"…and Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold,
this child is set for the fall and raising again of many in Israel;
and for a sign which shall be spoken against..."
It has been brought to our attention that on Tuesday night, the 28th of February 2023, on The Project, broadcasted by channel 10, blasphemous words were spoken against our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
For Orthodox Christians it is the first week of Holy and Great Lent, a time of fasting and intensified prayer, a time of silence and reflection, a time of restoration and illumination, a time of heightened spiritual warfare, an entering into the spiritual arena of the heart on our journey to regeneration and the Feast of Feasts - the Holy Resurrection.
Whilst the Church holds vigil, praying for the salvation of the world... the demons are at their business of making noise, trying to distract the faithful in order to draw their attention away from prayer, from Christ, to the vanities of this fallen world, to its profane, superfluous and idle talk, its gossip and brokeness.
These blasphemous utterances are a product of a world and society that has rejected God. Christ tells us that the entire world lies in evil (1 John 5:19). Do we not see that the prophetic words of St Paul in Romans 1:28 perfectly describe this generation?
Let us listen to what he says, "Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy..."
We need to realise that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).
Great Lent is a recapitulation of all that which Christ did for us and our salvation, a journey that leads us through Golgotha to the Triumphant and all-glorious Resurrection, the ultimate defeat and loosening of the profound grip and sting the triad of sin, death and the devil had over humanity.
As Orthodox Christians, we also join others in rebuking that which transpired on the Project as completely unacceptable and inexcusable.
We also pray that Christ illuminates the hearts and minds of those who continue to wander without direction in this life, who sit in darkness, that they may come to the knowledge of Truth, which will set them free (John 8:31-32).
Christ is a sign that will be spoken against, as St Symeon the God-Bearer prophesied. This is because He stands at the centre of human history, there is non-other like Christ, He is the Way, the Truth and Life (John 14:6),the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 21:6).
He is the corner stone by which all things are held together (Colossians 1:17). However, we should be reminded that Scripture also teaches that whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to dust.” (Luke 20:18).
May the Lord be merciful!
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. Amen.
Bishop of Australia and New Zealand
The Serbian Orthodox Church