My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
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; James 2:23). Why was Abraham counted as righteous because he believed? He has 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 way to become his son’s murderer while at the same time regarding the promise concerning his son as infallibly sure (Genesis 22:1-18).
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 AFFLICTIONS, 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.
Christ looked at His Disciples and said, "Blessed are ye poor for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are ye that mourn. Blessed are ye merciful. Blessed are ye that are persecuted 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 6:2426). How, I ask you, is it credible that someone believes God IF HE DOES NOT ASPIRE TO WHAT THE LORD PROUNOUCES BLESSED BUT TO WHAT HE PRONOUNCES WRETCHED? "Shew 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 that His promise 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 LURE OTHERS 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 from 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 FRMO 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 publicly celebrates today those who were ILLUSTRIOUS AND THEIR PIETY AND VIRTUE, THEIR HOLY COUNCILS, AND THE GODLY DOCTRINES THESE COUNCILS PROCLAIMED. At the same tie the Church briefly denounces the supporters of ungodliness and their evil pursuits, 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 were made; Who is before 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.
Faith WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD AND CHAOTIC, and WORKS WITHOUT FAITH ARE EMPTY AND USELESS. We, therefore, eagerly pursuing both faith and works together may show our faith by our works and carry off the prize for our labors through faith.
EVIL PASSIONS and GODLESSNESS NOT ONLY OPEN THE DOOR TO ONE ANOTHER, THEY ARE ALSO SIMILAR. Adam was given authority by God to eat from every tree in Paradise but HE WAS NOT SATISFIED WITH THEM ALL. Once he had been convinced by the counsel of the serpent (evil one), THE ORIGINATOR OF EVIL, he ate from the one tree which he had been commanded NOT to touch. In the same way, God sets before us all His riches and truly beneficial gifts to share if we wish, in accordance with the words, "THE PERSON WHO HAS BEEN DEIFIED BY GRACE WILL BE IN EVERY RESPECT AS GOD IS, EXCEPT FOR HIS VERY ESSENCE…WE HAVE RECEIVED POWER TO TREAD ON SERPENTS AND SCORPIONS, AND OVER AL THE POWER OF THE ENEMY. Without difficulty, we can crush all the tricks and snares he devises against piety and the devout way of life. And when we have openly gained the victory him in every respect we shall attain to heavenly and incorruptible crowns of righteousness in Christ Himself, to the impartial Judge Who gives to each his due.
To Whom belong all Glory, Honor, and Worship, with His Father without beginning and the All-Holy, Good, and Life-Giving Spirit, now and forever, and unto all 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 Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God