Just one person corrupted by sin may corrupt many other people and things around him. There is no paradise on this earth, but its landscapes and scenery still give us comfort. They are creations of our Lord, and they make visible to us His Divine love. This beauty is being destroyed by the sinful man. Tree stumps, piles of waste and rubbish are all signs of this destruction. Out of greed and avarice, people are cutting down forests and squandering the oil and gas resources. It is extremely saddening to see heaps of plastic bottles and paper wrappings left over from somebody's picnic. Corruption within us corrupts our world, and there is turmoil everywhere when we have no inner peace.
Conversely, someone who lives in the spirit will not hurt anyone, not even hurt a mosquito, as we would say in Russian. While being sympathetic to mosquitoes is not an easy thing, we should at least be conscious of our environment and surroundings and treat them as our home. They are a garden that God had planted for us; it extends beyond the world around us to our inner world, of which we must be good custodians and carers.
A loving heart will do no harm and bring no destruction. Love puts all things in their places. It puts an end to fighting and opposition because the real war is to be fought for our hearts and souls. How can we have eternal life in a world to come without defeating our sinful selves? Winning this war, or at least some battles will make us better persons and will give us inner peace. This will be a great benefit to ourselves, and everyone around us. We should all learn to confront our sinful selves. Sin is lurking inside us, waiting for the right moment strike and cause pain to our loved ones. A single careless word, our slightest inattention, or impatience may cause great trouble.
Our families, too, are wonderful creations of our Lord, and as such, they are also fragile and extremely vulnerable. Regrettably, so many of them cannot stay together and fall apart. Families survive when its members humble themselves and become servants of each other when they are unselfish and loving. Yet too many people are putting their selfish interests above all else; they want comfortable lives and freedom from any difficulty; and there are too few who are prepared to give their lives for another, who are willing to be servants and take up their cross. Selfishness is truly the road to self-destruction.
May there be God's peace in you and around you. This peace is a blessing from our Lord, and only He can give us. It defeats all hostility and discord. It trumps all human wrongs and scheming. The Lord gave it to us by virtue of His suffering and dying on the Cross. It is a precious gift that we should keep our hearts as our most valued treasure. Keeping peace within ourselves is our first and foremost task. When the world is going awry, passions are growing and hearts are being filled with hate, madness will prevail, and people will not know that they are doing. May you all have the gift of peace and the love of God. This will be my greatest and most sincere wish to all of you.
Our whole life is a lesson in God's love. As we come before the gates of the heavenly kingdom to take the ultimate test of our learning, the Lord will ask us, like he asked Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" - (John 21: 15). Like the biblical Simon, we should be able to answer without hesitation: "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. I have betrayed you, I have deserted and lied to You, but still I love you". This is the answer that should come from our hearts. We should put our love of God above all else. The rest will come by itself. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. (Matthew 6: 33; Luke 12: 31).
May God save and protect us all!
The real war is going on inside us; there is a sin within us, and we are all called upon to defeat it. Let us all pray, my dear brothers and sisters, for peace to return to our lives, and for the turmoil to end. Sermon by Father Andrey Lemeshonok.