COMMEND YOURSELVES TO GOD LIKE CHILDREN
Sermon on the Sunday of Saint Gregory Palamas. 12.03.2023
Now we remember the first story from the Gospel telling us about the paralytic, whose relatives brought him to Jesus, so He healed him. As there was no space, they even dared and removed the roof of the house to lower him there. The Lord heals him and says the words, which He usually says when healing someone, “Your sins are forgiven you.”1 Thus, the Lord puts emphasis on the reason for our illnesses. When Adam and Eve lived in Paradise, they did not know what an illness or a sorrow were and they were in a blessed and blissful state. After the Fall, when the Lord determined the situation of the first people, He said, “Sorrows will now accompany you.” And He said to the woman, “In pain you will bring forth children2 and you will belong to your husband, who will not necessarily be just and kind.” To the husband He said, “You will have to procure food for your family and work very hard to make the earth give you its fruit. You will have to apply much effort and overcome sorrow.” At any moment of healing, the Lord names the reason for our sufferings.
However, sometimes people ask a legitimate question. They wonder, “You say the reason for suffering is sin. Nevertheless, very often I see that dishonorable people live prosperously enough, while righteous people suffer and have illnesses and misfortunes.” When we look at our lives soberly and do not simply speak in quotations from the Gospel, certain questions arise in our mind. These questions bring us doubts and wonderings. “” You say, a righteous person will not be left, but we have seen so many righteous people who lead a sorrowful life and bear a big burden. Also we see a lot of unjust people, who acquired their wealth unrighteously and live like lords. You say, they will answer for their unrighteous wealth and the Lord will punish them with diseases or some other troubles, but there are many examples of such people who reach old age and then have big marble monuments on their tombs.”
In other words, people have an inner temptation concerning the unjustness of God. They do not understand God and this is why a protest arises inside of them and their faith makes a small crack, through which satan himself puts more temptations into our hearts.
I would like to advise you with something, which helps me at such moments of temptation. I do not try to understand everything and I remember that the Wisdom of God is bottomless, while I am a small worm standing on the shore of the ocean, not able to encompass it within myself, this entire ocean inside my small head. The only thing I understand, if I live every situation through to eternity, the truth will come to me. No matter how long the unrighteous man lives with his unrighteous wealth, he dies in the end. This is an undefeatable law, and we all know this. No matter how long a righteous man suffers, he will die too. And his sufferings will end. Both, the wellness of the unjust and the suffering of the righteous will come to an end one day. If you begin to live all the events of your life through eternity, everything falls in its place.
We have one more parable now, of the rich man and Lazarus. How long did the rich man enjoy his wealth? Well, he may even live for a hundred years. But what is a hundred years compared to eternity? If we draw eternity as an endless line, our life will be a small dot compared to eternity. In this regard, all our questions and wonderings will simply vanish in this eternity.
Our purpose is not to live our lives in comfort and prosperity here. Our goal is to live righteously in this dot. Sorrow often accompanies righteousness. This is why the Lord says, “Do you want to be My disciple? Mind that you will have to take your cross and follow Me,” as righteousness has a big price. Righteousness is always a choice. It is often a choice, which costs one’s effort, losses, misunderstanding, persecution, and sometimes even death.
Now our young men choose between life and death. This is their choice. This choice characterizes them for eternity. Someone might make another choice and die all the same. And this will characterize him for eternity. It depends on how we pass into eternity, in what quality we will stop for it. A thief who does not repent will cross the threshold of eternity being a thief. Meanwhile, the righteous, and I regard even the repentant thieves and those people who cry over their sins as righteous, they cross the threshold of eternity in the state of repentance. They inherit the benign eternity, the others do not.
Do not try to understand everything. This is my first piece of advice. Simply commend yourselves to God, like little children. God knows all. Do you remember when we were little children, there were certain moments when we, glory to God, said according to our childish understanding, “Well, I don’t know. Dad and mom know better. They do not want any bad thing for me.” This is why you should learn to trust God, even if you do not understand Him sometimes. Secondly, let all your esteems be based on eternity, on its essence. In this case, everything will be in its place. Everything is very short and temporary in this life. Everything will pass. This moment is already gone. I said the sermon and I am going to serve again.
Glory to our God always, now, and unto the ages of ages!
1 Mk. 2:5
2 Gen. 3:16