Orthodox America


  God’s Chosen People


By Fr. Dimitri Dudko

In the early 70's, when few courageous voices were to be heard from the Moscow Church, Fr. Dimitry attracted many people to his popular question and answer serious. For this he was arrested in 1980 and was released only when, under extreme pressure, he "confessed" to anti-Soviet crimes on national TV, an act which caused him great and prolonged personal anguish. In recent years he has resumed his pastoral activities, and lectures on religion at Moscow University. He is the author of several books, including Our Hope (SVS Press, 1977).

 

      He who is perfect in love and has reached the summit of passionlessness knows no difference between his own people and strangers or between believer and infidel, between bond and free, or even male and female. Being above the tyranny of passions and seeing one human nature, he looks equally on all men and is equally disposed towards them all. There is in him 'neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female,' but all in all is Christ (Gal. 3:28). St. Mark the Ascetic, Second Century on Love

 The baptism of Jews is a joyous phenomenon. They are getting baptized because it's time; they are getting baptized because they've reconsidered. In being baptized they are not betraying their people; they're enriching them. From a narrow world they are entering a broad world, a world of all peoples, a world of the Kingdom of God. 

      Those Jews who are being baptized today undoubtedly experience difficulties. It is not easy to tear oneself from one's roots and graft oneself onto a new tree.

      Those who are baptized are martyrs. Their shoulders bear a double measure of suffering: misunderstanding on the part of their own people, and even others cannot understand them fully. Besides which they must battle with themselves, with sins inherited and acquired.

A bloody, tormenting battle.

      But these torments are filled with grace; they are soul-saving, meaningful.

      The first of the Jews to be baptized are following in the steps of the early Christian martyrs. This is as it should be; if not, their Christianity is insufficient.

      The Jews are a God-chosen people; they gave belief, but they also gave unbelief. Unbelief is the contrary, shady side of belief. For this reason, where there is belief, there is also unbelief. Where there is God's grace, there  too, is evil, the falsehood of the enemy.

      God-chosenness must be earned through being a God-bearer, otherwise it turns into self-satisfaction and degenerates into evil.

      Being a God-bearer is acquired through repentance and suffering.

      God-chosenness is a free gift, and therefore it is often undervalued. What is acquired without labor is not properly valued.

      One must suffer in order to be a God-bearer.

      A cross falls to the lot of the chosen. I think it is not by chance that such a Cross has fallen to the Russian Orthodox Church, to the Russian people; God is preparing something special for us.

      I am partial to Russians not because I myself am Russian, but because, first of all, Russians suffer a great deal, and thereby they are able to assimilate Christ; secondly, they accept suffering with humility, they repent in times of suffering and are thereby enlightened; they accept God into their hearts, bear Him in their hearts.

      The Russian is a God-bearer not for any external reason; externally he may be no better than anyone else. He is a God-bearer because God finds room within him, in that depth which opens up in times of trial.

      There is a danger in God-chosenness: it spills into theomachy, in its worst form--in substituting an idol for God. There is no such danger in being a God-bearer because this is not a gift: one must suffer a great deal to be a God-bearer.

      The Christians accuse the Jews of persecuting them; the Jews blame the Christians. This is a vendetta which will never make right.

      We must stand above our personal offense and, forgetting everything, understand that we at all brothers in Christ. In Christ there is neither Greek nor Iew. Only in this way will there be success; otherwise there will again be malice, fighting, destroying one another, and no good will come of it for either side.

      Without forgetting your own people, one must be mindful of strangers; here, too, there is a remembrance of one's own. Love is a broad commandment

      If you, a Russian, cannot understand and accept a Jew, saying, "Well, but does he understand us?"--you are not Russian; you yourself are a Jew an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, whether or not you recognize it. A Jew overcomes his limitation in accepting Christianity, all the more if he accepts Russians.

      Christianity is a religion which unites all nations through love. Not to understand this mean that one understands nothing about Christianity.

      Christianity expands the heart and the understanding, Christianity looks from above, like the sun, and sees everyone.

      To speak today about God-chosenness is shameful; we are all at fault, including the Jews. It is even more disgraceful to claim any special worthiness. One can only talk about being a God-bearer and even this, [not as a fact but] as a desire, as one's greatest aspiration.

      What is happening in Russia is not simply Russian affair, and it should not be confined to Russia. We need workers all over the world, because all the fields are white with harvest.

      It is characteristic of Jews that they penetrate to the depths. Russians alone can be compared to them. And it is not by chance that Jews have a special dialogue with Russians. The Jews dislike the Russian possibly as they dislike no one else. At the same time it is perhaps the Russians whom they love more than anyone.

      In one way or another we play around with the Jews, both when we love them and when we hate them. Our love is somewhere mixed with hatred and our hatred--with love.

But we mustn't play around.

      With the coming of Christ, those who believe in Him became equal. We must learn to talk with each and everyone, regardless of his nationality, as equals, and to love him with absolute love.

Hatred towards the Jews blinds and closes the eyes to such an extent that we deny their very humanity, that they are made in the image and likeness of God. The ultimate blindness!

     Christ came to all; when Christ comes to dwell within us, everything stands in its place. We are all--children of God. Before God, feelings of superiority and feelings of hatred melt, like wax from fire.

The Jews have an inborn hatred for others. They believe they are God s chosen people, that they are special, and others hate them for this. And through the hatred of others God is preparing them to accept Christ. So that haired would destroy hatred. In order that they would be convinced that life cannot be built on hatred, forgiveness is necessary.

     The two most hated nations in the world--the Jews and the Russians. Add to this their mutual hatred.

     The Jews cannot be forgiven their chosenness, the Russians----that they are God-bearers. The Jews are perhaps hated more because they did not understand God's visitation...

     What is the reason for this mutual hatred? Again, it is probably envy: talented people hate each other. But this hatred can easily turn to love: when both nations meet on Golgotha, at the time of Anti-Christ. He will lead all to Golgotha.

     There used to be the chosenness of the Jews. It signaled the coming of Christ into the world. The coming of Christ ended the chosenness of the Jews; everyone became God's chosen, And there began "God-bearingness".

     It's harder to understand the Bolsheviks than anyone else, but one must understand them, overcome one's feelings of aversion. We are all brothers, and the deeper a brother is in error the more he needs attention and love.

     Without an understanding of Eternal Life, a person is always hurt and unhappy.

     Only atheism can give rise to despotism. A despot is a substitute for the divinity.

     Here in Russia we have a lot to do. First of all, the Jews and the Russians must find a common language. God chose the one and the other. Jews and Russians---this is the leaven of the whole world. If the Jews and Russians were to unite in Christ, this would be a mighty deed.

     Unfortunately, for the time being, mutual distrust, pride, hatred are blinding our eyes.

     A priest should see before him: not some politician, not a person of some particular nationality, not a sinner not a righteous man. He should see before him first of all a MAN, The image and likeness of God.

     This should determine his attitude toward the person. A priest should have no other feeling than the feeling of Christ.

     Christ came to all, desiring that all should be saved.

     To save others and save himself together with them---this is the duty and task of a priest.

     Ethnic hatred is growing. This is Very dangerous. There was never any good in hatred and cannot be. Hatred can be conquered only with love. No organization, no force; LOVE! The more love, the closer the victory.

      To understand one another means to strive toward truth and love.

      I feel sorry for everyone: for the Russians, and the Jews, for believers, and unbelievers, for communists, for non-party members. I feel sorry for everyone, especially here in our sinful Russia land... Everyone blames everyone else, hates...Whereas one should love everyone, pity them, everyone without exception.

      Is it possible that people will not understand my pity? Is it possible that for this, too, they will hate me?

      Everything is possible. They hated Christ for His love; why should they love me, a sinner?

      Lord, help me to be patient and endure. Grant us to attain the resurrection from the dead and to be happy for all people. Save us, Lord! 

Translated from Premudrostiyu Vonmem (“Wisdom, let us attend”) by Priest Dimitri Dudko; Svobodnoe Slovo Karpatskoi Rusi, New York, 1980.

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