By Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria
Hypocrisy: The Illness of our Time
In Matins of Holy and Great Tuesday, which is chanted by custom in the evening of Holy and Great Monday, there will parade before us hypocrisy and the hypocrites, the theater and actors, and will feature the terrible “woe” which our Lord sent to the exponents of hypocrisy.
“Woe to you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces… You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin… You are like whitewashed tombs…” (Matthew 23:13-29).
What is hypocrisy? It is the pretense of friendship, the God-bearing Fathers of the Church will answer. Hatred hidden under the schema of friendship. Hatred manifested as friendship. Envy characterized as love. Hypocrisy is fictional and not real life virtue. It is the pretense of justice. It is fraud which has the form of truth, according to Maximus the Confessor.
A hypocrite is a man who from a person becomes a mask. A hypocrite is one who puts forward his ego, and idolizes his own self. A hypocrite is one who plays the actor.
Hypocrisy is when one supposedly cares and sacrifices for others while exploiting them. It is one who pretends to be unhappy, sad, persecuted and complains in order to create impressions and distract the attention of others.
A hypocrite is one who uses various disguises, masks, to reveal the frustrations of his experiences, to externalize the passions which exist in the soul.
This is why it is observed that this phenomenon is not given much importance to what the Church calls a sin, rather considering it as a natural state, and others as a catapult to punish our ruthless fellows.
For those ears that can endure the words of my revered Elder, the Metropolitan of Katerini Agathonikos, he said:
“When you see these situations know that there is a problem there and even a schizophrenic situation, and you are to supplicate God for the healing of this man.”
The hypocrite constantly wants to show himself off so people can talk about him, to praise him and receive honors from everyone else. This situation makes him anxious, nervous, and it gets even worse when it is perceived by people. This occurs especially in our era and in the lifestyle we choose that moves away from our tradition.
And unfortunately we all, more or less, are possessed by this passion. Clergy and laity are under the cloak of hypocrisy.
We have been altered from persons to masks and from people who had upon us the grace of God to secularized beings, as has been observed by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos.
How correct was the Elder of Chalcedon Meliton when he said on Cheesefare Sunday in the Metropolitan Church of Athens,
“I criticize hypocrisy”, stressing that all of us “pretend that yesterday is today and tomorrow comes without us.”
Let us supplicate fervently with tears of repentance and kneeling to come to the Passion of the Savior and Redeemer the Lord Jesus Christ to rid us of the terrible passion of hypocrisy.
May He cleanse us from the passions that we may discard the masks of hypocrisy and become real people.
“O Lord, deliver us from all deceit and hypocrisy” (1 Peter 2:1).