God is relational being. And we are also created in His Image and likeness so we are relational beings too. And it is important because eternal life is nothing else but a continuing relationship we build up with Christ in this life. The only difference is it will be stronger, clearer and more perfect. Otherwise there is nothing mystical about it. It is the same relationship we build now with Christ continued.
Love is the only thing worth living for and which gives a meaning to men’s life. Of course the usual kind of human love is entirely different to divine love. And it does not bear its characteristics. It is a weak shadow of it. When love is expressed on the level of the flesh, it is not even love but only the stirring of passion for another person. It deadens the soul and makes men unable to have a relationship with God and consequently with other people because it is prompted by the love of pleasure and pride. Again when it is expressed as an ideal on the intellectual and psychological level since it is still based on a weak and passionate person, it results in even greater disappointment making his spirit desolate and grievously wounded, wounding his soul. So it is even difficult to cure him. Around is we see only tragedies and broken relationships. Nevertheless, we think we will manage better. Unfortunately we are ignorant of the measure of our fall and how weak we are. We expect perfect and dynamic love from those around us who have the same passions as us. Whiles we ourselves are unable to offer this because we are all bound by strong bonds of heavy burden of sins. Our mistake is that we expect those around us that is sick and fallen creatures to fulfill our innate need for love which is something that only God can truly satisfy. We are deceived when we expect to receive from men something that God alone can give us.
He instills in us the desire for love and He only can satisfy it. We will know Him through love and become like him through love. When the winds of the temptations of the world begin to blow then even the most perfect relationships which seem to be incredibly good and strong fall apart. And all one is left with are the broken pieces which pitifully cry out how could this happen. Faded human love preserve something of the sacrificial element found in divine love. It gives itself to the end and lives in the beloved around whom all its happiness and life revolves. When however men betrays it, then love ends up empty and lost. Nothing remains of those good and strong feelings that were there and the wound is unbearable and the whole person is shaken and shattered. Life loses its meaning then in despair with life, how many times do people end up committing suicide in order to be freed from their pain. When we are confronted by the ruins of human love, we find ourselves completely broken. Then two solutions can be given. Either we turn to God with our pain so that God enters our life and renews us or we continue to be deceived by our human plans and skip from one tragedy and barrenness of soul to another hoping sometime we will find perfection. The drama continues until we come to realize that we cannot achieve this on our own. We need a third person in our relationships. Just as the priest who embrace one another in the heart of Divine Liturgy say Christ is in our midst so we should do the same in our life. God is not an intruder in our personal relationship but the One who cleanse and perfect them. He will make them secure because His great eternal love will strengthen and inspire them. This is exactly why we run to Church where the grace of God in the sacrament of marriage will sanctify the union of the men and women so that they will compliment each other with talents and work together with the perfection which will be reflected not only in their loving relationship in this life but in the eternity of the kingdom to come. The Lord said without Me, you can do nothing.
If we perceive the falseness of searching for a perfect and ideal relationship with someone and are convinced of this then we will understand, we can only fulfill our deep and innate desire for a loving relationship with God, our maker, our provider and our redeemer. Then we will begin an infinitely creative and life giving journey with God. The stronger our love of bond with God will become, the purer and stronger will be our love in any horizontal direction. This love will be healthy and powerful in the perspective of our only true love which is God Himself. And will only have value because it will be free, in other words sinless. When the passion of the flesh is active, it obscures the intellect and makes men unsuitable for spiritual progress and the acquisition of divine love. Any kind of love independent of God is ontological self-destructive. When our direct relationship with God is true and strong then all our other relationships on the horizontal level will be purer and stronger. We must enter the contest of our own free will and offer a sacrifice, if we wish our relationship with God and our fellows to be successful.
If we understand that in our present state, we are unable to fulfill our boundless desire for love then maybe we will be more humble and discreet in the love we expect in our human relationships. If we become aware of men’s poverty and wretchedness but also the greatness of God’s merciful love, we will acquire compassion and forgiveness. We will be purified of our selfishness and treat others with respect and freedom. We will accept them as they are without wishing to make them perfect according to our way of thinking and we will not make demands on them neither seek to dominate them. When we make contact with God then the broken pieces of our former life is restored. Our heart is freed from the burden of the past. So we can love God and His fellows once again. We are no longer scared of being vulnerable and do not fence ourselves around walls for protection. Because from now on we do not trust in men but in Him who can raise the dead.
If however, we do not have true love in our life inspired by relationship in God then we will not be able to escape one of this two classic temptations. If we happen to be psychologically stronger, we shall do anything we can to dominate our fellow and take advantage of him. But if we are weaker psychologically, then we will become the victim of the passion of ambition in others. A relationship under such conditions is unhappy and graceless. It is in fact slavery.
When we come to know God in our relationship with him, we are imitated to the mystery of the person of the human hypothesis made in the image and likeness of God. Then we will be able to meet every other person with fear, respect and humble love with the knowledge that in God’s eyes every human soul is more precious than all the world. Gradually, we will also learn to love others without being selfish and without limits. And in this way we maintain our personal freedom so as to continue our discipleship at the cross of Christ, which is the most wonderful and beneficial thing in our life. In this relationship putting Christ first as the other par excellent we will find our true identity because when we are with Him we can lose and find our life again confident that we are safe. We find confirmation of all the dimensions in Gods revelation.
In chapter 32 of Genesis the strange and amazing battle between God and Jacob is described. While following the suggestion of his mother Jacob robbed Esau the first born blessing taking it from his father Issac. Even though Rebecca expressed the will of God at that moment for it is written Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated. Nevertheless Jacob was obliged to go into exile in order to escape Esau’s fury in his desire to destroy him. Jacob went into the wilderness where he suffered for many years working very hard for his Father in law, Laban’s household. Yet God was with him and He blessed all his undertaking richly. As time pass, Jacob started to go weary. Then God commanded him to return to his Father’s home. He was in a terrible dilemma. If he stayed in the wilderness, he would not last. But if he returned, he feared the threat of death he faced from Esau, his beastly brother. Then Jacob separated himself and stood all night in prayer before God. At the day break, he felt the presence of someone strong and continued his prayer, saying I will not let you go, unless you bless me. God then spoke to Jacob and said because you have been strong against God, you shall prevail against men. The following day sealed by God’s blessing Jacob went out to meet Esau. Instead of killing him, Esau fell on Jacob’s neck and wept. Their love for one another was restored. God’s blessing on Jacob was so powerful that he entered his brother’s presence as if it were the presence of God. He says he saw Jacob as an angel of God. He saw Esau as an angel because he is enlightened by grace. We can see therefore that if we make that supernatural contact with our relationship with God then all our meeting with people will be overshadowed by this divine blessing.
When we follow the Lord, we have only one care to please Him and thank Him in all we do. But we must first establish a true relationship. We must cultivate the humility of a Publican and the determined repentance of the prodigal son. Each men’s relationship with God is unique. God has created each man in such a way that his particular relationship with his creator will fulfill and perfect him. He must therefore make it his mission and purpose to build a strong relationship with Christ and to be in constant dialog with Him. All our human relationships will derive strength from this relationship with God. And will begin to see every element of the created world in the light of this relationship. And if we make i our concern to improve our relationship with Him, deep repentance will spring forth within us. And the more we grow in Christ, the more clearly we will know our poverty and our inspiration will always be renewed.
We will fear nothing because nothing will be able to separate us from His love. In the world to come, we will continue the relationship with our Savior which we have built up in this life. We will be judged according to our love, according to each word of Christ contained in the Gospel. Just as He asked Peter after His resurrection, Do you love me? So in the age to come, He will ask each one of us, the same question. And you, do you love me? And we too will reply, Yeah Lord, you know I love You. But the strength and boldness of our reply will depend entirely on the depth of our relationship with the person of Christ. Whatever attitude we adopt in this life, will continue beyond the grave. This is clear from the Gospel account of the judgment of the righteous who uttered the humble thought which nourished their repentance, Lord when did we do anything good upon earth to You be glory to us the shame. That is the attitude of the righteous on the day of judgement because that is the attitude they cultivated in this life and continue to the next. We must learn the humility of this attitude now and then we will be able to live eternally with the Lord. Arrogance and self justification has no place in Him. But they too can accompany us into eternity and towards eternal separation from Him as the sinners continue self-justification in the day of judgement.
For us paradise is Christ and Saint Silohan said if all men would repent and keep God’s commandments, there would be paradise on earth. For the kingdom of heaven is within us. The kingdom of heaven is the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is the same on earth and Heaven. Paradise begins on earth through love for God and through love for our brothers. In this lies the entire worth of eternal life for men has been created to give eternal glory to God. His delight is to return this glory to His image. Men who then returns greater glory to His creator and so we enter into this endless glorification and love, the divine increase of which men’s true fulfillment. His calling is to become the very likeness of God.
The central idea is the words of the Lord to Jacob. Thou has been strong with me and thou will be strong with men. It is the only way for us. In our times, the dynamics of sin and the passions are growing stronger and stronger. So we must also develop something which is also expressed in the book of revelation. In the last times, let those who are sinners, sin still says the Book of revelation. And let those who are Holy, become Holy still.
Archim. Zacharias Zacharou