The role of bodily suffering in the salvation of human kind
Elder Ambrose of Optina Monastery said, “We should not forget that in our age of ‘sophistication’ even little children are spiritually harmed by what they see and hear. As a result, purification is required, and this is only accomplished through bodily suffering….You must understand that Paradisal bliss is granted to no one without suffering.”
A person has salvation not only by his good deeds, but also by his patient suffering of various griefs, illnesses, misfortunes, and failures (Luke 16:19-31, Mark 8:31-38, Romans 6:3-11, Hebrews 12:1-3, and Galatians 6:14). Jesus Christ gives us the power which is needed for transformation, and prepares us to live with a strength under the most difficult conditions, preparing us for the peace that is eternal.
Heaven and Hell are a condition of relationship with God that is either theosis or perdition. The lake of fire and heaven occur within the same realm, both being not about places, but about relationship. For one who hates God such a place as in the presence of God, will be eternal suffering. The Orthodox Church teaches that Heaven and Hell are in the same realm, and that Hell is not separation from God symbolically or physically, Hell is a place chosen.
Without suffering, we can not join ourselves to the cross, and when we do take up our cross in suffering, it is with our Co-Suffering Saviour. Sickness and suffering are not given to us by a wrathful and punitive God because we have sinned, but rather allowed by this loving God who co-suffers with us. It is Western juridical misconceptions concerning sin which has tended to distort a proper recognition of suffering and its connection to sin.
With love in Christ,
Tuesday January 9, 2018 / December 27, 2017
32nd Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen (34).
Venerable Theodore Graptus (“the Branded”) of Palestine and Bithynia, confessor (840), brother of St. Theophanes the Confessor and Hymnographer (850).
New Hieromartyrs Tikhon, archbishop of Voronezh and with him 160 martyred priests (1919).
Virgin-Martyr Antonina (1937).
St. Theodore, archbishop of Constantinople (686).
Uncovering of Relics (1514) of Venerable Pherapont of Mozhaisk, Luzhetsk.
Venerable Luke, monk, of Tryglia.
St. Maximus, bishop of Alexandria (282).
St. Maurice and the Theban Legion. (Candidus, Innocent, Exuperius and 6,600 others) (302).
The Scripture Readings
The Untamable Tongue
3 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.
See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.
11 And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.
The Fig Tree Withered
12 Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.”
And His disciples heard it.
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
15 So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 16 And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. 17 Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”
18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching. 19 When evening had come, He went out of the city.
The Lesson of the Withered Fig Tree
20 Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”
22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.