THE KINGDOM OF GOD- Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

From: Bill Samsonoff

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

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

I should like to begin with a short reading from the book of
Revelation, chapters 21 and 22: «I heard a great voice from the throne
saying, 'Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with
them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them;
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no
more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying, nor pain any more,
for the former things have passed away.' And He who sat upon the
throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.' Also He said, 'Write
this, for these words are truthworthy and true... He who conquers
shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my
son...' 'I, Jesus, have sent my angel to you with this testimony for
the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright
morning star.' The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come'. And let him who
hears say 'Come'. And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires
take the water of life without price. ... He who testifies to these
things says, 'Surely, I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The
grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen».

This is the great expectation, but this is not only expectation. The
Kingdom of God which is to come has also come with power. He has come
in many places, into many hearts, into many families, in an almost
unnoticeable way, surreptitiously, like a thief at the dead of night.
The Kingdom has come into human relationships with a new recognition
of men, with a new dimension of love, the sacrificial love of the
living God. So the Kingdom is within us, and the Kingdom is in our
midst. All things are on their way into our hearts, into our minds,
into our lives, into our will, conquering everything in us. So
embodied God is at work. He conquers, and He shall conquer.

But if we are His own people, if we are the people of God, we are
called not only to be the objects of salvation, not only to be the
recipients of grace, not only to be conquered, but we have the
privilege of being the elect of God, the chosen of God who may serve
His purpose. We are the people of God whom He can trust because we
know Him, because we worship Him in reverence and in faithfulness, to
whom He can say «Go» and who shall go; «Die», and who shall die;
«Live», and who shall live.

And at the heart of this mission of ours there are words which we have
heard twice in the course of this week at two eucharistic
celebrations: «Do this in remembrance of me». And doing this in the
context of our Sacred Liturgies, in the dividedness of the historical
Christendom, we have been painfully aware of separation while we were
amazingly aware of closeness. Is there a point where within these very
words, «Do this in remembrance of me», we can be even closer than we
imagine, even if we do not break the bread together nor share the same
cup? May I venture to say that I believe we are a great deal closer
than we imagine.

When we apply these words to the bread broken and to the cup shared,
we think in liturgical terms; and we forget that at the Last Supper
these words and this gesture stood for more than an act of fellowship,
more than for a ritual. The bread broken was an image of the Body of
Christ broken for the salvation of the world. The cup shared was an
image of the Blood of Christ spent for the life of the world. Both
stood for divine love that has become incarnate in order to
participate in all the tragedy of mankind in an act of perfect and
crucifying solidarity that mankind may be saved. And this means all
men, beginning with the faithful, as St. Paul says.

Beyond the boundaries of the liturgical action there is the
existential doing, all the things for which the breaking of bread and
the sharing of the cup stand. They stand for the act of Incarnation in
which God unites Himself to man, and indeed to the whole cosmos,
taking upon Himself all the destiny of mankind, identifying Himself
not only with His creature but with His fallen creature, and all the
conditions of man, not only to the point of life and preaching and
ministering, not only to the point of physical death but to the point
of sharing with men the only basic tragedy of mankind: the loss of God
- «My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?» - that loss of God
which is the beginning of mortality, that loss of God that kills and
that killed. The Son of God became the Son of Man in His humanity.
They stand for that solidarity of God with us which is expressed in
the anguish of the Garden of Gethsemane when Christ was facing death -
a death which had nothing to do with Him because He was life, a death
which could not be inflicted on Him because He says Himself that the
prince of this world will find nothing in Him that belongs to him, a
death which was a free gift of His life, a death which is all death
accepted and shared by Him who could not die. They stand for the
Crucifixion, the physical experience of the immortal sharing the death
of His creature, of Him who was the Son of God, in an act of
incredible solidarity, losing the sense of His oneness with the Father
and dying of it. That is what this breaking of the bread and this
sharing of the cup stand for.

This, indeed, we can do in remembrance of Him together, without any
separateness, in the historical Christian body. This we can do; we can
be incarnate, take on the flesh of this tragic world upon us, and
carry its sin as a cross. We can identify with the death of the dying
and the suffering of the sufferer, as Christ on the Mount of Olives
facing an alien death in His own flesh in an act of compassion in the
strongest sense of the word, of solidarity that goes to the point of
identification and substitution. We can face together living and dying
- dying physically, dying in health but also dying in that act of love
which is a final, total, ultimate renunciation to all that is for the
sake of the other.

And we hear the word addressed to us: «Do this in remembrance of me.»
Even if we cannot share liturgically the bread and the wine, we can
share fully and completely what it stands for and be inseparable in
the mystery of faith. The Lamb of God is broken and distributed, which
though ever broken, never is divided, says the Orthodox liturgy. This
we can achieve beyond all separations through such union, oneness with
Christ, in one body broken, in one blood shed for the salvation of the

How wonderful it is to discover this! And this is truly and actually a
liturgical action because the priest is defined by the offering he
brings, and all universal priesthood is defined by the offering we
bring of our souls and our bodies, of ourselves and our lives, of
those whom we love - to be an act comparable and identifiable, indeed,
with this act of divine incarnation, of divine life, of divine
sacrifice. Sacrifice means both shedding of blood and becoming wholly
God's own, sharing His life because we will have shared His death in
our hearts, in our bodies.

So let us both grieve at the fact that our unity cannot be expressed
to the full because we are not yet mature in love, we are not mature
in understanding. But let us rejoice and thank God that we cannot be
separated either from Him or from one another in the mystery which is
defined by these wholly tragic and victorious conquering liturgical
words, «Do this in remembrance of me».

Let us pray.

Oh Christ, who didst bind Thy Apostles in a union of love, unite us
likewise, Thy sinful but trusting servants, and bind us forever to
thee and to one another. Give us bearing and strength to fulfil Thy
commandments and truly to love one another. Oh Christ, our God,
through the Father and the Holy Spirit, who livest and reignest, one
God, world without end. Amen.


* All texts are copyright: Estate of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Library



Having a bad day

Having a bad day
I really hate it when I'm grumpy, angry, resentful, irritable, self-doubting, overly-protective, compulsive, disappointed, defensive, speak improperly, call someone a name, yell, mumble under my breath, push back with the same intensity, back-bite, gossip, feel betrayed, feel threatened, feel  insecure, feel hurt, feel bullied, feel unwelcome, feel worthless, feel like no one in the world really cares about me. I really hate that and when I see the ugliness in me, I want to cry because I couldn't or didn't stop it and there it was - it's image haunts me - all I want to do is cry and be loved despite my prickliness, my grumpiness, my weakness, my unworthiness.  I always hope it will be someone who will just seem to know I need a hug, a reassuring smile, a word of encouragement.  Sometimes I have to feel bad for a while before I see another way, before I ask for a hug, before I talk to God about how poorly I have treated His image in others and in myself.  And then feel His mercy and the comfort of angel's wings.
Lord, have mercy.
pray for me, a servant
Fr John Brian


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