TODAY Orthodox Christians celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. On major feasts, priests traditionally pray from the Divine Liturgy according to St. Gregory, in which the saint writes:
One tree there was, from which You forbade me to eat."What is this tree?" I wondered. Then, meandering along on my run this morning, I spontaneously felt such great love for all the wonderful things around me: the fresh, crisp air; the trees, beautiful even in their barrenness; the crimsoning of the sky just past the clouds; the gentle give-and-take between my legs and the road. I began to think back upon any earlier part of that liturgy:
This of which You said to me: "From this only do not eat!"
I ate of my own free will.
I laid aside Your law by my own will.
I neglected Your commandments and brought upon myself the sentence of death.
Holy, Holy are You, O Lord and Holy in every thing, and exceedingly elect is the light of your essence.And it all seemed to come together. That "tree" is sin itself. Eating from that tree is to look around at the plethora of legitimate pleasures (legitimate lusts, if you will allow it) and to spurn all of them, to turn from God and rush headlong for the one sinful option among them.
And inexpressible is the power of Your wisdom.
No manner of speech is able to define the deep expanse of Your love for mankind
You, as a Lover of mankind, created me, a man. You had no need of my servitude. Rather, it was me who was in need of Your lordship.
Because of the multitude of Your compassions, You formed me when I had no being.
You set up the sky for me as a ceiling.
You made the earth firm for me so that I could walk on it.
For my sake You bridled the sea.
For my sake You have revealed the nature of the animals.
You subdued everything under my feet.
You did not permit me to lack anything from among the deeds of Your honor.
You are He who formed me,
And placed Your hand upon me.
You wrote within me the image of Your authority;
And placed within me the gift of speech.
You opened for me the paradise, for my delight;
And gave me the learning of Your knowledge.
You revealed to me the tree of life!
To find 1,000 good causes to support and to find the one aspect of one them to attack.
To ignore the many great qualities in your spouse and to compare her/him to the person on the magazine at the supermarket checkout.
To go to your university library, full of books and knowledge and good things and to choose to sit beside that one guy or girl who you know is trouble.
To fail to be overwhelmed by God's love, pressing, as it is, against you from every side!
In short to eat from that tree is to buy the field of bad intentions and dig for the most poisonous option, seeking it diligently as thought it were that pearl of great price.