Sunday after Pentecost
In old days when Christians were gathered for sermons on the word of God in the small villages in North, some of the preachers had to choose at least one passage from Matthew, chapter eighteen. If a preacher visited a place and had sermons for three days and did not preach on these themes to the congregation, he was held for being a false prophet.
chapter is indeed very important, because it is the evangelical law for
the Church in every time. I emphasize the word evangelical, because a Christian
“have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be
married to another – (not to Moses) to him who was raised from the
death, that we should bear fruit to God.” (Rom. 7:4)
canonical law of the Orthodox Church is not the evangelical law, nor is it
a new law we need because we have become dead for the Law of Moses. The
canons are rules for the Church in time and history. Many of these laws
are now almost ridiculous, because if you are a priest for example you
can’t sleep on a hotel. Some of these laws are old and some will be old.
But the evangelical law is the law the baptized and newborn Christians who
are “not under the law but under grace”. (Rom. 6:14). It is the law
for the Church of the first disciples and it is the law for the last
disciples and Christians, who bear fruit to God. This fruit is the eternal
what is important in this evangelical law?
first is humility. The first story in the Church law of Matthew eighteen
is this: “At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying: ‘Who then
is the greatest in the kingdom of God?’ Then Jesus called a little child
to Him, set him in the midst of them and said that whoever humbles himself
as this little child is the greatest in the heaven. And in Matthew 11:29
we can read: “for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” God is humble. And
without humbleness it is not possible for us to please God, the holy
apostle says. And Peter, who has some problems in the Gospel of this day,
how often he had to forgive his brother, he says in his old days in the
first letter: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
(1 Peter 5:5). Even Peter seems to have learnt something that he didn’t
know before he asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive.
Church law is so important that Jesus talks gives advices about what to do
with a hand or foot, that causes one to sin. Cut it off and cast it from
you. Pluck out the eye that causes you to sin.
sin? He doesn’t talk to the world. He talks about his congregation, he
talks about his Church and the love between brothers and sisters. Rather
my hand and foot, even my eye before not forgiving, not loving my brother
and sister. This is the new law of freedom and love. Then, why do we in
the Orthodox Church speak so much about canon laws and so little about the
evangelical law of Lord our God? The law is for him, the Son of Man too.
If he looses one of his hundred sheep who goes astray, he leaves the 99
and seek for the lost. The Church law is even for the Father who is in
heaven, because he doesn’t want that anyone will perish. He gives not
only his foot, his hand for the nails, he gives his body to the cross and
death for us. He really knows and He really has the right to give the
advices, that I named.
do we do if one of our brothers or sisters goes astray, falls in sin?
Shall we call to the priest? Shall we call the bishop? Shall we take our
phone and call anybody? Shall we write letters and warn everybody for the
brother or sister? That is the usual way. Or those who knows the old
canons send copies of canons. What does the evangelical law, the word of
God himself say? It says: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell
him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained
your brother.” (Matthew 18:15). If he will not hear, take with you one
or two more. If he refuses tell it to church. If he doesn’t listen to
the church, the Church has the power to bind him. Not you or your company,
but the church.
now Peter is very astonished. If my brother listens to me and I gain him.
Then how often shall I forgive him. Up to seven times? It very much!
Jesus said: Up to seventy times seven.
is wrong with Peters proposal?
is the limit. He places a limit and measure to God’s boundless mercy and
therefore Christ’s answer to Peter removes the limits and measures from
divine mercy a he provides abundant pardon without limits to God’s
are the small sins we do to each other if we compare what we have done against
our Father, his Son and the Holy Spirit? It is the foot corresponding to
His body. It is the hand and eye to his holy heart and holy body, who the
soldier stuck with his lance? Jesus talks about a hundred denarii, 10
cents, ten Swedish crowns, I don’t know exactly, but it is very little.
Compare it to more than four millions crowns that the servant owed to his
master. It was impossible for him to pay it back. Seven times seven is not
enough. God forgives without limits. Then how can you ask for the pennies?
If we committed the worst crime that man can commit, to crucified God. How
can we pay it back? Is seven times seven enough?
how is it possible that we so often use our foot to bad things against our
brother and our eyes to see the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not
consider the plank in your own?
is the evangelical law. Amen.
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