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2013-05-12 message

posted May 22, 2013, 2:36 PM by St. John's Webmaster

The apostles make for interesting observation if we pay attention to their behavior and reactions. We get glimpses within the Gospels and epistles of their personalities. We have seen Peter being impetuous and denying Christ. We have seen James and John try to get ahead of the other disciples and earn their temporary animosity in the process. And today we see Thomas earning himself the moniker of ‘doubting.’ These were the people who were closest to Christ. They are people who spread the Gospel throughout the world. And yet, we do not try to ‘air-brush’ their faults away. We confess that there is only one perfect man, the One Who is also perfect God.

Their imperfections, however, did not stop the disciples from becoming saints; from being among the most revered and beloved saints of the Church. One message that we can validly extract from this is that the kingdom is open to all. By God’s grace, our shortcomings do not have to define who we are as human beings; rather, we are to be defined by our likeness, our closeness to God.

This week at Bible study we were discussing the difficulties that present themselves to those who try to live a Christian life. It is true – there are many obstacles and many distractions that prevent us from focusing on “the one thing needful.” Yet it is worth bearing in mind the words of St. Symeon the New Theologian, who was facing similar thoughts about the difficulties that the people of his time encountered. Almost a thousand years ago, he said, “But the people of whom I speak and whom I call heretics are those who say that there is no one in our times and in our midst who is able to keep the gospel commandments and become like the holy fathers. […] Those who make this claim subvert all the divine Scriptures. I think that by making this claim this vain person states that the holy gospel is now recited in vain, that the writings of Basil the Great and of our other priests and holy fathers are irrelevant or have even been frivolously written. […] Those who make these claims shut up the heaven that Christ opened for us and cut off the way to it that he inaugurated for us. God who is above all stands, as it were, at the gate of heaven and peers out of it so that the faithful see him. Through his holy gospel God cries out and says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Discourse 29.4).

Let us keep faith in the Lord, in His promises, let us believe and strive to become saints, by the prayers of St. Thomas and all the apostles.

With love in the risen Christ,
+Fr. Peter