An Irish Welcome

Céad Míle Fáilte friend and rover ...
Wherever you come from and whosoever you may be.
That's an Irish greeting and it means

you are welcome
a thousand times over.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Symbol of Faith - part 6


Christ is risen, chosen people! The earth cannot harm Him, nor can the tomb restrain Him. Let your souls arise, you who are filled with the grace of Christ! Let the image of God within you shine, cleansed of earth and saved from mortal decay! Rejoice and be glad, for your Messiah, the One and Only, has con quered death, that terror of all those born on earth!

The miraculous resurrection of Christ the Lord from the tomb was completely in accord with His miraculous appearance in the world. It corresponded to His extraordinary birth from the most pure Virgin, His almighty works on earth, His heavenly wisdom and mercy, His superhuman patience and dignity in suffer ing injustice and torture, and His divine forgiveness of His executioners from the cross. Everything is in accord. Everything resembles and corresponds to each other. Just as you can know the nature of a whole sea from one drop of sea water, you can know the entire character of Christ from one incident of His life. His entire character represents one continuous miracle, organically consisting of innumerable miracles. He is your all-powerful Messiah, O Christ-bearers, who blessed you from the cross, from the tomb, and out of the tomb.

The resurrection is like one precious stone in the string of continuous precious stones, which represents the life of the Lord on earth. This precious stone is of the same beauty, of the same priceless value, of the same grace, as the other precious stones in the divine string of Christ. His resurrection is completely natural in view of the eternal realities which He revealed through all His works and His whole personality. On the third day at dawn the all-powerful Lord rose from the dead and appeared to His Holy Mother, to the myrrh-bearing women, and to the apostles (Matt. 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20 and 21; 1 Cor.15:6). Afterwards He manifested Himself for a full forty days to His disciples and friends (Acts 1). Later He appeared to His enemy and persecutor Saul (Acts 9). First, then, He manifested Himself to His friends and followers, as to the first members of His Holy Church, so that He might establish and choose them, and afterwards also to His enemies. And He appeared to these latter as much for the purpose of defending His Church, as for the purpose of showing His mercy towards His ene mies, just as He did from the cross. For He "loves the righteous and shows mercy on the sinful," and wishes all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.

The resurrected and living Lord has continued to manifest Himself to numerous men and women mar tyred for His name. He has appeared to venerable men and holy women and virgins throughout the entire history of the Church of God up to the present day. He has appeared in wakefulness and in dreams, in wars and in prisons, next to the beds of the sick and in times of necessity, when human strength is of no use. He has appeared in shacks to the poor, in radiant altars to His holy clergy as well as to penitent sinners in dens of iniquity. He has appeared only where fervent faith and tearful prayer have called upon Him, and where His appearance was indispensable. Why should we enumer ate them? His living presence is constantly felt by the truly chosen people, by those who bear the image of God in themselves. Consider what the resurrected and living Lord exclaimed as His final word to His followers: "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age. Amen" (Matt. 28:20)

Amen - so be it, O Lord!

"In accordance with the Scriptures." As it had been written by the inspired authors of the Scriptures, as it had been prophesied by God's prophets, thus did it come to pass. It was written by the prophets: "For Thou wilt not abandon my soul in hades, nor wilt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16:10). And again it is written and prophesied: "God shall arise and His enemies shall be scattered" (Psalm 68:1). But in addition to the many prophesies concerning the resur rection of Christ contained in the Old Testament of the Bible, this majestic incident was symbolically and prefiguratively expressed through the fates of many righteous men.

Thus the fate of the righteous Abraham, who was in danger of death on many occasions at the hands of more powerful enemies and yet emerged alive and victorious, represents a prefiguration of Christ's vic tory at the resurrection. Isaac is a similar prefiguration, who was placed beneath the knife of his father and yet was saved. Another prefiguration of Christ's resur rection is the prophet Jonah, who spent three days in the belly of a whale, and was then thrown out alive. So also were the fates of many other righteous men, such as Moses, Noah, Joseph, King David, the prophets Elijah and Daniel, the three children in the fiery furnace, the much-suffering Job, and many others who, oppressed by Satanic and human injustice, were ultimately victorious over all and attained glory, having preserved the image of God within them inviolate. Therefore, the Holy Fathers at Nicaea also stated that the Lord Christ rose from the dead "in accordance with the Scriptures." For an incident which was prophesied in advance was more convincing to men than one which was not.

And in the gospels the holy evangelists noted how even the Lord himself foretold His own resurrection to His disciples on many occasions. And whenever the Lord would foretell His suffering and death, He would also foretell His glorious resurrection at the same time (Matt. 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 26:32-cf. Mark 8:31; 9:9-31; 10:34; 14:28; Luke 9:22; 18:33; John 2:19-22). And everything came to pass just as it was foretold. Your Lord and Redeemer was tortured, crucified, buried dead, but on the third day He gloriously rose from the dead.

Love is invincible, royal children. Its homeland lies in heaven, its kingdom lies in eternity, its shadow on earth, its absence in hell. Oh how powerful is that shadow! But real love, the love which blazes in the hearth of the eternal fatherhood and eternal sonship of God, the love which Christ brought to earth-that love is all-powerful. Satan along with sinners foolishly rejoiced over the dead Messiah. Satan acquired his foolishness when he totally lost the image of God within him. Where could he have known-where could he have felt-how all-powerful divine love is? The power of this love has no comparisons, no measure ments, no limits. The earth would have exploded, if Christ had not risen from it. The earth was incapable of containing Him within itself This is the power of real, heavenly, eternal love. The might of love is indescrib able. With the might of this blazing love the King of heaven visited earth, endured all humiliations and tortures, and finally resurrected. By its might infirmi ties are healed, demons are cast out, diseases are cured, storms are calmed, and all nature is forced into obedience. This love is entirely miracle-working, and wherever it appears, in whatever sphere and at what ever time, it works miracles.

This is the faith of the children of God, O royal children, who have become adopted children of God through the power of Christ's love. Those who hate and do evil, who despise God and mankind, who forge chains for themselves out of their sins and place them in the hands of the demons of hell, cannot accept this faith. This is the faith of radiant and pure souls, of those who love God and mankind. They accept this faith, and suffer for it, following the example set by Christ. Love eases their suffering, and sweetens bitter ness. Their eyes become clouded with respect to all the deceptive treasures of this world; but their spiritual vision, washed and enlightened by tears, sees into the homeland of eternal love clearly. Blessed are they on the Day of Judgment, on the Dreadful Day of God's retribution. They shall survive on that Day, and shall warm themselves at the hearth of eternal love.

Is this not your faith, Christ-bearers, and the faith of your most glorious forefathers? Let it also be the faith of your children. This is the faith which has never been put to shame, the Orthodox Faith-as bitter as death, as healing as heavenly balm, and as radiant as resurrection. Truly this is the faith of great souls, of the truly chosen people, who bear the image of God within themselves. On the Judgment Day of the resurrected Messiah they shall be shown mercy and be called blessed.

                                                                       Victory  Resurrection - Joy.

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