all times! But alas! Who is ready like John, the holiest of the saints?
All of us fear that You will come as a thief in the night (Lk. 21). If you curse or bad talk people, or if you write something bad to them, there will come a time when they will forgive you. (Unlikely, brother, forget it!).
One who will not ever forgive you for that will hate you, and they live in such a way that they are embarrassed about their own life, and may the voyage of your life be a rebuke of their own. Whoever has wholeheartedly tasted of the peace of Christ, does not torture themselves that they are poor, since they willfully desire poverty, and they lose their joy when they acquire something beyond needed, even if it is the most worthless thing. And whatever is humble and poor and prudent, they love it secretly within their heart without saying anything to anyone, because the humble love silence and obscurity.
"The Lord is near those who sorrow in their hearts." When temptations are scattered and the door to false joy and rest is opened, the door to true joy closes. Christians feel this clearly.
I thank You, Lord, abounding in mercy. I praise You, I glorify You, because You created us from nothing. But You did not only create me once, but every day You create me from nothing, because every day You remove me from the shadow of death, to which I fall back.
In this unfathomable world, among these people who are ants, I am a nothing. Every person is a nothing. Nevertheless You remember every person and find them and pull them back to You, and You animate them from the dead, and You recreate them with Your paternal hand, as if each of us are alone in the world.
Your mighty power upholds all of creation and every soul as if they were the one and only. And You make them feel immortality as if they were the one and only, and they feel You to be a compassionate Father, who never tires to forgive and recreate us, who die every hour with sin.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.