In the name of the Father,
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today is the second Sunday after Pentecost, and on this day in the various
local churches we celebrate the saints that are particularly dear to that
church, for instance, the Saints of Russia for the Russian church, or Greece in
the Greek Church et cetera.
The readings today all have a common thread, and you must to be careful to see
it. To be a saint -- is to not be ordinary. If you are like the rest of
the world, youíre not going to be a saint. In fact, if youíre like the rest of
the world, you wonít be a Christian. That is the thread that goes through all
of these readings, every single one.
Now, the reading for this Sunday is the Gospel is where Jesus is calling his
disciples for the first time. He says to them,
ďFollow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.Ē
And so now we have the
Gospel about the beatitudes for all the saints of Russia. If you really
summarize the saints, what reading can do that? I suppose the reading of the
beatitudes, the ones who perfectly fulfilled these beatitudes.
There is something very important that begins this reading. There are
multitudes following Christ. And the disciples followed Christ. And the
multitudes were so numerous that the Lord went up onto a mountain, and the
multitudes didnít follow Him. But the disciples did. And He sat down and He
began to teach them. †Thereís following and thereís following. Thereís loving
and thereís real loving. Thereís saying we are Christians and thereís being a
The multitudes in anything, in any group of people, will not be completely
sincere. I donít care where you go, what you do. Most of the people that are
practicing for football donít really want to work that hard. Most of the people
that say they are Christian donít really want to follow the Commandments with
that much effort.
Where the multitudes are,
is apathy and neglect.
And there is interest. The
multitudes followed Christ because He was interesting. He said amazing things.
And they listened to Him but when He wanted to say the really sublime truths of
Christianity where He expounded, on the inner meaning of the Commandments, in the
Sermon on the Mount, He only spoke to a select few who followed Him.
Everybody followed but
some followed more than others. And this is the lesson that we should know.
Do we call ourselves Christians? All right. How much are we like other people?
When people hurt us, do we
get angry? That doesnít sound any different than the rest of the world. When we
are in a predicament, do we lie, make it easier for ourselves? That sounds just
like everybody else. Are we self-centered? I donít see a difference. Do you?
To follow Christ is to do what He did. So just because thereís a bunch of
people walking in a group, doesnít mean everybody is going in the same
direction. Christianity is the things that happen that are difficult. Oh, itís
easy to be part of the crowd and to love the Lord. Itís easy to come to the
church on feast days. Itís easy to have swellings of emotions at various times,
but you know whatís really hard is to every day live according to the Gospel,
even when itís difficult.
The disciples had no idea what they were getting into when they followed Christ
at the beginning. There was something about Him that was different so they
followed Him. What He was going to do was teach them about themselves, the ugly
truth, the ugly reality, and also at the same time teach them about Himself.
And within them, with struggle, with difficulty, with fear, with hunger, with
all the rest that happened to them in those three years, they would learn of
the truth, and desire the truth above all things.
They didnít learn these
truths in the midst of crowds. They learned them alone with the Lord. They
learned them when they went through their own personal difficulties. So it is
So much of Christianity
today, what passes for Christianity is pablum. Even within the Orthodox faith.
Now, thereís all kinds of
ecclesiastical politicking right now about who gets what piece of what pie.
This has nothing to do with Christianity. It has to do with I have more numbers
than you or all kinds of ridiculous things.
Being a Christian is to
follow Christ, no matter what.
Being a Christian is to be
different than everyone else.
So if you donít think
youíre much different than the person that you work next to or other people
that you know or your neighbors, then you best change. Because if youíre the
same as everybody else, if you have the same opinions, same way of life, same
priorities, then youíre not really following Christ no matter what you say. And
you cannot hear the sublime truths of God.
When Jesus was speaking to the disciples, He was on a mountain. They were
around Him. His voice would carry. Possibly He even spoke very loud so that
others could hear. But how well are you going to hear someone if youíre far
away from them? Especially when there is† crowd noise, and things going on.
Youíre not going to hear the message. The only way to hear the message is to
follow and to be close.
Now, how do we do this?
Heís not walking on the
earth anymore and going onto mountains, so this is not the way we follow Him.
We follow Him through prayer, fasting, having the right priorities. Not just on
Sunday but every day.
When you wake up in the
morning, your first priority, really the only priority you should have that
day, is to be a better Christian, to learn something of God and to do it. It
should be all that matters. It doesnít matter about the meeting you have that
morning or about the potential for profit in this or that or that youíre tired
or that youíre busy or anything else. None of it matters, because itís all
going to go away.
The only thing thatís going to stay is the person you become. Thatís it.
Nothing else matters. All that matters is who you become. The world doesnít
know that, but the Christians do. So to follow Christ means to not be like the
Investigate yourself. See how much youíre like the world. To the extent you
are, to that extent youíre not a Christian. Iím not talking about sins now.
Christians are sinners just like non-Christians. We all struggle with various
weaknesses. Iím not talking about that. Iím talking about the way you live your
life. If you go day-by-day-by-day and hardly ever pray, can you say youíre a
Christian? If you go day-by-day-by-day and rarely go to church, if you go
day-by-day-by-day and really donít think of spiritual things, are you following
Christ? You have to answer that question.
Remember that the multitudes didnít hear the sublime wisdom of the Lord. Only
those that were seated by His feet. Only those that were close to Him. Being
close to Him means that you follow Him under every circumstance, not just the
easy ones. May God help us to follow Him. Amen.
Transcribed by the hand of Helen.