ABOUT THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US AND GOD
In today’s Gospel there was an episode describing the disciples after the crucifixion of God who found themselves all alone, confused, scared and anxious. Their Master convinced them in being Gog and in having unlimited powers. And all of a sudden, they saw Him humiliated, beaten, as a simple man, then He was crucified and dead… The agony of faith must have taken place in their souls. Within all those three days when they were expecting the Resurrection of Christ, they had a very challenging and unstable state. St. Peter said then: I will go fishing – such a simple and ordinary business. The disciples said: And we will go too. They were fishing not far from the shore and suddenly a man appeared on the shore and addressed them: “Children…” St. Apostle John the Theologian, as the closest and most beloved disciple of Christ said: “It is Our Master on the shore”. He knew through his heart that it was the Savior. They turned their boat and rowed faster to Him, while St. Apostle Peter, as it is said in the Gospel, could not wait. The boat might have come to the shore even faster, but he had such an impulse that on hearing the only word “Master” St. Peter jumped into the water and swam. The same St. Peter who betrayed Him only three days before. Didn’t he realize what he had done in regard to Christ? Why wasn’t he bound by his shame, by repentance? One would think, he should come to Christ the last of all, but he realized that he had sinned more than the others – before the rooster crowed three times he denied Christ several times.
Imagine yourselves in their place, how would you act at that moment. Every one of us must have come last, if we dare to come at all. This feeling of shame and betrayal would have made a distance between us. But St. Peter as a mad man jumped down the water, swam, ran and approached Him the first, though he must have been the last. What happened to him? He loved Christ so much that ceased to understand anything, that he was a betrayer, that he was nothing, that he was unworthy.
I will remind you of some situation common to every one of us. Sometimes we approach an icon of Holy Theotokos or Our Savior through the distance of our nothingness. At that moment a small thought comes into our mind: “She must be despising me, I might desecrate Her by my presence”. This kind of repentance is not required at that moment. We can’t approach Her breaking the distance totally. And this kind of repentance in our thoughts is the one aggravated by the devil: you are a nobody, the rooster hasn’t crawled yet, and you’ve already betrayed. In order to break up the distance between you and Her, first of all, you need to realize Who is She, and you don’t need to measure Her with our earthly notions: “love-don’t love”, “how much we love”. This one is worthy, very much loved, that one is less worthy, less loved. Holy Theotokos is beyond all those rules. Her love for the whole of humankind is so great that there are no boundaries for Her at all. It is all us, we built boundaries with the help of our confusion, with unnecessary repentance. Surely, a Christian needs repentance, but at that moment, let us leave everything and, like St. Peter, forget about everything, and may our mind be busy only with pursuit of Her. Let even repentance be forgotten at that moment, may it sound generally as: yes, I’m dirt, I’m a nobody, but She doesn’t despise me. That is the way we should come to Holy Theotokos and to Our Lord, if you want to break the distance. Because if we consider our sins and our nothingness, we will never be able to break the distance, as there is no man in the world who is completely worthy. We need to understand that it breaks only by Him or by Her. Despite everything, no matter how bad we are, They break it, and we should make use of it, live this way.
In addition, sometimes we ask Holy Theotokos: please, help, give, defend. While the following thought is piercing through our mind: “surely, should Holy Father Seraphim ask Her, everything would have worked out, but we are not worth, we are sinful, we are betrayers, that’s why it won’t work”. And again there is this wall of unnecessary repentance which makes distance between us. If we would only ask like little children – give me – we will have it all.