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.
OUR SPIRIT YEARNS AFTER THE FATHER (Part III) WE SHALL SEE HIM AS HE IS
by Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov)
We Shall See Him As He Is
Prayer wherein God is revealed as Truth
Every single human being, whoever he may be, wherever he lives, whatever position he holds, be he erudite or unlearned, rich or poor, famous or unknown, young, middle-aged or elderly, happy or wretched, to some extent or another ponders on meaning of life and asks himself, 'What is truth?' (St. John 18:18).
Nineteen centuries ago Pilate perfunctorily put this question to Christ. The content and spirit of the query may vary radically, though the formula be one and the same. In Pilate's case we sense the skepticism of the mediocre Roman philosopher: having posed the question, without waiting for Christ to reply he went out to the Jews, convinced that there was no satisfactory answer. I suspect that in our day, too, the overwhelming majority of people are no better than Pilate and base their everyday lives, not on the rock of faith but on denial of the possibility of an after-life.
What is Truth? Does it exist in general? Even before we come to know Truth our hearts tell that if there were no Truth existence itself would be inconceivable. Truth cannot be proved by logic but we are certain to its existence for we have been given direct knowledge which anticipates our every thought. Without this recognition the very process of thinking, the purpose of which is always to arrive at a veritable conclusion, would be negated.
At what level do we start our inquiry? The various possibilities are countless. Let us ignore all the rest and start by considering our idea of man. Man by his nature stop half-way: he must continue to the end. He envisages the Primordial Truth that lies at the root of all that exists.
What does this First and Last Truth, eternally immutable, universal, consist of? Here we have the one needful question (cf. St. Luke 10:42). After we have suffered failures, defeats, the loss of people dear to us, carried off by death into unknown 'nothingness'; after we have survived the expiration of many of the idols of this world--science, philosophy, the arts, humanism, politics--then it is that a kind of hope or expectation (there is no exact word for it) grows in us of something immutable...
"...He is Light and Truth. And when this True Light (St. John 1:9) embraces us we live His love and Wisdom. We are joyous, and profound knowledge descends on us, not as thought but as state of spirit.
He is. In Him is no beginning, no end, He Himself is both the Principle of all that exists and the infinite conclusion of our every expectation. We recognize in our heart that He wants to see us perfect, even as He is perfect (cf. St. Matthew 5:48).
Exhausted by the tyranny of base passions, we naturally pray the Good Lord that His Spirit may rest in us--the Spirit of understanding of the way of His salvation. And fortified by this Spirit we see that in tragic ordeals we rid ourselves of the consequences of the Fall; that through suffering our being expands and we are opened to other, sublime worlds. We overcome the cast-iron egoism of the primitive individual. We emerge from the half-savage condition of not knowing our Creator...Divine love descends into me, at first as compassion for every living thing, and in the world to come as the blessedness of beholding the redeemed in imperishable glory...
"...When he begins to understand the place of the Cross in our life according to God, man 'bears his cross' (cf. St. Luke 14:27) differently. He understands the very cross differently, perceiving it as a call from the Heavenly Father on High (cf. St. John 6:44; 18:11). In the cross, as in the Savior's cup, my created being becomes linked with Uncreated Divine Being.
We do not deny the reality of the transient. It is natural for Christians to live simultaneously on two planes; the temporal and the eternal. And time itself we apprehend as a wondrous process of the creation by God from nothing of gods like Himself. When the created being attains his crowning perfection, then we shall hear the 'Angel swear by Him that liveth forever and ever...that there shall be time no longer' (cf. Revelation 10:5-6).
The Lord said of Himself, "I am the truth" (cf. St. John 14:6) and He called the Father and the Holy Spirit to witness. To understand this aspect of Divine Being requires many years of repentant prayers. The more we follow after the Lord in the keeping of His Commandments, the broader and more profound does our personal identity become...It is given to us in prayer for the whole world to live all mankind as one man. Through such prayer we receive new, existential knowledge. By nature, structure and character the persona cannot live isolated in himself. He must look outside himself in love for others like himself. By the action of love he responds to the other and so attest to him...
"... "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8). Hence only repentant prayer is keeping with the truth about us. At this point I persist in stressing that we stand before the Heavenly Father aware of ourselves as sinners, we take our place on the plane of Divine Truth. The more profoundly we see our sin as something that brings death to us, the more fully do we surrender to God in prayer, and by His Life-creating strength escape from the clutches of time and space. May the Lord forgive me, and my brothers not condemn me too severely, if I say that thus it was with me. And so, reading Saint Paul's Epistles, I surmise--confidently, I make no secret of it--that he, too, was given 'visions and revelations of the Lord' (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:1-6) in his repentance before Christ 'with strong crying and tears', and 'was heard in that he feared' (cf. Hebrews 5:7)...
"...If ye love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you...Ye see Me; for because I live, ye shall live also. And that day ye shall know that I Am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you. He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, He is is that loveth me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him...If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode in him...The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent Me...But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (St. John 14:15-26).
"The Comforter, the Holy Spirit...shall teach you all things." He will "teach us" to think as God Himself thinks. He will teach us to love as God loves. Do not be surprised at this--it is the purport of the Gospel summons. All the Epistles--of Saint John, St. Paul, St. Peter and the others--say the same. So do the Fathers down the ages.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God