Do Everything Through God
Sermon of the Spiritual Father of St. Elisabeth Convent
The apostle Peter was fishing all night and didn't catch anything. However, when the Savior told him to cast his net again, he obeyed and he pulled out more fish than he could carry. Such is our life: we do something, we sweat, we are nervous, we worry, and we get nothing in return. But as soon as there is God's blessing, everything assumes its rightful place.
The motto of an unbeliever's life is "you and me." That is, we want to say something, do something, help someone, change something and interact in the following way: you do me, I do you. Meanwhile, the motto of our life should be "do everything through God". That is, you should really let God into your life.
I want to say something to a person but I don't know if he will accept my message. I do not address him directly, because I do not know. I appeal to God and ask him to grant me insight and bless me, and I ask God to make me wise enough not to offend that person, but to make sure that my words are beneficial rather than detrimental. We do a lot of things without consideration. We hope that if we hit the person on the head with our words, it will help but in fact, the result is zero or even negative. Therefore, it is very important to turn to God even in the most obvious cases. He is looking on us from above and He knows the consequences. So, we should ask God to make our actions and words yield positive results. It's very important to remember that if we do it on our own, we'll be fishing all night, we'll be building something all our lives and we'll not get anything done. Everything will fall apart - both the individual and the family and everything around us, because there was no God, there was no God's blessing. This is not a theory, this is the practice of our life, where we introduce God into our lives in the most hopeless and unclear moments and ask him or his saints... That's what I often recommend when I'm told that a person can be convicted of a crime unfairly, to mention just one example. Who knows if it is fair or not? That's why I say: go to Saint Nicholas, he will intercede for you. However, you have to learn to pray to follow this advice. That's the little "but". If we don't know how to pray, we won't be able to address anyone. You and I need to change our lives before we can get down to praying. We have to change everything, and not just a little bit of our lives (as in: I started praying every day, and that's all it takes).
Of course, that's a problem, too. But it is doable. Slow and steady wins the race. You start small and end up big. However, don't leave anything small behind. If you regularly partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, then the love of God will penetrate into every heart, even the toughest one, and purify every mind, even if it is cluttered and tangled with sin. Still, one should take communion regularly. One has a period of enthusiasm when one feels invigorated and does not seem to have any problems. At times, however, you have some troubles, complications, and adverse circumstances. And it knocks you off your feet, you crawl into your shell, start imagining something that isn’t true, feeling offended, grudging, and losing your connection to God. The road to church for you becomes the way of the cross, which is very narrow and painstaking. It is a path of a soul that lacks grace – a soul that is filled with void, despair, and mistrust… Imagine a person who used to rely on someone who then betrayed him. He went on to rely on someone else but that person turned out to be insincere, too. He tried to have trust in yet another person but he was betrayed again. That person will inevitably tend to think that there isn’t anyone he can trust. But that’s wrong! I saw a person who seemed as beautiful as a love song. I trusted him and relied on him. Well, he was a wonderful human being at that time, I can vouch for it. But then suddenly, that person cheated on me… Was I wrong about him all that time? No, I wasn’t; the thing is that each of us has two different personalities living inside us. In spite of our taking communiion, sin still persists in each one of us. As soon as you touch someone else’s sore of self-esteem, as soon as you threaten someone else’s interests, as soon as you don’t pay your employee half of his or her wages, that person will immediately become bad even if he or she used to be a very gentle person. That’s our today’s love-made-in-China, love-for-sale. Now, we need it to be not for sale. Even though we got laid off, we should say, "The boss is a good man anyway." If a husband slaps his wife, she should say, "Well, I deserved it, I had it coming, I made him do it." Then they would have different relationships that are more authentic. But with us, it's like: Come on, just touch me, I'll show you, and you'll remember the lesson for the rest of your life!
Because of our bad relationships, we torment ourselves and our loved ones. It is because of the mess in our heads. It is time to grow up. We partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, and it is time to be wise. What does the Lord say to us about the way we should live? A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another (John 13:34); learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart (Matthew 11:29); In every thing give thanks (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Appreciate everything that you have and thank God for it, and you will live in paradise here, because you will be with God, and in God there are no problems or issues. God has all the answers.
There are disabled children who come to us, and they make a little noise. You know what? The Divine Liturgy without them is no longer a Liturgy. We stand in the sanctuary with Father Boris and we hear that it is suspiciously quiet and that something is missing. It is those sick children whom we miss. They are the ones who pray the most here, because they have more God's grace in them. In fact, we are much more handicapped than these children. We consider ourselves healthy, and it is silly as well. There are many other things that we have learned incorrectly from birth because the world taught us so. Now we have to re-educate ourselves. Now we have to learn to live differently. Unfortunately, we are too lazy and say, "No, I already know everything..." I don't know anything! So let's thank God.
Translated by Fyodor Vaskovsky
October 21, 2019