It is easy to go through life comforted that most of our sins go hidden from the world, but we would do well to remember that our sins are never hidden from God. In his homily on Romans, St John Chrysostom points out, “In this world one man is punished while another escapes ….it is not the same in the life hereafter.” (Homily 5 on Romans) This is because in this life, some sins are seen by others (ie we are caught) while other sins go unnoticed. This is not the case with God. He sees all as we understand in today’s Gospel lesson.
Some think we must hide our Christian acts of love and mercy, but today’s Gospel (you can read the entire passage below) says otherwise. “You are the light of the world…..let your light so shine….” These words of Christ are meant as encouragement to allow our life to be an attraction for others to find Christ. But the same light that can draw people to Christ, can also send them away if we aren’t careful.
When the sun rises, it shines on everything, good or bad, healthy or sick. Here are a few warnings:
Many Christians today bewail the treatment by members of the media or legal system, through which our rights as Americans seem to be eroding away. My blog today isn’t about politics, and I won’t even comment on whether or not our rights should or shouldn’t be taken away as faithful Orthodox Christians.
It has long been taught by the Church that the condition of our heart will determine our eternal experience of God. Though we will all be in heaven, some will experience heaven as torment because of selfishness. We will not experience the joy of heaven until we get past our own ego and our own selfishness. The great chasm of death will stop our ability to change our hearts to cross from torment to comfort. The time is now for us to prepare our heart to experience heaven as comfort rather than torment.
In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazaros (Luke 16.19-31), Jesus tells of an opportunity for salvation that goes unnoticed by the rich man. Day after day he stepped out his door passing over his salvation, a humble poor man “desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.” (Luke 16.21) Day by day the rich man was sealing his fate for an eternity of torment and grief, while the fate of the poor man rested firmly in the bosom of Abraham. Both men died, and both men met their fate.
When we ask for a blessing from God, it is important that we approach Him with humility. It isn’t about what we want, but what God wants, and we need to accept His will with humility.
When things seem to always be against us, we are tempted to think the demons have taken over. But with God’s constant protection, the demons have no power over us. Without our permission, the demons can, and always will, tempt us and torment us, but can never hurt us, because God is always protecting us.
In the Parable of the Sower, we hear of the great opportunity from God that allows us to do the work needed for our heart to the word of God and help it take root in our heart. Whether our hearts are the road, the rocks, the thorns, or the good fertile soil, it will take constant attention and effort for us to keep our hearts rich and fertile for God’s word.
In the Gospel we have a rare opportunity to hear Christ directly explain to us a parable He had offered. In the Parable of the Sower, He explains:
“The seed is the Word of God….”
“The wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts…
“The rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root…”
“Thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life…”
Having recently relocated (almost two years now) to Florida, I have come to a much better understanding of what it means to prepare for a hurricane. Having grown up in northern climates, I was accustomed to blizzard preparations and tornado drills, but never had the “privilege” of preparing for a hurricane. I’m still learning but getting better, especially after figuring out that waiting until the last minute is almost a guarantee that I won’t get everything finished in need to get finished. But today’s blog post isn’t about hurricanes.