Let us then make our soul a Heaven

Let us then make our soul a Heaven. The heaven is naturally bright; for not even in a storm does it become black, for it does not itself change its appearance, but the clouds run together and cover it. Heaven has the Sun; we also have the Sun of Righteousness. I said it is possible to become a Heaven; and I see that it is possible to become even better than Heaven. How? When we have the Lord of the Sun. Heaven is throughout pure and without spot; it changes not either in a storm or in the night. Neither let us then be so influenced either by tribulations or by “the wiles of the devil” ( Eph. vi. 11 ), but let us continue spotless and pure. Heaven is high and far from the earth. Let us also effect this [as regards ourselves]; let us withdraw ourselves from the earth, and exalt ourselves to that height, and remove ourselves far from the earth. Heaven is higher than the rains and the storms, and is reached by none of them. This we also can do, if we will.

 

It does appear to be, but is not really so affected. Neither then let us be affected, even if we appear to be so. For as in a storm, most men know not the beauty of [heaven,] but think that it is changed, while philosophers know that it is not affected at all, so with regard to ourselves also in afflictions; most men think that we are changed with them, and that affliction has touched our very heart, but philosophers know that it has not touched us.

 

Let us then become heaven, let us mount up to that height, and so we shall see men differing nothing from ants. I do not speak of the poor only, nor the many, but even if there be a general there, even if the emperor be there, we shall not distinguish the emperor, nor the private person. We shall not know what is gold, or what is silver, or what is silken or purple raiment: we shall see all things as if they were flies, if we be seated in that height. There is no tumult there, no disturbance, nor clamor.

 

Saint John Chrysostom: Homily XVI, on Hebrews ix. 15–18 http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf114.v.xx.html

 

I wanted to share with you part of the text I read today related to today’s epistle readings. St John always applies the scripture to our moral lives, because, as you may have heard before, IT IS ALWAYS ABOUT MORALITY.

 

Here, he gives us a revolutionary perspective. Let us be a heaven! This is thouroughly scriptural and Orthodox, and is one of the most unique features of our faith related to others who also believe in Christ. We really believe we can become a heaven. One can call this "theosis"; it is the same thing.

 

I am very much in favor of  utilizing the scriptures and writings of the fathers as a sort of "mnemonic device". Certain concepts and turns of phrase affect me more deeply than others; I am sure this is true with you too.

 

St John brilliantly asks us to consider our perspective if we were in "heaven", which we think of as high above the earth. What an idea! How insignificant everything looks when we are high above the earth! We cannot see the rich or poor, or anything which seems so important to us when we are on the earth.

 

All of the Christian life is fought, and won or lost, with the mind, and thought. As we think, so we are. The reason why we value those things which have no value is because of how we think about them. How different we would view material things, and petty arguments and annoyances if we viewed them from heaven.

 

 

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