My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE LENTEN PRAYER OF SAINT EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN
O Lord and Master of my life, do not permit the spirit of laziness and meddling, the lust for power and idle talk to come into me. (Prostration) Instead, grant me, your servant, the spirit of prudence, humility, patience and love. (Prostration) Yes, Lord and King, give me the power to see my own faults and not to judge my brother (or sister). (Prostration) For You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
"Satan can imitate all virtues, but can never imitate the virtue of humility."
ON THE HUMILITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
By Saint Nikolai Velimirovich (Source: Homilies)
The humility of our Lord Jesus Christ is a matter for a great wonder as are His miracles, together with His Resurrection-what Wonder of wonders. Clothing Himself in the cramped human body of a slave, He became the servant of servants.
Why do men try to appear greater and better than they are? The grass in the field does not attempt this, and neither do fish in the water or birds in the air. Why, then, do men do this? Because they were, in reality, at one time greater and better than they are now, and the shadow of this memory urges them to exaggeration of their greatness and goodness-on a string pulled taut and let go by the demons.
Of all things that there are for a man to learn, humility is the hardest.The Lord Jesus therefore expressed His teaching on humility in the clearest possible terms, both in word and indeed, so that no-one could possibly doubt the incalculable and inescapable importance of humility in the act of man's salvation. This is why He appeared in a mortal human body such as Adam's had become as a punishment for his sinful fall. He, the sinless Lord and Creator, of the bright and resplendent Cherubim, clothed Himself in the thick, coarse garb of a condemned prisoner. Is this not, in itself, a sufficiently clear less of humility that sinful men must learn? The Lord re-iterated this lesson by His Birth in shepherds' cave rather than at a king's court, by His keeping company with despised sinners and the poor, by His washing the feet of His Disciples, His voluntarily taking His Passion upon Himself and finally, on the Cross, by His drinking the most bitter cup of suffering to the dregs. Men, however, have found the teaching on humility the hardest to grasp and make their own. Even Christ's disciples themselves, who has been with their meek and humble Lord every day, were unable to understand His meekness and make His humility their own. Their preoccupation with themselves and their own status, glory and reward became evident even at the most fateful moments, when these things should have been furthest from their thoughts. But these weaknesses showed themselves at such moments by God's permission, so that succeeding generations should see all the weakness, sinful fallenness and nothingness of human nature. So, for example, when the Lord gave expression to hard words about the rich: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God," Peter questioned the Lord about the reward for each of the disciples: "What shall we have therefore?" (St. Matthew 19:24, 27). On another occasion, when the Lord had been speaking to His disciples about the betrayal, suffering and death of the Son of God, the disciples followed on behind Him, disputing among themselves "who was the greatest." Knowing their thoughts, and hearing their secret discussion, Christ on that occasion took a child and set it in their midst and, taking it up in His arms, upbraided them for their dispute about pre-eminence, using the child as an example (St. Mark 9:31-37). Again, on His last journey to Jerusalem, when the Lord was speaking in even more detail about His suffering, foretelling that the Son of Man would be given over into the hands of the Gentiles: "and they shall mock Him, and shall scourge Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall kill Him: and the third day He shall rise again"-at that solemn moment, when the Lord of Glory was foretelling His final humiliation, the serpent of pride once more raised its head and led two of the chief disciples to produce an ingratiating question that looked like a mocking of the Lord's great and terrible sufferings. The Gospel speaks of this latter event.
"At that time, Jesus, taking the Twelve, began to tell them what things should happen unto Him." This is not the first, nor the second, nor the last, time that the Savior was to foretell His coming Passion. Traveling from Galilee towards Jerusalem, not to return along that path in mortal flesh, the Lord repeated to His disciples things that He had already told them several times. Why did He repeat the same thing so many times? In order to root out the last germ of pride that He could still discern within them, and that showed itself at this moment. Further, for them not to be taken unawares by these terrible events and be cast into despair, with the destruction of all the hope they had in their hearts. In this way, His clear perception in foretelling all that was to come to pass would give them light, as a strange and mysterious ray, illuminating and warming their souls during the darkest moments of the brief victory that sinners were to have over the Righteous One. Lastly, also in order to prepare them for their own suffering and cross, "for if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" (St. Luke 23:31). "If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (St. John 15:20). He is the first to suffer, giving an example to all. On this last journey to Jerusalem, the Lord showed this to His disciples, not only in words but also in His actions, for the Evangelist Mark makes this strange comment directly before the beginning of the Gospel: "And they were in the way, going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them. And they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid (St. Mark 10:32). It appears that He was, contrary to His usual custom, walking ahead of them, to show them His voluntary hastening to His Passion and His submission to His Father's will, and also His being the first to suffer. And the disciples must, then, follow their Divine Lord, Who is first in suffering, and voluntarily, as he does, hasten to their end by martyrdom.
(To be continued)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
GLORY BE TO GOD FOR ALL THINGS!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God