Reflections on making choices and getting our priorities right

Overcoming doubts and doing the right thing

November 01, 2021

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Each day, we proceed with the journey of our life, one step at a time. More than anything, I wish that every step will bring you closer to Jesus Christ. But sometimes, we walk in a different direction. We act on our instinct or illusion. We follow a mirage, and suddenly we find that there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin (Psalm 38: 4). Uncertainty plagues us. We begin to go around in circles. We do not know where to go next, what to choose and what to decide.

Yet, our questions are misguided. Our preoccupation with our personal choice, decisions, and wants will not take us anywhere. It never occurs to us that what we should worry about instead is God's will for ourselves, our ultimate good and salvation. If we did ask the right questions, we would wander less; and our progress would be more straightforward. Yet, we choose to follow our moods and passions. One might think we might start moving mountains. But our triumph is short-lived and ends in a bitter disappointment.

Here is one classic example. Do you remember the time when some people could get large and cheap credit? The Soviet Union had just collapsed, inflation was galloping, and some had the good fortune to access cheap money that they, of course, had not earned. The least scrupulous and most cunning had their heyday. But did it bring them any good?

Here is a story of two people who jumped this bandwagon, a husband and wife. With their wealth of credit money, they set out to build for themselves a huge three-storied house in a wealthy neighbourhood. By the time they had completed the walls and roof, they ran out of money. Their unfinished house became a grandiose monument to their madness. Finally, they decided to build a small hut next to it. They had it insulated and settled there. They still see it from its windows as it is falling apart.

Just imagine how much money and effort they had expended to benefit themselves! All of it was in vain. In our lives, we also waste a lot of effort and hold on to things that we should have long discarded. But we still cannot let go, hoping to benefit from our useless possessions.

The Holy Martyrs of old stood firm for their faith and the truth and sacrificed their lives for them. Would anyone today dare to repeat their feat? "No way," most would say. "No, we are not ready! Give me a life!"

Just think how much we are asking Jesus, how great are our expectations of him - good health, capability and strength, and so many other good things. But what are we prepared to give? We cannot even spare a few minutes of our time for prayer. Pray for half an hour? Or for fifteen minutes? Sorry, O cannot. I have no time, and I am tired?

Tired... could there be a more accurate description of our present attitude to God? We are fatigued with our sinful and irresponsible ways, our meaningless and wasteful lives. Being between heaven and earth gives us the jitters. We still hope to be in heaven! But the kingdom of heaven lives by a different set of laws: love your neighbour as yourself, forgive your enemies, and give your blessing even to those who are piling abuse on us. In heaven, we live in Christ.

What if we tried to begin living in him at this very moment? We might succeed, after all. Perhaps we could all become saints! What would you say? Many people would grumble. "Let us wait until the Great Lent," they might suggest. But in the meantime, we prefer to have business as usual. Many take pride in their piety and righteousness, which they believe they have at least as much as everybody else. Why, then would they need to take the hardship of fasting? Someone even complained to me about his next of kin: he does not have anything to eat, and does not let others eat, either!

Let us admit that the divisions among people since their fall from grace creates enmity and madness. Everyone fends for themselves. Conflicts, wars, strife and other negative things are endemic in a world where everyone asserts their rightness and competes for a place in the sun. There is enough room for everyone, but all insist on claiming their ground, position and benefit. In truth, there is nothing mine or yours, and opposition to these divisions is nothing else than our loyalty to One Holy Catholic Church.

We are all members of one Church, the body of Christ. We are no heroes, and I am the least of them. But Christ has brought us together, and the Blood and Body of Christ cement our unity. Our oneness at Church is so strong that not even the gates of Hades could break it. So let us remember, my beloved brothers and sisters, that Christ is waiting to embrace us. His message to us is simple. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:29).

May God save us and deliver us from all evil!

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

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1 month ago
I really value Father Andrey's sermons and advice. Thank you for translating them.
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