My beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
By Saint Gregory Palamas
BELIEVING IN GOD IS DIFFERENT from believing God. To believe God is to regard His promises to us as sure and true but to believe in Him IS TO HAVE A RIGHT UNDERSTANDING OF Him. Both are necessary for us and we must speak correctly in both respects, in such a way that people with correct understanding can be confident that we are faithful before the God To Whom our faith is directed and that, being faithful we shall be justified by Him. "Abraham believed God", it says, "and it was counted unto Him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3; Genesis 15:6; cf. Galatians 3:6; James 2:23). Why was Abraham counted as righteous because he believed? He had received a promise from God that in his seed, that is, in Isaac, all the Tribes of Israel would be blessed (Genesis 17:16; cf. 26:3-5, 24). Then he was commanded by God to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1), through whom alone the promise could be fulfilled (Genesis 17:21; 21:12), while he was still a child. Without contradicting he, the father, was hastening on his wy to become his son’s murderer while at the same time regarding the promise concerning his son as infallibly sure (Genesis 32:1-18).
Do you see what sort of faith brings justification? But Christ also promised us that we would inherit Eternal Life, pleasure, glory, and the Kingdom, while then He commanded us TO BE POOR, TO FAST, TO LIVE IN LOWLINESS AND AFFLICTION, TO BE READY TO DIE AND TO CRUCIFY OURSELVES TOGETHER WITH OUR PASSIONS AND DESIRES (cf, Galatians 5:24). If therefore, we eagerly do these things while at the same time believing God’s promise to us, then we shall have really believed God in the way Abraham did, and it will be counted to us as righteousness.
Notice the consequence of these events. The fact that Abraham agreed to offer Isaac for slaughter was not just powerful evidence of proof of his faith. Because of it Christ, through Whom all the Tribes of the earth were blessed and the promise was fulfilled (Genesis 12:3; 18:18, 22:18; cf. 26:4-5), was born of Abraham’s seed (Matthew 1:1-16). It was as if God was under obligation to the man who gave his only-begotten true son for His sake, to give him in return His Only-begotten True Son for his sake and the sake of the promise made to him. It is exactly the same in our case. If because of God’s Commandments we are chaste, righteous, humble, patiently submit to every kind of evildoing and share out our possessions, if, we submit our bodies to hardship through fasts and vigils, if, in a word, we crucify ourselves together with our passions and desires (cf. Galatians 5:24), this is not just proof that we truly believe Christ’s promises, but it also, as it were, obliges God to give us in return eternal and incorruptible life and pleasure, glory and the Kingdom.
Christ looked at His Disciples and said, "BLESSED ARE YOU POOR FOR YOURS IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. BLESSED ARE YOU THAT MOURN, BLESSED ARE YOU MERCIFUL, BLESSED ARE YOU THAT ARE PERSECUTE2:18D FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ SAKE" (Matthew 5:3-4,7, 10). But "woe unto you that are rich. Woe unto you that laugh. Woe unto you, that are full. Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you" (Luke 6:24-26). How, I ask you, is it credible that someone believes God if he does not aspire to what the Lord pronounces blessed but what He pronounces wretched? "SHOW ME", it says, "THY FAITH BY THY WORKS" (James 2:18). And, "Who is a wise man? let him shew out of good conduct his works" (James 3:13).
The fact that we truly believe God, that we understand His promises and warnings to us are true and sure, even though they have not happened yet, is shown by our good works and by our keeping of His Commandments. But what proof is there that we have a right belief in God, that we have a trustworthy and devout understanding of Him? It is that we confess the same faith as our God-bearing Fathers. Sincerely believing God provokes opposition NOT ONLY FROM THE PHYSICAL PASSIONS AND THE EVIL ONE’S SNARES BUT ALSO FROM PEOPLE IN THE GRIP OF PASSIONS WHO HAVE OTHER AND DRAG THEM DOWN WITH THEMSELVES INTO WICKED PLEASURES. In the same way, having a right belief in the One True God PROVOKES OPPOSITION NOT ONLY IGNORANCE AND THE ENEMY’S PROMPTINGS BUT ALSO FROM GODLESS MEN WHO TREACHEROUSLY PULL BELIEVERS DOWN INTO THE DEPTHS OF THEIR OWN DESTRUCTION. In both aspects of faith, OUR GREATEST HELP COMES NOT JUST FROM GOD HIMSELF AND OUR GOD-GIVEN FACULTY OF KNOWLEDGE, BUT FROM THE GOOD ANGELS AND FROM GOD-FEARING PEOPLE WHO LIVE ACCORDING TO HIS WILL.
This is why the Church of Christ, THE SPIRITUAL MOTHER and NURSE OF US ALL, clearly and publically celebrates today those who were illustrious in their piety and virtue, their Holy Councils, and the godly doctrines these Councils proclaimed. At the same time the Church briefly denounces the supporters of ungodliness and their and their evil pursuits and purposes, so that we can turn away from them, follow those whose understanding accords with God’s intention, and believe in ONE God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, from Whom and through Whom and in Whom all things were made; Who is before all things and over all things and in all things and beyond all things, Unity in Trinity, Trinity in Unity, UNITED WITHOUT CONFUSION, UNDIVIDEDLY DIVIDED, ALMIGHTY UNITY, AND ALMIGHTY TRINITY. (Saint Gregory Palamas. The HOMILIES)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George