July 6, 2008
As we know, without water, no living organism can survive. Thirst is one of the most natural needs, and when we thirst we immediately go to the faucet, or refrigerator and quench our thirst. This is a most repetitious act. But, besides the thirst for water, there are many other thirsts in life. There are the thirsts, which are quenched, and satisfied, as well as those, which virtually choke us.
The thirst for progress and for the amelioration of society, with the foundation and application of the Christian principles, do have the power to quench our spiritual thirst. Conversely, there is a variety of thirsts strictly for the material, and for the satisfaction of peoples' lower instincts. These become an obsession, or let us say, a bottomless pit. The more that one drinks from these sources, the more he or she continues to thirst!
It is for this reason, that the Lord stated epigrammatically in his dialogue with the Samaritan woman, who had come to draw water from the town's well. The Lord told the woman, that "whoever drinks from the water of the well, will surely thirst again; but, whoever drinks the water that He would give, will never thirst again. And the water that He would give a person, this would be in the person a well of water springing up to Eternal Life!" John 4:1-14.
How wonderful it would be, if we wouldn't thirst again. But, it depends on what type of thirst, or thirsts we have.
We notice, that the Lord did not enumerate the various thirsts, but in a positive manner he emphasized, that we shall never thirst again, if we drink the water, which He offers to us, that is, through the application of His Teachings in our life!
The question is, how many Christians truly seek to drink from the Lord's well, which gives us true spiritual nourishment in this life, and prepares us for Eternal Life in the hereafter.
St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, Chapter 1, verse 23, states, that the Church is the "Body of Christ!" Christ is the Head of the Church, and we are the Members of His Body. How many times we have heard those pseudo-theologians, or pseudo-philosophers state, that It is not necessary to belong to the Church. Perhaps their opinion stands for those people, who exist outside the Church, but, in no way does this stand for people, who have the great honor and privilege to be addressed as Christians?
It truly is sad, that these people do not have even the remotest idea of the substantive teachings of the Christian Community, which we title as "The Church!"
Without question the Church presents us with an exact, and crystallized faith and life. A faith, which was given to us directly from the Founder, of the Church, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Church gives us life, because it is the Lord, who gave the Church Life!
Christ is the Center of the Church, and offers everyone the opportunity to be united with Him, through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist! He is always present in the Tabernacle on the Holy Altar, which Sacrament is expressly used for the ministrations of the sick.
The Church isn't as some would have it, to be tailored to their specifications or interpretations. The Dogmas and the Holy Tradition are definitive and cannot be changed. These do not change and cannot be changed.
That is the beauty of the Holy Orthodox Church, which has not changed or deviated, since the time it was instituted by the Lord and His Apostles. It is the only Church, that has remained united for two thousand years, because the Church derives her authority from Christ. The Church conforms to the phrase of St. Paul, who said: "Christ the Lord, is the same yesterday, today, and onto the ages!"
Within the realm of the Church, we are united in one Body, with a spirit in common, and with deep devotion to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Still further, we receive Divine and Saving Grace through the Holy Sacraments of the Church, and especially the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, which is celebrated in every Divine Liturgy.
With our conscientious participating in Church, we acquire humility, and become more sensitive to our deficiency, and we feel that without the blessings of Christ, we cannot have spiritual power.
The Christian must believe, that our living in Christ is the guarantee of our true happiness. The New Testament speaks of the communion of believers, which is the Church itself. The Greek word for this communion of the Faithful is "Ekklesia.". The calling together o the Faithful. The "Ekklesia" gathers in a Temple or "Naos," in Greek. "Naos," is from the Greek word "Nafs" or nautical. The Faithful then, are passengers on the Ship, or "Naos," which is always headed toward the port of Salvation.
The Church is the Body of Christ. We know that our body is composed of millions of cells, which are always in a state of renewal. Without this renewal of the cells, life can come quickly to an end. In a similar manner, we are all individual cells of the Body which is titled "The Ekklesia," or Church. And the Spirit which gives these cells life is the Life-Giver, Christ Himself, our Saviour.
Furthermore, the Church is the Guardian and the Treasure-keeper of the Revelation of God, Who was made manifest in the Holy Scriptures and the Divine Tradition. For this reason, it is imperative for us to participate in the Glory of the Sunday Liturgies. Our being in Church brings us in communion with God, where we have the opportunity to really see ourselves through the light of the presence of Christ. In Church we find Forgiveness, Love, Peace, Harmony and surely spiritual renewal and a guarantee for happiness.
The intercommunion of the Brothers and Sisters in Christ in the Body of Christ, which is the "Ekklesia" is the greatest barrier against despondence, and surely our freedom from any fear. Within the Body of the Church, noble ambition is magnified, --- faith brings wondrous works --- and love supersedes all the obstacles; Our life becomes more positive and without any doubt, we come before the presence of the Person, who said: "I am the way, the truth and the life."
But with all that was said, in the final analysis, it is individually up to each one separately. It depends on us, if we are to be vibrant Members of the Body, or Members, who are suffering from spiritual atrophy. My prayer is, that the Lord continues to bless us and show us the way to truly become His followers. After all, it is He who said, "If you drink of the water that I will give you, you will never thirst again."
“Therefore brethren stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught whether by word or our epistle.” - Thessalonians 2:15