The Holy Church is leading us into the Great Lent. It tells us not to focus on our visible achievements or impressing others. Instead, it instructs us to nourish our inner selves. Christ reminds us: "when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face". He asks us to be full of stamina, look bold and fresh, and keep our sorrow and weeping out of everybody’s sight. Nevertheless, many are too keen to show how hard they are fasting. They want to amaze others with their endurance and ascetic feats. But the Gospel tells us to fast invisibly and seek God's grace within ourselves.
The preparatory weeks for the Great Lent are now over. This past Sunday, we commemorated the expulsion of Adam from paradise, and in the evening, we asked each other for forgiveness. To say "forgive me" to the Lord and the people, and do so from our hearts, is a remarkable achievement of our inner self. Too often, our hearts are silent, empty and fatigued. But we cannot begin to transform from within unless we have made peace with the others. We must forgive even those who caused us great pain. There must not be a trace of bitterness left. Only then can we open our hearts to the grace of God.
We look inward and appreciate the extent to which sin has distorted our nature. We know that we had to go to paradise right now, we would be miserable there. Sin still fills our lives and controls them to a large extent. Painfully, we realise the corruption of our past lives and the need to live differently.
But many more of us are still indifferent. They do not believe in heaven or the immortality of our souls. Nor do they have the slightest idea that we are only strangers in this world. They entertain the vain hope of building a paradise on earth. The gains and enjoyments of this world are their sign of progress. They take for proximity to paradise the current gains in public and private wealth. Neglecting their inner selves, they dedicate themselves to the pursuit of their worldly well-being.
But the Bible leaves us in no doubt about the future of this world: “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29, Luke 21:33). The end of the world will not come as a punishment from the Lord, but rather as a natural result of our attempt to live meaningless lives in separation from Him. A world where everyone lives self-serving lives in pursuit of their self-interest inevitably becomes a tyranny of sin.
The Bible also tells us to seek the Kingdom of God within us. As the Great Lent begins, we will be looking closely in our hearts and seeking communion with God. We will be having a conversation with Him, one on one. The first week is a critical period to get it going. Every day in our churches, we will read the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. We will hold longer worship services and make prostrate bows. The whole atmosphere of the worship will dispose us towards repentance.
Now is the time to work even harder to advance our future and become better servants of Christ and our neighbours. We pray that the Lord will strengthen us in our faith, hope and love, grant us the power to overcome our selfishness and pride and overcome the enemy within. The Lord will give us this victory because he has defeated death on the Cross. Mount Golgotha was the highest point in the struggle for our salvation. For the next forty days, we will be proceeding in His footsteps to our Golgotha, and relive the events of the Bright and Holy Week that led to His resurrection. Our victory over death will be our prize, and it will be ours to keep.
The Lord acts on us with His love. It is love that keeps us alive and delivers us from worldly fear. For we have the kingdom of God in our hearts.
The Divine Providence is our path to the Kingdom of Heaven. A man was created for the service of love, which is the service of the angels, but the earth has torn human beings apart from Heaven and shackled them to its surface. Human beings have…
To be honest, I’m nobody. I know that but I also know that there is the devil who sneers at me gleefully, “Aha! You’re done!” I say, “No, I’ve only just begun. I want to change. I want to be different. I want to serve God.”
Daniel met God, and to him, it was a life-changing moment. The Lord did not wish to make him poor or homeless. He only wanted him not to pride himself on his goodness and to follow His way.
We can fight off the virus by wearing a mask and keeping our distance, but to keep at bay the spirit of hostility is much harder, as it attacks us from afar.
The feast of the Exaltation of the Cross takes a special place among the Christian feasts. It is our chance to reflect on eternity, the victory of life over death, and the triumph of God's love.
And yet, every soul wants to live forever. That is why God allows us to face some troubles. We have to accept those troubles as a cross to carry till the end. [H]e that endureth to the end shall be saved (Cf. Matthew 10: 22).
There are two agendas to our lives. One comprises the things of this world, the other relates to our riches in heaven. It is a formidable challenge to pursue both at the same time.