At the end of the first week of Lent, all members of the Church confess and partake of the holy Sacraments of Christ. When we come to confession, we stand before God in His invisible presence. We have come to thank God, not to complain about our lives.
Very often, a confession turns into a nagging, into a complaint against God: "He is so-and-so, He does not give me this; I am poor and unfortunate..." This happens because of our disbelief and because we do not value what we already have.
Can believers honestly say that they are unhappy in their lives? If yes, they have little faith, and therefore little knowledge of God. If we want to live with God, then God never leaves us. If we serious about serving God, God gives us the strength to do so. What you want you will get - do not doubt it.
A monk lies paralysed in his cell, yet his eyes are joyful as he is looking at the holy image of an icon. People come to this monk, see his eyes and his faith, and receive strength. They have their arms and legs, and are in good health. He cannot get out of bed or even talk, but he has the spirit of deep gratitude to the Lord. A grateful person has nothing else to ask for…
Our problem is that we do not know how to be grateful. We are too used to living as consumers. We expect others to have pity and take care of us, and want everything in the world to revolve around us...
But this is not living with Christ. We must all draw near to God, Who loves us, understands us more than we understand ourselves, and wants to help us in our future life so that we live this life well and go home.
On this earth, we are only on a visit. Everyone is here on a visit, everything is temporary, so we should not cling to people or things, but only to God alone. This can be difficult because our sinful selves stop us from being with God; they stand in our way as we submit our lives to Him, give ourselves over to Him, and dedicate ourselves to serving Him and our neighbour. Our sinful nature tells us to live for ourselves, to act as it suits us, and to do as we please...
Living like this would make us selfish and our lives useless. We would be deaf to the needs of those who are close to us, and it is the root of our problem. For if we saw and heard the people who are near us; if we sympathised with them and pitied them, then we would not have time to think much about ourselves; instead, we would direct our energy to the service of another. And so by serving others we serve God.
So I hope we all realize by now the magnitude of the change ahead of us. If we believe that the Lord will help us change, and if we genuinely want to change, then everything will work out. Conversely, our disbelief and reluctance will be our problem, and nobody else’s. No-one can force us to change if we do not want to.
We have a free choice: we decide what we do and how we build our lives. But we do not have unlimited choices. We can choose to be with God or to hide from Him and go it alone. What we decide in the end depends on what we want to accomplish in this life.
Help us, Lord, to make the right choice.
Translated by Yulia Simm