The Holy Unmercenaries and W onderworkers Cyrus and John (January 31)
The Holy Martyr Tryphaena (January 31)
Our Holy Father Nikita of the Kiev Caves (January 31)
Although the holy fathers praised monasticism as the angelic state, and although many of the greatest saints spent their lives and achieved perfection in the silent and lifeless desert, nevertheless the Orthodox Church does not recommend monasticism to all the faith-ful. `Neither will all those in the desert be saved, nor all those in the world be lost', said one saint. To one city-dweller who, without any inclination to monasticism, had made up his mind to go to a monas-tery, St Niphon said: `My son, a man is neither saved nor lost by the place he is in, but is saved or lost by his deeds. Neither a holy place nor a holy state is of use to him who does not fulfil the command-ments of the Lord. Saul lived in regal luxury and perished. David lived in like luxury and received the wreath. Lot lived among the lawless Sodomites and was saved. Judas was among the apostles and went to hell. Whoever says that it is impossible to be saved with a wife and children is a deceiver. Abraham had a wife and children and three hundred and eighteen servants, and also much gold and silver, and he was called the friend of God! Many servants of the Church have been saved, and many lovers of the desert; many aris-tocrats, and many soldiers; many craftsmen, and many farm labour-ers. Be devout towards God and loving towards men, and you will be saved.'
Let me ponder on the Lord Jesus as a householder in His own house: 1. How He walks about this world as one who has power to command nature and drive out demons. 2. How He is concerned for each man whom He encounters, as a householder with each member of his household. 3. How He behaves in the Temple like a householder in his home, cleansing the Temple of the merchants.
-against half-measures and on performing the whole will of God.
`This ought ye to have done, and not left the other undone' (Lk. 11:42).
Here the Law and mercy are under consideration. These two do not stand together in the souls of the Scribes and Pharisees. By this I mean that they were not able to fulfil all the ordinances of the Law and also be merciful, but, squabbling over which is the more impor-tant of these two, they missed the one and held to the other. The Pharisees kept the form of the ordinances of the Law with great strictness, but they utterly ignored mercy and love for men. Sectists, they flattered themselves that they held to the justice of God, but they totally rejected the ordinances of the laws of the Church.
Orthodoxy presents the fullness of the Faith. It commands that we do the one without leaving the other undone. It is careful to observe the external ordinance of the Faith, as a man surrounded by clay pots takes care not to smash them. But it is even more careful to fulfil the justice and mercy of God, as a man surrounded by clay pots is careful of them and keeps them safe, not because of clay of which they are made but for their precious contents. Empty vessels, that are never filled with any drink, are as worthless as the empty, legal formalism of the Pharisees. Drink that is carelessly spilled is wasted and lost, for it is not poured into the vessels intended for it. And thus there is in Orthodoxy no one-sidedness, as there was not in the Lord Jesus. The Lord says to John the Baptist, who breathes the justice and mercy of God, that it is necessary to fulfil the Law; but to the Pharisees, empty quoters of chapter and verse without justice or God's mercy, He says: `I desire mercy and not sac-rifice!' It is obvious that that which must be done is more important than that which must not be left undone. But it does not meanthat that which is less important is unnecessary. In the human organism, there are a great many important organs and a great many that are less important, but all these together constitute a man's body.
O all-embracing Lord, let us not be one-sided, but help us to fulfil all Thy will. To Thee be glory and praise for ever. Amen.
* From "The Prologue from Ochrid", by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic - Lazarica Press - Birmingham 1985
Four Book Edition - Translated by Mother Maria - Dates based on old church calendar.
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