27 May 2007

God as a Guest in our Hearts

An excerpt from the sermon preached today at Holy Incarnation Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, a Western Rite Vicariate parish in the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.

Today’s great feast celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the Twelve Apostles. Through them, the Father’s Word and Spirit is offered to all men and bestowed upon all those who receive Him in true faith. And through this ministry in the Spirit, the holy Catholic Church is constituted as a real, concrete, visible body which gathers around the Holy Eucharist, in communion with all faithful bishops.

Yet St Gregory the Great reminds us that there is also another aspect that we celebrate at this great feast—an aspect which you might find more personal and of greater comfort. St Gregory declares that “this solemnity…commemorates the coming of God as a guest in our hearts.” By pointing us to this aspect of today’s feast, St Gregory is reflecting on the words Our Lord Jesus spoke to His apostles. Just a few minutes ago, you hear Our Blessed Lord say, “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

Together with His Son in the Holy Spirit, our merciful and loving Father does indeed enter the hearts of the faithful who love and desire Him. For the person who loves the Lord with his whole heart, the person who desires God with his entire being—that person cries out, “Come, Holy God, and make your home within me. Fill me with your Holy Presence, and comfort me with your unending Consolation, and relieve me with the peace that only You can give.” And Our Lord does not disappoint, but readily and speedily comes to those who call upon Him in true faith; and He helps those who earnestly seek His help; and He comforts those who lay aside their pride and submit their cares entirely to Him.

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