My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.
"…AND LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN
TO THE END OF THE AGE." AMEN.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or
famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …nor
height nor depth, nor any other created thing,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:28-39).
As God and Creator, He has authority over all things. What is needed now is man’s voluntary submission to the will of God. According to Saint Theophylact, "submission is of two kinds: the one is involuntary, inasmuch as we are all the servants (δούλοι) of God even unwillingly, as are the demons themselves. The other is voluntary, as seen in Saint Paul who voluntarily became a servant (δούλος) of Christ."
"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…" (Matthew 28:18-20).
The Three Persons have one Name, which is God. As Saint, Theophylact says, "Because it is not sufficient only to be baptized, but one must also labor to do good after his baptism, Christ says, "Teaching them to observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you; not just two or three, but ALL My Commandments." Saint Theophylact writes, "Let us tremble then, brethren when we realize that if even one thing is lacking in us, we are not perfect servants of Christ, for we are required to KEEP ALL THE COMMANDMENTS. See that the Lord’s words contain those two essentials of Christianity: THEOLOGY and ACTIVE VIRTUE. For by saying that is necessary to baptize in the name of the Trinity, He handed down to us THEOLOGY. And by saying that it is also necessary to teach the keeping of the Commandments, He GUIDES US IN THE WAY OF ACTIVE VIRTUE."
Our Lord’s promise to be with them was not made only to the holy Apostles but TO ALL His DISCIPLES. Because the holy Apostles would not live forever He makes this promise to us as well, and to those after us. "I will be with you UNTIL THE END OF THE AGE," reassures us that the Lord Who is with us here, and provides us with every good thing, and again will be with us more perfectly after the end.
By saying He is "WITH YOU ALWAYS," Jesus means His Resurrection is neither of the past nor of the future. It is always present in our lives through the Holy Spirit. We know Him directly, here and now, IN THE PRESENT, as OUR SAVIOR AND OUR FRIEND. To "To the end of the age" does not by any means imply that we are to be separated from Him after that great consummation. He is with us now, and ever, and unto the ages. Amen.
Saint Cyprian concurs with Saint Paul that nothing can separate us from our Creator and God. Saint Cyprian states; "None of these can separate believers; nothing can snatch away those clinging to Christ’s body and blood. This persecution is for the examination and evaluation of our hearts. God wanted us to be tried and proved, as he has always tried his own, and yet, in his trials, never at any time has his help failed believers" (Letters 11:5).
Saint John Chrysostom states: "Even though lit is easy to make a list like this one, each word contains thousands of lines of temptations. TRIBULATION, for instance, includes prions and bonds, calumnies and banishments, and all other such hardships. A single word covers oceans of dangers and reveals to us all the evils which people encounter in life." (Homilies on Romans 15).
Cassarius of Arles wrote: "Good Christians are not separated from Christ even by torture. Tepid and careless ones however are sometimes separated from Him by idle tales; if they suffer even a slight loss they are immediately scandalized, dare to murmur against God and return to their impious, detestable omens" (Sermons 54:2).
Romans 8:39 Nothing Can Seperate Us from God’s Love
Saint John Chrysostom writes: "Saint Paul suffered everything for Christ’s sake not in order to obtain the Kingdom, nor for any honor, but because of his great for his Master. But we are not drawn away from the things of this life either by Christ or by the things of Christ. Like snakes or like swine we keep dragging the things of this world along with us in the mire… Yet God even gave up His Son for your sake!" (Homilies on Romans, 15).
Pelagius writes the following: "I am sure that even if someone threatens us with death, or promises life, or says he is an Angel sent from the Lord, or pretends to be the prince of the Angels, or gives us some honor in this present life, or holds out the glory of the things to come, or works wonders (miracles), or promises heaven and staves of hell, or tries to persuade us with deep learning–I am sure that he will never be able to cut off from the love of Christ.
Saint Paul loved God in Christ. Love for Christ means KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS. Christ established that brotherly love is an imitation of His own love when He said: ‘By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ Saint John also says: ‘If you do not love a brother whom you see, how can you love God, Whom you do not see? (Pelagius’s Commentary on Romans).
Father John Romanides, of blessed memory, wrote: "The work of the Church is focused on how each person will see God, not on whether he will see God. In other words, the task of the Church is to proclaim to people that there is a True God, that God is revealed as either Light or a consuming Fire, and that ALL people will see God at the Second Coming of Christ, and to prepare its members so that they might see God NOT as Fire, but as Light.
This preparation of the members of the Church, and also of all people who want to see God as LIght, is essentialy a THERAPEUTIC TREATMENT, which must begin and end IN THIS LIFE. The THERAPY must take place and be completed "in this life. For after death, THERE IS NO REPENTANCE." This therapeautic TREATMENT is the essence and primary content of Orthodox Tradition, as well as being the principal concern of the Orthodox Church. It is composed of the following THREE STAGES OF SPIRITUAL ASCENT: PURIFICATION from passions, ILLUMINATION by the Grace of the Holy Spirit, and DEIFICATION (THEOSIS), again by the Grace of the Holy Spirit.
It is also the case that "if someone does not at least arrive at the state of partial illumination in this life, he is unable to see God as Light either in this life or in the next." It is, therefore, clear that the Holy Fathers of the Church concern themselves with man as he is today, at this MOMENT…Christ said: "I AM THE WAY." The Way towards what? Not only towards the next life. Christ is primarily the Way in this life. Christ is the Way to His Father and to our Father. Christ is revealed to man first in this life, and He shows him the path to His Father. This path is Christ Himself." ("Orthodoxy and Religion,")
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostom
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy seravant of God
+ Father George