CALLED TO BECOME SAINTS
“To the saints which are at Ephesus” (Eph. 1:1).
Orthodox Christians of all ages are saints and are addressed by St. Paul as “the saints”, in fact all Christians even to this day are referred to as saints. An example is in every Divine Liturgy we hear the priest summoning us saying: “The holy things for the holy”. (Note: The original Greek is “Ta aghia tees agois” which is properly translated: “the holy things for the saints.”)
Holy Communion is not simply bread and wine, though it may appear and taste as such, but is the true body and blood of the Godman Jesus Christ, who speaking of this mystery to His Apostles said: “Take. eat. this is my body and drink this is my blood.” Only those who are worthy should partake of this mystery, for without repentance and living a Christian life they are forbidden an dangerous to our souls.
Divine Liturgy on Sunday alone is not the only way into the kingdom of heaven, for we are required to make a complete change in our lives, which means to rid ourselves of every sin and vice and acquire every divine virtue, and for this reason we are called saints. The vices of pride and boasting are deadly; we need to acquire humility and humblemindedness. Unreasonable anger and furiousness are poisonous; meekness and gentleness kust be acquired being the only way. Vileness is of the devil and is dangerous and must be replaced by holiness which is necessary and excludes all evil. All injustices, such as lying and stealing are deadly sins, for we must embrace justice and honesty avoiding all forms of evil. Holiness excludes all evil thoughts, desires and action.
We are called to become saints which is entirely voluntary for it is our freedom to accept or reject as we desire. But the penalty for not becoming saints is everlasting torment and the reward is the kingdom of heaven in the life which is to come. The importance of becoming saints should be a priority in conducting our lives, and is the only answer to those who are searching for true happiness. Happiness is being in the arms of God who will guide those who desire into life that never ends.
It is our calling to embrace what is wonderful and beautiful for we are not called to do something too difficult but normal if we are rightly disposed. We should hate all evil and do no evil to anyone and we do not want evil done to us. We do not like dishonesty nor should we be dishonest but truthful and sincere with everyone. If we found ourselves in need we would greatly appreciate any help that is given to us. So we must be generous to those are in need, and not live luxuriously and disregard them.
When men keep the commandments of God, then earth will become heavenly and delightful to all men. All evil will disappear, nor will wars exist as men keep the commandments, for then peace and happiness will be everywhere. Men will seek to help and encourage each other and will live in continuous joy.
We are called to be saints, and this is most necessary for we belong to the kingdom of God which is the church. We are called to do no evil but only good, and Christ feeds all of us with His own flesh and blood in order to transform us with His divine help. We see this when we read the lives of our fellow saints, who have sacrificed their lives rather than to commits sins. But how many of us sin without fear and trembling, and some even rejoice in their sins. There is no reward for them but severe punishment will be their lot in the next life.
Testifying to the truth about Jesus Christ and His church can cause others to viciously attack us just as was done to the Saints of old. In the Bible we read about St. Stephen: “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders among the people” as he preached the truth of Jesus Christ. Certain Jews disputed with him but could not prevail. They then roused up the people saying lies about Stephen: “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” In fact every word coming from Stephen was absolutely true, but the evil Jews gnashed their teeth and convinced the people to stone him to death. St. Peter was crucified for the sake of Christ and St. Paul was beheaded. To die is the destination of all of us, but to die for Christ assures us of eternal life. But to deny Christ sentences us to eternal death. The Saints who were martyred preferred to die out of love for Christ and they spread His truths among people everywhere.
We know the history of many saints of the church because the account of their lives has been preserved in our holy tradition. These saints believed and loved Jesus Christ and His divine truths which they taught to all men. That is why the church grew quickly and was multiplied when people who abandoned falsehood, were baptized by three immersions in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this Orthodox baptism they symbolically died with Christ and were resurrected into His Resurrection by triune immersion and rising out of the water. They joined the entire chorusof happy saints destined to everlasting life.
The current practice of not baptizing those who come to Orthodoxy from the papacy and Protestantism goes against the teaching and canons of the church, for baptisms outside of the church are counterfeit baptisms, do that such persons remain unbaptized and in are in need of genuine baptism. Thus there are many who have entered the church who are in need of genuine baptism. That is why when some of these unbaptized converts visit Mt. Athos, they return rejoicing after having been happily baptized by the monks. May God bless these monks who are correctly following the sacred tradition and canons of the holy church. Although many have entered the Church without baptism, may the day come that theyall become baptized correctly, or that they all visit Mt. Athos.