In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, we remember the holy martyr, St Demetrius of Thessaloniki, today. St Demetrius, pray for us!

If our Lord Jesus Christ were to sit with us today, and asked us this question over a conversation, “Where would you like to go?” What would our responses be?

Holy father among the saints, St Macarius the Great, of Egypt, once said, “My love for Jesus Christ will not suffer me to quit my cell, where I am determined to abide in order to please and serve Him agreeably to His will.”

Therefore, in this great saint’s words, we find just where we hope to go, abiding in His Kingdom, and His Will, in the days of our lives, in joy and in pain, in ease and in hardship, in wealth and in poverty, in illness and in health. This is what we reflect upon when we read St John 15:4-5, where we are to abide in Christ and He in us, as we as branches cannot bear fruit if we do not abide in the vine, who is Christ our Lord. An even more profound meaning can be seen in Ephesians 3:17, where we are to be rooted and founded in charity, so that Christ may dwell by faith in our hearts. We are to dwell by faith in Christ, not in a fleeting or frivolous manner, but deeply and for the long haul. This is what we are admonished to do.

St Demetrius was a great martyr saint of the Church, and till the day he martyred for his faith in God, he was teaching and bringing people to the faith. There are many miracles attributed to St Demetrius, who is the patron saint of Thessaloniki, and many believed the saint’s intercession helped save the city from invaders. The saint is venerated throughout the Church, and is known as “myrrh-streamer” or “myrrh-gusher”, where his holy relics has a miraculous flowing of myrrh. As with any holy angel or saint of God, St Demetrius intercedes for us, just as our beloved Most Holy Theotokos intercede before Christ our God, even today. Saints and angels of God are not historical figures, but are ever-present in our lives even when we make personal pleas for mercy from God.

God’s Mercy for us is limitless, and His compassion beyond measure, as his infinite saints and angels surround us when we cry to God for help. As we reflect on Psalm 103:13-19 (LXX 102) and Hosea 11:1-9, let us remember that God is not a punisher, but a father who is ever-loving. The Church and Her teachings are clear, God is ever-loving, His light shining infinitely and pervasively, and only our own darkness of sin shrouds us from His light, and we ourselves turn away in shame from Him. Our own sufferings due to our own passions, poison us and turn us away from His light, which is ONLY loving and ONLY healing. The difference is that when we repent and pray to God with tears, the same light and healing of God become apparent to us. He is the same God, it is we who need to decide, if we turn towards Him with repentance and prayers, or away from Him to face our own shame and passions of suffering.

St Demetrius, as well all the holy saints of God, are exemplary elder brethren who showed us, the Scriptural Truth we can abide in, that of loving God, and loving others, so that we too, may enjoy the dew and balm of the healing of God, and the fragrance of the Kingdom of God (St John 15:17-16:2).

When there seem to be those who oppose us even as we walk in Truth and love, we are not to shun those people, but to empathize that those who suffer a great deal, may show the angst to others in a manner that brings them no peace at all, but continue to plague them with even more suffering. Are we to increase their suffering by hurting them back? Or as Holy Scriptures and the holy fathers before us admonished, that we are to abide in God’s ways to love Him first, and love others even if others do not seem to treat us the way we hope for? The answer is clear – if we are to seek first the Kingdom of God (St Matthew 6:33) and His righteousness as our goals in life, then we are to show the same mercy and support to those who suffer, even if their suffering brings out the worst of actions. Apostle St Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:1-10, that he would gladly endure all things for the sake of salvation of others. It is no simple task, but we who hope in the Lord our God, and hope to partake in His Kingdom, would surely at least try?

Let us never neglect that our Most Beloved Holy Theotokos, all the holy saints and angels of God, are here with us, even as we imagine we are alone, or in our own private corner. They would intercede with their prayers for us, before God, and that when we abide and dwell in the ways and will of God, we will slowly begin to see what God intends for us – that of the most profound and most important matter of all, to see and even partake in His Kingdom. That, beloved, is worth everything, and worth every sacrifice. So, ask ourselves often, where do we seek to go?

When we are stretched out and in great pain, imagining that we can bear no more pain or suffering, call on the Holy Name of Christ, “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.

Fr Raphael+

Readings
Hosea 11:1-9
Psalm 103:13-19 (LXX 102)
St John 15:17-16:2
2 Timothy 2:1-10