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by Fr. Andrew G. George

(Matt. 5:14-19)

I doubt if there was a person in our entire nation who was not affected by
the two very sorrowful events that took place this past October 1994 ...
the mass murder of members of the cult known as the Order of Solar Temple,
simultaneously in Switzerland and in Canada as a result of fires set by
remote control and the drowning of the 2 young Smith brothers strapped in
their car seats as their mother sent the car into a lake in Union, SC,willfully killing her 2 sons.

These events are a grim reminder of the darkness which still exists in the
world created and sustained by the Light of God, the Creator of all things,
visible and invisible. These events probably took place because various
individuals did not glorify God with "actions of light", that is, with
activity and deeds which could have avoided the horrific events that took

In His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5-7) our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ quite clearly states that His followers are not simply to be light, but rather "are" light. In Chapter 5:14 we read: “You are the light of the world”, and in verse 16 of the same chapter: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”. St. Paul gives us a marvelous explanation of the Lord’s directive in His Epistle to the Ephesians. ln Chapter 5:8 he writes: “You are light in the world walk as children of light, for the fruit of light is found in all that is good, right and true”. Throughout Chapter 5 St. Paul presents a sharp contrast between darkness and light which are manifested in words and actions.

The two sinful actions of October both occurred in literal darkness, at night; which is the time wen most sinful activities take place, for in darkness your activity is less seen, almost done in secret. St. Paul puts it this way (Eph. 5:11-12): “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness... For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret (darkness)”.

Let's stop to think, to try to understand "why" these two tragic events might have happened and how they could have been avoided if people who were near to these individuals fulfilled their role and duty as "light" (as light-bearers for Christ’s glory).

As for the Order of Solar Temple, not dealing with any of the specifics of their creed, we need to ask why it is that people join cults.

-- Very often cults get their new members from college age students, especially those who are naive and away from home for the first time, those who may not tend to have friends on campus, or are slow to make friends, those who appear lonely, especially those who are often low on cash and those who know little of true Christianity (ie. Having experienced in their family and/or parish, a correct Christian life and worship and not a hypocritical Christianity).

--Cult members seek out such people and befriend them by offering free meals, theater and sport activity tickets, friendship, even money. They eventually pull the person away from any former friends, from family in particular and begin to control their life, their activities and their thinking. They are ultimatelly brainwashed and fed heresies.

If correct living Christians were there to do the same, that their light (their very deeds) so shined before them that the Lord Jesus was glorified, would new people fall into the devil’s hands of a cult? There are such individuals and groups on college who do present not only the true Christian spirit of outreach and love but who also teach the basic fundamentals of Christ’s teachings and their application to life. We rejoice at this, yet know that not enough of this is done and as a result, cults also flourish. Too many practicing Christians have the light of Christ in their locker (hidden) and give no public nor individual glory to God with any good works.

Another question to ponder on concerns those who established a particular cult and those who serve as its leaders. I maintain that their motive is greed and power, all works of the devil. Greed exists for so often cults become very wealthy due to the total control they have over their members that they not only obtain direct money from them, but property and their total wealth. Power exists for the literally pull the strings of their individual members who will obey their every directive, even unto suicide and murder.

-- Again I say, if correct living Christians were there from the childhood of those who ultimately establish a cult, to properly teach and live a life of Christ that focuses on the heavenly treasures and not on the earthly, that stresses humility in leadership and not abuse of position and statues in life, such individuals may never have fallen to the devil’s temptations along the way to be under his dark control.

Turning our attention to the shoching events in South Carolina...what would lead a young mother to kill her two toddlers? From the accounts in the news media we ascertain that both mother and father of the two boys seemed to be selfish, Godless and overly active sexually.

-- The father was caught in adultery which was leading to the breakup of that family. News reports seem to infer that the mother was pregnant before marriage... the oldest boy was age 3 and the mother 23; few people are married at the age of 20 anymore.

-- I used the word "Godless" a moment ago and it might seem too strong and I certainly don’t mean to judge, but a person who hills anyone for any reason (and for a mother, her children) has to have no respect for God or no acknowledgment of God’s existence, especially since He is a God of life and love! What did this mother know of the Lord’s Commandment "thou shalt not kill". Had she been influenced by all the violent movies or T.V. shows depicting many killings and had as a result become insensitive to life and death issues? Had she perhaps conceived more than the two children she gave birth to and perhaps had abortions thinhing now she could do something similar (kill again) which would "free" her from the daily demands of motherhood?

It is here that selfishness could have played a role in the tragic event. Selfishness I must add, could also have been exemplified by others around her which could have placed tremendous pressure on her leading her to do the awful thing that she did do in a moment of frustration, perhaps hysteria. It is here especially that "light bearer’s" (followers of Christ-the-light of the world) may not have been radiating with the light given to them to perform good works for others.

-- When the mother may have needed to have some help to go food shopping, did others tell her "I raised my children now you raise yours". How many may have denied her any financial help (perhaps her own church). Remember this family was breaking-up, she only worked as a secretary. Was the father employed, did he avoid child support payments?

--This attitude of selfishness and its affecting results can lead from one sin to another. Isn’t selfishness exactly what the Lord meant when He told us not to put our light under a basket, but let it give light to all in the house (Mat. 5:15)? We never hnow what the end result may be when we are rude, selfish, unconcerned or downright mean to another person, especially a person already confused, misled or in a state of stress and anxiety.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, children in the Lord, our mission as baptized Christians is to be like Christ and to carry on His example. We are to be as rays of His Divine Light dispelling darkness and evil. We are to be light-bearers performing good works so that situations like the two I have focused on today would not occur, actually any evil activity can be avoided if Christians would act more quickly, more rightly by projecting the Lord's radiance in every Situation in life. Is this too idealistic? It should not be for the Lord has commanded it and He enables us to do it. We simply need to put, then keep the Light of Christ on our lamp stand daily carrying it and projecting it in every episode, be it in the day or at night.

May the Light of Christ warm us and guide us all to bear it and spread its
rays continually giving Him glory.