Saturday, January 5, 2013



      If our life on earth was only an hour long, and we had nothing but Christ, the joy, sweetness and  love we would experience, would fill our souls with delight, and  be more desirable than an entire lifetime enjoying all the  material things, for matter can never replace the God who created us. Further,  without Christ, we are dead before we die.  To be without Christ is to be placed  among the poorest on earth, and to have Christ enrolls us among the most wealthy, far above kings and billionaires.  Christ is the life of all men; Christ is everything  good, the priceless pearl, who desires that no one perish but that all come to knowledge of truth.  It is only in Jesus Christ that we will find the wonders of love, peace and joy,  not only experiencing them but sharing them  as though  our own.  Love is the most important thing  in heaven and on earth, and Paul says that love is the lasting virtue, “love never ends”.

     All the servants of God in the heavenly world, know that God is love and that love prevails among them all.  Here on earth, magazines  that write about love are tainted with erroneous ideas, for love is not found in  the passions of the flesh.

Love has been the cause of many noble and holy accomplishments, of  innumerable Christian martyrdoms. Love of God enlightens ascetics to give up everything, love for God supplied the Church with truthful, glorious and noble Bishops and Priests,  who became good shepherds, as they dedicated their whole lives to Christ, diligently  shepherding His flocks.  Love motivates innumerable people to embrace virginity instead of  marriage and a family. Love inspires husband and wife to enter into honorable marriage, to love one another, without hypocrisy,  to live according to Christ, bringing  holy children into the world.  Love rejoices and gladdens the hearts of those undergoing threats and torture, or enduring tribulation. Love of Christ preserves marriages, fills families with joy, and insures domestic tranquility.  Mutual love in Christ keeps parents glued together assuring a stable environment and healthy nourishment of children.  Then children become  well behaved and respectful toward each other and toward everyone, bringing joy to their parents and to God. If that love  becomes shattered,  big troubles comes,  causing parents and their unfortunate children to be filled with anxieties, bitterness and   other ills.  Even when such troubles arise, which are instigated by the enemy, calling upon the help of  Christ, can quickly  restore tranquility,  for Christ alone can preserve the peace and overcome  the intrigues of the evil one.

       “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has  it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9).  Love with truth is the perfect virtue, for from love of God, Christians work toward  keeping the feasts and fasts, attending  services, reverencing the Priest,  avoiding  gossip, and all lies. Love extends from the believing Christian to all mankind, lacking hatred for all men, including our persecutors. Orthodox Christians do not raise armies   and conduct wars of conquest.  Speaking the truth in love, we wish to bring all men into the Church, but not by compulsion. We honor those outside the Church but not their heresy, nor do we worship with them, for this is not allowed by God..

      When we look about, we find that most people desire  to be  loved, not for what they  have,  how they look , or what their lineage is, but to be loved for themselves,  for their own souls.  Sick people desire to be loved even more than healthy  people. Both youths and the elderly alike   fervently desire love,  and they love companionship more than others This desire for love is not a weakness but rather a strength if   properly directed.  For if we requite God’s great love for us in our lives will enjoy a more wonderful existence, being  the Creator’s plan  that His  love should rule all creation. 

 “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” “ (James 1:12).

     In secular  societies, our enemy foments  bitterness and hatred,  turning man against man and nation against nation, resulting in mutual self destruction.  The Lord spoke of such things, saying:  “There shall be wars and rumors of wars . . .”  The cause of revolutions and wars, and all evils which  plague humanity, is men who do not know or do not want to know the Son of God who alone loves mankind.  When a man does not accept God and rejects Christ the Light of the world, as his teacher and guide, sadly, the evil spirit visits him misguides and distorts the truth, even without his knowledge. That is why there are so many sects today, men do only what they want, not caring what God commands.

      People do not want to be alone,  not just because of  loneliness, but due to the desire of genuine love which they are really seeking.   Indeed, who can dispute that love is a most important ingredient in the life of man?  The robber on the Cross was justly suffering and was  being put to death for His crimes, yet hanging together on his cross, he was enlightened , and seeing Christ with noetic eyes, he saw His purity and total innocence. Turning  toward Him he began to see Him with  sympathy,  changed into enlightenment and love, and this loved turned into a yearning desire as he cried out ecstatically: “Lord, Remember me in your kingdom.”  His words showed a desire for eternal life, for they were on the threshold of death at that moment. The repentant robber  expressed the desire  to be with Christ for ever.  The robber was not baptized into Christ, or receive  holy Chrism, nor the Body and Blood of Christ. But he responded to the divine love which poured into his soul from Christ like a torrent.

 Christ’s heart was totally overflowing with love that increased as His  suffering increased. He knew what He was accomplishing from the abuse, torture, and the nails, being spat upon and  insulted in mockery, up to  His death on the Cross! 

With great joy, Jesus Christ requited the love of the robber,  filling him with gladness, as He gave him eternal life, saying:  “Today you will be with me in Paradise!”  Behold the beauty of this conversation between the robber and Christ, for the Jews and Caesar nailed Him to the Cross and denounced Him,   Even the disciples fled, but  the robber,  before the whole world,  confessed Him as true God and man, saying, “remember me.”  Those few words,  but most  beautiful intentions of a penitent, gained him in an instant the eternal Kingdom. The love of Christ for the robber is the same love that Christ has for every man, even for those who hate Him and those who killed Him.  He loved perfectly the soldiers who drove the nails through His hands and feet.  Christ’s  love for man is an all-knowing and perfect love that never changes, therefore  we bow down and worship Him who  teaches us love by demonstrating  His great love for mankind.  Hence, the Apostle John says: “We love Him because He first loved us.”

 Let us never forget that love and truth are eternal companions and remain inseparable, for Christ is also the Truth who came down from heaven.  If we believe or teach  falsehood about Christ, it is not possible to love Him. All lies are from the devil. The heretics lie about Christ attacking his divinity,  hurl accusations against His holy Mother, with their claim that He was  not both  God and man, and that Mary was not a virgin but had other children.  Without realizing it they actually hated the true Christ, and fabricated a christ of their own – a  false-christ.  Others denied that he was God and man, in denying His two natures.   Those who do not love  Christ as He is, true God and true man, and His Mother, His Saints and Martyrs cannot love Christ, who says: “As you do it not to the least of my brethren you do it not to me.”

      Although many have talked about love,  an important question needs to be answered: “what is this thing called love?” which was the name of a popular song over sixty years ago.  What is love? It is more than only a feeling, for it is  active and productive. Genuine love is always sacrificial, and we see  this in our daily life.  In a time of danger, a mother’s love for her child causes  her without hesitation,  to sacrifice her life, in order to save the child.  Policemen and firemen risk their lives frequently to save another’s life. When we loose our life we lose everything that goes with it, and that is why Christ says: “Greater love has no man but that he lays down his soul for another.”

 Love is defined as the giving of all the good one possesses to the beloved.  Here are a few examples that support this definition.

   Abraham so loved God that he was ready, willing and able to give in sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, who was his only son in whom were all the promises of God,  the son given to him and Sarah in their advanced years. Abraham did not hesitate, and as God directed, placed his son  on the altar raising his knife to sacrifice Isaac. He was stopped by an angel, and Isaac was not sacrificed, but Abraham, out of his love and obedience to God, did sacrifice him by intent. He knew that God would provide a way to fulfill all His promises that were in Isaac.  Abraham put his entire faith and confidence in God, and therefore was willing to give Him his greatest treasure, his only begotten son.

      God the Father had decided to give Himself as sacrifice to save man. No one even thought of asking God for this great gift to us!  Thus  His Logos  became incarnate, born of the Virgin,  and did everything  to free imprisoned  man.  In fact, even the creation of  the first man poured  forth out from   His infinite love, and God always rejoices in what He has created, even when we willingly rebel  against Him. God knows everything, and  knew that man would insult, spit upon, mock and deride His Son, he also knew that misled men would nail Him to the  Cross and kill Him, offer Him vinegar when He cried out in thirst, and would finally pierce Him with a spear. But the love of God for  man is so immense that He would spare nothing .  The Son of God, went into battle with nefarious powers of death that had been tyrannizing man for ages, and  Christ is victorious, and in proclaiming His victory, Christ proclaimed: “It is finished.”  The instant Christ died, the victory belonged to Him, for the Cross had wonderfully entrapped the Devil, putting him to shame, and Christ stripped him of his power and authority over man.

So God did not use some possession,  but gave  Himself, incarnate so as to suffer death in order to conquer and destroy its power. The Son agreed and in mutual love, the Father offered His only begotten Son as a sacrifice for sins and as food for the faithful. This is pure and divine love, concerning which, no writer can describe,  for it is infinite and beyond our ability. It is beyond words,  deeper and more  glorious than is conceivable.  Scripture says:  “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believed in Him would have everlasting life.” 

How beautiful are these words, for the Lord does not ask much, only ‘Whoever believes in Him
But, because the seculars permeating our society say that all you need is to believe, display their ignorance of Scripture, for Christ says elsewhere, “If you love me keep my commandments.” And without works our faith is of no value.  Again Christ says that “Each one will be judged by what he has done. Faith without works is dead and of no value. The love for Christ is unlike any other love, for it is the love of the Creator for His creature, the love of the Master for his slave.

     Obviously divine love is the most genuine of all loves, and this divine love flows from God into our souls when we respond to His earnest call: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is here.” Whoever will follow me, let him take up his cross . . .” Repentance and conducting our lives in the newness of life with Christ is the starting point.  He wants us to continually  love him with all our hearts to embrace and obey Him, which we prove to Him by obeying every commandment.  With His outstretched arms on the Cross, He cries out  to the whole world:  Do you see O race of man, how much I love you, how much I want to embrace and kiss you? Behold  the torment which  I am suffering out of my love for you!  Do you see the blood pouring from my wounds as life is being drawn out of me?  But behold, I am dying willingly, and that same blood I will give to you to drink, which will grant you remission of sins and eternal life.  I who am God,  gave you existence, breathing my spirit into you because  of my love for you.  Yet I took this form, which is your human form, in order to save you, that you may enter the fullness of my love in the heavenly kingdom.  But first  you must repent and stop doing the deeds of the enemy, then follow me and worship me, the true God. The enemy offers you death and torment, but  I offer you abundant life and all that I have will be yours.

  But to only read and talk about this love will be of no benefit to our souls. We must ourselves become a part of this love by loving Him in return.  His love must penetrate our souls, and fill us with love to share with others.  Here is the path leading to that love.  First, we need to humble ourselves before God, and confess all our sins to Him; then to His priest, confessing the multitude of our sins from our youth. This can only be accomplished if we first humble ourselves.  The humbling of ourselves  will cause an increase in our faith in the Holy Trinity.  It will further increase our humility if we ask the Lord, through His Mother and all His Saints, for they, out of the same love  will certainly help us   Then we must strive to put to death the demon of anger, revenge and other wicked passions,  that may be dwelling in us, and strive to become  meek like a lamb, which will attract more grace from God.  In these things  calling on the help of God will strengthen us.
    The next step will come of itself, for as our faith increases, fervent hope will naturally arise in our soul. Also, by increasing our faith and hope, we will keep the demon of despair at bay.  It is wonderful the way virtues, which are loved by God, arise in the soul. For with  the changes taking place in us, first our humility and meekness, they will spark another virtue, a desire for holiness.  Now we are on the next step leading directly to genuine and holy love.  Behold the beauty of faith and hope in God will increase to the point that love  for God will burst forth and joy will accompany it.  Although we will now enter a battle, we will be so well armed that  no one can harm us if we do not harm ourselves. Christ will fight our battles, the Theotokos will nurse our wounds, and all the angelic powers will come to our assistance, weeping with joy when they see one more soul saved and entering the kingdom.

      Finally, the Apostle of love, St. John will offer the final words. “Brother, hereby do we perceive the love of God, for He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and truth . . . Beloved let us love one another for love is of God  and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God, for God is love.  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  And Jesus Christ near the end told His disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love each other, even as much as I love you. By this all men will know that your are my disciples, if you have love for each other.”

No comments:

Post a Comment