Only He Who Loves God Can Know Him

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And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent (Jn. 17:3).

Now, my children, you have heard in the Gospel that before His sufferings, the Lord Jesus Christ raised His eyes to Heaven and prayed for His Disciples. He prayed that after His departure, when His Disciples would remain alone in this world among the people who persecuted and hated Him, God the Father would preserve them from all evil, so they might remain just as pure as they were during the earthly life of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The Lord prayed about this because if His Disciples would remain pure and holy, then all people who would hear their preaching would receive eternal life. And eternal life consists in knowing the one true God and Jesus Christ Whom He sent.

You, my children, of course already know that besides this earthly life that ends with the death of a man, there’s another, eternal life that begins after the death of a man, beyond the grave, in Heaven. This eternal life is nothing like the earthly one. Here on Earth, people eat, drink, worry about clothes, have fun, sell, and buy. In Heaven, people will live like the angels. The angels constantly glorify God, Who is so great, holy, and powerful, and they constantly rejoice in those wonderful things that God does for everything He created; and out of love for men, they themselves help them in all good things, pray for them, and save them from sins and misfortunes.

But to lead such a life, you have to prepare for it while still on Earth. How can we do this? In His prayer, the Lord says that to do this, first of all we have to know God and Jesus Christ Whom He sent; and not simply know Him with the mind, but also love Him with the heart. It’s therefore not enough to learn Sacred History or the Catechism well in order to know God. Only he who loves God can know Him, as says the holy Apostle John the Theologian: God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him (1 Jn. 4:16). And because love manifested itself most of all in the fact that He gave His Son over to death for our sins, then we also have to know and love our Savior Jesus Christ with all our heart.

You, my children, can especially love God, because your hearts are still pure. You’re better than adults who have committed many sins;1 you can feel how God loves those people who constantly obey Him and fulfill His will. When you don’t do anything wrong, your heart feels good and joyful. Therefore, the holy Apostle John says: I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father (1 Jn. 2:13).

And the best way to love God is by your pure and fervent prayer to Him. If you remember God more often and turn to Him in prayer, that’s the best way to be preserved from all sin. Then for this prayer of yours, other words of the holy Apostle John the Theologian will be fulfilled with you: I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His names sake (1 Jn. 2:12). And while still on Earth, you will live as though in Heaven.


Hieromartyr Thaddeus (Uspensky)
Translation by Jesse Dominick


1 This homily was given to the students of a male theological school.—Trans.

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