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Shahovskoy, John - On the Sinners in the Gospels

Shahovskoy, John - On the Sinners in the Gospels

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Published by phenomenologia

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Published by: phenomenologia on Oct 08, 2012
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03/19/2013

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On the Sinners in the Gospels, and Other Sinners
Archbishop John (Shahovskoy) of San Francisco
When one looks upon the Gospel’s sinners, listens to
them and sees their behavior, one unavoidably thinks, howgood these sinners were basically compared to us and tothe people of our time. Here is a crowd, enraged by aviolation of a Divine commandment, approaching theSavior. It is dragging a woman "taken in adultery," and isready to stone her. How reverently this crowd hears thewise and succinct response of the Savior to their questionand how each of their consciences is directly moved by it.Is such a thing possible today? Overcome by the innerjudgement of their conscience, these sinners go their ownway. Could such a thing happen today? In the first place itis difficult to imagine that people today would be soupset, both religiously and sincerely, by the very idea of adultery. Such a sin today is celebrated, exalted in popularliterature, plays and cinema. This is a subject of numerousrepetitions, vainglory and special heroics. Would it bepossible to see the manifestation of such a religiousresponse to the sin that moved that Hebrew and pagancrowd in Jerusalem? One cannot imagine how people inwhatever current social milieu, could express such ferventoutrage towards a violation of Divine law and then
 
experience such a profound shame on hearing the calmand meek words of the Divine Teacher. See how all of them begin to leave, prodded by their own consciences.Not too many social critics of their neighbor couldproject such moral sensitivity today.And the Gospe
l’s sinful Prodigal Son. How he stirs our
consciousness with his subtle and profound repentance.What an incredible soul, in the humility of its feelings:"Father, I am not worthy to be Your son, accept me asone of Your hired hands."We also see those great Evangelical criminals, Ananias andSapphira, who lied to the Holy Spirit. Suddenly dying,because they held back the proceeds from some of thegoods that they voluntarily offered to God. Are they notinnocent babes compared to the spiritual hypocrites of ourtimes? How many Christians and even pastors todaypromise to give up their whole lives to the Lord God butgive up only an insignificant part, holding back the restfor their own selfish needs.And the Publicans, contemporary with our Lord JesusChrist, those tax gatherers, those first-century corruptofficials so despised by the Palestinian people, are they notinnocent babes compared to many officials of our days, inall lands and among all nations of the world?
 
Even the classical, frequently remembered Barabbas therobber, freed by Pilate instead of Christ, and who withoutdoubt would kill someone on the way
 — 
how can wecompare his crime with the methodical and consciouslymerciless destruction in our days of millions of innocentvictims, with their wives and children "for the good of theState"?Look at Zaccheus the tax gatherer. How quickly he runsto the tree so he can climb it and see the Savior! Howanxious is he to see the Savior! How he rejoices that hehas seen the Savior!The Gospel teaches us not only through its righteousones. It also leads us to repentance, towards God, throughthe images of its sinners, their humanity, their sensitivitytowards the good. Here, they are carrying the costlyalabaster jar with precious ointment and shatter it in order
to anoint the Savior’s body. Here they weep bitterly after
their renunciation. Here they stop on the road, as didSaul, blinded by the heavenly vision. All these thingschange their lives or, judging themselves upon their owncross, they beg the Lord to have mercy upon them.

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