This life is a test. God, in His wisdom has willed that we be born into this world that has the plagues of sin and death. Just as we learned the reason why the blind man that was healed by our Lord was born that way; we too are born spiritually blind so that the works of God can be made manifest in us. Only by not having that which we easily threw away, will we be able to appreciate and never again forsake. Being born in death and darkness, our Lord has shown us the Light and has breathed Life into us through the Church and Her Saints. But unfortunately, we prefer the darkness and prefer death with her pleasures than Life with her commandments.
Thanks be to God, God is patient with us and slowly we continue to be enlightened and to let go of the deception that Satan has instilled in us. Our life is a steady progress toward humility and full dependence on God and letting go of our ego and self-reliance. And we see in today’s Gospel reading the goal toward which we are aiming. At the final judgment we will either be confessed by our Lord Jesus to the Father, or we will be denied by Him. Will we have our spiritual eyes open then and confess God as our only means of Life and view all other things that contradict that view as something to be detested, whether it come from a friend or foe?
We would never take seriously someone who insisted that we do not need oxygen to live and asked us to enter into a place void of oxygen. We know better; we know that only by breathing are we able to live. Likewise, we should never deny Christ as our God and should clearly confess Him as our source of Life. Saint Gregory Palamas said the following about the great superiority of God’s recompense to those who confessed Him: "Each saint, as a servant of God, boldly acknowledged Him in this fleeting life before mortal men, though actually just for a brief period of this present age and in front of only a few. By contrast, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is God and Lord of heaven and earth, will speak openly on their behalf in that eternal, never-ending world before God the Father, surrounded by angels, archangels and all the heavenly host, and in the presence of all mankind from Adam onwards. For all will rise and appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Then, before everyone and in the sight of all, He will proclaim, glorify and crown those who demonstrated their faith in Him to the end." And in case we misunderstand the call to love God more than our family as some kind of command to hate them for no reason, our Lord makes clear that we are to also put the love of God above our love for ourselves saying, “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” The message is clear that anything contrary to God is to be rejected and that only by enduring the persecution that comes with following Christ are we worthy of Him confessing us before His Father. As we celebrate the numerous Saints, many of which we don’t even know of because of their humble manner of lives, may we show them the greatest honor “by imitating them and purifying ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, and hastening towards holiness through abstaining from all evils.” (St. Gregory Palamas) Liturgically we have just gone through the Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord, and His sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Now the Church shows us the many fruits that have been harvested for eternal life by the coming of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. As St. Nikolai Velimirovich describes them, “They are alive and powerful, and close to God. And they are also close to us. They constantly observe the life of God’s Church on earth; they vigilantly accompany us from our birth to our death; they hear our pleas, know our troubles and help us with their strength and their prayers, which, like the smoke from incense, rise through the angelic heights to the throne of God.”