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.
by Saint Gregory Palamas
Believing in God is different from believing God. To believe God is to regard His promises to us as sure and true, but to believe in Him is to have the right understanding of Him. Both are necessary for us and we must speak correctly in both respects, in such a way that people with correct understanding can be confident that we are faithful before the God to Whom our faith is directed and that, being faithful, we shall be justified by Him. "Abraham believed God", it says, "and it was counted unto Him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3, Genesis 15:6, James 2:23). Why was Abraham counted as righteous because he believed? He had received a promise from God that in his seed, that is, in Isaac (his son), all the tribes of Israel would be blessed (Genesis 17:16; cf. 26:3-5, 24). Then he was commanded by God to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1), through whom alone the promise could be fulfilled (Genesis 17:21; 21:12), while he was still a child. Without contradicting he, the father, was hastening on his way to become his son's murderer while at the same time regarding the promise concerning his son as infallibly sure (Genesis 22:1-18).
Do you see what sort of faith brings justification? But Christ also promised us that we would inherit eternal life, pleasure, glory and the Kingdom, while then He commanded us to be poor, to fast, to live in lowliness and affliction, to be ready to die and to crucify ourselves together with our passions and desires (cf. Galatians 5:24). If therefore we eagerly do these things while at the same time believing God's promise to us, then we shall have really believed God in the way Abraham did, and it will be counted to us as righteousness.
Notice the consequence of these events. The fact that Abraham agreed to offer Isaac for slaughter was not just powerful evidence and proof of his faith. Because OF IT Christ, through Whom all the tribes of the earth (mankind) were blessed and the promise was fulfilled (Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; cf. 26:4-5), was born of Abraham's seed (St. Matthew 1:1-16). It was as if God was under an obligation to the man who gave his only-begotten true son for His sake, to give him in return His Only-Begotten True Son for his sake and the sake of the promise made to him. It is exactly the same in our case. If because of God's Commandments we are chaste, righteous, humble, patiently submit our bodies to hardship through fasts and vigils, if, in a word, we crucify ourselves together with our passions and desires (cf. Galatians 5:24), this is not just proof that we truly believe Christ's promises, but it also, as it were, obliges God to give us in return eternal and incorruptible life and pleasure, glory and the Kingdom.
Christ looked at His Disciples and said, "Blessed are ye poor; for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are ye that mourn. Blessed are ye merciful. Blessed are ye that are persecuted for righteousness' sake" (St. Matthew 5:3-4, 7, 10). But "woe unto you that are rich. Woe unto you that laugh. Woe unto you that are full. Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you" (St. Luke 6:24-26). How, I ask you, is it credible that someone believes God if he does not aspire to what the Lord pronounces blessed but to what He pronounces wretched? "Shew me", it says, "thy faith by thy works" (St. James 2:18). And, "Who is a wise man? Let him shew out of good conduct his works" (St. James 3:13).
The fact that we truly believe God, that we understand that His promises and warnings to us are true and sure, even though they have not happened yet, is shown by our good works and by our keeping of His Commandments. But what proof is there that we have a right belief in God, that we have a trustworthy and devout understanding of Him? It is that we confess the same faith as our God-bearing Fathers. Sincerely believing God provokes opposition not only from the physical passions and the evil one's snares, but also from people in the grip of passions who lure others and drag them down with themselves into wicked pleasures. In the same way, having a right belief in the One True God provokes opposition not only from ignorance and the enemy's promptings, but also from godless men who treacherously pull believers down into the depths of their own destruction. In both aspects of faith our greatest help comes not just from God Himself and our God-given faculty of knowledge, but from the good angels and from God-fearing people who live according to His will.
This is why the Church of Christ, the spiritual Mother and Nurse of us all, clearly and publicly celebrates today those who were illustrious in their piety and virtue, their holy Councils and the godly doctrines these Councils proclaimed.
Faith without works is dead and chaotic, and works without faith are empty and useless...Evil passions and godlessness not only open the door to one another, they are also similar...We have received power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. Without difficulty we can crush all the tricks and snares he (devil) devises against piety and the devout way of life. And when we have openly gained the victory over him in every respect we shall attain to heavenly and incorruptible crowns of righteousness in Christ Himself, to the impartial Judge Who gives to each his due.
To Whom belong all glory, honor and worship, with His Fathers without beginning and the All-Holy, Good and Life-Giving Spirit, now and forever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
(Source: Saint Gregory Palamas - The Homilies)
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