Fr. George Morelli is the President of the Society of St. John Chrysostom - Western Region
If you turn on any news-program or look at the front page of almost any newspaper no one living in today’s world can miss the egregious personal, social, political and religious brokenness surrounding us. It is also so easy to perceive this brokenness as being the problem and responsibility of others. However, in the Eastern Church there is no such thing as a solitary sin. Even an infraction done in total privacy is a wound to the totality of mankind created by God. Just as an injury to any part of our body actually affects the entire body, so too, all of us are affected by the sins of even the ‘least’ one who makes up God’s human creation.
Because the Church is mystically “Christ’s Body,” how much greater are sins that injure the Church? The sinfulness of separation, the brokenness of those who make up the Body of Christ is a glaring violation of Our Lord’s priestly prayer at the last Supper: “Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” Separation is a wound, scandal, illness, infirmity, and thus a dreadful sin. All of us are affected by this wound and all of us are called upon to heal this wound. A theme of one of the great feasts of the beginning of the civil calendar year is the Gospel passage from St. Matthew (4:17) read on the Sunday after the Theophany: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The first step in healing any sin is repentance. Repentance means a change of mind and heart. But there is prior step we have to do that enables us to repent.
It is told to us by Jesus in the parable of the Prodigal Son. St. Luke (15:17) writes that the Prodigal Son, at a certain point when he was mired in swill feeding the swine, had come to a point when “he came to himself.” In separating from his Father he was ‘outside of himself.’ He had to come to the realization that to be his true self he would have be to be united with his father and family again. Then he was ready to go back to his father, repent and be united as one family again. Our active involvement in our grassroots Society of St. John Chrysostom is our opportunity to affirm that our ‘true self’ is to be united together as one family in the Body of Christ. Our continued devotion and commitment to the work of the Society can strengthen our own resolution, be a witness to and model our desire to attain the unity Christ wills for His Body the Church, when He commanded that all “may be one.” O Christ, our heavenly physician, Come, heal our wound and sin of separation.