My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
OUR PLACE IN THE WORLD AND THE HOPE OF
THE WORLD (Part II)
The Orthodox believer knows that man after the Fall ceased to offer creation up to God as a doxology, i.e., TO PRACTICE HIS PRIESTLY DUTIES VIS-A-VIS CREATION; IT WAS HE WHO LED CREATION INTO SERVITUDE TO CORRUPTION. Within the Church, however, he acquires the experience of freedom from this servitude. With this experience, he is now called to return to the world with the assurity of the TRANSFIGURATION and SALVATION OF THE ENTIRE CREATION. Having once again ACQUIRED WITHIN THE LITURGICAL PLACE HIS CORRECT RELATIONSHIP WITH CREATION AND HIS CORRECT PLACE WITHIN IT, HE IS CALLED TO PRACTICE HIS SERVICE AS PRIEST OF THE WORLD.
Christians respect the authorities of the world and submit to human laws WHICH DO NOT GO AGAINST THEIR CHRISTIAN HOPE (Romans 13:1-8; Acts 3:30). They do not preach a "gospel" conforming to the aspirations and the aims of this world. THIS IS THE SAVING MESSAGE OF THE CHURCH TO A WORLD WHICH HAS AN EXCLUSIVELY INTER-SECULAR CHARACTER AND CAN DISCERN NO OTHER VERTICAL DIMENSION IN ITS LIFE. It is for this reason that Orthodox Monasticism with its ASCETICAL CHARACTER and HEAVENLY ORIENTATION offers to our society a great service. It shows to contemporary man, who is exclusively orientated towards the horizontal dimension, the vertical dimension which is at the center of monastic life.
The monks thus constitute the indicators of the reality of heaven, which man who lives in the world cannot easily grasp. Monasticism OPENS THE WAY TO THE ABSOLUTE EXPERIENCE OF LIFE IN CHRIST: A WAY OF ASCETICISM AND OBEDIENCE WHICH IS FOLLOWED THROUGHOUT ONE’S LIFE WITHOUT ENDING; A WAY WHICH IS AT THE SAME TIME DANGEROUS FOR THOSE WHO FAIL TO REMAIN HUMBLE AND STEADFAST IN LOVE THAT "SEEKS NOT ITS OWN." This life of the monastics constitutes a continuous vocation to contemporary man’s disposition and an excellent prefiguration of the future life.
This anticipation OF A NEW LIFE creates in the Christian the conviction that here on earth they are strangers and sojourners, and that in traversing this life they walk towards their true homeland (Hebrews 11:13-16). THE BELIEVER HAS HIS EYES FIXED UPON HEAVEN AND CONSIDERS DEATH TO BE THE LAST STOP IN HIS JOURNEY, HIS "PASSING ON" OR BIRTH INTO THE NEXT LIFE.
We believe that after their separation from the body THE SOULS OF THE RIGHTEOUS ARE IN THE HANDS OF GOD (Wisdom of Solomon, 3:1) and they AWAIT THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODIES, SO THAT THEY MAY "TOTALLY" BECOME PARTAKERS IN GOD’S LOVE AND GLORY. On the contrary, THE SOULS OF THE UNRIGHTEOUS WHO IN THEIR LIVES REJECTED GOD’S LOVE AND COMMUNION WITH HIM AND WITH THE BRETHREN, AND WHO HAD AS THE ONLY CENTER OF REFERENCE THEIR "EGO", ARE DEPRIVED OF THIS LOVE, FOR THEIR EGOTISM DOES NOT ALLOW THEM TO ACCEPT IT.
Christ’s Second Coming will signal the General Resurrection; OUR BODIES WILL BE CLOTHED WITH INCORRUPTION AND IMMORTALITY. THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL BE RAISED UNTO LIFE, THE UNRIGHTEOUS UNTO CONDEMNATION. THIS WILL BE THE General Judgment of the world; God’s love will judge man in accordance with the position he assumes toward it, i.e. whether he accepts it or rejects it.
The Lord DESIRES THE SALVATION OF ALL MEN AND THEIR RETURN TO THEIR TRUE HOMELAND: TO THE LOVE AND COMMUNION WITH THE TRIUNE GOD. THIS WE CALL Paradise. By this word, we do not mean A MATERIAL BUT A SPIRITUAL REALITY. Holy Scripture compares this communion to the relationship between the Bridegroom and the Bride, and their union is compared to marriage (Revelation 19:7).
The sons of the Kingdom shall be ETERNITY UNITED WITH CHRIST AND SHALL HENCEFORTH ABSOLUTELY LIVE THE CONDITION OF BEING "ONE IN CHRIST"; THEN SHALL WE BE IN HIM PARTICIPATORS BY GRACE OF HIS UNITY WITH THE FATHER ("I in My Father and you in Me" (John 14:20). All who live in this life closed up within themselves, all those who do not rejoice in seeing the face of their brother shall be deprived of this joy. They of their own accord have chosen their ETERNAL TORMENT.
Christ’s Second Coming is for the faithful the FULFILLMENT OF THEIR HOPE, JUST AS THE ARRIVAL OF THE BRIDEGROOM FOR THE BRIDE. This is why THE PREPARATION FOR THE RECEPTION OF THE COMING CHRIST CONSTITUTES THE CHIEF CONCERN OF THIS LIFE.
But when shall the Lord come? Christians DO NOT CONCERN THEMSELVES IN PINPOINTING A SPECIFIC DATE. They are VIGILANT and take care to be ready every moment, for the Lord shall come suddenly when we do not expect Him (Matthew 24:13; 33; Acts 1:7). The Lord Himself WARNS US TO PROTECT OURSELVES FROM FALSE PROPHETS WHO WILL BE WORKERS OF GUILE AND TREACHERY. OUTWARDLY THEY SHALL APPEAR IN THE GUISE OF CHRIST OR IN TEH FORM OF AN Angel (Matthew 24:4-5, 23-27; II Corinthians 11:13-15). Their teaching shall not be identical with that of Christ; thus the knowledge of the only real Truth of Christ IS NECESSARY IN ORDER TO AVOID ERROR AND DECEIT. (Source: The Orthodox Church Its Faith, Worship, and Life)
"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