Although we shall be having our own service on Sunday, here is Bishop Vsevolod’s homily – mine will be different!
Come to Me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Mt 11:28)
This is one of the most famous verses in the Bible. Here the Lord comes to us and calls us to Himself: come!
Can you imagine? But does everyone want to come? It is not only about unbelievers. Many baptized people have things to do besides the Church, and these activities are often more important for us than God’s invitation. Maybe we need to work, or maybe to have some rest after work and get strength before the new work week. We are intelligent people; we understand that the most important thing in this life the work is, and that everything depends on it. It depends on work what we will eat, and whether we will eat at all. We were told that, “first the material basis, then the spiritual superstructure.” And so the Church is such “superstructure” serving our sometimes worrying conscience and our fears.
But Jesus said, “come!” And so I (sorry for my naivety) could never understand why don’t those who call themselves as Christians come to receive communion? Why do many ignore God’s invitation?
I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants. (Mt 11:25)
Christianity is still a minority religion, hidden from the “wise and intelligent.” What does it mean? This means that humans always pass the words of Christ through the “filter” of their brain.
That was probably always the case, and in our time nothing has changed. Many of our neighbors consider themselves too “wise and intelligent” to believe in primitive things priests tell them.
To be baptized, to come to church and to receive Holy Communion — what could be easier? But this simplicity is becoming a temptation for many people. Someone is looking for some “secret” meaning in the words of Christ, someone is establishing “communication sessions” with the “absolute” and the “cosmos.”
“Why do I need your church? Each person is divine by himself,” — recently I was told by an intelligent lady who claimed she receives energy from “cosmos.” People clog their brains with such nonsense, because this (oddly enough it sounds) elevates a human being. It is nice to think that you are “something.”
“Wise and the intelligent” people always prefer to believe in stuff that flatter their conceit more than in truth. Why? Yes, because when you believe in all this, you do not need to repent. No need to humble yourself, no need to consider yourself a sinner. This helps a person, as one Soviet poet used to say, “to sound proudly.” It flatters our sinful nature.
Our sinful nature likes lengthy, meaningless reasoning about religion and mysticism. And the words that all these priests mutter boringly are all so simple, so primitive, so childish…
I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and rational, and have revealed them to infants. (Mt 11:25)
So the Gospel remains hidden from all these “wise” people. But this does not mean that God does not want to save them. But the Gospel message is such that it cannot be heard by proud people who trust in their minds. And therefore, although they have ears, they do not hear.
The Lord calls us to become like infants. Have you noticed that He constantly gives small children to us as an example? Those of you who had (or, have) infants will understand Him because they know how much small children depend on their parents. All that children have: food, clothing, shelter, warmth, affection and care, all this they have only because of love of their parents. And our children respond to our love with theirs. They do not always give us pleasant emotions, often it is difficult with them, they can prevent us from sleeping at night and they do not listen to us during the day, but not a single one of their misdeeds can destroy our parental love.
And so God relates to us. Nothing can destroy His love for us. Not one of our sins can force God to abandon His love for us. And even if we leave Him, as the prodigal son left his father (see Lk 15:11-24), God will always wait for us and will run towards us. (Actually, He already ran, as He came to us in Jesus Christ).
But it is better not to leave God, it is better to always be with Christ — that means, in the Church, where He speaks the word to us through His priests and feeds us with the Eucharist. And this is not just “better,” but it is the only way to be saved, because just as a infant cannot survive without the care of his parents, so a person dies without God.
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. (Mt 11:30)
Jesus doesn’t want us to be wandering in the dark. His yoke and His burden are His divinity which He uses to save us. Time is on our side, and we have the opportunity to be saved, and the Lord reaches us and calls to His Church, where near the altar we will find the very rest that will never end. Here He gives us eternal life and leads us into the Kingdom of God.