“Our Life Is War!”

Fr. Valery Zakharov

The Gospel helps us to rediscover one or another side of our lives every time we read it. It reminds us of how we live.

For instance, we can claim that it was typical of the Pharisees to obey the commandments and nothing more than that but in fact, we are even worse than them because we don’t obey commandments. We trespass them all the time. God’s love defeats our sin, though. We attend the Liturgy, and the Lord gives himself to us, in spite of the fact that we don’t follow even those rules that we should be guided by. We make attempts at doing so, and sometimes they are successful. However, stability is the most valuable asset of one’s faith but also the most difficult one to achieve. It is hard to turn down the sin once and forever.

Paradoxically, other people’s sins are more open and visible to us, and that’s where our pharisaism begins: “I don’t act like he does; I don’t live like he does.”

If we remember the saints of Kiev Caves Lavra, each of them carried his own burden and lived his life without looking at someone else. If any of the brothers fell, the rest didn’t rebuke him; instead, they hurried to help him. They helped the fallen brother both with their prayers and actively. They would literally go to the fallen brother and convince him to come back because they were aware of the fact that humans are weak, and if the enemy overwhelms a person, that person is unable to stand strong, let alone fight the enemy away. Their joint prayer and love restored the fallen brother and the monk would get down to his ascetic living again. It’s like during a war: if one is wounded, he is treated in a hospital, gets well again and goes back into the combat. With that said, the wounds that we can get in a spiritual battle are more serious and our losses may be even more painful. However, God’s love trumps everything. It trumps our fear, our lack of skill, our sloth, and our sin. We should be careful so as not to recoil or turn away from God; if we fall, let us at least fall with our head pointing towards Christ. That’s the essence of our salvation. Our accomplishments, skills, or experience mean nothing in comparison with his eternal love, which I wish we all acquired. It will make the world around us change.

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