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.
IMITATION OF CHRIST
By His Grace Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witness, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endures the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Christ - the Ideal of Perfection. In the best moments of our life, when we are inspired to live a good life, to love everyone and everything, and to do good deeds, we cannot find a more appropriate example to follow than that of our Lord Jesus Christ. The righteous men of every age - Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Ascetics, and other champions of the faith - all shine with the beauty of their faith to the extent that they imitate Christ. "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27; see also v. 4:19). As raindrops show different colors by reflecting the rays of sunlight, so every faithful Christian should reflect the spiritual beauty of Christ.
Each of us can imitate Christ in the following ways:
By desiring that all our thoughts, feelings, words and deeds be directed to the glory of God, and with clear and complete love for Him arising from the bottom of our hearts, desiring to be with Him.
By trying to do everything God approves of and commands, in complete obedience to Him; rejecting all He forbids, even if we must sacrifice ourselves to be faithful to Him.
By living in humility, honesty, and chastity, in moral purity and blamelessness; and by working to increase our spirituality with good deeds.
By compassion toward all people and their struggles, accepting their failure as our own failure, their happiness as our own happiness, and being ready to help those who are in need, even at our own expense.
By cultivating love for all people - not only the ones we love and those who are good to us, but also our personal enemies - and with humility, accepting insults and injustices against us and forgiving them, as the Lord Jesus Christ forgives us.
By fervent prayer: "And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (St. Luke 22:44).
For a person who retains strong ties to the world and lacks spiritual understanding, these virtues appear to be beyond one's strength. If we penetrate deeper, we can see that the essence of the difficulty lies not in the deeds, but rather in our own nature, spoiled by ancestral sin. Indeed, the Angels of Heaven live virtuously and carry out all the Commandments of God naturally, without struggle and with great gladness. If we were sinless and pure, as God created man in the beginning, it would be easy and pleasing to us to live like this. But sin has destroyed the harmony between the body and the soul, the physical and the spiritual. Our body is ruled by disorderly desires, corrupted and subordinated to the tyrannical governance of our sinful nature over the soul. It is necessary to end the illegitimate rule of our body and to put it into obedience to the soul. This is easier said than done, since mankind has become enslaved by sin and the devil. Only through the Son of God, Who accepted our physical nature in order to rescue us, can we be freed from sin and restored within to the likeness of God.
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God