In this video recording, Archbishop Christophoros from Jordan talks about the gospel reading of the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, the rich young man (Matthew 19:16-26). He reminds us that God desires holy people (1 Pet 1:16) and not just ‘good’ people. This is a sermon recorded in September 12th, 2021, by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese – Amman – Jordan.
English translation by Waad Rabahie
Video source (watch the full video here): Greek Orthodox Archdiocese – Amman – Jordan
Christ doesn’t want us good people. He wants us Saints. There’s a big difference between being a good person, which means you follow an ethical system of certain morals and being holy.
My children, we heard the Gospel’s reading today. There was a big question. Let’s together sail in the sea of Holy Church Fathers that is full of the Holy Spirit… And through the teaching of the Church and her Fathers, let’s dive into the depth of the sea of the Holy Spirit who dwells in our Holy Church.
A big question: “what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” [Matthew 19:16] Many civilizations sought to answer this question. How can a man be immortal? How can he live eternally and not die? How can a man not perish? A big question. The Lord answers it simply: “keep the commandments”. Today the Lord answers and tells each one of us: “Keep the commandments of the Gospel and the teaching of the Church. Do this and you will inherit eternal life.” The commandments mean to obey God and to love God. Our expression of love towards God is obeying Him. It means we trust Him, and that’s why we obey Him, knowing that whatever He says is for our benefit and not for our perdition.
But we should be careful to not transform the commandments into moral dimensions or Pharisaic virtues. What does this mean? When we keep the commandments we shouldn’t perform them externally. For example, the Scripture said one of the commandments: “You shall not murder”, don’t perform the crime of killing.
The Church Fathers wonder and I also ask you: how many times do we murder others daily? With words, sights, and body language, with disregard and neglect… How many husbands murder their wives in the house? How many times do the children watch their mothers being murdered by their fathers daily? Through words, indifference, disregard, and neglect. Isn’t this a murder? It’s worse than murder! That’s why the virtue becomes an ethical virtue when it doesn’t go deep inside, i.e. when it doesn’t change the man from within. One makes some actions externally, so that they show themselves in front of people to get praised: “This person is good.” Being good doesn’t benefit us spiritually. Being good doesn’t mean anything to Christ. Christ wants holy people, not good people. We should understand this. Deep inside, each commandant and each virtue should become a virtue, i.e. it should happen on the internal level, from within. So that man can change and become clothed with God.
It’s essential, my children, to understand this Christianly and spiritually. Thus we should be careful. And today’s Scripture reading warns us about becoming people performing an ethical system or becoming people performing Pharisaic virtues.
What do Pharisaic virtues mean? It is when we do something externally while there’s something else internally. Today’s Gospel is for each one of us and as Jesus answered the young man who asked about eternal life we too should give an answer to this question to our children who daily collide with sickness, corruption, and death. And to tell them through living that Christ is alive and if we died, we will live with Christ.
Hearing today’s Gospel, let’s all reflect on our relationships. The husband with his wife, the wife with her husband, husband and wife with their children.
Let’s start from our house and see how our relationships are. Do I murder the members of my family? Do I commit adultery? What do we do towards our families? As I said, it’s not about murder, adultery, bearing false witness and the other commandments mentioned. It’s about the inner [aspects]. Learning how to be humble, to listen and love. Learning how to forgive, to meet and understand others.
This is what today’s Scripture calls us to reflect on ourselves, so that we can be children of eternal life.