In the name of the
Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today is the second Sunday after Pentecost, and on this day in the various
local churches we celebrate the saints that are particularly dear to that
church, for instance, the Saints of Russia for the Russian church, or Greece
in the Greek Church et cetera.
The readings today all have a common thread, and you must to be careful to
see it. To be a saint -- is to not be ordinary. If you are like the
rest of the world, you’re not going to be a saint. In fact, if
you’re like the rest of the world, you won’t be a Christian. That
is the thread that goes through all of these readings, every single one.
Now, the reading for this Sunday is the Gospel is where Jesus is calling his
disciples for the first time. He says to them,
“Follow Me, and I will make you
fishers of men.”
And so now we have the
Gospel about the beatitudes for all the saints of Russia. If you really
summarize the saints, what reading can do that? I suppose the reading of the
beatitudes, the ones who perfectly fulfilled these beatitudes.
There is something very important that begins this reading. There are
multitudes following Christ. And the disciples followed Christ. And the
multitudes were so numerous that the Lord went up onto a mountain, and the
multitudes didn’t follow Him. But the disciples did. And He sat down
and He began to teach them. There’s following and there’s
following. There’s loving and there’s real loving. There’s
saying we are Christians and there’s being a Christian.
The multitudes in anything, in any group of people, will not be completely
sincere. I don’t care where you go, what you do. Most of the people
that are practicing for football don’t really want to work that hard.
Most of the people that say they are Christian don’t really want to
follow the Commandments with that much effort.
Where the multitudes
are, is apathy and neglect.
And there is interest.
The multitudes followed Christ because He was interesting. He said amazing
things. And they listened to Him but when He wanted to say the really sublime
truths of Christianity where He expounded, on the inner meaning of the
Commandments, in the Sermon on the Mount, He only spoke to a select few who
Everybody followed but
some followed more than others. And this is the lesson that we should
Do we call ourselves Christians? All right. How much are we like other
When people hurt us,
do we get angry? That doesn’t sound any different than the rest of the
world. When we are in a predicament, do we lie, make it easier for ourselves?
That sounds just like everybody else. Are we self-centered? I don’t see
a difference. Do you?
To follow Christ is to do what He did. So just because there’s a bunch
of people walking in a group, doesn’t mean everybody is going in the
same direction. Christianity is the things that happen that are difficult.
Oh, it’s easy to be part of the crowd and to love the Lord. It’s
easy to come to the church on feast days. It’s easy to have swellings
of emotions at various times, but you know what’s really hard is to
every day live according to the Gospel, even when it’s difficult.
The disciples had no idea what they were getting into when they followed
Christ at the beginning. There was something about Him that was different so
they followed Him. What He was going to do was teach them about themselves,
the ugly truth, the ugly reality, and also at the same time teach them about
Himself. And within them, with struggle, with difficulty, with fear, with
hunger, with all the rest that happened to them in those three years, they
would learn of the truth, and desire the truth above all things.
learn these truths in the midst of crowds. They learned them alone with the
Lord. They learned them when they went through their own personal
difficulties. So it is with us.
So much of
Christianity today, what passes for Christianity is pablum. Even within the
Now, there’s all
kinds of ecclesiastical politicking right now about who gets what piece of
what pie. This has nothing to do with Christianity. It has to do with I have
more numbers than you or all kinds of ridiculous things.
Being a Christian is
to follow Christ, no matter what.
Being a Christian is
to be different than everyone else.
So if you don’t
think you’re much different than the person that you work next to or
other people that you know or your neighbors, then you best change. Because
if you’re the same as everybody else, if you have the same opinions,
same way of life, same priorities, then you’re not really following
Christ no matter what you say. And you cannot hear the sublime truths of
When Jesus was speaking to the disciples, He was on a mountain. They were
around Him. His voice would carry. Possibly He even spoke very loud so that
others could hear. But how well are you going to hear someone if you’re
far away from them? Especially when there is crowd noise, and things
going on. You’re not going to hear the message. The only way to hear
the message is to follow and to be close.
Now, how do we do this?
He’s not walking
on the earth anymore and going onto mountains, so this is not the way we
follow Him. We follow Him through prayer, fasting, having the right
priorities. Not just on Sunday but every day.
When you wake up in
the morning, your first priority, really the only priority you should have
that day, is to be a better Christian, to learn something of God and to do
it. It should be all that matters. It doesn’t matter about the meeting
you have that morning or about the potential for profit in this or that or
that you’re tired or that you’re busy or anything else. None of
it matters, because it’s all going to go away.
The only thing that’s going to stay is the person you become.
That’s it. Nothing else matters. All that matters is who you become.
The world doesn’t know that, but the Christians do. So to follow Christ
means to not be like the world.
Investigate yourself. See how much you’re like the world. To the extent
you are, to that extent you’re not a Christian. I’m not talking
about sins now. Christians are sinners just like non-Christians. We all
struggle with various weaknesses. I’m not talking about that. I’m
talking about the way you live your life. If you go day-by-day-by-day and
hardly ever pray, can you say you’re a Christian? If you go
day-by-day-by-day and rarely go to church, if you go day-by-day-by-day and
really don’t think of spiritual things, are you following Christ? You
have to answer that question.
Remember that the multitudes didn’t hear the sublime wisdom of the
Lord. Only those that were seated by His feet. Only those that were close to
Him. Being close to Him means that you follow Him under every circumstance,
not just the easy ones. May God help us to follow Him. Amen.
Transcribed by the hand of Helen.