Hearts Blameless at the Coming of Christ (Tues. Nov. 22)

Hearts Abounding in Love

How can God make our hearts to be without defect, holy, and pure?  The Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament distinguishes “establish” with “stablish.”  To establish something, one works from the outside.  To “stablish” something, one works from the inside.  (Strong’s #4741, 234).  Accordingly, the Holy Spirit works within our hearts so that they are flawless.  Thus, Paul writes, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

What must we do to cooperate with God as He does this internal work in our hearts?  Paul prays that his flock “abound in love for one another and to all” (vs. 12).   A heart that “abounds in love” is so full of love that it cannot contain anything else. St. Porphyrios teaches that we in the Body of Christ are to become one by the grace of Christ.  He goes on, “…in this unity, in this love in Christ., there is no room here for any separation or any fear.  Neither death, nor devil, nor hell.  Only love, joy, peace, and the worship of God (Porphyrios, 180)

No Distinction Between the Love of God and Neighbor

In the heart that knows nothing but love, there is no distinction between the love of God and the love of neighbor. The Apostle writes in 1 John that we cannot love God without loving our neighbor (4:20). And St. Porphyries writes, “Love towards one’s brother cultivates love toward God (Porphyrios, 181).  The two loves are bound together so tightly that the Apostle teaches that in each of them, love is “perfected,” that is made complete (1 John 4:12 and 4:16) (Strong’s #5048).

In summary, as we begin our Nativity Fast, let us pray that God would fill our hearts to the brim with love for Him and our neighbor.  May that fullness allow nothing else to find a place there.  Then indeed, our love will come to perfection.  By God’s grace, we will stand before our God and Creator with boldness and without fear (1 John 4:16).

For Reflection

Matthew the Poor writes, “What succinctly is purity?  It is a heart that shows mercy to all created nature… And whit is a merciful heart? It is the heart’s burning for the sake of the entire creation, for men, for birds, for animals, for demons, and for every created thing, and by the recollection and the sight of them, the eyes of merciful men pour forth abundant tears” (Matthew the Poor, 139).   In this way, we follow Paul’s teaching to “abound in love for one another—and to all” (vs. 12).

Works Cited

Matthew-the-Poor. 2003. Orthodox Prayer Life. Translated by Wadi El-Natroun The Monastery of St. Macarius the Great, Egypt. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press.

Porphyrios, St. 2005. Wounded by Love: the Life and the Wisdom of Saint Porphyrios. Translated by John Raffan. Limni, Evia, Greece: Denise Harvey, Publisher

About Fr. Basil

Now retired, the Very Rev. Archpriest Basil Ross Aden has served as a parish priest, parish pastor, diocesan mission director, writer, and college teacher of New Testament and Religious Studies. He has a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago and has published daily devotional and stewardship materials as well as a college textbook on Religious Studies. He also has published papers and/or lectured on the Orthodox perspective on Luther and the Reformation. religious freedom, current issues of religion and society, and St. John Chrysostom. He is married to Sandra and has two sons and three grandchildren. He is still active as a priest as well as a writer of articles and materials on Orthodoxy and topics of faith and life today.

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