Sometimes, we cannot bring ourselves to overcome our flesh and hear the voice of God. In today's Gospel, the Lord speaks about His crucifixion and death. In his mind, he is already on Mount Golgotha. But the minds of the people are wandering elsewhere. They are out to conquer Jerusalem and take their rightful places in government or parliament. The disciples of Christ were in their ranks. Even they found it hard to change their ways and break the habits that the world had taught them.
Today, we still find ourselves in the same situation. We believe in Christ and go to church, but we are still attached to the life of the flesh. When we are in pain, we despair, especially if we find no immediate relief. We grieve when we are in trouble. But is there any problem that God could not resolve? Is there a question that He could not answer? We just need to ask the right questions and be open to hearing the answer. However, the world has so much power over us that we prefer to reject God's word as unrealistic and removed from our lives. We bicker: "But Lord, this is not what I want. I want to do it my way, not Yours." And when we fail, we rebuke Him, "I worked hard, and I prayed, but nothing worked."
We are not on the same wavelength with Him. Moreover, we speak different languages. God shows us where to find salvation. He wants us to live forever. But we are reluctant. "Eternity is a very long time to wait. We do not know when it will come, if at all." We refuse to follow God and choose to walk in the opposite direction, to our eternal demise and oblivion. We are moving closer to our apocalypse and the fall of our world.
The initial signs are already visible to the naked eye. In our part of the world, there are many beautiful with clear lakes and rivers flowing across flowery meadows. People come there for picnics, and eventually, the pristine natural beauty is gone. People wish to have a good time, and many do not care how many trees they break or how much litter they leave.
Moral decline starts small but grows big. Did we notice how often we come to see immoral behaviours as routine and ordinary? Three or four decades ago, unmarried partnerships were rare. They were almost unthinkable. Cohabitating couples were the talk of the neighbourhood. Today, cohabitation for many people is no longer extraordinary.
Here is another example. After many decades of married life, a man decides to leave his wife simply because he thinks that she is too old. "I am still young at heart, and I deserve someone younger than her," he thinks. He is in a trap, but he does not realise it. He has given up his inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven, even though he might still be going to church and taking communion. God is trying to break through to Him, but He chooses not to listen, and so his whole life and value system are turned upside down.
But let us not despair. The state of our world depends on the way we live our lives - in our homes and families and also on a global scale. Our prayer makes a difference for the universe. We are Orthodox, and we have a mission.
We can turn around the ways of this world and slow down its demise. We have an exciting time ahead of us. Our Lord is on his way to Martha and Mary in Bethany. We prepare to commemorate the Resurrection of Lazarus, the Entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem. We give thanks to our Lord that we are Orthodox, we share the Orthodox faith, and it is holy and sacred, as we chant in one of our hymns. We cannot lose because the Lord is in our midst. Understand Ye nations and submit yourselves, for God is with us! May we all bring the gift of Christ to our friends and family and pass on the gift of His Divine Love. And may this gift of love multiply forever.
P.S. This sermon was preached on the 5th Sunday of Great Lent (10.04.2022), when the Holy Church commemorates Saint Mary of Egypt.
To say "forgive me" to the Lord and the people, and do so from our hearts, is a remarkable achievement of our inner self. We cannot begin to transform from within without forgiveness.
Smaller worries and passions are something to be left behind; instead, we should live for the real and most important thing.
Do we realise the importance of articulating before God the actions that are essential and indispensable for us...?
What did the Lord come into the world for? He came to liberate man from the bonds of slavery. Apostle Paul explains what kind of slavery it was: For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (Romans 7: 19).
We should have a purpose to our lives, and do all we can to live up to it. Yet some lives look more like an abandoned corner of a field overgrown with weed. People seem to be living them without a sense of purpose, and some may have given up.
At some point, we will become weak, only to find out that we had neglected our spirits and not prepared them for the life to come. Therefore, as we call for God's help, we should not ask him to turn around the circumstances of our lives.
We can only see God in another human. When we continue to look for Him tirelessly and plead fervently for His mercy, He will reveal Himself to us. God restores man to His magnificent image with the power of His love in Church.
Let us ask that St. Nicholas does not abandon his heavenly intercessions and that he corrects what we are doing wrong. Let us ask him to instruct us to do every good deed, so that by his prayers we dare to do the works of God