Knowing God with the mind and the spirit

How can we advance in our knowledge of God?

April 07, 2021

Greetings for this glorious Sunday morning!

Congratulations on your Holy Communion!

Today, we remember Bishop Gregory Palamas. He said that the light coming from the Lord on Mount Tabor and that His apostles saw was uncreated. It was not of this world. In our minds, we cannot put Christ in the Procrustean bed worldly laws; none of our deliberations can do justice to His love. Nor can we conceive of it with all the knowledge of this world, this perishable world.

We believe that the Lord can make all out of nothing; that His grace can overturn the laws of this world. However, the world will not embrace, or even accept this way of knowing and understanding, grounded in faith and the miracle of God. Instead, it will subject everything to an analysis, put it all to the test of its reason, see it through the prism of the laws and principles of the flesh. Yet it is possible to be educated, gifted and knowledgeable, but completely blind and ignorant in spiritual life. One can study and explore all there is to know in this world, and he still not know anything of the spirit. There have also been some simple people - many of them were monks - who could barely even read, but they had the gift of the Holy Spirit, and with this spirit, they were privy to all the knowledge.

Today, we emphasise reason and exalt the mind but do not care about grace. We prize medicine, and psychology. Is someone unhappy? Take him to a psychologist, and give him a diagnosis, put him through therapy. He will be fine, and all will be happy in the end! But we are only deceiving ourselves. We come in the grip of a grand self-delusion when we think that way.

That is because we forget that we have Christ! Does not He know us better than any psychologist? We have Christ. He cures us with His love, but His cure does not bring us immediate relief and takes away all our pain in a second! It is not supposed to make us fit enough to run a race - we may not need to run at all, or run in the wrong direction if we do. We may be so weak that we can only crawl. Now that will not take us very far, will it? Where we put our trust in the Lord, the world tries to shake the foundations of our faith. What challenge could be more formidable than that? The miracles that everybody used to take on faith now appear to the educated people of today as only myths and hearsay. What could be sadder? Accounts of the miracles in the lives of the saints have become more like fiction even for many of today's priests.

But there have still been miracles in our lives, and hopefully, each of you can name at least one. Is it not a miracle that, contrary to all reason and logic, you have come to Church and opened up your heart to God's love? That this love begins to change us from within? Or that it has started a transformation in us?

We are all called to renew ourselves and be reborn, because the Lord wants us to, and gives us His blessing. We are not opposed to knowledge, or doctors, or to the innovations of all sorts and manners of which this world is full. All we want is to continue to trust our Lord simply and wholeheartedly as children do. To become like little children! As Saint Ambrose of Optina used to say, where there is simplicity, there are a hundred Angels, but where there is cleverness - there are none. We must not allow the world to lead us astray. Our minds are bulging with the knowledge of this world, but when it comes to practice, none of it will be any good to us. For it will not show us how to humble ourselves or compromise, or to keep silent, or to give love to someone even if they shun or cheat on us. It will not show us the way of Christ!

We have come to Church today to follow His way. We thank Him for the many generations of believers who have done the same before us. The generations who prayed and left to us their precious works and teachings revealed to them by the Lord.

We benefit from this heritage immensely. We know that the light that emanates from Christ is uncreated, yet it reaches each and everyone, and the moment it does, we become transformed and reborn.

This moment may be very short, but it gives fullness to our lives, and it is certainly worth living and waiting patiently for many years and maybe for the whole lifetime. Waiting and living just for this moment!

The world is acting to deprive us of our core; it churns out intelligent, educated but spiritually ignorant people because it does not need Christ or His love. It values logistics instead. It champions a logistic of life, that tells us to look out for ourselves, not to do more than we have to, and beware of any losses. In this logistics, we always get the short end of the stick, because it draws us down to this earth rather than preparing us for our eventual departure from it.

When our soul must leave our body, it will be called to rise above. But living an earthly life, and by the laws of the worth, it will be in no position to follow the call. It will be too short of faith! It will be too heavy to fly, too sceptical to believe in its immortality or to trust that Love is waiting for it in the Kingdom of Heaven. It will be mired in its deliberations - how credible are these claims, and what is the evidence? It will lose. It will suffer a defeat.

So let us use our time to grow strong in our faith. To reach for the Holy Spirit. Today, not tomorrow. We are closing ourselves from it when we sin, but the Lord still finds a way to reach our hearts. Today, he gave us the joy of meeting Him, of taking the Holy Communion and accepting His body and blood in us for the soundness of our body and spirit. It defies all logic.

Now someone does not fully believe in this. He is just afraid that he might catch the virus. But he is afraid exactly because he not trust that he is taking in the body and blood of Christ and that it is sacred and salvific.

He is accepting Christ in himself! But he disbelieves. He believes in the infection, the microbes and many other troubles of the world. Our bodies are full of microbes, and our souls, too, abound in the gems of sin. Yet we also know that we have a doctor who came to this world to save all sinners, of whom I am the first.

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