God tells us not to withhold our forgiveness of others, so we may also be forgiven by Him. As we say in our prayer, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors". The world is fragile, and so are we. Just some small thing gone wrong in one tiny cell of one’s body can cause a terminal illness. What is true of one person is also true of the world, where sin is sprouting and thriving. Where sin is becoming the norm discords abound, while cohesion and harmony are wearing thin. Indeed, both may exist only in God. Even the loftiest ideas coming from the brightest human minds would not sustain them, because they are all of this world, and not of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Jesus brought peace to the people. He said, "Peace be unto you!" (John 20: 19, 21). Yet he also said, "In this world, you will have trouble" (John 16: 33). He brought peace so we do not go to war for justice as we see it, lose our direction in the process; for there is no justice within ourselves. Where would this justice come from, when we are permeated by sin?
The Church Fathers advise us to seek peace within ourselves, the peace of Jesus Christ. This way, we may save thousands around us. The real battle is for the hearts of every man and woman. The enemy is using every means to rob us of our inner peace, our most powerful protection against falling into rage and agitation, and acting on our destructive urges. Already, he is rubbing his hands with delight, as there is little left for him to do. He is just showing the way, and people are doing all the rest.
The enemy's ambition is to divide and rule; he is out to plant chaos and make the people plead for some stability and order. The prince of the world will leap at this opportunity and will be happy to oblige. The last days of this world are described in many writings. Nearly all of them say that the people, in their madness, would be happy to embrace anyone who promised to put an end to it. The one they would elect will not be Christ. They would choose the anti-Christ. Sadly, most people will not realise whom they will choose and will be nothing more than blind tools in the hands of Satan.
Even today, it makes us very sad to see families being torn apart and divided by discord. What are they fighting over? Why?
There is still sin within us. For many people, fighting is an established habit. They could not live a day without a fight. It seems as if they have been like this since the day they were born. But they can heal their fighting spirit by going to Church, meeting Christ, and partaking of His love. We should regain our peaceful spirit by necessity, for how can we say that Christ is among us, when we remain so troubled, hostile and agitated; when we have no heart to say of someone we do not like, "Let us bear with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit?" This would be inconceivable. We all need help from our Lord and the Saints, and also some wisdom.
We have battled with one attack of the virus and coping with another. We do not know yet what we are going to do when some other virus strikes. Our patience is strained, we all need some rest from time to time. In the old times, the holy fathers used to advise monastics who were tired and exhausted to go back to their cells and do their learning. Their wisdom seems very relevant today to all of us.
We all know how hard it is to keep peace within a family when e its members begin to do their will and show no submission. How often do we hear: "This is some kind of patriarchy, and I will not put up with it! I am not going to keep quiet and obey as if I were in the army. I am going to speak my mind, and I am not going quiet just because my you told me!" But would not it sometimes be the right thing to do? Would not it be greater folly for the wife to yell back: "You shut up if you want to!", and let the scene unravel and escalate as if our ability to outcry the other and make the most noise would make us right. All of us will probably have had these moments in their married lives. But this comes nowhere near to living in Christ. We let ourselves be slaves of our sin and passion where we should act as Christians. A wise man will not assert his rights, and a wise woman will calm down and say, "forgive me, a sinner", and peace will reign. We have the power to acquire peace within ourselves. All we need to do is have some humility and be grateful for what we have. One can find peace simply by saying to oneself, "my husband may not be as handsome as a Hollywood star, but one does not need to be a Hollywood star to be a nice person. He is not rich, but he has so many other good things about him for which I should be grateful." Family people who take their cues from the saints will treat each other in this way and live in peace and love. This is very much like living in a monastery where people exercise humility one before the other and are servants of one another. Imagine what a life we would have had if every family were like that! However, one would be very hard-pressed to find such a family, as people everywhere have been disfigured by sin and act selfishly and self-seekingly. So nothing that is going on around us should surprise us. However, we should stay with the Lord at all cost. This is only possible within the fold of the Holy Orthodox Church. The enemy will keep trying to bring divisions to it, as he has done in Ukraine, and more recently in Montenegro and elsewhere. All of this is putting us to the test. We look hard for a role model of living in the spirit, for a figure of authority that we may follow, but we find that we can follow only Christ and no-one else. For every man is a liar, including myself.
My dear brothers and sisters! Let us make our hearts and our minds work hard; let us think twice before we speak. Let us put ourselves to the test; let us question ourselves if we are seeking our inner peace, and remember that the Lord has forgiven us. If we are harbouring resentment against someone, we are wrong. This means that we are no longer living in the Lord. The sins of the dead and the living are washed away in the Chalice. From it, we take the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and this gives us life now and forever. Christ is our victory. We can only be victorious by staying with Him.
O Lord! Glory to You! O Lord! Glory to You! O Lord! Glory to You!
We theorise, philosophise, or find comfort in psychology, only to find ourselves entrapped more deeply in our sins and infirmities. If only we were humble enough to cry out to the Lord, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"