Monday, November 24, 2008

Thoughts on the New Metropolitan

My respect and affection for Metropolitan Jonah are both deep and sincere (we served together in northern CA for about 7 years--he was a frequent visitor to my home when I was in Redding and I a frequent visitor to St John's Monastery).

That said, I think that--whatever his many gifts, Metropolitan Jonah can't make things right in the OCA on his own. As I said at the beginning of the OCA mess, we are wrong to think the problems facing the Church are just the result of a few bad apples. Likewise, the road to spiritual, pastoral and financial health is one that requires we all take responsibility for the life of the Church and commit ourselves personally to Christ and the Gospel.

We run into problems when we forget that our calling, our vocation given to us in baptism, is to proclaim Christ and Him crucified--we are all of us apostles and evangelists of the Good News and not of Orthodoxy as such. The tradition of the Orthodox Church--Liturgy, theology, icons, and asceticism--is not an end in itself--rather it is the context out of which we proclaim the Gospel.

I think of late we have heard too much about Orthodoxy and too little of Christ and the Gospel. Kerygma and Dogma are not opposed, as St Basil the Great reminds us--but neither are they the same thing. For all the converts we've received and new churches and monasteries that we've built, our focus has been too inward--too much of dogma--and too little outward--preaching the kerygma:

"Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation" (Mk. 16:15).

"God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation to save those who believe" (1 Cor. 1:21).

"We proclaim Christ crucified" (1 Cor. 1:23).

"For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord" (2 Cor. 4:5).

We will undermine our own hope in His Beatitude, and worse we will betray Christ, if we fall back into our old habits of being focused on ourselves and our own needs. We should by all means root ourselves ever more firmly in the Tradition of the Church but only so we can move with boldness and proclaim the Gospel. Again, we have spent too much time preaching Orthodoxy and too little Christ and Him crucified.

We ought not to make the mistake of preaching Jonah and not Jesus.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

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