What has become of our Christian faith? Today, it appears more like a tradition or a set of narratives. But few seem to worry. Who cares if God has one nature or two when tolerance and pluralism are ruling the day?
The feast day of the Prophet Elijah celebrated by our Church on 2 August is a sobering event that brings us back to our senses. The Church venerates him in great glory as a zealous servant of God, a censurer of evil, and an advocate of true faith. In our times, few will have the courage even to speak of their faith. Even fewer people would say that they would die for Christ.
So where has our zeal for God gone? We still see our lives revolve around Christ. We still cannot imagine our world without Him. Why have we lost the ardour?
Perhaps we have become complacent or too lazy. We allow ourselves too many excuses when we break the fast, do not pray before going to sleep, or skipping the worship service.
So we all need the example of the Prophet Elijah, who took upon himself the mission and responsibility to keep the faith in Israel. God visited him - not as thunder or grace, but as a quiet breath of air. "Give blood, take in the spirit". This phrase remains as relevant as ever, and the example of the Prophet Elijah is its excellent illustration.
I urge you to find ways to serve God according to your ability. Do not spare yourself excessively, but also take care not to overstrain yourself. Seek His will and His blessing, which alone can give you the strength to perform your service. Without them, even our best intentions will fail. Find the golden middle. We must all do it to live our life of service to God.
In his humility and self-stripping, God went to the Cross. He travelled to Jerusalem knowing that he would be derided and subjected to torment and flagellation. He did it out of love, conforming with his teaching, "Love God and your neighbour as yourself". Love is the ultimate thing; all else is the means for its pursuit. Prayer, fasting, repentance and the Holy Church are the means by which to nourish ourselves with God's love. They let us persist in following Christ to the end by His grace, despite the corruption of our spirit and the distortion of our nature by sin.
Jesus had not come to Jerusalem to reign there. He only wanted to be King in people's hearts. He made it clear that he had come to seek peace, not make war.
We hear the call from heaven - "Lift up our hearts to the Lord! Lift your hearts to His love!" It urges us to question ourselves, "Where is your heart?"
The proverbial Lost Son acknowledged the depth of his fall and found the courage to return to his father. But many could find it extremely difficult to do the same.
The Mother of God is our Mother in Heaven; she intercedes for us and comes to our help throughout our lives. Her love is salvific and everlasting. Mother of all the world's children, she defeated death in her heart.
Has it ever occurred to us that with God, nothing is meaningless? Without experiencing a loss, how can we appreciate a gain? How can we embrace joy without knowing any sorrows?
God's love resurrects the world to eternal life. We are taking part in this resurrection because we are members of the Church. When we forget about Christ in our lives we should plead to Him: "Lord help us!”
Today, we commemorate the Icon of the Holy Theotokos "Joy of All Who Sorrow". It sends us a powerful message: joys and sorrows are two sides of the same coin.