Our earthly life is getting less and less varied. The life of a Christian seems weird to outside observers in pursuit of large-scale events and effects. The outer life of a Christian is much quieter and simpler. People from the outside find it difficult to imagine how staying in your cell can teach you everything you need. People want to travel and acquire new impressions. However, when a person finds God, he understands that God has everything that can be in this world and a whole lot more. This is why such a person spends all his energy to get into his own heart and stay there with God so that his heart could become the Kingdom of God.
Sometimes we cannot do this. We are often torn apart. On the one hand, we have our old self with its emotions and feelings, which is always trying to find something new, something intriguing or tasty… On the other hand, our new self does not want anything new at all. It is boring because everything in this word is the same – it was the same a thousand years ago, and it is the same today. What can be new in this world except for God? We assume that He is hiding from us but He is near, albeit we do not see Him…
When an individual preserves inner peace, he will feel as if he were in Heaven regardless of where he is. When we lose this peace, when the sin prevails in us, then we begin to dislike even those who are close to us. We do not want to be with them. Today we have read, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself” (Luke 9:26). How can one deny himself? How can one desire to sacrifice his soul even if to save it? The old self dies and we feel sorry. Personally, I can say that I used to be interested in everything beautiful, in everything nice, in the sights of nature… Now I cannot fill my heart with these things. What should we do? How should we live then? A Christian understands that each step towards God causes pain because it is impossible to preserve this grace in our heart by our own means. Grace vanishes and you are left to suffer in despair because you cannot live as you used to but you still don’t know any better.
Where are we going? We are heading to the resurrection, to Pascha! This is why we should not be afraid to follow Christ. This road seems scary to those who do not know that God is love. Has God deprived anyone of their due share? Does God give more to some person than to someone else? His gifts are distributed evenly. The problem is that we perceive God’s gifts differently, and preserve them differently, too.
We need to die and resurrect in this life so as not to be afraid of physical death. Our energy withers away, and we can do nothing: our eyes do not see, our ears do not hear. A person can hardly move, his physical resources are exhausted. Only the end is ahead of him. If we are tied to this world, our life becomes the way to our own grave. But we do not want to die, we want to live forever. This is why we come to church, and this is why we come to the Chalice. We have to re-learn everything if we are to find out a completely different view on life, love, and the world. “My sister and my brother are my life” (from the prayer of Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov)) – this is how we should look at a person near us. He is not a hindrance, not a burden or a competitor, but my life. If we start looking for beauty in one another, then the world around us will change.
Today we thank God for having the opportunity to talk about Heaven, about something important in our life. People rarely talk about these things. They do not have time for this. They have a lot to do. Everything is artificial in this world. Everything is substituted and confused. Not only food and relationships become artificial, but our life itself becomes unreal. People like natural food because it is healthy. Natural materials are more reliable. We too need a natural and normal life with God. Without God, there is no life at all. We ask God to strengthen us because each of us is weak and trembling. Each of us has many sins that distort everything around us. We should not be afraid of rooting those sins out. We should not be afraid of the pain this can cause. We have to cultivate ourselves. This is what our earthly life is intended for: to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, to restore what our ancestors lost in Eden, to restore the connection with God, which will reshape us into God’s image and likeness.
No one can get to the Kingdom of Heaven without learning to live in the spirit. What a formidable challenge! No one should underestimate its scale. To meet it, we need the daring and courage that come from the Lord.
Things that happen in the world are not of God. They are the products of our passions. Wild and raging passions are driving people’s actions. Why? Because people do not know where their homeland is, what the foundation of their lives should…