Why does error have a free rein and why does God allow the wicked to disturb the existence of so many people?
First of all, before trying to understand, we need to put ourselves in front of the incomprehensible wisdom of God. One who is firmly anchored in God does not suffer any loss, even if attacked by a thousand waves and a thousand storms. On the contrary, he emerges stronger.
There is a reason, however, which I can venture to suggest.
In the first place, scandals are permitted so that the rewards of the righteous may not be diminished. That is why God said to Job: “Do you not understand that I have treated you in this fashion so that righteousness may be made manifest?” [Job 40:8]
But there is a another reason why the wicked are left at large: so that they may not be deprived of the advantages of conversion from their evil ways, which certainly could not happen if they had been rendered incapable of doing evil. In this way, Saint Paul, the penitent thief, the prostitute, the tax collector and many others were saved.
You may speak to me about those who have been scandalized. Well and good. But I then speak to you about those who have benefited from the scandal by winning glory, and I repeat my point: the existence of careless and lazy people would not justify leaving in a state of inferiority keen and wide-awake people who are capable of richly deserving their eternal recompense. A great wrong would be done to them if they were not given the chance to strive.
“What does it mean to say: He was transfigured?” asks the Golden-Mouthed Theologian (Chrysostom). He answers this by saying: “It revealed something of His Divinity to them, as much and insofar as they were able to apprehend it, and it showed the indwelling of God within Him.” The Evangelist Luke says: “And as He prayed, His countenance was altered” (Luke ); and from the Evangelist Matthew we read: “And His face shone as the sun” (Matthew17:2). But the Evangelist said this, not in the context that this Light be thought of as subsistent for the senses (let us put aside the blindness of mind of those who can conceive of nothing higher than what is known through the senses). Rather, it is to show that Christ God, for those living and contemplating by the Spirit, is the same as the sun is for those living in the flesh and contemplating by the senses. Therefore, some other Light for the knowing the Divinity is not necessary for those who are enriched by Divine gifts. (Saint Gregory Palamas)
O God, You commanded us to listen to Your beloved Son, deign to nourish us interiorly by Your word, so that, with our spiritual view having been purified, we may rejoice in the Presence of Your glory.
Question: How can a person know that his prayer is acceptable to God? (1 Pt 2:5)
Answer: When a person makes sure that he does not wrong his neighbor in any way whatsover, then let him be sure that his prayer is acceptable to God (see Ex 20:16-7; Mt 19:19). But if someone harms his neighbor in any way whatsoever, either physically or spiritually, his prayer is an abomination and is unacceptable. For the wailing of the one who is being wronged will never allow this person’s prayer to come before the face of God. And if indeed he does not quickly reconcile with his neighbor, he will certainly not go unpunished his whole life by his own sins, for it is written that whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven (Mt 18:18).
Tim Vivian, ed., Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers. (Collegeville: Cistercian Studies, 2008).
Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.