Receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved…

Today’s reading from St. Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews[1] is a beautiful exposition of how we, as disciples of Christ, should live our lives. Why is the reading read on this particular day, the day on which we celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection of Lazarus? I think that the key is in the first words of the appointed selection: "we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved…." Truly, our kingdom cannot be moved, since our King is the "Vanquisher of death," as we sing in the troparion for the day:

In confirming the common resurrection, O Christ God,

Thou didst raise up Lazarus from the dead before Thy Passion,

Wherefore, we also, like the children,

bearing the symbols of victory,

cry to The, the Vanquisher of death,

Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!

Our Lord rose the dead on three occasions during his earthly ministry [2]. On one ocassion, he rose the daughter of Jairus, who had only recently died and who still lay on her sickbed in her parents’ home [3]. On another ocassion, he rose the son of the widow of Nain, who was already being carried to burial [4]. Finally, he raises his friend Lazarus, who has already lain in the tomb for four days – long enough for his body to begin to decay [5]. This latter incident is the subject of today’s celebration. We remember it now because it took place shortly before the Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. But it is significant to remember this event now for another reason as well; it shows us clearly that Christ is the victor over death, and thereby foreshadows Christ’s own resurrection, which we will celebrate in just over a week.

Christ, having conquered death, "the last enemy to be destroyed" [6], is truly the master of all. We, then, being his followers and disciples, can have nothing to fear from anybody, so long as we remain true to Him. It is in this way that His words, "Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?,"[7] acquire their power, for He is truly able to provide all things. Even if we should be given over to death for following Him, He has the power to raise us from the dead.

We, then, can confidently and without being worried by "what-ifs", give ourselves entirely to living in the manner that God has directed, having as our only goal the perfection of His image in our souls. Setting aside our worries, we can "have grace, that we may serve God acceptably." We can zealously pursue brotherly love, hospitality, charity toward those in bonds, purity of body and soul, contentment and submission.

[1] Hebrews 12:28-13:8: 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire. 1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. 4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. 5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. 7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. 8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

[2] Archbishop Andrie of Rockland NY, of blessed memory, points this out in a sermon for the day, which is available here:

http://www.holytrinitymission.org/books/english/sermons_archbishop_andrei.htm

http://www.holytrinitymission.org/books/russian/sermons_archbishop_andrey.htm

[3] Luke 8:40-56

[4] Luke 7:11-16

[5] John 11:1-45

[6] 1 Cor 15:26

[7] Matthew 6:31

 

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One Response to “Receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved…”

  1. Father, bless,

    The personality of St Lazarus itself has always been inspiring to me. He is one of my favourite saints. This episode of the Resurrection of Lazarus is one of the most deeply taken by me. And St Lazarus always seemed to me the one whom our Lord wishes us to be. He found refuge & comfort in St Lazarus hospitable house, where he & his saint sisters lived in humility, purity, everything seemed so casual & simple. And when I noticed your phrase that Christian life is simple, I projected it on St Lazarus family immediately. That was a SIMPLE Christian life. It was the place & those were the people when & with whom our Lord could have a little rest from His hard labour. St Lazarus is called (not now, but was called very ling ago, and these words were written on his tomb) – friend of Christ. So simple, and so high simultaneously! But no wonder – this is what God calls us for, and in the Gospel He calls Apostles His friends. And when we think of it, it is not impossible. As the life of St Lazarus shows us that it is achievable, possible, real. And shows us the way it can be achieved. What we should do – better say, what we should BE so that our Lord would wish to visit our house, to stay with us. When we pray or do something, and do not feel inner response that God hears us, and feel chill & emptiness in our soul instead, I think we’d better think – why is it so? Maybe the matter is that something essential is missing – preventing God from visiting us, feeling our heart with His blessing. It’s impossible to fill a glass with the pure water if it is filled with our dim dirty water we are not quick to pour out…How can we comfort our God if we do not tend to live in purity & humility, trying to follow the example of St Lazarus? As not heroic actions, not effective deeds or sacrifice can propitiate God, but love, humble heart – as our Lord Himself tells us. These are the keys to open the door of our souls so that He can enter there & find comfort.

    In Christ,

    Natalia

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