Bishop Photiy of Triaditza
bulgarian | руский
A sermon delivered on St. Thomas Sunday, 12th May (29 th April o.s.) 2013, in the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God.
According to the words of the Venerable Justin of Serbia, beloved faithful, nobody has ever verified so radically the reality of Christ’s resurrection as Apostle Thomas. Impaired by sin, the spiritual properties of human nature could not help doubting the fact of Christ’s resurrection. Yet, we profess that we believe in the resurrection of the Saviour, we believe in Himself, we believe in His word, we believe in everything He has revealed to us about God and man. But what kind of faith is ours? Faith by the piece, conditional faith, psychological faith, faith of the mind or absolute faith, faith that is one’s life, faith that is a feat? That is the question. The weaker and the more unstable our Christian faith is, the more a different faith struggles to envelop our mind and heart – the faith in what our senses see, perceive and taste.
A predominantly external Christian faith, a listless, withering Christian faith disguises some or other form of a lack of faith. Do we genuinely believe in what we profess and preach? Here we are, exposing the world that not only lacks faith in but also does not want to hear about Christ Our Saviour at all. However, the world exposes us as well. The world is deformed, but is somehow natural in its deformity, because the world does not cover itself up, the world lives strongly impelled by the instinct of material survival, gratification, power, money in the whirlwind of competition, in which people strive to be the first, if possible, whereas we are torn between the Gospel we confess and our life in the world, our attitude towards the world in deed. It is exactly in this sense that we are unnatural, we are ambivalent, we are, to put it simply, hypocritical. So, what actually happens? We unmask the world and at the same time we stick to the world and desire to acquire not less than all the others who do not believe in Christ with all His gifts, and we do so even to the greatest possible extent. We stick to the world, and the world sinks its stinger in us and it turns out that ultimately, we do not live according to what we profess and preach. We will not be right if we hide behind a spiritual truth. We hear, ‘Yes, all people are sinful, we should never condemn anybody.’ The trouble is, however, that we are trying to hide behind this truth exactly hypocritically, to justify our behaviour through it, and also to vindicate others who act like us. If this is what we do, then time and again we prove we are not Christ’s followers in spirit and truth, but – it is painful to say and let us hope these words we will never be relevant to us – we are religious hypocrites and blackguards.
Our life according to the Faith reveals the credibility of our personal and common faith – the faith, not the words, but exactly our life. I think each of us is clear about what this way is, what the direction is - this is a war, a merciless war against any half-hearted faith inside us and not inside other people, a war against any utilitarian faith – a faith that seeks benefit, gain, health and what not, a war against the formalistic faith, a war against all possible spiritual delusional states of an emotionally unsound psychological faith, a war against the bloodless, faint, half-dead mental or intellectual faith. This is one side of the issue. On the other hand, this is a battle for a faith coming from the bottom of one’s heart, for a faith from the entire soul, for a faith with all our reason, for a sincere faith, entirely one- dimensional, for a faith that destroys all hypocrisy in us, all cunning conformity to the world, all prevarication, all deceit. Where shall we start from? From that spark which lit the fire of faith in Apostle Thomas’ heart – he asked, became convinced and believed, whereas we should trust our Lord unreservedly, and from this absolute trust will thrive genuine, true and total faith in God our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who, together with His Father without beginning and the most gracious and life-giving Spirit deserve glory, honour, worship and 1 never-ending thanksgiving now, and for ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen!
St. Thomas Sunday, 12th May (29 th April o.s.) 2013