The Lord challenges us to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven in our lives without worrying about tomorrow, next week and next year. Just as He makes sure the birds of the air have their needs met, He promises us that we are of more worth than the birds. He promises that we will always have enough when we seek Him first without anxiety about the future. The world is a very anxious place, but we must have courage and faith in God that His promise to care for us when we put Him first.
It is a common problem. We retire to sleep, only to lay there with our minds panicked about the next day. The unresolved issues of the past day combined with the anticipated obstacles of the next, cause us to toss and turn all night long, barely getting enough sleep to think we ever closed our eyes. We did of course, then only to set the stage for a night filled with anxious dreams. The morning comes only to remind us of the stress of yet another day, and so the cycle continues.
When God called His first disciples to follow, they dropped their nets and left everything they knew behind to follow a new way of thinking with God. They were willing to leave their own logic behind and live as God wants, and God was able to heal the crowds from every disease they had. When we are willing to step out of our comfort zone and leave our way of thinking behind for God’s way of thinking, we too can be the agents of healing in our society. We can be the vaccine that heals the pain and suffering of our society.
In a secular society that is focused on worldly desires, God desires for us is live holy lives as the Saints have done for more than two thousand years. The Saints lived lives dedicated to God instead of the world. They were willing to confess God in front of others, and they were willing to treat others with love, no matter how they were persecuted. Holiness is being willing to live for God rather than the world. Now is the time for us to live holy lives, and then we will affect change in others around us.
Shortly before His Passion Jesus Christ prayed “That they may be one as We are One.” (John 17.11) As Orthodox Christians we believe we are created in the Image of God, and His prayer for us is that we are united just as the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is united in oneness of mind, and we too are called into the same unity. During times of conflict and division, we must remain united to defeat the devil and those trying to destroy the Church. Nothing can separate us from the unity we have with God and each other unless we allow it. In oneness of mind we will succeed in our salvation.
There are times in our lives when we encounter the works of God but are blinded by our sense of pride to see His grace. There are times when we think we are standing up for what is a rule rather than acting in love for others. God calls us to love not just Him, but others enough to have compassion on them. When we allow pride to rule our hearts, whether we are right or not, we are blinded to God love and grace.
When Our Lord met St Photini at Jacob’s Well, He met her at her level and had compassion on her, and she was saved. She then went and invited others to come and see Christ for themselves, and Christ met them at their level, and they were saved. God meets each of us at our level, and then works with our faith to bring us with Him to heaven.
When the paralytic was waiting by the pool of Bethesda to be healed, he complained, “I have no man to put my into the water.” For thirty-eight years he patiently waited for God until that day came. We too have been waiting for God. Once our Churches are reopened, what will our excuse be to not be in Church? In truth we have no excuse because we have The Man, and His name is Jesus Christ.
When it comes to matters of faith, courage is a staple character trait, and nothing requires more courage than obedience. Joseph of Arimathea took courage and approached Pilate for the body of Christ. The Myrrhbearing women took courage to leave their homes at dawn to anoint Jesus. They all had courage to obey the authorities. In a similar way, we must now have courage to be obedient to the Church and remain home until it is safe to gather in groups for worship. Courage does not mean carelessness. Neither Joseph nor the women were careless in their actions.