Christ is Risen! The Paschal season is going on, and we keep fighting for the joy and the hope that we can hear in the words “Christ is Risen!” We want to affirm this truth about God and the fact that He defeated death. If we are with God, we can prevail over our sick, lame, deaf, blind, and foolish nature, and live with God forever.
The Lord calls upon us to lead a spiritual way of life. “Let us lift up our hearts.” However, we were born on this earth and we have a hard time perceiving anything spiritual! We read in the Gospel about a Samaritan woman who talks about the water, about the well and about her thirst, while the Lord talks about the water, which resurrects the person and lets us enter eternal life. The disciples left in search of food because they wanted to feed their Teacher. But the Lord offers them a different kind of food. What is it? This is My Body, and this is My Blood (cf. Matthew 26:26-28). This is a different and eternal life. It is difficult for us to understand, for we unwittingly judge everything according to the standards of this world. The Lord wants us to be able to realise the spiritual meaning of what is happening in our lives; to realise what is truly important in our life instead of caring for insignificant and irrelevant things…
We are already in the church. We believe and feel that it is here that we can find the truth of life — something we cannot find anywhere else in the world. However, we have to become firmly established in it. We need to come out of the church and look at our life from a different perspective. We should not be guided by earthly laws, but begin a new life. All our questions will disappear then. When we mix the spirit, the soul and the body, many questions arise and we can get confused. This is why we should trust God and accept what He gives us today. We should look for spiritual meaning in everything, instead of a worldly one. We should tear ourselves away from our “justice”, our talents and gifts, if they distract us from following Christ. A rich man shall hardly enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is hard not because of his money. Money is not to blame. The problem is that a wealthy man is simply afraid of losing what he has. He feels that he is worthy of something and this is why he loses peace.
The rich man is also someone who ascribes his talents to himself and does not use it for the glory of God. Father Sergius, our icon painter, says that sometimes it happens like this: “A person is developing professionally, he is working better and better, but at the same time he is getting worse inside…” The person becomes self-confident. However, if that person knows he is guilty, if nothing works out, if he understands that he cannot do anything, then he looks at this world and his neighbours in a different way. He does not disdain them.
If a person is working for the glory of God, then God can give him everything. Nevertheless, should a person ascribe his achievements to himself and say that he is the best, the unique, and the most talented, he will lose everything.
What truth do we find in the church? Ask, and it shall be given to you (Matthew 7:7). What do we want? We want to have a nice week. We want everything to be alright and good. But is it good for our salvation? We should think about what is important. Time will pass, and the face of the earth will change. The gardens are blossoming now, but we look ahead and think, “The leaves will fall, and the winter will come soon...” The cycle of life is going on and on until we suddenly stop on our deathbed. Holy Fathers say, “Remember thy last hour and thou shalt not sin.” When you leave this earth, what will you take with you? What will you need on your last day? Which gifts, which property? There will be nothing other than God, the grace of the Holy Spirit and hope and love towards your neighbour in your heart. This is what we tragically lack today. This is why we should not envy the rich. For a true Christian, money does not mean anything since you cannot take it with you to the Eternity!
When you see life shining in someone’s eyes – it is truly beautiful; when a person has faith – that is also beautiful. It is something money can’t buy. Those are the real values that we should focus on instead of fake ones.
This world often offers us fakes, “Look, you need to buy that!” One sister told me, “I had a very nice car then I started working for the church and now I have a bad car… Things do not work well for me, everything is bad, everything is falling apart… What has God given me?” In reality, she received everything that she could have received! She came to see that all cars eventually break down, that sooner or later clothes wear out, that health will also deteriorate with time, and that one should not lay hope on human strength — all earthly things will eventually end up in the graveyard of time. One must think about the most important thing, i.e. living with God and clinging on to that life with hands, feet, and teeth. Today your life is good, and then tomorrow you might not have anything to eat at all. Yet we know that man shall not live with one bread alone (cf. Matthew 4:4). God will save those who trust Him and live with Him.
We must also think about the last words we will say on our deathbed, the last thoughts, and our last heartbeat. This is what our salvation depends on.
God looks at the inner person, at his state of mind, and how you treat those around you. So if you what to know how you are doing, ask the people that you live with. They will tell you the truth about you: who you are and what you are worth. Anyone can bow and close their eyes in church but the true piety is to love those who reproach us especially when we do not deserve it.
May the Lord help us to accept everything that is given to us today without complaining or depression but with gratitude and to realise that the challenges of life and temptations help us to improve and polish our souls. We need to ask God what is good and what is bad, what truly draws us closer to him and what does not.
We must change our lives. We must change our approach towards others. We should not act up and complain or make life difficult for others. Instead, we should make sure we do not hurt anyone so that people will only feel good from us and therefore enjoy being with us.
Life in the spirit and the soul begins with one's acceptance of one's neighbour and achieving inner peace. Spiritual life is about simplicity. The first thing that our Saviour and John the Baptist preached to the people was repentance.
No one can get to the Kingdom of Heaven without learning to live in the spirit. What a formidable challenge! No one should underestimate its scale. To meet it, we need the daring and courage that come from the Lord.
Living in God gives us the freedom to be ourselves. So let us throw off our masks by becoming more genuine and sincere. Let us own up to our weaknesses and admit our need for transformation.
The Kingdom of Heaven is a place of unity, not of separation. In the Kingdom, people are called upon to give up their own selves, their privileges and desires for the sake of another. The original sin distorted the Lord's design for the world…
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.”
We should have a purpose to our lives, and do all we can to live up to it. Yet some lives look more like an abandoned corner of a field overgrown with weed. People seem to be living them without a sense of purpose, and some may have given up.
We hear the call from heaven - "Lift up our hearts to the Lord! Lift your hearts to His love!" It urges us to question ourselves, "Where is your heart?"
To be an Orthodox faithful is to be versatile; we are looking for and exploring the best means to express our spiritual movements and sensations in the fullest and most vivid way. We have a great challenge and a duty to ourselves - never to…