metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

St. Thomas Sunday

20 April 1969
Theme: Faith, Doubt, Saints and Holiness   Place: London Parish   Period: 1966-1970   Genre: Sermon

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

‘My Lord and my God!’ After Nathanael, after Peter expressing the faith, the knowledge the experience of the Church, Thomas repeats these words, ‘My Lord and my God’. He had now seen and he believed. This is the faith of the Church of God, the lordship of Christ in the life of each of us. A lordship that means that we have been taught at a high price, that He has believed in us before we believed in Him, that He had loved us before we ever loved Him and that He conquered our heart, our mind, our will and the totality of our lives. The lordship of Christ not only in our personal lives but our recognition and certainty and knowledge that truly all power is given Him on earth and in Heavens, that all things are in His hands, that He is the Lord of History, that He is the Lord of things visible and invisible; that all things belong to Him and He is the Lord of all things. And also the confession of the Church that knows Christ through the Holy Spirit as God, true God, the Son of the Father, the God of Heaven whom we adore on earth in His Incarnation. He appears to His disciples on the evening of the Resurrection when dismayed, terrified, desperate they were hiding for fear; He appears to them, and His first words were ‘Peace be with you’ because they had lost their peace: Christ had died, the One in Whom they had believed had seemingly been defeated and hopelessly overcome. The Father had not sent any miraculous help and now, [Him] Who appeared to them as their Lord and their God, indeed was dead and defeated as a man. Life, hope had gone out of their hearts and out of the world because if He could be defeated, there was no hope for holiness, for truth, for love. There was no place for God on earth, He had been ruled out by evil, by hatred, and now He was there, alive, in their midst, alive in the living body of the Resurrection, in that body which they had known, which they had lay in the tomb, and which, inseparable from the Godhead, had remained incorruptible, not overcome. He stood there, alive, and peace could come back to them, not the peace which the world gives, a sense of appeasement, but an alert, powerful, fragrant peace, the peace of strength that cannot be overcome, of victory already won. That peace which the world cannot give He now gave them, not simply in this words of blessing, but in His presence and victory, in the vision of the Kingdom of God already come with power, anticipating now what will come later for all. And to these men who had now received a peace that could not been taken away from them, because they had come back to life but not to the ephemeral life of time but to the life of eternity, shared with the Lord in Whom and with Whom they had died out in despair, to these men He spoke a second word: ‘As My Father sent Me, ever do I send you. And He breathed on them: and gave them the Holy Spirit, this Holy Spirit Whom they could hold in their oneness because they were one with Him and in Him, Who would lead them into all truth, Who would work the miracles of the Church and the acts of God, Who would teach them to say ‘Father’ to Him Who hitherto had been the great God of Heaven. And they had to go now with this peace that could not be taken away and in the power of the Spirit that indwelled their unity, their oneness they had to go into the world. The Church was not founded by Christ simply to be the place where God and man are at one, but the place where the love and the compassion of God is at work with such power that men, frail as we are, find the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in the love divine, courage and readiness to go out of their security, to go out of the Joy of the Kingdom into an outer world, inimical, cold, [ab-apstl?] abandoned, in order to bring into it first of all faith, the news that God believes in each of us, believes in those who do not believe in themselves, believes in us even when we do not believe in ourselves so much that He is prepared to become one of us and die for us, knowing that it is not in vain, become man, not mankind, but each man, each woman, each person is worthy of being entrusted with the life and the death of God. We must bring that into the world: this divine witness that God believes in us and in all of us, in the believers as He does in the unbelievers, that He believes in man and is ready to pay the cost of this belief with His blood, the witness but not only the words, but the deeds, that will make people believe in the love of God abroad in our hearts, abroad in our lives, not within our Christian community alone, but wide enough, powerful enough to engulf all men and drown all hatred, accept and die out of it, but never be defeated not anymore than Christ was defeated. And we are to go into the world, to bring this witness, this message, these good tidings, this Gospel in order that people may again believe in themselves and look up to God and believe in His believe in love and discover the God of Love, that they may begin to live but as Christ has given us this faith and this love, this hope and this joy, this peace and this strength, not only by His incarnation and His life, but by His suffering and death. We must be prepared to lay down our live that others may live, and that we must do, day after day, not wait for the day when our life will be taken away from us by violence, but lay down our life hour after hour, for every person whom we meet, for every concern, and we lay down our lives when discarding ourselves, ignoring ourselves, turning away from ourselves, we live for others, for God, for the Kingdom. To love and to die are the same things because to love means to turn away from oneself in order to live for God and in Him so that He may live in us as He died for us. And so shall we also live for people and in them, through them through this Message of life that God may live in them and they in Him. If we receive the message of the Resurrection crowning the mystery of the Cross, not blotting it out but crowning it with fulfilment, then we will learn all the depth and all the tragedy, but also the power and the glory and joy which make one mystery of the Cross and of the empty tomb and the Risen Christ. Let us then now begin to die to ourselves, renounce ourselves, take up this Cross which is a daily dying for God’s sake and for the people’s sake and follow Christ because He is the only Path, He is the only Truth, He is the only Life that can be possessed on earth and in Heaven. Amen.

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