Антоний, митрополит Су́рожский

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

It is a common place from generation to generation to say that we live in a dangerous world, full of stress and full of agonies. But in our days it мая be perhaps particularly apt to say this. The world is not only full of greed and of fear as it is habitually, alas, but the dangers in it have increased to such an extent that unless we face up to our human vocation and to our vocation as Christians, we will have betrayed both the world in which we live and the God who so loved the world that He gave His Only-Begotten Son that the world might be saved. A Russian writer in the XIX century in a poem said, “Blessed is he who has entered this world at its moments of destiny.” We are at a moment of destiny, and it will depend on us whether this world becomes a foretaste of hell or moves on towards its true vocation, which is to become one day by the efforts and faith of men and by the power and grace of God the city of God, a city which is not only good enough for mankind, but which is vast enough, deep enough, and indeed holy enough for its first citizen to be Jesus Christ, God become Man, the Son of God become the Son of man. And to this we must work not only to achieve comfort, abundance or decency but to bring into this world a third dimension, not only that of time and space but that of eternity, and eternity is an other world for God’s presence – active, transfiguring, transforming, making all things to partake to the divine nature according to the promise given by St. Peter in one of his Epistles.

And to do this what is our hope, what can we do? The last words of the Epistle read a few moments ago, words of St. Paul who entered into a world of tragedy with all the strength, the passion of his great soul are addressed to us, “Be followers of me,” and in another Epistle he says, “As I am of Christ.” Aren’t these words too arrogant to be accepted? No, if we remember what he says about himself. He was a persecutor, he was alien to Christ and when he met Christ face to face, he changed in all respects, he gave his whole life to the service of Him who was the King of kings, the Lord of lords and who had chosen to become frail, vulnerable, helpless, apparently, seemingly defeated in the eyes of those who believe only in power, success and strength and who conquered both the world and death by His sacrificial and perfect love. This is what we are called to learn from Paul as he learnt it from Christ. And when earlier in this Epistle he calls us to be kings, it is to be kings in the terms in which Christ is the King. And do you know what terms these are? It is not the terms of power and domination, it is not the terms of one who is rich and allows others to be subservient to him in order like slaves or like hirelings to receive a might from his generous hand. St. John Chrysostom in one of his epistles tells us that anyone can rule but that only a king can give his life for his people because only he can identify with them to the point of dying their death that they мая share his life.

You have come to the end of your University studies. A little earlier in the Epistle St. Paul says, “What have you got, which you have not received, and if you have received all that you posses, why aren’t you aware of it?” The first thing which we must remember and not only at the moment of our graduation but throughout our lives is that all that we are and all that we have is a gift, a gift of God, of love divine and a gift of our neighbour of human love. And to love one can respond only by an active, creative and if necessary sacrificial gratitude.


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