My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
O Heavenly King and Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art
everywhere present, and fillest all things, the Treasury of all
blessings and Giver of Life, come and dwell in us, and purify
us from every stain, and of Thy Goodness save our souls.
Look down, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, from Thy Holy
dwelling place, and from the Throne of Glory of Thy
Kingdom, and come to sanctify us, Thou Who sittest on High
with the Father, and art HERE PRESENT WITH US. And do
Thou deign by Thy mighty hand to give to us of Thy
Immaculate Body and of Thy Precious Blood, and through
us to all the people.
Psalm 139:7-12 (Omnipresence of God)
"…Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts
of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall hold me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, "Surely the darkness
shall fall on me,"
Even the night shall be light
Indeed, the darkness shall not
hide from You…"
God is not subject to any limitation in space, but He fills everything. Filling everything, God, as a simple Being, is present in every place, not as it were in some part of Him, or by merely sending down some power from Himself, but in all His Being; and He is not confused with that in which He is present, "The Divinity penetrates everything without being mingled with anything, but nothing can penetrate Him" (Saint John Damascene). That God IS PRESENT EVERYWHERE WE KNOW, BUT HOW, WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND, because we can understand only a sensuous presence, and it is not given to us to understand fully the nature of God" (Saint John Chrysostom).
God is the Creator of all. Man was created by the Almighty God with His own hands. "Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… God made man; in the image of God He made him; MALE and FEMALE He made them. Then God blessed them" (Genesis 1:26-28). "Man is not one in nature with the Holy Trinity. But he was made in the IMAGE and LIKENESS of the Holy Trinity; and he was made MALE and FEMALE. Therefore, the dignity of each man and each woman is the image and likeness…Everything God made, including man, IS VERY GOOD, because God is good. Nothing He made is, therefore, evil in itself. So then, HUMAN NATURE IS GOOD IN ITSELF. But SIN is A FREE CHOICE, MAN’S WILL, AND IT IS CONTRARY BUT TO GOD’S NATURE AND HUMAN NATURE."
The first word of our Orthodox Symbol of Faith is, "I believe." All of our Christian confession is based upon faith. It contains within itself the feelings of love, fear, veneration, reverence, and humility." Likewise, it cannot be called a manifestation of the will, for although it moves mountains, the Christian RENOUNCES HIS OWN WILL WHEN HE BELIEVES, AND ENTIRELY GIVES HIMSELF OVER TO THE WILL OF GOD: "May Thy will be done in me, a sinner." The path to faith lies in the heart. It is inseparable from pure, sacrificial love, "working through love" (Galatians 5:6)…Without faith it would not be the LIVING BOND BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH. Christian belief is something much greater than the "persuasive hypothesis," which is the kind of belief usually encountered in life."
By faith, the Saints conquered kingdoms, performed righteous deeds, closed the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the sharp sword, and were strengthened in infirmity (Hebrews 11:33-38). Being inspired by faith, Christians went to torture and death with joy. Faith is a rock, but a rock that is impalpable, free of heaviness and weight, which draws one upward and not downward. "He that believeth in Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water", said the Lord (John 7:38). In Hebrews 11:1, it is described as "faith is the ‘substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen".
God, in His essence, is incomprehensible. God dwells "in the light which no man can approach unto; Whom no man hath seen, nor can see," teaches the holy Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 6:16. We derive knowledge of God from knowledge of nature, the knowledge of oneself, and the knowledge of all of God’s creations in general. God has manifested Himself yet more in supernatural revelation and through the Incarnation of the Son of God. "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him" (John 1:18). In other words, no one has had a direct vision of the nature of God. To see God, is to die (Exodus 33:20). The Son is one with the Father, and He (together with the Holy Spirit) sees the Father in His essence. As "Light of Light," Jesus REVEALS THE FATHER: WHEN WE SEE JESUS CHRIST WE SEE THE FATHER." "JESUS said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?" (John 14:9-10).
Believing in God at this point in time is challenged more than ever before. Atheism is growing and darkness is falling throughout the world. Even so-called "Christians" are beginning to doubt the eixstence of God. For centuries, there were countries in the world that were considered, because of their Christian population, as "Christian countries." However, many of them have surrendered to the secular and unbelieving world. I have personally have seen a country like Greece, which has been a Christian country for about 2,000 years almost, lose her identity as a Christian country because of its adherence to materialism and pleasure, the contemporary worshiped idols. Visiting the beautiful Ireland in recent years, I was shocked to see many Christian churches empty and used as museums, office spaces, and distilleries. In England, some churches are used to train people to play golf. Other countries, turning Christian churches into restaurants, etc. A great number of Christians throughout the world have apostasized from Christ and Faith. It is a most alarming development and a crisis of faith.
God is AGAPE (Love) and He absolutely loves man, His creation. "God wishes communion with man, a communion of loving persons. Man as a person can love for the Personal God, since true love can be directed only towards a person and can exist only in a person…Our personal God is not the god of the philosophers, nor of the skeptics. He is the God of our Fathers, a Person, and NOT an idea."
Our Creator and God, out of respect, paternal esteem, and a loving attitude towards man, wants him to be FREE. He does NOT FORCE Himself upon man, but awaits for MAN’S FREE, PERSONAL CHOICE. In other words, God awaits for man’s ACCEPTANCE OF Him in his life. Man is always free, EVEN TO REJECT Him.
"God comes to us and reveals Himself, when, with freedom of love, we accept Him in our life. His glory and Grace are revealed to us and we enjoy His Blessed presence. Through experience, we learn what life with God is like and how COMMUNION WITH Him feels. If it isn’t revealed by Him, we cannot, by ourselves, find Him and meet Him, our Creator and our Maker."
Through our own experience, however, we come to know people, including close relatives, who, out of ignorance, egoism, selfishness, arrogance, pride, and indifference, do not accept Him. These are lost souls who are spiritually blind and dead. There is no life without God, since God is Life itself. Consequently, a terrible struggle takes place within these suffering souls. Without God in their lives, they cease to truly live. Instead, they simply exist. Our Heavenly Father never gives up on any one, even though the person denies His existence and stops believing in Him. He awaits everyone’s return to Him and the Kingdom of Light and Agape. The way back to God is expressed in the Parable of the Prodigal son, Luke 15:11-32. In this Parable the Prodigal son, upon his return to his father, repents of his disobedience to him and says, "I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants…But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and RAN AND FELL ON HIS NECK AND KISSED HIM…".
It may be hard to believe for some that even those who serve God for years fall away and begin to lose sight of Him. People who serve in His diakonia (ministry) and who preach His Gsopel of salvation. Some are religious leaders, who, out of egoism and arrogance, believe that they are higher than God Himself. They believe that they are not acountable to Him for their actions, and abuse their office and the faithful entrusted to them by God, for personal gain, entichment, and vain glory. Unfortunately, however, many of the faithful are too trusting and are easily deceived and victimized by them. The penalty delivered by God for one in hight office who exploits his position for reasons of greed, abuse, immorality, and power, is very great and final indeed. Desecration of one’s ordination and consecration is an unforgivable sin.
May our Loving and forgiving Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ have mercy upon us all. May He make us true servants in His vineyard and Holy Orthodox Church, worthy to be called His sons and daughters, overlooking our many sins through the holy intercessions of His Most Pure and Holy Mother, the Ever Virgin Mary the Theotokos. Amen.
"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