St Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church
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Weekly Message 06-06-10: Second Sunday After Pentecost

Second Sunday After Pentecost

Regional All Saints Commemoration

It is an enlightening truth when we discover that real life comes only when we count everything as secondary, even tertiary, to serving God. Unfortunately, many persons live all their lives without knowing that precious truth. The local, regional saints whom we honor and remember certainly knew the grace heaven offered them was to be immediately appropriated and invested, living and proclaiming God's will be done in every circumstance of living.

There are others who discover it when life collapses and they do not know where else to turn but God. Some are driven to recognition of this truth when ill for protracted periods. After all, lying on their backs, recovering from illness, they have no where else to look but to heaven above, the throne of our Lord, our God and Creator whom circumstances finally force them to confront and encounter in all his loving and magnanimous mercy.

A famous persons who was in a recent plane crash said that now he looks at all of life in a different manner, having discovered life is more than fame and money and influential power. It is making one's life count for something by serving God and one's fellow human beings. This was the motivation of all of the local American saints, canonized in recent years as the Church matures and recognizes the inspiring work of the Holy Spirit among us.

How many times have we known someone or read about someone who went through a terrible illness or some other crisis and came out a much different and better person? It has happened in our circumstances as well. A woman who was overwhelmed by the continually repeated conditions of her life wrote in desperation initially to her former parish priest. Writing about all she learned from the pain of her experiences, she admitted, "Now I am closer to where you are." She finally was placed in continuing circumstances which proved the value of a spiritual life, the importance of putting God and the Kingdom of God first in one's life.

It was genuine faith which inspired all the souls recognized by the Church in manifesting their inspired wisdom of life. After all, very practically, when everything else fails, who else is there to truly count on but our heavenly Father? Who else understands? Who else is always with us to show the way, to accompany us along the hard trials of life?

Those who work with people rather than with things soon learn that those who have life tumble in on them are usually more open to the mysterious workings of the Spirit and more willing to serve heaven's inspiration.

As we honor and remember the virtue of saintly life, we can think of souls, currently being shaped into sanctity by God's grace like the woman whose husband stealthily left in the middle of the night with their only child, a son. He picked up another woman and they made their way to a distant state. It was fifteen years before they were located and the child was never returned to his mother. What did all this do for her? At first it devastated her as we might expect. She went through mental and physical illness, sheer hell. But she also learned to trust God more, to put God at the very center of her daily living. She no longer existed; because she began to live. In time she became one of the most loving, thoughtful and helpful persons one might ever hope to meet. She lost her former self in service to God and others. And in losing herself for God's sake, she found new life, new strength, new purpose, finding fulfillment and happiness through the succeeding years because Christ became necessarily paramount in her discipleship.

Like Christ who continually described himself as initially a loser so that He might become a winner, the saints of the Church lost as much of the value of the world as grace permitted that they assumed the virtue necessary to identify them with heavenly citizenship. After the robust Peter identifies him as the Christ, Jesus says He will undergo suffering, rejection and then be killed, becoming by worldly standards, the ultimate loser. But our heavenly Father raises him from the dead and He would become the ultimate winner for all mankind. Christ is total victor over sin and death!

It is for this reason our blessed Church celebrates this feast day, to remind us that our circumstances, in our American condition, forcefully have full assurance that in losing our lives for the cause of our heavenly Father is the most certain way to become winners ourselves. In God's economy, in God's scheme of things, no one who gives their life for the cause of Christ will ever be a loser, but always emerge a winner, rewarded with glorification of sainthood.

Today as we celebrate the inspiration of this feast, we permit to roll around in our brain, in the depth of our soul the truth that he is no fool who invests what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. That ultimately is another way of saying what our Lord continually taught about losing our lives to gain real life. Ultimately, what can we keep? Not our money, not our material goods, not the time spent profligately doing foolish things. We can only keep what we have won by losing our lives for the sake of Christ: our inner peace, our assurance of salvation, our identifiable friendship with the Lord of heaven manifested boldly in our Eucharistic life, our good name listed among the servants of our God.

Today's feast stands in contrast to the lost values of the world. It shouts vociferously above the engaging noise and din of our pagan civilization that the dedicated Christian is not a fool because he invests in eternity what he cannot keep anyway: his life, his time, his talents, his treasure, to gain what he knows by God's grace he cannot lose: abundant life here and now and eternal life in heavenly mansions, joining the growing number of saints who live and reign with Christ, the ultimate Victor who assures us of eternal triumph with the saints.

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