That’s the thing—God is near, but we are far away! And that’s why the drops of spiritual dew that the Church offers us today—the full reading of the penitential canon of St. Andrew of Crete and the life of St. Mary of Egypt—are so important for us.
Man will be alone in hell. He won’t see anyone anymore, because sin closes both God and neighbor off from them. But in Paradise we will all see one another, and we will all be glad because of the others, because we will see God in every person. Today we communed—look at one another and feed upon this love.
A church becomes the place where we receive a blessing and the hospital where we recover. What else do we need in this life? Can we say that something is missing in our lives, or that we have not received enough? Our salary is low, our house is too small, our health is poor… What do we need? We have everything we need!
Christ is Risen! Pascha is ongoing, and we continue fighting for joy and hope, which we can hear in these words: “Christ is Risen!” We want to be sure in this truth about God and that He has defeated death. If we are with God then we can prevail over our sick, lame, deaf, blind and foolish nature, and live with God forever.
On the one hand, the Lord voluntarily accepts sufferings, which means His death. On the other hand, His steps towards Golgotha is a feast for us. We partake of Holy Communion, we take His love and thus we can live. The majority of people do not live today, but simply exist. They try to do their best to live in comfort, they build and collect something, they try to make their life more interesting and entertaining, to make it be more diverse. However, they just cannot admit that all these things are unreal, that everything will end sooner or later, and people will be separated from their loved ones.
The forthcoming week is devoted to a great ascetic – Saint John Climacus. Spiritual life is a ladder, which leads to the Heavenly Kingdom. We climb it, we fall down, we hit the ground, we stand up and we fall again. The thing is, we need to stand up over and over again. The ascetics, who devoted their lives to studying spiritual laws and struggling against sin have left to us a number of works for edification. However, we need to be prudent.
Without doing anything we receive limitless love, which allows us to keep our head above the water. This love brings us to the Church and to the chalice. Our God is so great that we can speak about holiness, about Pascha and Resurrection. Our God is so great that we are allowed to attend His Great Supper, where everything is transfigured and becomes God-like. Maybe it lasts for just a second, but this second is so precious…
The Mother of God takes a scepter in her arms, which is exactly what a queen is supposed to do. The earthly kingdoms fall, and She offers us to come to the Kingdom which Her Son has told us about: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John, 18:36). No matter how good and fair are the laws of the earthly kingdoms, they are still imperfect, and this is why these kingdoms are temporary.
With God’s help we are beginning Great Lent. We have to start to work on ourselves, to set our thoughts in order. Our inner man should be restored. All our thoughts and feelings are devastated, tangled and crushed by sin. How can we live in such a condition and say that we are Christians?
We have to struggle with ourselves, with our “old self”, with our mercenariness, and with our primitive and limited views on what is happening to us and around us. And the holy Church teaches us how we should live. The Gospel tells about the two people who entered the temple. One of them was a zealous adherent of the law, who did everything right. But what did that lead to? To his arrogance and self-admiration.