Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada


Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost

In today's Epistle (Ephesians 2:4-10), Saint Paul says that: "God, Who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus". Thus the Apostle shows us a glorious future for all who are united with Jesus Christ by the bonds of faith and hope. He says that we shall be kings and queens in the world to come - for we shall sit with Jesus in the heavenly places - from which He reigns over all the universe. This future begins NOW.

This glorious future does not come to us automatically nor accidentally. It is attained by means of constant and consistent discipline. Such an endeavour is more than a human being is usually able to manage. We need to be fortified and empowered by God through the Holy Spirit Who works continually within us and among us. We, too, must do our part by cooperating with Him. How do we do that?

We cooperate with the Holy Spirit by turning continually towards the Lord in faith and in repentance. But Who is this Lord? That is not as ridiculous a question as it may seem. Many do not acknowledge the Lord as He has revealed Himself in the Holy Scriptures and in the Church. They believe in and serve gods that they have created themselves. It appears that some find it more pleasant to serve such gods than to serve the God of the Bible. These gods do not ask for things that we do not wish to give. It is not difficult to follow them and offer them our sacrifices. They seem to be infinitely malleable to our whims and desires. How could it be otherwise, since it is we ourselves who create these so-called gods?

Yet it is only at first that such service is not painful. Later on these idols - for that is what they are - become more and more demanding. They end up by insisting that we give them our lives, our souls, our very beings. In exchange they lead us to hell. This is because these gods are not really God at all. God, Who created us, loves us. He is a Parent to us. This means that He will indeed ask difficult things of us, because He wants the very best for us. He foresees everything long before it comes to pass. He prepares us for the tests which are to come by giving us commandments which are very demanding. He wants us to become strong and mature. In this way He prepares us for our kingly future.

This is why the Second of the Ten Commandments is crucial: "Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters beneath the earth: thou shalt not bow down to them nor worship them". We must not be content with anything less then discovering more and more fully the ONE TRUE GOD and serving HIM. We must not be content with anything less than the TRUTH. Let us be courageous and principled. As the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - as the blessed Trinity grants us illumination and enlightenment, may our service and worship be firm and unswerving. So shall God's promise be fulfilled for us and through us.

V. Rev. Ihor George Kutash