The first week of the Great Lent is over, and hopefully, we have all changed a bit. There are sparkles in our eyes. We have begun to pay attention to people's eyes and faces. We have become more understanding of others.
God and His beauty are present in us all, but many layers of sin keep them out of our view. Yet, dropping off the burden of sin is unbearably hard, and it causes us great pain to accept constraints and limitations on our behaviours. To find our way to God, we must look cast away our earthly wisdom, sensations and moods; but for most of us, it is an impossible task. Our earthly burdens are dragging us down, but we must lift our hearts to the Lord.
The Rite of Orthodoxy today returns us to our roots and identity. It reaffirms our birthright, and we will not sell it, like Esau, for some lentil stew. We will not exchange it for any other trifles with which the world is tempting us. We are Orthodox, and we keep the faith of our fathers who have sacrificed their lives for it.
With its false wisdom, the world is hard at work to lure us away and make us forget about our purpose. It is now our turn to enter the battle with this world. It will be physically enduring, and it will test our wills. We expect wide support, but find that the Orthodox are always a minority. We attract the wrath of the kings of this world big and small when we do not go along with their sinful wishes. Sometimes, only one right believer can be left against myriads of unbelievers. Remember Saint Maximus the Confessor? His opponents cut out his tongue, but he did not surrender. Imagine the steadfastness, the strength of the spirit!
Like many times before, harsh trials and anxiety about the future have filled our days. But as Orthodox, what right do we have to panic? God is in our midst, and we will overcome the hardships. For He will always be with us, and will never abandon us.
You should not think that if you have no influence over what is happening, you cannot change anything. Prayer is the first and most powerful gift of a true believer. The prayer of the righteous one can change many things. So please keep praying for the suffering, the starving, and the wounded. Keep praying for everyone.
May our prayer, and the empathy and love that come with it, pull us out of the abyss of indifference, insensitivity and estrangement.
We must all fight for our hearts and minds for the sake of our Lord. This spiritual battle is mostly invisible, but we must fight it throughout our lives. With God, we will emerge victorious. The eternal lives of our beloved friends, family and our brothers and sisters in Christ depends on this victory. Seek peace within yourself, and thousands will be saved around you.
I pray that you will have the energy and will to endure.
In the Scripture readings, our actions are likened to a tree, and their outcomes to the fruit of that tree. It can be very difficult for us at times to decide if we should act or wait. The right answer may not be obvious.
The world is jealous. One finds God and begins to hold little value in its treasures – money, wealth, power, pride and much else. But the world will go to any length to keep us from abandoning its treasures for the love of God.
Our hardships are a part of our spiritual struggle. They are given to us to learn that our future is not made by our hands, but by God's love
We may imagine ourselves to be masters of our lives and make our plans for decades ahead - only to find them derailed someday. But the Scripture tells us: "As for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me."
We should all keep the fire of life within us, and not let it die out. A sparkle of this fire is present in each of us, we just need to let it grow. The Divine Liturgy is a shared blessing. We celebrate the liturgy just as we live our lives.
We have come to the Church in order to break away from the captivity, from the darkness, from the pit, and to start a new life where everything will be in God: my health issues, my salary, all relationships that I have.
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!”
Would we not say that our present world has many similarities with the land of Gerasenes? Is it not a world that believes only in the unlimited power of modern medicine but cares too little about spiritual health and salvation in the faith?