Archdiocese News - NINTH SUNDAY OF LUKE [English/Arabic]

[Arabic Version]

Fill Yourself with Holy Spirit
“Do not make yourselves drunk with wine; that leads to loose, wild living”.
(Eph. 5:10-19).

Dear brethren, today’s Epistle Lesson is superb. And merely by reading it and learning it by heart is enough, because, no matter how much we might try to explain it, we could not add anything worthy of mention.

St. Paul follows a plan when he writes his letters, which are, of course, God- inspired. He divides his letters into two parts, which are almost equal. The first part is the theoretical, the second the practical. Or, the first is the doctrinal and the second is the moral. He does this because morality without dogmatic truth cannot stand, and neither can dogma make progress without morality. In order to practice the words of the gospel, you must first accept and believe that He who spoke them was the Being, the Alpha & Omega, the beginning and the end, the Savior of the world who came to save sinners. If you are not going to accept His way, but will accept Him as one of the teachers or establishers of one of the religions, then his Gospel and his law will not be relevant for your. It will be no different from the human laws made by men, and which as such are relevant to you.

In the second part of his epistle Paul always tells the Christians what their behaviour should be in order to practice the doctrine and theory of the first part. From the theory follows the practice and from the correct faith comes the good life.

Today’s Epistle Lesson has a unique characteristic. It is as if it were written yesterday and was addressed to us, to modern Christians who have 2,000 years of Christian life.

Paul writes to the Christians of Ephesus and tells them to avoid keeping company with people who commit such sins that he is embarrassed even to name them: “For the things that people do in secret, it is shameful even to speak of”.

If Paul could write to us today I am sure he would repeat the same thing. For instance, many people do not feel shame or blush when they read in the newspaper that a man married another man, or that a woman married another woman. History tells us that the Roman Emperor Caligula, in order to prove how corrupt human dignity had become in his time, appointed his horse as his counsellor. Today a spinster left $14,000,000 to her dogs in Florida, as we read in a newspaper article. Do not misunderstand; I am not an enemy of animals. On the contrary, but not as much as man, who is made after the image and likeness of God.

Paul also writes to the Christians of Ephesus: “Be very careful, therefore, how you walk; as wise men, not foolish, making good use of your time, for these are evil days”. He would say the same to us today. Be careful how you walk; not through mud or darkness, but through the good road which is asphalt, the road of the Gospel. Do not throw away the Gospel and the respect due to God and rush into the world unhesitatingly simply to enjoy life. Do not imitate the foolish one of today’s evangelical parable, who every night thought only of ways to gather all his goods into warehouses. Never once did he stop to think that the end would come, where there is a cemetery where judgement follows and from which condemnation issues. St. Chrysostom says: “Nothing worse and inhuman existed than his decision. Indeed he demolished his apothics, because the insured apothics were not the walls but the empty stomachs of the poor people. He abandoned these apothics and turned his attention to the walls”. Of course his friends, his neighbours, and the majority of society admired him and considered him to be very wise, gathering such properties and possessions; but he was neither wise nor blessed. St. Chrysostom said that he was asking for a shipwreck. “The ship of the wealthy man was filled with merchandise and was sailing with favourable winds. But it was not bound for good fortune, because it was hastening toward a shipwreck, because the captain didn’t take time to arrange the load carefully”. So the rich man also is proved unwise, as are they who imitate him, who think that nothing exists beyond their worldly goods and their care for life.

So Paul writes: “Do not make yourselves drunk with wine; that leads to loose, wild living”. I read the latest statistics on alcohol in America, which I will quote here without any personal comment, inasmuch as they speak for themselves.
1- America has 10 million chronic alcoholics.
2- Approximately 250,000 new cases of alcoholism occur every year.
3- Of the 60,000 Americans killed in traffic accidents annually, 30,000 have alcohol in their blood at the time of the accident.
4- Over half a million disabling injuries were sustained last year in crashes involving problem drinkers.
5- There are 2,000,000 arrests annually for public drunkenness.
6- Americans spent over 25 billion dollars for alcohol last year.
7- Over half the states report that alcoholism is the most frequent diagnosis for first-time admissions to state hospitals.
8- One third of all suicides are alcohol-related.
9- Insurance statistics reveal a 10 to 12 year decrease in life expectancy among alcoholics.
10- Nearly one third of all cases handled in child guidance centers show one or both parents are involved with chronic alcoholism.

St. Chrysostom presents the drunkard as being worse than swine: “What evil does not drunkenness work?” Do not condemn the use of wine but the misuse.

Dear brethren, Christ before his passion spoke to His disciples and said that He would not leave, but would send His Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth. So let us take care to keep the Paraclete with us, and let us try to fill ourselves with the Holy Spirit as St. Paul says today.


From our Late Metropolitan Paul

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