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! Today we commemorate our fathers among the saints, Saints Methodius and Cyril, Equal-to-the-Apostles and enlighteners of the Slavs in central Europe in the 9th century.

The saints were brothers who were taken care of by their uncle, a powerful official in the Byzantine era, when their father died. They left their secular careers to become monastics, and eventually evangelized to the Slavic lands. Saints Methodius and Cyril gave us the Glagolitic alphabet, used to translate the Holy Bible and other patristic writings into what we call Old Church Slavonic today, as well as the Cyrillic alphabet in the modern Slavic languages. Saints Methodius and Cyril, pray for us.

Recently, we hear of many false prophesies of the end of days. The media drums up the sensational renditions of falsehood, and unfortunately, some people even believed these words. But as we know, those false prophesies came and went, and we remain breathing, and the world continues to spin.

We are constantly reminded, that the end is near, but not yet. We pray daily, not only for the burden of sins we carry and seeking our Lord’s mercy, we also pray for the coming of Christ, and hope in His mercy when He comes. The Church does not place extra emphasis on Eschatology, or the study of the end times, because Christ commanded us to live daily, every moment, in prayer, and not to indulge on divination. We must remember that our hearts can and often deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9). Christ Himself told us that no one knows the end of days except God our Father Himself (St Matthew 24:36, and 1 Thessalonians 5:2).

While indulging in false prophesies are not what we should concern ourselves with, we must concern ourselves with the merciful salvation we pray unto the Lord for. We do not deserve any salvation or mercy, and yet our God gives that to us abundantly without bias, as we saw Christ say to the thief on the cross (St Luke 23:42-43).

We must also remember that God shines like the ever-brilliant sun without fail. This means that His love and mercy not only never fails anyone, but that paradise and suffering are not 2 different realities, but the same. This means that, to one who has chosen to turn away and walk away from God, God’s consuming love, like fire, burns this person like an experience in hell. Conversely, one who has chosen to walk towards God, however sinful, will experience God’s consuming love, like a warm fireplace in winter, or paradise. The Holy Bible and the Patristic writings taught that when one sees hell, it is one’s failure to cooperate with God’s Grace. Conversely, when one finds paradise, it is simply the acceptance of God’s Grace, and working with God out of a selfless love for God and for others. What we must remind ourselves often is, given the trappings of a materialistic world, we tend to think in terms of KPIs (key performance indicators) and “achievements”. Instead, we should strive to think in terms of seeking the healing of God. The Church is the hospital or retreat that we go to, to get the healing of God. We can never be arrogant to think we can strive towards paradise, but rather, we can only constantly seek after the healing of God.

Our father among the saints, St Gregory Palamas, said, “He will baptize you by the Holy Spirit and by fire, or by illumination and punishment, depending on one’s own predisposition, to bring upon him that which he deserves.” We are not saints nor angels, but trust in God that His mercy envelops us despite our sins, as long as we go to Him in utmost humility, in constant prayer, with love.

With our eyes on God, as we take each day as it comes, seeking the healing of God, let us keep His holy name close to our heart every day, “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:
Malachi 4:1-6
Proverbs 15:27-33
St Matthew 5:14-19
St John 8:51-59