January 28, 2015

Saint James the Ascetic, Who Was a Rapist and Murderer

St. James the Ascetic (Feast Day - January 28)

God sees His creatures, such as man, not from what can be observed, but from the heart. And by His choices, He gives a loud slap to our respectability and pietism. If such a man as Saint James lived today, journalists would completely destroy him. Yet this man was recognized by God, and God revealed him to be one of our saints.

Yes, actions are a sign of holiness or evil. But not always. There are cases when saints have fallen, and fallen hard. A well known example from ancient times of an adulterer and murderer is King David, the man who "was after God's heart". But in later times, God has allowed saints to have dramatic falls, for many reasons, of which the three most important are:

1. That we may not rest on our laurels.

2. That our pietism and criticism of others may be struck.

3. That we might experience the saving power of repentance, and defeat despair.

God does not judge from what can be observed, as people do. Nor is it beneficial for the Church to judge. Christians are not judges of their brethren, but physicians and fellow sick. Their role is not to condemn, but help, comfort and heal their fellow sick with God's help, no matter how heavy their sickness may be.

Purification for Christians is a personal matter, and applies to each person individually. It is not massively applicable to a group, whether it is the Church or something else. Because in every group there will always be someone who falls, and in the field of the Lord there will always be weeds, till the end of time.

So let us not condemn our brethren, whatever they may do. Instead, let us weep and pray for them, for whose sake Christ died. And let us revive ourselves, saying: "Woe to me a sinner! For if this my good brother fell, what kind of fall awaits me, the sinner and ungodly!"

For God "opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble", and with "the measure by which we measure, by the same measure will we be measured".

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.