In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be! Today is a wonderful feast Sunday in the life of the Orthodox Church. Today is the second Sunday after Pentecost, and we celebrate the feast of the Saints of America. On the first Sunday after Pentecost, last Sunday, we celebrate the Synaxis of All Saints. Synaxis simply means “the gathering”—immediately after Pentecost we celebrate the gathering of all of the Saints of the Christian Church. In essence, it is a celebration of the fact that there are Saints. The purpose of human life is to be a Saint. To be in a right relationship with our Creator. To be healed in Christ, to be filled with the Holy Spirit. So immediately after the Feast of Pentecost, we have a commemoration dedicated to the “proof of Pentecost.” The Fathers of the Church say that the Saints are the proof of the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The fact that there are men, women, and children who are being healed and being made whole and conforming to the image of Christ—this fact is the demonstration of Pentecost. The demonstration that the Holy Spirit is in the world living in the hearts of men. After we celebrate the coming of the Spirit in to the world at Pentecost, and after we celebrate the reality of the Saints, the Tradition is to celebrate the Saints of the land on the next Sunday, which is today. There is a beautiful progression to this cycle—the Holy Spirit is in the world (Pentecost), He enlivens specific people in specific places at specific times (Synaxis of the Saints), and He heals people here, in America. Our God is not some sort of impersonal God to be viewed from afar—He’s working here and now, and our lives are meant to be lived in relationship with Him. We’re called to be Saints. We’re offered the opportunity to have God the Spirit living in us, and guiding us to fulfill the purpose for our creation. And in the wisdom of the Church, all of the readings associated with this day point in the same direction. They direct us to ponder what it means to be a Saint. At Vespers last night we had 3 readings from the Old Testament that deserve some mention because of the light they shed on this feast. The OT readings at Vespers are always like that—lights illumining and explaining what’s going on. A few excerpts—“You are My witnesses,” says the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, And besides Me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:10-11) The Church uses these lines as if they were addressed to the Saints. To be a witness for Christ is to be a martyr. Anyone who becomes a servant of Christ must become a martyr, in the sense that all we want must be abandoned in order to receive Christ as our Saviour. “But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be affliction, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.” (Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-4, 9) Again the words are directed to the lives and the reward of the Saints. The sacrifices they make in order to follow Christ seem foolish, they give up so much in worldly terms. But their souls are in the hand of God, and He watches over His holy ones. To place oneself with Christ is far greater than anything we could have in worldly terms. “But the righteous live for ever, and their reward is with the Lord; the Most High takes care of them. Therefore they will receive a glorious crown and a beautiful diadem from the hand of the Lord, because with his right hand he will cover them, and with his arm he will shield them. Give ear, you that rule over multitudes, and boast of many nations. For your dominion was given you from the Lord, and your sovereignty from the Most High, who will search out your works and inquire into your plans.” (Wisdom of Solomon 5:15-16, 6:2-3) The Saints are cared for by the Lord. They’re given dominion over the created world like man was created to have. They are rewarded from the hand of God with riches beyond what we can imagine. What happens to them on this earth is of no consequence, they have no concern for the riches and honors of this life, because their reward and their life is with their Lord.

And this is the calling of us all. The goal of all of our lives is to be up there on the walls of the Temple with the great cloud of witnesses which are the Saints. Not a goal of selfishness. But the completion and the fulfillment of our existence is to be with Christ. To be fully and completely healed, and to be numbered among the Saints. May God, in His great mercy, never cease calling us to Himself, and may He count us worthy of eternal life in His Heavenly Kingdom through the prayers of the Saints of America. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

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