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.
ON WHAT IS ACCOMPLISHED IN HOLY BAPTISM AND ON REPENTANCE (Part III)
By Saint Gregory Palamas
The Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord publicly raised the subject of the Kingdom of Heaven, affirming that it was near so that people might reckon themselves unworthy on account of the greatness of the Divine and Heavenly Kingdom and condemn themselves, which is the beginning of salvation for everyone, and an occasion for returning to God. But he also holds up an ax and fell it (cf. St. Matthew 3:10). Being hewn down in God's sentence on those who justify themselves and sin without repenting, and, in accordance with this decision, once they have been cut off from the present and future life, they are sent away to dark, unquenchable hell-fire. That is why the Baptist, too, warns that after such people have been cut own, inextinguishable fire receives the, making known in this way the awfulness of God's wrath and that eternal punishment, in order to bring to their senses that insensitivity race and men like them who came later.
The Lord's Forerunner did not guide men just to the starting point of repentance, which is keeping away from evil things and profitable contrition of heart, but also sought fruits worthy of repentance (St. Matthew 3:8). What are these? Firstly confession, as practiced by those who came to him at that time. "Then they went out", it says, "and were baptized of him to Jordan, confessing their sins" (St. Matthew 3:5-6). Next, he looked for righteousness, almsgiving (charity), moderation, love, truthfulness, telling them, "Exact no more than that which is appointed you", "Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely" (St. Luke 3:13,14), and "He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none, and he that hath meat, let him do likewise" (St. Luke 3:11). "For every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low" (St. Luke 3:5). What is the hidden meaning of valleys being filled in and mountains being brought low? Exactly what the Lord says plainly, "Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (St. Luke 18:14). The Baptist also says, "The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God" (St. Luke 3:5-6). Lying, deceit and slander are crooked, and the rough paths are anger, hatred, envy, and remembrance of wrongs, all of which are made straight and level when transformed by the works of repentance. And so "all flesh", that is, every person of every nation and race who straightens and smoothes himself out through repentance, "shall see the salvation of God" (St. Luke 3:6).
"...The Spirit comes upon us and departs of His own volition, being of equal might with the Father and the Son. He stays with those who live in repentance, and even if they sin does not leave them, as we have seen from David (2 Sam. 12:1ff, cf. Psalm 51:11), but forsakes those who sin without repenting, as we have found out from Saul (cf.1 Sam. 16:14). So may we all, clinging throughout our lives to the works, words, and thoughts of repentance, have Him always dwelling within us, to give us understanding, care for us, and grant us heavenly salvation, now and forever and unto ages of ages. Amen. (Source: Saint Gregory Palamas. The Homilies)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God