Christ came and established His Church on this earth for us to learn how to live without sin. Sin lives in us, but we should live without sin. It's very difficult. It's like shedding your own blood.
It's, indeed, when, for instance, you have some movements of your soul, and they can be different, and you understand that you shouldn't live like this. But sin lives and reacts. You feel dislike, you feel annoyance or whatever else. Some lustful things, anything, you know, but you don't want to live like this.
Do you know what war is going on for man for his eternal life and his immortal soul? And the flesh and blood resist, they don't obey.
What to do then? How? It means we should crucify ourselves with our passions and desires. And what is it? How do I crucify myself? Myself? It's our fight with our sins, which seem necessary, pleasant and desirable. That's what our crucifixion is. It's a compulsion on ourselves. You're where your mind is. That what you want, you'll get it. That's why we all are in a difficult situation. We want to relax sometimes, but we shouldn't relax much. We want to have a real rest, but the enemy is on our heels. We want to have a feast. Instead, we suffer through the daily grind that offers nothing good.
Yesterday I was hearing confessions, you know, I'm doing that for many hours but it's not the point. People come with tragedies. People come with such pains and with such losses that after all I seem to feel like crying, 'You must stop living like that! It's unbearable!' Right? But I should say that life is good. Because we've found Christ, because the wholeness of life is in Christ.
And this worldly sea today's Gospel reminds about is like the worldly sea in which we're flopping around and sinking; and suddenly Christ says, 'Come to me on the water.' This happened to each of us when we came, when we met God. We didn't come ourselves, we would have been still going and going no one knows where if God hadn't caught us in His net. And then we really felt what life was and that it was good. We hadn't known it before, right? And here, He tells us, 'Follow me.' And you go on this [worldly] sea. You stand up and don't flop around there anymore. You're already following Christ, but there are waves here: all sorts of worries, doubts and cares.
And at a certain moment we lose God, that is, we stop seeing Him. We see everything that's going on around us anything but not Christ. We don't want Him already and start sinking. A while ago we were walking but now we're sinking, and it seems there's no salvation. And we need to cry, 'Lord, save me!' 'Save and protect' is written on our baptismal cross. And for good reason: He is our Saviour! Without Him, we can't be saved no matter what heroic deeds we perform or what virtues we have.
Our nature is sick and we need treatment. And our Lord treats us by His love. If we've been receiving Communion for many years, how much Christ's blood do we have in us? It's a transfusion. Today everybody talks about a vaccine against flu, not only flu but coronavirus or whatever. And here is a vaccine against death. 'I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.' (Psalm :) We have wrong fears. We don't fear sin, but we fear getting infected by something to catch an illness. We're ill all over.
What fear can we talk about if our nature is corrupted from birth? But Christ is our doctor. He treats us, and the Church is a hospital where we get cured. The world wants to turn the Church into no one knows what. Into a source of infection. But it's awful.
Do we believe it's Christ's Body and Blood or do we believe it's something not real?... What we believe in, who we believe in and who we trust: Christ or someone else?
And we see what happens in the Church. And we see if we look attentively at all events in the lives of our close ones and in our own lives, we'll see how God achieves the one and only purpose: to make us live forever. Not to make us live thousand years or hundred years and never get sick but live forever. And this implies suffering and illnesses.
Someone comes and says he has cancer, but he comes to the church. Someone comes because his life is broken up and his family is broken up, but he comes to the church to Christ.
Would he come if everything were well? No way. 'I've got a lot of things to do 'Have me excused.' (Luke 14:18) I've got so many problems. Going to church? I have no time to go to church and no time to pray.'
But, here, her child got sick, and the mother kneels down and cries to God. And this is her salvation indeed.
All right, it's difficult to accept it. We'd like to come to God in joy, but it's difficult. 'I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord.' (Psalm 116:3-4)
So, indeed, I'm grateful to God that He protects us, and that's why we aren't frightened. But the world will frighten us.
We should hold on to God evermore and not give in as the time is really confusing now.
Thank God, we have our holy fathers. We have the consistent teachings of our Holy Church.
And we should stick by this, not by human discoveries, deliberations or philosophies. It's all rubbish.It's all worth nothing. It's just temporary information. What can be new in this world! Nothing. We see that this world is really waging a terrible war against Christ…
With Christ, you must give. You must bear a cross. You must go a narrow way. You must struggle inside yourself, die, and crucify yourself. So, indeed, nobody needs it. Fasting is something outdated and obsolete. What's the use of it?
But we should fast. And we should pray. And we should bow and kneel because we pray for the whole world, not only for ourselves.
Today the Russian Orthodox Church can say it responsibly is the only force that yet retains the ability to say, 'This is a sin. This is Sodom and Gomorrah and we won't tolerate it.' Nobody else will dare to say so. Nobody, you see?
That's why I'm so glad to see many young families, which give birth to children, and they come to receive Communion. They are our future soldiers. A spiritual army. So, bring up your children so that we could have a future. And when there isn't anyone who needs Christ when there isn't anyone who needs a family, when everything is, you know, disfigured and corrupted by sin, then the end time will come. But we still live on and Holy Rus lives on and will live.
I think the victory will be ours. As Alexander Nevsky said, 'God is not in the force, but in truth'. So, may our Lord help all to keep the highest name of an Orthodox Christian and not betray it no matter what privileges the modern world offers.
What will happen tomorrow? We'll see. I think... Here, there are people who spread panic, you know, saying that we need to sell out all we have and move from cities to remote villages. There we'll survive they say. But it's wrong. You see, we should stay where we are and live honestly and serve God where He put us. There shouldn't be any room for panic. We should stay where we are and not run away. Because, you know, once you start running away, everybody will start running away. Panic breaks out, and we aren't strong anymore.
Now we are strong. Just try defeating us! No way. It's because we know Christ is worth laying down our lives for Him. Glory to Thee, O God! (thrice)
A shortened version of the sermon by father Andew Lemeshonok on the day of the Afterfeast of the Transfiguration, the commemoration of Apostle Matthias.