All Saints for January 16


Nothing breaks human pride so well as the habit of obedience to one's elders. In ancient Sparta, obedience was regarded as a great virtue. A tale is told of a Spartan soldier in battle, hurrying to engage the enemy. Just as he drew his sword to cut down his adver- sary, the trumpet sounded for the end of the battle and he re- sheathed his sword. When someone who had seen this asked him why he had not run the enemy through, he replied: `It is better to obey the commander than to kill the enemy.' Christian obedience is different from this Spartan obedience in that it is voluntary and has as its goal the salvation of the soul; that is, it exists not in order to safeguard an earthly kingdom but for the attaining of the Kingdom of heaven. St John the Dwarf began his ascetic life with an elder in the Thebaid. The elder, in order to teach his disciple obedience, planted a dead tree in the earth and told him to water it every day. John watered the dead wood assiduously for three years, and then it suddenly turned green and bore fruit. This is the fruit of willing obedience. The Lord Himself was obedient to death on the Cross (Phil. 2:8).


Let me ponder on the peace of the Lord Jesus, on: 1. The peace He bore in His soul-the only perfect Peace-bearer. 2. The peace He made among men-the only perfect Peacemaker. 3. The peace He gave to His disciples-the only perfect Peace-giver.


- on how we are free only in being servants of Christ.

"He that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman; likewise he also that is called, being free, is Christ's servant" (I Cor. 7:22).

The great tidings which Christianity proclaims daily to the world is that nothing is assessed at its face value, but by its essence; that things are not assessed by their colour and shape but by their mean-ing; that a man is not assessed by his status and possessions, but by his heart, in which arc united his feelings, his mind and his will. According to this view, which is always a new lesson to the world, he is not a slave who is externally in slavery, nor is he a freeman who has external, physical freedom. According to worldly understanding, a slave is one who has less pleasure in the world and a freeman is one who has more. According to Christian understand-ing, a slave is one who has less joy in the living Christ and a freeman is one who has more. And further, according to worldly understand-ing, a slave is one who does less his own will than that of another, and a freeman is one who does more his own will and less that of another. However, according to Christian understanding, a slave is one who does more his own will and less the will of God, while a freeman is one who does more the will of God and less his own will. To be a servant of God is the only true and worthy freedom of man, and to be enslaved to the world and to self, sin and vice is the only real, death-dealing slavery. Take kings on their thrones; a man might wonder if there are any people on earth more free than these. However, many kings were the lowest and most unworthy slaves of the earth. Take Christians in prison; a man might, again, wonder if there are any poorer slaves on earth. However, Christian martyrs in prison felt themselves to be free men and, being filled with spiritual joy, sang psalms and raised prayers of thanksgiving to God. Free-dom linked with sadness and sorrow is not freedom but slavery. Freedom in Christ is linked solely with inexpressible joy. And joy is the enduring mark of true freedom.

O Lord Jesus, the only Lord of grace, who givest us freedom as Thou linkest us more and more strongly with Thyself; hasten to make us Thy slaves, that we may no more be the slaves of wrathful and merciless masters. 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.
Please see our calendar for conversion between old and new calendar dates.


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