My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
“…and if children, then heirs–
heirs of God and joint heirs with
Christ, IF INDEED WE SUFFER WITH
Him, that we may be GLORIFIED TOGETHER” (Romans 8:17).
As a pilgrim on earth, it is inevitable that man will taste both joy and sorrow during his lifetime. It is a reality and is inescapable. Although every man is naturally drawn to things that bring joy to his life, he is repulsed by things that bring pain and sorrow. He will like to imagine an earthly existence free of all suffering and pain. Humanity fears pain and suffering and considers it its enemy. His greatest enemy, however, is still death.
Christianity views pain, suffering, and death in a different light. We, as Christians, believe that our temporary or transient life on earth is grace combined together with grief; “we suffer with Him.” “We suffer with Him, that we may be glorified together.” As Christian believers we have God’s glory. “Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the REDEMPTION OF OUR BODY” (Romans 8:23). We live in a tension between our present and future experience of the Kingdom. We live between Our Lord’s First and His Second Coming.
According to our Savior and God Jesus Christ, our only concern in this present life ought to be the salvation of our souls. Saint Ignatius states: “Earthly life, this brief period, is given to man by the mercy of the Creator in order that man may use it for salvation, that is, FOR THE RESTORATION OF HIMSELF FROM DEATH TO LIFE” (“The Arena”). Therefore, we should view everything in this world as temporary and passing. In the funeral service, we chant: “What pleasure in life ever remains unmixed with grief? What glory endures immovable on earth? All things are feebler than shadows, all more elusive than dreams. In a single moment, all are supplanted by death…”.
It is well known that it is not the sin that condemns the sinner, but his unwillingness to repent of it. Repentance should be our goal. “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘REPENT, FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND” (St. Matthew 1:17). Our Lord’s first word is “REPENT,” because repentance is necessary in His Kingdom. Repentance (Metanoia) is man’s willingness to change his mind, his way of life, from a life of sin and corruption to a life of righteousness and holiness. It is man’s turning from himself to God and Creator. From a life of disobedience, to a life of obedience. Repentance, which always accompanies belief, IS A TOTAL ABOUT-FACE. It is a dramatic change of one’s spirit, mind, and heart; a total reorientation of the whole of one’s life and being. True repentance with tears finds healing and absolution of sins in the Mysterion of Repentance and Confession.
In order for us sinners to enter God’s Kingdom, we must first be purified. The garment that we will wear to enter must be “the garment of incorruption.” “For Thou, O Lord has said: ‘WASH YOU, MAKE YOU CLEAN, PUT AWAY THE EVIL FROM YOUR SOULS” (Sacrament of Baptism). “Manifest, O Lord, in this and grant that he who is baptized in it may be CHANGED so as to put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and TO PUT ON THE NEW, WHICH RENEWETH HIM ACCORDING TO THE IMAGE OF THE Creator…”
Suffering is a necessary way of purifying the body and soul. Some Christians, I have personally witnessed, have rediscovered God due to illness and suffering. I recall a parishioner of mine in Florida who had abandoned God and the Church and lived a very promiscuous sinful life, but who one day found out that he had advanced cancer. He was told by his physician that he had very little time to live. He came to me for confession and to sincerely ask God’s forgiveness for his immoral life. He not only resumed attending church divine services, but he rejoiced as the prodigal son did return back to his Father and true home. He thanked God for his illness, because it was through his cancer that he found Him again. It was his illness that lead him to His Savior. You see, that even, and especially during a person’s suffering, we realize God’s love and that He is always there for us sinners. Don’t forget that Jesus Himself knows exactly what it means to suffer, for He suffered on the Cross to save us.
Most Christians, when thinking of suffering, think only of the body suffering, but never the soul. Many forget that we have an immortal soul. A soul that through sin and evil, becomes deathly ill. A soul needs constant care and cleansing like the body. The soul needs to be nourished through spiritual food, the soul needs ascesis (a spiritual work-out) just as the body to stay fit. A soul needs God’s grace to find strength, healing, and love. A soul which is in pain needs TO SEE the Physician of our souls and bodies, Christ. A soul needs to be constantly in communion with its Creator. It is time for us to admit and acknowledge the existence of our soul and to provide everything that it needs to stay healthy and to be saved.
Next time you are physically sick, think of your soul that may be spiritually ill. Body and soul are connected. What makes us a whole person is a body and soul together. When we are judged by the Almighty God at the Second Coming, it is not just the body that will be judged, but rather the WHOLE PERSON, body and soul together. On that day, even though we have died, the body (spiritual) and soul will be reunited in order that they are judged together. The WHOLE person will give account for all that they have committed during their earthly life. Therefore, we must take good care of both our body and soul before that time comes.
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George
+ Father George