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Sermon: FIRST Sunday After Pentecost, All Saints – “Be Imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11)

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

 

All Saints IkonOn the first Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the memory of all Saints.

 

Who were the Saints?  – They were true Christians.

 

Jesus Christ was incarnate and the Holy Spirit descended, so as to renew human nature, so as to make men angel-like due to their spiritual perfection. The Saints proved that this Divine Plan was not in vain.

 

The Saints are witnesses before the world of the spiritual heights, to which man can be raised through faith in Christ and life in the Church. The Saints proved that life in the Church indeed leads to salvation, to holiness, to God.

 

This is not a coincidence that the Sunday of All Saints follows Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is symbolised by water in the Scripture; while earth symbolises the human nature, made of earth. The Holy Spirit as heavenly rain poured on earth, and it produced its first fruits – the Saints.  In the Kontakion of the feast, we sing “The universe offers Thee the God-bearing Martyrs as the firstfruits of creation, O Lord, and Creator”.

 

The saints were men similar to us; like all of us they experienced interior struggle of flesh and spirit, they went through temptations and even falls. They always acknowledged that they reached their spiritual heights not through their own effort but by God’s grace.

 

The Saints expose our laziness because we have received the same grace of the Holy Spirit as they, but because of our slothfulness it remains idle in us.

 

All Saints IkonThe Saints received from God many talents of Grace and multiplied it manyfold. As for us, we dug our only talent into the earth, i.e. concentrated all our attention and energy on earthly activities, which will not follow us to the future life. What do people strive for: wealth, success, wellbeing – all these have importance only in this life. And what matters in the future life is different: enduring of afflictions, bearing one’s cross, humility, chastity of the spirit and body, selfless labour for God and neighbours.

 

Not all can be such spiritual giants as the Saints, but all are called to follow them on the way of Christian life, which leads to holiness.

 

Christianity is not a theory or philosophy, but the new life in Christ. That’s why it is vital that there might be a living example of this new life. When the Apostles preached the Good Tidings, they didn’t teach only with their words but offered themselves as a living example. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11) – St Paul writes to Corinthians.

 

St Seraphim of Sarov said to one of his disciples: “Acquire the spirit of peace and thousands will be saved around you”.

 

Holiness has never ceased on earth even till recent times. But are there saints in our time? – God knows this. In any case, the light of holiness in the world has greatly diminished and the spiritual darkness increased, which is one of the signs of the last times.

 

In the epistle which was read today St Paul exhorts us:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin… and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus.” (Hebr. 12)             

Amen.