My beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God and SaviorJesus Christ.
"TO THOSE WHO FIND HARD TO BEAR
ALL THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF DIFFICULTIES
WHICH COME UPON US FROM ALL SIDES.
By Saint Gregory Palamas
THAT EVIL WHICH IS EVIL IN ITSELF, namely sin, originates from us. On the other hand, what our senses perceived as evil, because it is grievous and painful, can also be from God Who, like a physician, USES IT TO RESTRAIN AND HEAL WHAT IS TRULY EVIL. When those who have sinned can be cured, He tends them in all sorts of ways, but if they are incurable, He even takes away their life for the salvation of the rest. Therefore, we are to blame for our own misfortunes, since we make ourselves deserving of cauterizations, whereas He is our Benefactor and Savior in this, as He removes the real evil. Sometimes He EXPOSES THE VALIANT TO ATTACKS BY AFFLICTIONS WHICH ARE NOT ESSENTIALLY EVIL, AS A CHALLENGE. Just as illness was not creat by God, although the creature who suffers from it was, so sin was NOT MADE BY Him, although the rational soul created by Him willingly turns aside after it. This soul was honored with FREE WILL and INDEPENDENT LIFE, as without this honor it would have been pointless for it to be rational. Thus it received a will free from all necessity, and if it remains attentively in God and is united with Him by love, it keeps its good and natural life. But if it becomes as though satiated by this sacred residing in God, turning towards things below and the pleasures of the flesh by veering away from what is by nature good, it falls sick with what is evil by nature, sin, creating death for itself, alas, by voluntarily falling away from life.
"He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil of men" [Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2], though only for those who repent and turn from their wicked ways. "Turn ye unto Me and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord" (Zechariah 1:3)… But what are the Lord’s Commandments? Unfailing reverence and love for Him, PURITY AND CHASTITY OF OUR BODIES, MUTUAL LOVE, NOT DESIRING ANYTHING THAT IS OUR NEIGHBOR’S, NOR DOING WRONG IN ANY RESPECT, BUT DOING AS MUCH GOOD AS WE CAN, AND GENERALLY EACH ACTING TOWARDS OUR NEIGHBOR AS WE WOULD FIND ACCEPTABLE FOR HIM TO ACT TOWARDS US…
"…Seeing that He chastises mercifully, clearly awaiting our conversion, may we acknowledge Him after our suffering, turn back to Him and, laying aside the works of darkness, may we all come to belong to the light (cf. Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:11-14). Let us love one another and show our sincerity THROUGH LOVING DEEDS, that God’s love may also dwell in us, glorified in action among all the nations who make war on us. Let each of us stop desiring what his neighbor possesses that, when we abstain from all injustice, we might have God’s righteousness to help us, putting the ungodly under our feet and making their property our own…Let us make our lives more pleasing to God and chaste, that God, the Father of purity may love us like His children and lift us out of each of all harm and corruption, assisting us in every respect and fighting alongside us against those who war against us. Let us order ALL OUR DEEDS, WORDS, AND THOUGHTS ACCORDING TO WHAT IS AGREABLE TO GOD, AND SO, TURNING BACK TO HIM, PURE IN EVERY WAY, MAY WE FALL DOWN AND WEEP BEFORE THE LORD OUR GOD, SEEKING FORGIVINESS OF OUR FORMER SINS.
Then He too will turn to us, CLEANSE FROM ALL SIN, MAKE US WHITER THAN SNOW (cf. Psalm 51:7) and more radiant than gold, and glorify us together with Himself now and for unending ages. In His words He has shown us His love for mankind by many different means: through the Parable of the Prodigal son (Luke15:11-12), through His sympathy for the humbled tax-colector (Luke 18:10-14 and 19:1-10), and through His concern for the sheep that, like us, had gone astray (Matthew 18:12-13; Luke 15:4-7). By His actions He has demonstrated to us His indescribable compassion: throughthe thief who was crucified with Him and joined Him in His Kingdom (Luke23:43), through Mnasseh, a king who lived in a most unlawful fashion, but later repented and was accepted (2 Kings 21:1-18, 2 Chronicles 33:11-20; Pt. of Man 1-15), and through the mercy He showed to the Ninevites, forgiving a host of sins over many years on account of three days of repentance (Jonah 3:10). He bowed the heavens and came down to us — O how inexpressible the greatness of His kindness! — and made Himself a herald of repentance for us (cf. Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15), teaching us by word and deed how to lay hold of it, and promising to those who choose to follow Him obediently not just deliverance from evil but THE HEAVENLYAND PRE-ETERNAL KINGDOM.
May we all attain to this, by performing WORKS OF REPENTANCE IN CHRIST, the Giver of repentance, to Whom belongs glory unto the ages of ages. Amen. [Source: Saint Gregory Palamas. The HOMILIES]
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Glorious and Divine Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George