Bishop Photiy of Triaditza
bulgarian | руский
On 19/6 June 2016 in the cathedral "Dormition of the All-Holy Mother of God"
In one of the kneeling prayers we are about to hear, beloved faithful, today’s feast is called ‘Pentecost, the last great and salvatory day’. Why ‘last’? Because it explains all other events in the earthly life of our Saviour Lord Jesus Christ: the good tidings about His birth, His nativity, His appearance and baptism in Jordan, together with the mystical manifestation of the Holy Trinity, His transfiguration on Tabor, His passions and voluntary death, His resurrection from the dead, His glorious ascension. What is the meaning and ultimate goal of these events, of which we spiritually partake through their commemoration? Man’s salvation in the Church, which was born on the ‘great and salvatory day of Pentecost’, in this one and only Church, which according to the words of Holy Apostle Paul is the Body of Christ, whose Head is Christ Himself.
As Head of the Church, as the Way, the Truth and the Life, Christ, the God-Man reveals through Himself the path of humankind to salvation, or in other words – to the eternal life in the kingdom of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The words uttered so far are not some symbols, nor are they the fruit of making sense of a religious faith – one of the many. They are Revelation of the Living God, incarnated in human words, a formulated experience, a testament to man’s communion with Him - with ‘the Father and His Son Jesus Christ’ (1 John 1:6) through the grace of the Holy Spirit. And This Spirit is Truth (1 John 5:6), in the same way as Christ Himself is Truth – the incarnated God the Logos. However, the Word and the Spirit are not only Truth, but also love, because God is Love (1 John 4:8). Love and truth are consubstantial. Love exists through truth, and truth exists through love. If we can talk about the language of love, it is truth, and if we can talk about the language of truth, it is love. Love is the life of truth, the heart of truth. In their inseparable unity, love and truth are the heart and reason of the Church as a theandric organism. They are a guarantee for our life in the Church, i.e. for our communion with God, Who is Love and Truth; they are also a guarantee for the unity among us. Indeed, without life in the Church, in the body of Christ, we cannot abide in communion with God or exist in fundamental unity with each other. And we are given an impulse for such a life by the uncreated Divine Grace together with our free choice to resist sin and rip it off from ourselves. And vice versa, every sinful impulse in us tries hard to tear us away from God and set us against each other. The more we drift away from God and our neighbour, the more we distance ourselves from the life in the Church; the more we distance ourselves from the life in the Church, the more we drift away from love and truth, and the more we become alienated from ourselves as the image of God. We cannot be living members of the Church out of habit or on the strength of some vague religious attitudes, framed by a church-orthodox ritualism. As members of the Church we either gradually cure ourselves of sin, or, conversely, the disease caused by it spreads; we either gradually approach the fullness of love and truth, or drift away from this fullness. We can never talk credibly and persuasively about love and truth unless we strive towards them though our deeds and at least, abide in their entryway. We cannot talk credibly and persuasively about the Church, unless we are healing and in this sense, we are Her living members. Outside our spiritual fight for abiding in love and in truth, all our words about love and truth are nothing other than more or less clever rhetoric, and perhaps even something worse – these words might turn out to be misleading semblances and substitutes for truth and love. Outside of the thirst, outside of the fight for abiding in love and truth, even our formalistically correct thoughts about the Church remain lifeless, and can easily degenerate into sincere zeal but one poisoned by recklessness, into a strident slogan, into an ideological matrix, even into a mask concealing ambitions and goals that are non-ecclesiastical and non-Christian in their essence.
The Comforter, the Spirit of Truth (John 15:26) impels us to love truth and abide in love truthfully. The Comforter, the Spirit of Truth impels us to love God and in Him and through Him to love each other, to continuously fill with truth and love, to abide in the Church ever more firmly, in unity with Christ and each other. It is exactly in this way that we steadily distance ourselves from sin, recover from it, become alienated from our self-centeredness, re-discover ourselves as an image of God ever more deeply, turn into receptacles of the eternal life and attain salvation in the name of the Holy, Consubstantial, Undivided and Life-giving Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – Who deserves glory, honour and worship now, and for ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen!