The Price on Our Heads

The Price On Our Heads

In America the word “Slavery” calls to mind very specific and charged imagery from our Nation’s past.  But the institution itself has existed across the globe in every culture from the beginning of human history. No matter what form slavery has taken it always carries the same identifiable, qualifying feature-namely: That there is a price on human life that is worth more than the value of any individual person.

It is not hard to identify nations and places where the practice exists and is allowed to flourish. Thankfully, there has been an ever rising crescendo of voices openly speaking against the cheapening and sale of human beings who are the image and likeness of God. But there is another type of servitude, another slavery. More subtle and more dangerous and much harder to identify because it is a prison into which we place ourselves.

St James in his Epistle says: “you ask but you do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” and this word passions “ta pathi” becomes one of the most important words in the Orthodox Christian life.

Passions does not mean things we are excited about. The passions, pathi, for the Church Fathers are Neurotic and Obessive desires gone wrong. They are appetites that have gone out of control and take on a life of their own. The classic example is Gluttony, hunger is fine but when taken to an extreme it becomes Gluttony.

When something crosses that line to becoming the focal point of our life, make no mistake we are far from free.  No matter how much we find we are enjoying ourselves in that moment, in that indulgence which we cannot truly stop or live without. We find that we have become slaves.

St. Paul tells us that there were some who wished “to make a good showing” a good appearance before other people and these people wanted his followers to become “circumcised” not out of faith but to “avoid persecution.” We fear persecution more than anything else.  Sometimes that persecution is our own mind and body that rebels when it does not get what it wants. Sometimes it comes from others demanding that “they” and not Christ define who we are.

The message of Christ resounds that the cost of our integrity is an unacceptable price tag and that whatever the desire, or pressure there is no amount for which you may be sold. Christ has given us a Spirit of Courage and not fear, before the pressures of life convince you to sell your integrity for comfort, because you feel you are alone, because you believe that you are unaided, whisper instead back into the dark the words of the Prophet Elisha, who also found himself outnumbered-“See, those who are with us are more than those who are against us.”

+Amen

 

Originally Recorded: September 18, 2016

ABOUT FATHER MICHAEL MARCANTONI

Fr. Michael Marcantoni is the priest at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit in Rochester, NY. Originally from Puerto Rico, he is a Veteran of the United States Army, he has been married to his Presbytera Katherine from Arequipa, Peru for 10 years. They have two children. Led by the Spirit is presented to you to be practical, applicable spiritual guidance for the struggles of everyday life.

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