Sts Methodius and Cyril: Pilgrimage, not competition

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember two great saints, enlighteners of the Slavs, Sts Methodius and Cyril. May Sts Methodius and Cyril pray for us!

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 Slavs are our brethren in Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Bulgaria, Belarus, Poland, Czech, and so on.

The saints were brothers. When their father died, their uncle, a powerful Byzantine official, took care of them. Eventually, the brothers left their secular careers to become monastics, and eventually traveled to the Slavic lands to preach the Gospel. 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. They left us a rich legacy that can never be erased.

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 again, not as Healer, but as Judge. 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).

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 repentance, 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).

We must also remember that God shines like the ever-brilliant sun without fail. His love and mercy not only never fails, but that paradise and suffering are not 2 different realities, but the same.

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. Our journey to God is not a competition, but a journey of pilgrimage and healing. Let us strive to focus on 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+

Malachi 4:1-6
Proverbs 15:27-33
St Matthew 5:14-19
Hebrews 7:26-8:2