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2013-05-19 message

posted May 22, 2013, 2:38 PM by St. John's Webmaster

In the Gospel reading for this past Thursday, we read: “the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment” (Jn. 5:28-29). We know from St. Paul that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31), so we hope for ourselves to come into that resurrection of life, rather than that of judgment. As we heard Christ, that is dependent upon “doing good.”

As Christians, the “good” is defined for us by God and His revelation. The precepts that He has revealed to us, the way that He has taught us to live, those are the good things that bring us to the resurrection of life. A brother priest whom I greatly respect once said at a retreat that there are two things that we can aim for: morality and righteousness. Morality is defined on human terms and is, therefore, changeable. We see that around us, for example, in the attempts to redefine what a human being or a family is. Righteousness is defined by God and is, therefore, unchangeable, as God is unchangeable.

Our calling is to the truth and to righteousness. This is why, while the morality around us may change, we are anchored in God’s righteousness. The good life that we are called to live, filled with doing good, is that which is in accordance with God’s righteousness. Some of this righteousness we feel instinctively, due to our creation in the image and likeness of God. Some of it is obscured by our fallenness, and it is up to us to learn what God has taught and what the Church has preserved in order to continually grow in His likeness.

Being in the Orthodox Church, we have a great blessing and a great responsibility. This is the Church of the apostles. Ours is the faith that the Lord handed down to them and which was preserved in history through the blood of the martyrs, the suffering of the confessors, and the faithful witness of countless believers. With love for Christ and respect to the sacrifices of those who have come before us, we are responsible for learning our faith – both its dogmatic principles and the principles that guide the way we live our lives. In that way and always by God’s grace, we will be able to pray for those who hate us and those who love us, to love both the righteous and sinners, to share the joy of our faith in love with those around us, and come to the resurrection of life “on the dread day of Christ our God.”

With love in the risen Christ,
+Fr. Peter