For some, Sunday morning is a time of contrition, focus, and attentiveness to our faith. Leaving the house for service sets our mind and spirit in the appropriate mode for the Divine Liturgy. But what happens to us on our ride home from Church and what is our attitude from Monday through Saturday in the following week?
The challenges for an Orthodox Christian in these times is very great! Our lives are awash with news, media, and other distractions. It is no wonder we find ourselves feeling despondent. Much of the news we hear these days is not pleasant. Our secret for combatting this onslaught of negativity and hopelessness is to live a God-pleasing life.
Many pages can be set forth on this topic in an attempt to help one understand what this means and how it may be accomplished. The answer is simple yet profound. The God-pleasing life begins with the understanding and fulfillment of the two great Commandments, on which hang the balance of the law:
First, to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, our mind, and our soul.
Second, the love our neighbor. To this we may add that we should see our neighbor as an icon of Christ – one who is created in His image and likeness, for this is the gift to humankind, for we are a rational flock, imbued with a living spirit.
When we contemplate these two commandments, we recognize that a love of neighbor is born from a sincere love of God, for how can one love God if they do not love their neighbor. We recognize from the Gospel, particularly in the lesson concerning the Good Samaritan, who is our neighbor – quite literally anyone we should meet in our daily travels. But what about those who work in offices or travel? How can they apply this?
When we love God and our neighbor, we will fulfill our Lord’s commands that we should not defraud others, nor cheat, nor steal. Let us rejoice in the works of our hands and give thanks to God for the successes and rewards that come our way. A deep faith in our Loving Father helps us to appreciate all of our blessings, especially those circumstances, which at the first are not so obvious to be blessings. In loving and trusting in our Merciful God, we recognize that every good and perfect gift is from above, from His divine will and love for us. We may think we know what is best for us – truly God knows much, much better.
When we place our complete trust in God and love Him with all of our heart, mind, and soul, we realize that we are really placing our total and complete hope and trust in Him, focusing totally on God. Afterall, what is left once we set our love, hopes, and will to follow Him. This is loving God in totality. In so doing, our lives are transformed and all of our actions are guided by this spirit.
With effort and practice, the God-pleasing life becomes second nature to us and we ask ourselves before undertaking any task, any project for school or work, beginning any new job, will this be pleasing to our Lord?
Beloved, let us begin this very day, this very minute to place our total trust in our Lord. In this we will find peace and shelter from the storms that surround us in the world!
So be it, so be it.