митрополит Антоний Су́рожский (Блум)

13 September 1981, Children of the Kingdom of God

In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

To be children of the Kingdom of God is not a condition which we can acquire once and for all without ever running the risk of losing it. Born according to the flesh into a family, into a nation, we belong to it; but born into the fellowship of the Church we remain part of it only as long as, and to the extend to which we belong to its spirit and bear the fruits of this, our belonging.

More than once does Christ give a warning to the people of Israel; today He says that unless they bear fruits, the Kingdom will be given to another nation who will do so. And in another passage of the Gospel where the Jews were saying, «Aren't we all the children of Abraham?» the Lord says, «Don't pride yourselves in that because God can make of these very stones children of Abraham.»

And indeed what could be more unexpected, more contrary to all that the people of Israel imagined to be possible, than the fact that the promise extended of a sudden to all the heathens, all the pagans of the world and engulfed them into this wonderful mystery of the Kingdom? These people knew not the One and true God; these people worshipped a variety of gods, these people lived in ways that were abhorrent to God and to the law of the Kingdom; and yet, when they were confronted with the glory and the mercy of God, with the Lord come into the world, humble and giving Himself for the salvation of all, they responded, and the Kingdom like a fire extended to all the world.

All of us belong, are called to belong to this Kingdom; all of us have become members of the Church of God through baptism, have been sealed as precious vessels of the Holy Spirit; all of us are called to be worthy children of our Father and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven.

And yet, this can be lost if we do not bear the fruits of our calling. Once they are given and received, we will be answerable for the way in which we have borne fruit or not of the message of life, the message of love, the message of holiness which is proclaimed in the Gospel.

And so, let us not go slack, let us not imagine that because we once saw the light, because once upon a time we chose for God, because once upon a time we entered with elation, with joy, with faith and hope into the mystery of the Kingdom we are safe and can slumber. The awakening may be frightening; we may discover at the end, or towards the end of our life, that we have slept through this life and that we are awaking too late, too late to rejoice, too late to serve the Lord, too late to have the joy of responding to His love by our active love.

I remember a priest to whom someone was saying that old age was making him free from so many temptations, answering him, «Don't you realise how sad that is? You will be free, yes, but you will also be deprived of the joy and honour of having fought for God's sake and won a victory for Him.» We should all remember this. We are all placed in this world to bear fruit; the seed that was sown in us, by the words, the sacraments, in prayer, in all many and many mysterious ways in which God touches our souls, must bear fruit and we must be like faithful husbandsmen who work to make the harvest rich.

May God give us faithfulness of heart, fortitude and inspiration to be children of the Kingdom not only because we once entered into the precincts of God but because we have ourselves become true members, true limbs of the body of Christ, truly temples of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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