Ignore Evil. Look to Christ.

God has placed power in man’s soul. But it is up to him how he channels it – for good or for evil. If we imagine the good as a garden full of flowers, trees and plants and the evil as weeds and thorns and the power as water, then what can happen is as follows: when the water is directed towards the flower-garden, then all the plants grow, blossom and bear fruit; and at the same time, the weeds and thorns, because they are not being watered, wither and die. And the opposite, of course, can also happen.

It is not necessary, therefore, to concern yourselves with the weeds. Don’t occupy yourselves with rooting out evil. Christ does not wish us to occupy ourselves with the passions, but with the opposite. Channel the water, that is, all the strength of your soul, to the flowers and you will enjoy their beauty, their fragrance and their freshness.

You won’t become saints by hounding after evil. Ignore evil. Look towards Christ and He will save you. Instead of standing outside the door shooing the evil one away, treat him with disdain. If evil approaches from one direction, then calmly turn in the opposite direction. If evil comes to assault you. Turn all your inner strength to good, to Christ. Pray, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.’ He knows how and in what way to have mercy on you. And when you have filled yourself with good, don’t turn any more towards evil. In this way you become good on your own, with the grace of God. Where can evil then find a foothold? It disappears!

(Elder Porphyrious, Wounded by Love, p. 135)

God: The Cause of Our Wonder

You make darkness, and it is night…   (Psalm 104:20)

…even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is as bright as the day,

for darkness is as light to you.  (Psalm 139:12)

He bowed the heavens, and came down;

thick darkness was under his feet.

He rode on a cherub, and flew;

he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.

He made darkness his covering around him,

his canopy thick clouds dark with water.  (Psalm 18:9-11)

 

And so it proves to be for each one who follows the spiritual Way. We go out from the known to the unknown, we advance from light into darkness. We do not simply proceed from the darkness of igno­rance into the light of knowledge, but we go forward from the light of partial knowledge into a greater knowledge which is so much more profound that it can only be described as the “dark­ness of unknowing.”

Like Socrates we begin to realize how little we understand. We see that it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progres­sively aware of a mystery.

God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder. Quoting Psalm 8:1, “O Lord, our Lord, how wonderful is thy name in all the earth”, St Gregory of Nyssa states: “God’s name is not known; it is won­dered at.”

(Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, p. 16)

Pentecost and Babel

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  (Acts 2:1-4)

The description of the day of Pentecost reminds me of Ezekiel 43:1-5.    It is not that Acts quotes Ezekiel, but more there is an echo, a parallel between the passages. Adolfo Roitman notes:

“… fulfilling Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning the return of the Divine Presence to the Temple, originally enunciated during the Babylonian Exile: ‘And there, coming from the east with a roar like the roar of mighty waters, was the Presence of the God of Israel, and the earth was lit up by His presence . . .  The Presence of the Lord entered the Temple by the gate that faced eastward.  A spirit carried me into the inner court, and lo the Presence of the Lord filled the Temple’ (Ezek 43:1-5).”  (ENVISIONING THE TEMPLE, p 87)

What Ezekiel hears  is something “like the roar of mighty waters” (see also Psalm 93).  The rushing of water was perhaps one of the noisiest and mighty sounds known in the ancient world before machinery became common place.  Ezekiel wants us to understand that the sound he heard was a mighty roaring which would have drowned out all other sound.  For the Apostle Luke, writing in Acts, he describes the sound to be a mighty, rushing wind, the howling tempest.  He too uses the word “like” – he is searching for a proper comparison, but we get the idea of this mighty sound which accompanies the Presence of God entering His temple, and also entering His disciples.  In the Acts account, it is now the disciples who represent the temple of God, as really does the entire world, for Pentecost is the outpouring of God’s Spirit on the world.  Ezekiel also describes the earth being “lit up by His presence“- so too in Acts there is the distribution of the tongues of fire.  Ezekiel and Luke are both looking for the proper metaphors to help us understand what God’s returning to His temple, coming upon His disciples, filling the world with His Spirit is like.  They both are making comparisons but not necessarily telling us literally what happened.  Words will not suffice for what was experienced (like trying to explain snow to people living at the equator  who don’t even know refrigeration or have never experienced anything freezing – what is snow like?).

And if we think comparing Ezekiel 43 and the Temple with Acts 2 and the Apostles is far fetched, we only need to remember that the Orthodox Church for centuries has read Ezekiel 43:27-44:4  and its description of the Temple as a reference to Mary, the Theotokos, and we read it at three of the Feasts of the Theotokos –her Nativity, Entrance into the Temple, and Dormition.  The Theotokos becomes the Temple of the Lord.   Add to that St. Paul’s own words: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? . . . For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) and  “For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people’” (2 Corinthians 6:16).   The New Testament is clear that the Jerusalem Temple is to be replaced: “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb”  (Revelation 21:22).

The Pentecost experience is not only described in terms comparing it to what it is like (Acts – Ezekiel, Temple – Apostles), but also it is contrasted with the narrative of the account of Babel in Genesis 11, an event that also involved a cacophony of sound.

“The account of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 is frequently used in the Liturgy for Pentecost as a foil.  Babel is the ‘anti-Pentecost’ whose effects can only be undone by Holy Spirit-empowered Pentecost.  The first is a curse, the second a healing.  … The survivors of the flood … said ‘Let us build for ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens…’ (11:4).  The Lord saw their pride and unwillingness to do as He had told them and said,

Look, they are one people. And they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do . . . let us go down and confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech (11:6-7).

And so the Lord scattered them.

This confusion of language has often been seen as a curse: God punishing the people for their act of defiance, for setting themselves up like gods and trying to reach the heavens.  This may have been the people’s grand wish, but it is tiny in comparison with an all-powerful God, who had to ‘come down’ from heaven to get a closer look at the tower being built by the people (11:5).  The people may have thought they were becoming immortal, but God knew they were not even close.

The Pentecost liturgy takes a slightly different tack.  With its ‘When the Most High came down he confused the tongues, divided the nations; but when he parted the tongues of fire, he called all to unity…’, it instead hints at the confusion of language being an act of caring discipline by God.  It was a scattering  so that He could unite them in His own time and plan.  The people of Babel were trying to create their own unity, but had left God out of that unity.”  (Kathryn Wehr, “Notes and Comments: The Pentecost Liturgy as a Call for Unity and Mission”, SVTQ Vol 59 #2  2015, pp 236-237)

Biblical scholar N T Wright comments further:

“… the story of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11).  Human arrogance reaches a height, quite literally, with the building of a tower to make a name and create security.   God comes down to look at the puny little tower (the passage is full of ironic humor), and confuses human languages so that the human race won’t be able to carry out its arrogant ambitions.

What is God doing about evil?  On the one hand he is confronting it, judging it and doing something to stop it from having its desired effect.  On the other hand he is doing something new, beginning a new project through which the underlying problem of the curse and the disunity of the human family will be replaced by blessing.  How Abraham’s family will reverse the curse of Babel is not clear . . .  When the promise of Genesis 12 comes through into the New Testament we discover its effect, of course, not least on the day of Pentecost. (EVIL AND THE JUSTICE OF GOD, pp 48-49)

Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Council: Defending Jesus

“It was with a spirit of reverential fear that the Fathers were then compelled to defend the divinity of the Son at the council of Nicea in AD 325. They sought to remind Christians that Christ’s coming into the world was a true manifestation of the eternal God and that his Incarnation opened the way to the fullness of salvation and of deification: ‘[God] was made man,’ said St. Athanasius, following St. Irenaeus, ‘that we might be made God.’ But such insistence on the eternal unity of the Father and the Son risked compromising or minimising the uniqueness, or irreducible specificity, of each of the divine persons. The Cappadocian Fathers worked in the course of the fourth century to formulate a theological language and to establish the meaning of precise terms that would permit Christians on one hand to distinguish the unity of the Three in essence, or shared substance, and, on the other, to express the mystery of each of the three persons by using the philosophical term ‘hypostasis.’ This term settled the trinitarian debate more conclusively than did the term ‘person,’ which had been introduced by Tertullian in the early third century, by emphasizing the unfathomable depth of personal being of each member of the Trinity.”   (Boris Bobrinskoy, “God in Trinity,” The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology, p. 50)

Following the One Who Taught Poverty

If you want a life of discipleship,

do not allow the desire for material possessions

to get a grip on you.

A disciple with many possessions

is like a ship that has been too heavily laden.

It is lashed by the storms of cares

and sinks in the deep waters of distress.

The love of money gives birth to many evil obsessions

and has rightly been called the “root of all evil.”

(St Theodoros the Ascetic, The Book of Mystical Chapters, p. 58-59)

Ezekiel 33:11

Say to them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11; see also Ezekiel 18:31-32)

St. Romanos the Melodist offers us Christian insight into Ezekiel‘s prophetic words:

“Now I shall make all known to you and I shall prophesy to you, All-Holy, unblemished.

For fall and resurrection,

your Son is set, the life and the redemption and the resurrection of all.

The Lord has not appeared so that some may fall while others rise,

for the All-Compassionate does not rejoice at the fall of mortals.

Nor has he now come to make those who stand fall,

but rather he is here hastening to raise those who have fallen,

ransoming from death what he himself fashioned,

the only lover of mankind.

(On the Life of Christ: Kontakia, p. 31)

And from the desert fathers we find a very motherly and earthy understanding of the Ezekiel prophecy:

A brother asked Abba Macarius, “My father, I have fallen into a transgression.” Abba Macarius said to him, “It is written, my son, ‘I do not desire the death of a sinner as much as his repentance and his life’ [see 1 Tim 2:4 and 2 Pet 3:9].

Repent, therefore, my son; you will see him who is gentle, our Lord Jesus Christ, his face full of joy towards you, like a nursing mother whose face is full of joy for her child when he raises his hands and his face up to her. Even if he is full of all kinds of uncleanness, she does not turn away from that bad smell and excrement but takes pity on him and lifts him up and presses him to her breast, her face full of joy, and everything about him is sweet to her. If, then, this created person has pity for her child, how much greater is the love of the creator, our Lord Jesus Christ, for us!   (St. Macarius The Spirit Bearer: Coptic Texts Relating To Saint Macarius, Kindle Location 269-279)

The unconditional love of a mother for her child is a most exquisite image of God’s love for us.  God is not repulsed by the filth of our sins but desires to embrace us with God’s eternal love if only we will allow ourselves to be so embraced.

Mothers Day and Myrrhbearing Women

Gospel: Mark 15:43-16:8

Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.

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Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away – for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Christ is risen!

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Today in our Church we honor the Myrrhbearing Women who bravely went to the tomb of Christ to anoint His corpse.  Mark in his Gospel even gives us  their names: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, so we aren’t honoring “anonymous”, nameless women, but people well known to the Apostles, and who are all glorified as saints in our church.  They are named as the Women Disciples of the Lord.

3799994108_f25fae7a83_nAdditionally today, we have in America, Mother’s Day, and we are honoring our mothers, who gave birth to us and nurtured us in life.  One of the three Myrrhbearing Women Disciples of the Lord is also listed as Mother – her name happens also to be Mary.  We give thanks to you our mothers for all the beautiful things you have done for us, including giving us life.  Our mothers share in one of God’s own characteristics – being life-giving – in a way that we males cannot, so it is appropriate for us to recognize the godliness of women and to honor our mothers.

There is another woman disciple of the Lord that we know and she too happens to be named Mary, it is Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus and Martha – she too is counted as one of the myrrhbearing women of the Gospels.  In John’s Gospel (11:1-2) we learn about this family:

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.

And we can read about Mary’s anointing of Jesus in Mark 14:3-10 –

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. But there were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment thus wasted? For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor.” And they reproached her.

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But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you will, you can do good to them; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burying. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.

Jesus considered what Mary did for Him – anointing His body in preparation for His burial – to be a beautiful thing.  I’m sure Jesus would also have seen the Myrrhbearing Women coming to the tomb to anoint His corpse as a beautiful thing.  Especially considering that His male disciples were cowering behind locked doors afraid that they might be identified as His disciples if they showed their faces in public.

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When we look into the Scriptures we will see that the concept of “beauty” is related to many other ideas including that which is lovely, fair, desirable to the eyes, comely, befitting, pleasant, graceful, true, delightful, handsome, and godly.  Beauty is also connected to glory, splendor, being faithful, and loving.  That list in itself is joyous to think about.

In Scripture beauty comes from God, and beauty reveals God to us.  Beauty is joyful, wonderful, startling and glorious.  Beauty is something to be valued for its own sake.  We don’t value beauty because it makes us rich, rather it is prized simply because it is beautiful even when it gives profit to no one.  Beauty is noble, eternal and godly.

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The Myrrhbearing Women as they went to the tomb to do this beautiful act, knew nothing about the resurrection.  They only knew their Lord had been killed and that the authorities were threatening to harm anyone who followed Jesus.  So they represent to us courage, nobility, faith, hope and love even in the face of the threat of death.

We honor them for these virtues.  We all should be so virtuous and noble and courageous as these Women Disciples of the Lord.  In the face of death they don’t seek revenge or bring retaliation, they seek only that which is beautiful.

And we should consider whether we value such beauty in our lives.  Do we strive for this beauty that is related to courage, truth, love, nobility and virtue?

We might ask ourselves who are we more like from the Gospel lesson of the anointing of Jesus at Bethany.  Judas who was most concerned about money?  or Mary who is concerned about beauty, purity of heart and virtue?  Which are we striving for in our lives?  What do we really seek with our mind and strength?

Do we even bother to seek out this godly beauty in our lives, and do those beautiful things which benefit others but bring no benefit to ourselves?  or are we always thinking about what benefits me?   Do we teach our children the value of godly beauty or is our only concern that they grow up and be prosperous, powerful and successful?

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If we are to be disciples of Christ like these Women disciples who we honor as saints, then we need to have serious discussions within our families and with each other about virtue, beauty, truth, purity and all of these characteristics of God.

Too often instead we place power, wealth, success, pride, and fame as our highest ideals.  We crave being praised.  Too often in the modern world we want to debate the roles of power and authority in the life of the church.  But Christ taught us that such arguments belong to the non-believers (Luke 22:25-26).  For us the discussion is not who is the greatest, but how can we serve one another and serve the Lord?

Jesus taught us to wash one another’s feet, and these Women Disciples of the Lord are going to the tomb to wash the body of Jesus.  The men disciples who debated as to which of them was the greatest are all cowardly hiding at this moment.  So which of these people – the women or the men – show themselves to be true disciples of Christ?

Christ’s Women Disciples witness to us about self-sacrifice, altruism, service, truth, nobility, charity, purity, courage and beauty.

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The Myrrhbearng Women reveal to us the more perfect, healthy, spiritual and beautiful way.  God created beauty and set eternity in our hearts.   As the Psalmist sings:

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD…   (Psalms 27:4)

Those Women Disciples of the Lord remind me about a hospital for children which I once read about.  The hospital didn’t see the children just as patients but also as healers of themselves and others.  The children were not viewed as victims needing professional help, but as people capable of healing others.  The hospital’s motto:  “If you can help somebody else, you are not disabled.

In the Church we are not merely the walking wounded or the spiritually sick, we are able to show concern and care for others – we are not disabled.   We are here to serve, no matter what our condition or what we feel about ourselves or of how much we need to repent.  You are not disabled because you are able to help somebody else.  We are here to be as courageous as the women disciples of the Lord and serve those who are in need.

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Which brings me back to the fact that while all of us are called to serve one another , diakonia – to be deacons, we are especially remembering today our mothers who often are a great example of self-sacrificing service to others.  Mothers not only sacrifice their lives and time for their children and husbands, but they also have special opportunity for being evangelists in their families.  In that way they are certainly Women Disciples of the Lord.  For it is the Myrrhbearing Women who tell the Disciples about the resurrection.  And often it is our mothers who who pray for us their children.  There is a saying in the Church that the prayers of mothers is the foundation of households.  May God bless all of your our mothers with courage, faith, hope and love.  May we all follow the example of the Women Disciples of the Lord.

Bright Wednesday (2019)

Bright Wednesday

Christ is risen!  Indeed He is risen!

First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.”  (2 Peter 3:3-4)

While the resurrection of Christ brings us great joy when we celebrate Pascha, we still face the fact that sin, sickness, suffering and even death are part of our daily experience.   The glory of the resurrection can seem like “pie in the sky” for the resurrection of Christ did not remove us from the reality of the fallen world.  One can wonder, how is the world any different today than it was 2000 years ago before Christ came into the world, exactly as St. Peter reports some scoffers questioned in his own lifetime.  The resurrection is a triumph of God, yet we are still left with questions for which our answers are not satisfactory to many.

In the 4th Century St Macrina, who was teacher to both St Basil and St Gregory of Nyssa, admitted that there are some things which are hidden from us, including what life after death is like or  what the future world will be like.  She felt faith and hope require us not to speculate about things which the Scriptures are pretty silent about.  No matter how convinced some are that they know what happens to the soul after death, she warned against putting much stock in such discussions.  The future will eventually be revealed, and then we will know what things are like – so speculating now is worthless.

  The truth about this is stored up in the hidden treasury of wisdom and will be disclosed at the time when we are taught the mystery of the resurrection in deed, when we will no longer need words to reveal what we hope for. If at night wakeful people discuss at length what the light of the sun is like, the grace of the rays by its mere appearance makes vain the verbal description; in the same way every reasoning which conjectures about the future restoration will be proved worthless when what we expect comes to us in experience. (St. Macrina, from St Gregory of Nyssa’s On the Soul and the Resurrection, p. 24)

The resurrection of Christ has not revealed everything to us, but it has revealed some things, things which we don’t need to speculate about but for which we can give thanks to the Lord.

“But the resurrection has revealed that the modus operandi of God in the salvation of both Israel and the world is to love rather than destroy enemies, to absorb rather than inflict violence.

God loved us while we were enemies, responding to our own violence and other sins, not with the infliction of violence but with the absorption of violence on the cross. A life of nonviolence and reconciliation is therefore an integral part of Paul’s vision of justification and of participatory holiness – theosis.”  (Michael J. Gorman, Inhabiting the Cruciform God, p. 143, 165)

In the Nicene Creed, we are offered little doctrine about life after death, but are given the foundation of our faith:  I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

Bright Tuesday (2019)

Christ is risen from the dead,

trampling down death by death

and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Bright Tuesday   Luke 24:12-35

St Gregory the Great writes:

You have heard, dearly beloved, that the Lord appeared to two disciples while they were walking on the road. They were talking about him, even though they did not believe. He did not show them an appearance which they could recognize, but the Lord behaved before the eyes of their bodies in accord with what was going on inwardly before the eyes of their hearts. Within themselves they were both loving and doubting; and the Lord was present to them out. outwardly, but did not show them who he was. He manifested his presence to them as they talked about him, but hid the appearance by which they would recognize him on account of their doubts. He did indeed talk with them, reproving the hardness of their understanding and opening to them the mysteries of holy scripture concerning himself: and yet, because as an object of faith he was still a stranger to their hearts, he made a pretense of going on farther. One can make a pretence as one can make a pot. On this occasion the perfect Truth did nothing deceitful; he was only manifesting himself to them materially as they were thinking of him. It had to be shown whether those who did not as yet love him as God were at least able to love him as a stranger. Since those with whom Truth was walking couldn’t be alien to charity, they invited him, a stranger, to be their guest.

But why do I say they invited him, when it is written that they compelled him? We must surely infer from this example that strangers are not only to be invited to be guests but even forcibly persuaded. They set the table, brought food, and recognized in the breaking of the bread the God they did not know as he explained the sacred scriptures. They were not enlightened by hearing God’s commandments, but by their own actions, for it is written, It is not hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but doers of the law will be made righteous. Let anyone who wishes to understand what he has heard be quick to fulfil in action what he has already been able to understand. The Lord was not recognized when he was speaking, but he deigned to be recognized as he was being fed.”

(Forty Homilies, pp. 176-177)

Pascha: Journey from Earth to Heaven

For from death to life and from earth to heaven has Christ our God led us as we sing the song of victory: Christ is risen from the dead! (Hymn of Pascha)

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Great Lent is a spiritual journey.  At the beginning of Lent, we began reading the Book of Genesis.  We were expelled with Eve and Adam from Paradise and sent into this world in which we live.  We migrated into Egypt with Joseph, and then God called us out of that great civilization into the desolate desert.  Now at Pascha we travel from earth to heaven. Our sojourn has thus taken us from Paradise to this world, to the desert, to Hades and 47449541621_ef2bff53d1_qthen back to the world and now to heaven itself.   A journey from the earth to the moon is nothing compared to what we undertake every Lent! And that journey to the moon costs millions of dollars to get two people to the moon, while our spiritual journey was free and there is no limit to the number of people who can make the journey.

The Gospel reading for the Pascha midnight service, perhaps surprisingly, is not one of the Resurrection accounts, but rather from Chapter 1 of John which takes us back to the beginning of time, to the beginning of creation, to the Big Bang.   This Gospel reading helps us understand the resurrection of Christ as a universal event – not something that happened at a moment 2000 years ago, but one which brings us to eternity.

8062392074_5e6935bb48_nIn the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

We thus travel every Great Lent the breadth and depth of time and space!  Nothing is left untouched by Christ, not even death’s kingdom. Christ, the one in whom life dwells, brings life not only to Hades, but in baptism, He comes to dwell in each of us.  As St Paul says:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.   (Galatians 2:20)

We have the Word not only dwelling in our midst but also within each of us.  As we prayed each time we celebrated the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts during Lent:   

may we be united to Your Christ Himself, our true God, Who has said, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him,” that by Your Word, O Lord, dwelling within us and sojourning among us, we may become a temple of Your all-holy and adorable Spirit …

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Throughout our long Lenten sojourn which has taken us from the beginning of time to its end (and just in 6 weeks!), Christ has sojourned with us – at every moment and in every place Christ is with us always and in all ways.

Our Lenten sojourn has accomplished what God intended from the beginning:

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

Christ is risen!

Wishing you a joyous celebration of the resurrection of Christ.