Friday, October 14, 2016

We cannot serve two masters ( Part 2 )

“I the Lord thy God am a jealous God”(Ex. 20:5), and I want to be your only Lord.
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord” (Dt. 6:4).
I want you entirely, both your soul and your body. This is why I want you to love only Me and to serve only Me with all the senses of your body and with all the powers of your soul.

“You shall love the Lord your God from your whole heart, from your whole soul, and from your whole power”(Dt. 6:5).
This is what God commands us. However, because we are born and raised in the world and have become entangled within the world’s many and various sinful webs, the Son of God came to the earth armed with a sword to sever these very bonds. “Do not think,” says Christ, “that I have come to bring peace to the earth.” That is, do not think that I have come to make a pact with the lawless world. Even though the world was created by God, it did not recognize and acknowledge God.
“The world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him” (Jn. 1:10).
“I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”
(Mt. 10:34).
I want to declare unending war against the world, because it is My enemy. Thus, Christ wants to sever every sinful bond that keeps us tied to
the world, in order for us to become entirely His sole possession.
On the other hand, the world also wants us entirely. It does not permit us to have even the slightest relationship with God; on the contrary, it
attempts to distance us from Him in any and every possible manner. Are you familiar with how oppressive Pharaoh was to the enslaved nation of the Jews?
In order to utterly subjugate them, he kept them in a perpetual state of toil and drudgery, forcing them to plow vineyards, clean gardens, erect buildings, and be ceaselessly occupied with hard and painful work. God sent Moses and Aaron to instruct
the Pharaoh to release the poor people for a few days, so that they may have the opportunity and time to offer sacrifices to God:
“Let My people go, so they may hold a feast to Me in the desert ... Let us go three days’ journey into the desert and sacrifice to the Lord our God”
(Ex: 5:1-3). “Oh!” said the irreverent king. “The Jews still remember their God? They still desire to offer Him a sacrifice? They have too much time on their hands. I better increase their workload so they have no time at all to think of such things. Let them serve me every hour of the day so that they have not even a minute to serve their God.”
“Let the works of these men be oppressive, and let them occupy themselves with these things
” (Ex. 5:9). 

 Indeed, this is what followed. Even though these poor people previously had as their primary task to
make bricks, the Pharaoh gave them another job:
to collect hay. He doubled their workload. Not only did he prevent them from offering a sacrifice to their God, but he did not allow them a minute to think about God. The king appointed supervisors who watched over them and obligated them to work non-stop. They didn’t give them a chance to catch their breath.
“Let the works of these men be oppressive,
and let them occupy themselves with these things.”
The ungodly world,  this tyrant of our souls, wants to enforce the same slavery upon us Christians
. It desires to hold us enslaved and occupied solely
with the cares and works of this present life. This is especially true when we intend to fulfill our obligations toward God. This is when the world presents a plethora of obstacles; this is when the verse
“Let the works of these men be oppressive, and let them occupy themselves with these things” is
Have we decided to pray? This is when twice as many worldly thoughts come to mind, scattering
our attention to thousands of vain and vulgar recollections.
Have we decided to attend the Divine Liturgy
? That’s when twice as many worldly affairs appear, which drag us from church to the
marketplace or other commitments. Do we feel the need to go to confession?
This is when worldly cares increase exponentially, preventing us from carrying out this God-pleasing
deed. In this manner, the day goes by without prayer, the feast days roll by without church, the year passes without repentance.
This is how the world wants us to dedicate our entire life to its service, so that not even a moment remains for us to serve God:
“Let the works of these men be oppressive, and let them occupy themselves with these things.”
This is the first reason that “no one can serve two masters”—the world, that is, and God.

Elias Miniatis, bishop of Kerniki and Kalavryta

Our communion in prayer with the saints is the realization of the bond between Christians on earth and the Heavenly Church. (Heb 12:22-23)

In our Prayer rule we can also ask the saints to intercede for us and to help us in our worldly struggles. Saints are those holy individuals who have died as martyrs, who have made a fearless confession of faith often with the threat of death, who have demonstrated self-sacrificing service, who have a special gift of healing and perform miracles after their death when remembered in prayer.

These holy people the Lord calls His friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:14-15)

They are those He has received in His heavenly mansions in fulfillment of His words: Where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:3) Instead of praying for forgiveness of their sins, we praise them for their struggles in Christ. We make petitions to them asking them to pray for us and the remission of our sins and spiritual growth, seeking their help in our spiritual needs.

The saints are near the Throne of God.

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, who praised the Lord. (Rev 5:11)

Our communion in prayer with the saints is the realization of the bond between Christians on earth and the Heavenly Church. (Heb 12:22-23)

Sacred scripture presents numerous examples that the righteous, while still living can see and hear and know much that is inaccessible to the ordinary understanding. The saints while they were still on earth we able to penetrate in spirit into the world above.

From the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (luke 16:10-31) we know that Abraham being in heaven could hear the cry of the rich man who was suffering in hell, despite the great unbridgeable gulf that separates them.

The Church has always taught the invocation of the saints, convinced they intercede for us before God in heaven. Having a prayer relationship with a saint is another way that we can gain help in our spiritual path to salvation in the Church.