November 17 - St. Theophan the Recluse - Favor of Men, Favor of God
Wednesday, 22nd week after Pentecost
Epistle reading: Colossians 3:17-4:1
Gospel reading: Luke 11:42-46

Favor of Men, Favor of God

The Lord begins His reproof of His fellow men by pointing that they “pass over judgment and the love of God” [Luke 11:42]. The wane of honesty and love, stemming from selfishness, is at the root of any incongruity, be it in the social realm or in a particular soul.

When selfishness takes residence in a human heart, a whole host of passions follow it there. Selfishness knocks out honesty and love — they do not exist without self-denial — while the derived passions force all other virtues out, and the man, by the condition of his heart, becomes useless for any good purpose. He might still be able to “tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs” [Luke 11:42], but has no resolve for anything more serious than that. This does not make the external behavior deteriorate. No, it can be arrayed with the appearance of respectability. Yet in essence man becomes “as a grave which appears not, and the men that walk over it are not aware of it” [Luke 11:44].

Recovery can start only with the rebirth of self-denial in the heart. That is followed by the restoration of honesty and love, which bring about the revival of all other virtues. Then the heart condition of such a person becomes favorable in the eyes of God, even though his external appearance could be viewed by the people unfavorably. But the judgment of men matters little, as long as God’s judgment is in our favor.