Rising above the world to see Christ

Growing in the spirit to see Christ

August 02, 2021

Growing in the spirit to see Christ

In his brilliant homily, saint John of Shanghai spoke about a sinner. All he had left in his life was his riches. Did it make him happy? Not at all. In his heart, there was emptiness. Nothing could bring him joy. He had tried all things in the world and had every experience imaginable. What else could he look forward to? A void. A pointless existence.

We should all feel great pity for someone who has lost God and has no hope of meeting him in this life or in the life to come. Can you imagine the greatness of the gift that we all have - the gift of Christ? He came to change the world. He gives everyone their equal share of His inheritance. He brings everyone His love that extends beyond time and space and knows no boundaries. We weigh and measure all things. We bargain. The Lord does not bargain with us. He gives us everything for free so that we may partake in everlasting life.

"Thank you, but we are not interested in our everlasting life just yet. We want to live for ourselves for a while." Many are thinking in the same way, and choose to live by the laws of this world. This life is a stage, and all the people on it are actors who play a part. The masters of the show are people with great skill and cunning. Millions and even billions have fooled themselves into thinking that the show is real. Its masters will do anything to win our hearts in minds.

Someone who has found Christ does not live by the laws of this world, but by the Grace of God. Only a faithful believer in Christ will understand the meaning of what is happening. He will not follow the news or browse the Internet, but listen to his heart. He will pray, and not read newspapers.

Yet the world has also impacted the life of the Church, especially in recent years. When I discovered Christ in the late 1970s, things were a lot more straightforward. Anyone who came to church was an outcast of the world. Yet it was in those years that people were living as Christians. No one had any questions about whether to fast or not. People were praying and professing their faith no matter what. Today, almost all of us are Christians, but many practise the light version of their faith. When they come to Church for the Communion, they may miss half the service and not feel any compunctions over it. They do not realise the magnitude of their disrespect for the Lord.

In the former times, they would have been told to take penance - make a hundred bows a day for half a year before coming again for the Communion. But today, it is not an option. If we send someone away now, chances are that he will never come back. That he has come to church today is already a triumph. We cannot afford to turn people away.

But where is Christ, you might ask? Where has He gone? Nowhere. He is right here. He still keeps His invisible presence at our confession. He comes to us in person at the Eucharist. Christ is the same at all times - He never changes. He still wants us to regain our inheritance rights and enter His Kingdom of Heaven. He still brings salvation for the lost and dying. He still gives us everlasting life. He still calls us to have trust in Him and follow Him to the end.

At Christ's entry to Jericho, the biblical Zacheus, the chief publican, climbed a tree to see Him. Spiritually, we should always be at our high point. By overcoming our old selves, and not pandering to them, we reach new heights. We acquire the hope that Christ will always be at the helm of our boat; that He will steer our Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it; that He will continue to teach us His Truth, sainthood, friendship and love; that He will show us the way to work, to love our families and thank God for every joy and sorrows and for all things.

Keep the love of Christ in your hearts, resist the ways of this world by opposing sin and the enemy of man. Our spiritual struggle starts in our hearts, and our immortal souls are its main prize. It is a struggle for our family and loved ones many of whom, sadly, have strayed away. I am confident that there is still time to make revisions to our lives and to work hard for it. So do as Zacheus did, aim high, and meet Christ in your homes. O, Lord! Glory to You!

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

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