From “The Spiritual Talks with Archimandrite Luke (Anič)”
Dear brothers and sisters!
Today we have heard the following words from the 2nd Epistle to Timothy, a disciple of Apostle Paul, read during the divine liturgy as an introduction to the Gospel, “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound” (2 Tim.2:8-9).
What does this instruction that Apostle Paul gives to his disciple, but which is in fact relevant for all of us, mean? How can we understand the words “Remember that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead?” The Apostle addresses a man who like he himself lives to preach the Good News that death is defeated by the Resurrection of Christ, who is doing his best in order to announce this Gospel to all nations. What does it mean to “remember Jesus Christ”? It means that we should always have the Lord and the great mystery of His resurrection before our eyes, because this mystery contains the mystery of our personal resurrection as well. We should not regard ourselves as those who are created just for this earthly life, as those who are called to do something only in this life.
The Resurrection of Christ leads us into the eternal life. Our activity does not end in this world, it continues in the Eternity. Our life on earth is only preparation and the starting point of our uninterrupted and constant growth in the Lord. Therefore, remember Jesus Christ! Remember Him in everything you do, every moment of your life. Remember Him – and He will shine through your actions, He will shine through you, and everyone will see that you live for something different from the temporary and earthly cares – for the sake of the eternal and the imperishable, which is in fact our genuine aim.
Remember Jesus Christ in all moments of your life! Remember Him – and you will enter into the mystery of the Gospel without even noticing it, and this mystery will direct your life and your actions. The Gospel will become the basic blood circuit of your spiritual being.
However, Apostle Paul does not stop there. He continues, “according to my gospel, wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds.” It reveals the great mystery that the Word of God is always subject to persecution in this world. Why does a person who brings others the good news that death is defeated have to suffer at the hands of people? The Word of God is a ray of light that pierces the dark cave of our being. Some people see the light and are drawn to it. This ray brings to light every small particle of dust, and people get to know God’s mystery; nevertheless, this light hurts someone else’s eyes and they turn their eyes away from it so that this light would not damage them. Such people cast out this light. They drive the Gospel out of our sight so that it would not become the guiding star that can deliver us from this darkness, from death, spiritual first, and then physical, which this world considers to be the end of everything.
So, I suffer as an evil doer. Wherever the Word of God is pronounced, it meets resistance, like that of the earthly powers when the holy great martyr Artemius, whom we commemorate today, confirmed that Christ is risen with his life and blood. Saint Artemius showed what it is like to be a true Christian and what awaits us; that the imperishable treasury is so much higher than the earthly one that it is worth sacrificing one’s life for it. However, not everyone can accept this great mystery and try and declare other aims worth sacrificing one’s life for and push the Gospel of Christ aside. Almost everyone of those who preached the Gospel were martyred. All the apostles and their successors were sentenced to death as evildoers. Even our Lord Himself was crucified and died in a manner typical of evildoers.
Then Apostle Paul says, “I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.” After all this suffering, after all this rejection of the Gospel of Christ, the truth always prevails; the work of God reveals itself like the leaven that regenerates all God’s creation from the inside and shows us the true paths of piety and the essence of our existence. Therefore, while the Gentiles resist the Gospel, let it shine in our hearts and let this good news of the crucifixion and the resurrection be the guiding star for us. People say, “There is no resurrection without death.” May God allow us, in the eternal life that we now anticipate, glorify the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity consubstantial and undivided! Amen.
Preached on November 2, 2008
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