My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.
"Then Jesus said to them, ‘A little while longer the light is
with you, Walk while you have the light, lest darkness
overtakes you; he who walks in darkness does not know
where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the
light, that you may become sons of light" (St. John 12:35-36)
When the Orthodox Christian recites the Symbol of Faith (Creed) in the Divine Liturgy he confesses openly, "…And (I believe) in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father, before all Ages. Light of Light, True God of True God…". Christ is "Light from Light". In union with Him, we partake of His Light, becoming children of Light.
"He was the true Light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9). "Even before He took flesh, He (Jesus) was the true Light." We are indeed the creation of the True Light. Jesus Christ gives light to all, however, coerces no one to accept it. The light of Christ is given freely. Saint Theophylactos writes, "Neither death nor deception could overcome it, for this Light, God the Logos/Word, is UNCONQUERABLE."
We are all the recipients of the life-giving rays of our sun. The sun rises every day and gives light and energy to all. Without the sun’s rays, nothing would grow and life would not exist. It is said, that the distance of our planet earth from the sun is precisely where it should be. If it was a fraction closer to it, our planet earth would burn to a crisp. If the sun was a fraction away from the earth it would instantly freeze. This very fact indicates to us that it is foolish to believe in man-made theories that exclude God’s divine hand, like the ‘big bang theory,’ instead of the truth that God created all from nothing. The sun and its energies are indispensable to us.
God creates light
"Then God said, "Let there be light; and there was light. God saw the light; it was good; God divided the light from darkness; God called the light Day; Darkness He called Night; and there was evening and morning, one day. (Genesis 1:3-5)
"Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven for ILLUMINATION TO DIVIDE DAY FROM NIGHT. Let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years. Let them be the illumination in the firmament of Heaven to give light on the earth. It was so. Then God made two great lights the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also, God set them in the firmament of Heaven to give light on the earth and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide THE LIGHT FROM THE DARKNESS. God saw it was good. So evening and morning were the fourth day" (Genesis 1:14-19).
Saint Gregory Palamas says that the sensible sun is seen by all who dwell on the earth, apart, of course, from anyone blind, while the intelligible sun of righteousness is seen by those who are worthy and prepared… Therefore, the intelligible and UNCREATED LIGHT is seen by all to whom God grants this experience, since God reveals Himself to those He wishes; and this revelation is according to the spiritual condition of the people who are granted it."
"It is a fact," writes Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, "that God is and is called Light, for, on the one hand, it is a revelation from Christ Himself, who said: "I am the Light of the world" (St. John 8:12), and on the other hand, because all who were granted to see Him; saw Him, as radiant Light. Saint John Chrysostom points out that the Evangelist says that the Person of Christ shone like the sun, because there is no other image to present the radiance of Christ’s Person at that moment" of His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. The Church sings: "Today on Tabor is the manifestation of Thy Light, O Logos/Word… we have seen the Father as Light and the Spirit as Light…". So too, the face of Christ Himself shone brighter than the sun.
It is understood now that Our Divine Creator, in His Great Wisom, and out of His unconditional love, gave us the Light of Life. Following the administrarion of Holy Communion at the Divine Liturgy to all, we chant: "We have seen the True Light, we have received the Heavenly Spirit, we have found the True Faith by worshipping the undivided Trinity; This has saved us." Also, at the sacrament of baptism or ‘illumination,’ there are number of prayers that the officiant priest offers for the candidate: "…Thou receive him into Thy heavenly Kingdom. Open the eyes of his mind that he may discern the illumination of Thy Gospel…" ".. make him a reasoning sheep of the holy flock of Thy Christ, a worthy member of Thy Church, a sanctified vessel, a child of light and an inheritor of Thy Kingdom…" "Blessed is God Who lighteth and sanctifieth every man that cometh into the world, now and forever..". The blessings offered by the Church, entreat our Loving, and Merciful God, to illumine and enlighten the person who is baptized into the Faith.
The Orthodox Christian faithful who truly believe in Jesus Christ our Savior are members of His Holy Church, receive His Light. This is how Orthodox Christians themselves become light or light-bearers; by reflecting the Divine Light of Christ from within. The Light of Christ cannot be kept for one self or hidden, but must be shared with all. The life of an illumined person is a virtuous and holy life, filled with love and compassion. At times, just being near or in the presence of such a godly or saintly person is enough to spiritually profit from that unique and special experience.
I recall such a unique and memorable experience some years ago that had a lasting impact on me and my family. By the Grace of God, Presbytera Elaine, our children, and I, crossed paths with Geronda (Elder) Ephraim the Hieromonk, of blessed memory, of Saint Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona. Many years ago, in Tampa, Florida, when I was serving the Greek Orthodox parish of Saint John’s, I was asked by Metropolitan Alexios of the Atlanta Metropolis, to assist Geronda Ephraim to find a suitable location to establish a Monastery in the Tampa Bay area. I, of course, was very happy, not only to help, but to meet Geronda Ephraim and to be part of such a holy undertaking; the establishment of the first Greek Orthodox Monastery in the state of Florida. It was the first time that I, and my family, met a Greek Orthodox monk; especially someone as godly as Geronda Ephraim and fellow monk, father Savvas. Just being in Geronda’s presence had a lasting and incredible impact on me personally and my family. In such a short time, he changed our lives forever. Everything about our Faith became more vivid and alive. This is what happens and how, when you are in the presence of an illumined, saintly, and Grace-filled person, your life can change instantly.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostom
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George