Has it been so long since our Church was on the cross, when all those faithful to the Lord hoped only in grace, and deprived of everything, possessed nothing other than treasure in heaven? But everyone without exception is given death as either the loss of everything, or as the Pascha of the Lord.
How might we learn from the holy fathers and Holy Righteous John of Kronstadt to make a spiritual evaluation not only of those events about which we read even in Scripture, not those that happened yesterday, but which are happening today!
But still, in the midst of evil there is the Cross of Christ, and the more that evil rages in the world, the more grace comes from it. And the Apostle Peter says: “Whatever the adverse circumstances, we’ll try again.” Too often we do nothing, waiting for favorable times to come, when they very well may never come!
The paralytic man continued year after year to lie by the waters, hoping that sooner or later help would come to him. And it is revealed to us that the first is not the one who comes first to the shrine, pushing others aside, but the one who confesses himself to be the first of sinners, and for this reason considers his situation to be the most hopeless.
It is not for us to know the times and dates, says the Lord. But it is our duty, because we are Christians, to stand on the final borders of the Kingdom of Christ, where love is above all, until the end; wherever it can still be preserved, both in the Church and outside the Church, in all human relations.
Joy is given only to a poor spirit, only to those who humbly pray for grace, following Christ. The young man was saddened because he could not acquire perfection at his own heavy price, and refused to accept it at Christ’s easy price.
No one has ever spoken like Christ, and Christ has never spoken as He speaks now by His silence. All the words of the Gospel that we were to have read up until today are encompassed in His silence. And there are even more that are not written in these books, and there are even more we cannot now accommodate. All truth, all love, all the fullness of life.
The parable of the unmercirful servant begins with the words, Therefore is the Kingdom of Heaven likened unto a certain king, and that means that the mystery of forgiveness is hidden in Divine grace, in the mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Lord gave St. Mary of Egypt to know what grace is when she lived in terrible sins, and granted her to see what an obstacle sin is for communion with God. Her answer to this gift from God should ever be before our eyes and should be our constant contemplation.
The woman, receiving the gift of healing, thanks the Lord. Man, having received healing by the mercy of God, cannot but thank God. It is natural for him, and it is a sign of his healing, because no one is able to bring praise to the Lord until his ailing soul has been healed. The grace of Christ can straighten everything that sin has twisted in our lives.
“Time passes quickly, as a river flows,” says St. Nikolai Velimirovic, “and soon, I repeat,” he says, “soon will come the end of all things.” No one can return back from eternity, to take what he forgot here on Earth, and do what he did not do. Therefore, let us make haste to use the gifts we have received from God for acquiring eternal life.
Again, by God’s mercy, we are entering the Dormition fast. This is the shortest and sweetest of the fasts. It begins with the blessing of honey, and then the blessing of the fruits. This fast is also the lightest, because the Mother of God takes care that the yoke of Christ would be light for us. She takes care for our bodies as well as our souls.
Perhaps it is because the Second Coming of Christ is near that the Lord today is sweeping aside with such clarity and distinctness all appearance of Christianity, and wants each of us to be placed before a terrible choice: to be without Christ to the end, or to be to the end with Christ.
We find this story in the life of Blessed Matrona: One day a policeman came to take Matrona, and she said to him, “Go, go quickly—there’s a tragedy at your house! I’m blind and not going anywhere. I just sit on the bed; I don’t want to go anywhere.” He listened, and went home, and found that his wife had badly burned herself on the stove, but he managed to get her to the hospital. He went to work the next day and they asked him, “Well, did you seize the blind lady?”
It is clearly seen in the parable that Christ knows what awaits Him ahead and what path His Church must walk. He consciously ascends to His death, to give Himself for the salvation of all, to become the cornerstone upon which life is built and without which all of mankind would bear witness to the destruction of all. Rejection and death await the Lord and His Church, but it is all in order to bring mercy, judgment, and victory for those who love Him.
The Most Pure Virgin Mary’s answer is the joyful, prayerful concentration of all ages of Christian sanctity; the fate of every person, into which we are all called to delve. Let everyone who turns his mind and heart to the Lord always stand before this mystery, and with thankfulness witness the joy of today’s feast. The Annunciation has happened. Be it unto me according to thy word.
What is the practical result of Machiavelli’s teaching for the modern consciousness? A deep divide, an incurable separation between politics and morals. And, subsequently, a lethal contradiction between what they call idealism (mistakenly combined with morality), and what they call realism (mistakenly combined with politics). Thus is born an irreconcilable conflict between morals and pitiless reality.
What Joachim and Anna have done, offering to God the fruit of their prayers, far exceeds any spiritual labors that we could set up as an example. But let us ponder the following: often we find ourselves in a situation similar to these people – Joachim and Anna, – when misfortune befalls us, when we are in need, when we are ready to promise the Lord everything, say all kinds of words of love, just so He would help us, would deliver us from such a state. And then sorrow passes, need passes. But when the time comes to fulfill our promise, we begin to vacillate.
On the Second Sunday of Great Lent, we celebrate the memory of St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica. On this day, the Holy Church speaks to us about the mystery of light, which we must come to know, if we want to behold the Resurrection of Christ. St. Gregory of Thessalonica and the theological arguments of the fourteenth century connected with his name taught that the light of the Transfiguration is uncreated light.
From that time on we often appealed to the holy Tsar Nicholas, and help came immediately under extraordinary circumstances. Since Tsar Nicholas Aleksandrovich was not only our Sovereign, but also head of a large family, we began to pray to him whenever we had family conflicts and disagreements. Peace was restored to our family very quickly. O holy Royal martyrs, pray to God for us!
The human soul is more precious than anything in the world. It must be saved at any price, even if this price seems too high in many people’s opinions. We belong to the Church of martyrs and confessors. The holy martyrs are witnesses: giving your life for Christ means gaining it and accomplishing it to the fullest.
A Christian lives in two dimensions—time and eternity. May God grant us in this new year to be worthy citizens of our Fatherland, both earthly and heavenly. No matter what trials await us on earth, if we are faithful to the Lord, He will once again prepare heavenly consolations for each of us on the feast of the Nativity of Christ.