In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, Christ is Risen, Truly He is Risen! We remember Holy Martyr St Basil, Bishop of Amasea today. St Basil, pray for us!
The Bishop of Amasea, St Basil, was a holy martyr and father among the saints, who brought many people towards God, and was a father to many, despite being persecuted by the pagans relentlessly.
When he was arrested by the Emperor then, he resolutely defended his faith, and was eventually beheaded. His last words to the executioner were, “Dear one, do what you have been ordered to.” His remains were cast out at sea.
When Elpidyphoros, a Christian, had a recurrent dream 3 times where an Angel uttered, “Bishop Basil is in Sinope and waits for you.” Elpidyphoros and some deacons sailed to Sinope and cast the net down, but retrieved nothing. Only when Elpidyphoros prayed and lowered the net in the Holy Name of God, the body of St Basil was retrieved, where miraculously his head was reattached, with only the mark of the cut on the neck of the bishop showed the beheading. The relics of St Basil were buried in the church of his seat at Amasea.
When we consider our spiritual journey towards God as seekers seeking communion with God, what do we truly seek? We are spiritual pilgrims. What is it we truly seek?
While some seek after the material fruits of the world, their prayers unto God are merely seeking after the perishable fruits of the world, and not of the fruits of Theosis with God. The rot of the fruits of the world is real, and increasingly, such fruits of the world seem to envelope many and entrap them with the indulgences that sink them deeper and deeper, and farther and farther away from God.
Yet, we are admonished to seek after God in our journey, and that is the sole and foremost goal we seek.
St Basil of Amasea and countless saints and holy fathers before us have shown us from time memorial, even right up to today in the modern world where holy martyrs of Christ continue to laid down their lives in defense of their resolute faith until God. Saints will continue to manifest, resolute in their faith unto God, and will show their faith without shame, without fear, without tears. They are our teachers.
Some others seek the supernatural gifts, often times not of God at all, but are mere delusions and illusions of the world, mere seductions of the minions of the evil one.
As Holy Scripture reminded us, that many would say to Christ our Lord and Judge on the fateful day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesised in Thy Name? And in Thy Name have cast out devils? And in Thy Name done many wonderful works?” (St Matthew 7:22) There are many in the world who seem to dazzle those who are naive enough to believe, and who are then sadly misled. And yet, at the fateful day, our Lord would not recognize them as His own.
Supernatural gifts are rare and are gifted by God to very few people. We need not seek them, as they are merciful gifts from God to people who have specific roles to fulfill. We do not hanker and crave after spiritual gifts. Our Lord Jesus Christ reminded us in St John 3:1-15, that many things are unknown to us, and we are to seek only after the shelter and strength in Him, Jesus Christ our Lord, rather than seek after more esoteric things, heavenly or otherwise.
Our only concern is our own sins, our own repentance, our constant polishing of our will to serve others, and a return to selfless prayer every time, as Proverbs 8:17-22 encourages us of the fruits from God, that of the sweetness of righteousness, and the inner substance of faith. Indeed, the substance of faith.
In this Bright Week, let us remember the Baptism in water and the Holy Spirit, as read in Acts 2:38-43, that the Mystery of Baptism has ignited what God intends us to have, the spark of our journey to reconcile with God. And it is the most important gift of the Holy Spirit of all, not supernatural powers, not material wealth, not brute strength, not earthly power, but simply to be children of God who acknowledges Him as sovereign, as healer, as the singular goal in life (Daniel 9:17-19).
Let us never forget the gift of the Holy Spirit in our baptism. Let us never to hanker after the esoteric or the earthly, but simply, to seek after Theosis and to always seek the Mercy of our Lord in this challenging journey. The saints have laid their bodies on the rocky paths before us, and showed us just what this spiritual journey may entail. It will not be an easy journey towards God, and never be persuaded by easy but empty seductions. At every turn, we are also encouraged, soothed, and healed by the tender love of God. We are never forgotten, even if we become bruised, injured, hurt or wounded. Let us soldier on with repentance and prayers. Let us seek only after God. Let us always cry to Him who is our Lord and Judge, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.
Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:
It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.
O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
St John 3:1-15