Archpastoral Reflections of Archbishop Demetrios of America - May 2008
May 14, 2008
We conclude our series on renewal by addressing the most significant purpose of our spiritual transformation to salvation and eternal life. Over the past few months, we have examined the importance of the renewal of heart, renewal of spirit, and renewal of our lifestyles. These are vital areas in giving us knowledge and direction in the heavenly kingdom. They are also aspects of the complete and saving renewal of our relationship with God. The renewal of this relationship is the ultimate goal of our lives.
In the Holy Scriptures and in the message of the Gospel proclaimed by the Apostles and the Church, we know that this relationship was broken and injured by sin. Communion with our Creator and life in His divine presence was hindered to such a degree that life itself was overcome by death, and the ability and potential of the divine image within us was held in bondage. After the Fall, this burden was so great and its effects so extensive, that humankind alone was incapable of renewing this relationship of life and peace.
Thus, the path to renewal and to a complete restoration of our relationship with God was made possible through Jesus Christ. His life, miracles, teachings, Passion, and Resurrection are a visible witness of the love of God offered to all humanity. His message is an invitation to experience grace through repentance, life through His conquering of death, and renewal through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), and it is through our faith in Him and in the mystery and power of what He has accomplished that begins, continues, and perfects the renewal of our relationship with God.
The renewal of this blessed relationship is not possible unless we seek God’s forgiveness with repentant hearts. This was discussed in our reflection on “renewal of the heart.” Here we can contemplate the imagery of the parable of the Prodigal Son. God is waiting to receive us, embrace us, to clothe us in righteousness and lead us to the great banquet, to restore us to a place of dignity; but we must recognize the futility of the ways of the world, admit our own failings and sinful passions, and seek His forgiveness. He is calling us to return, to renew a loving relationship if we are willing to move our hearts, minds, and all of our lives away from sin and toward Him.
Our relationship with God is renewed as we respond to His grace through prayer and worship. Our knowledge of the truth of life and our experience of His power, holiness, and love lead us to offer Him praise and thanksgiving. This is a continuous response that originates in our hearts, that is guided by the divine services of the Church, and that culminates in lives filled with joy and beautiful communion with Him and one another. Further, our relationship with God is nurtured through daily prayer and times of solitude and contemplation, where we offer to Him our concerns and burdens and receive strength, guidance, and peace to address the challenges and tasks of life. Through prayer we express our trust in Him and our commitment to His will; and His loving presence and faithfulness to our needs gives us the assurance of renewal and of the fulfillment of all of His promises.
Finally, our relationship with God is renewed through our knowledge of the truth. Our world is filled with competing philosophies about life, knowledge, being, purpose, and happiness. Yet God has revealed His great love for us and has made known the Truth concerning all things necessary for our salvation and our restoration to communion with Him. Through the presence of our Risen Lord, the Holy Scriptures, the lives of the Saints, and through our prayer and worship of God in spirit and in truth, (John 4: 23) we can forge anew a relationship with God that will perpetually sustain us throughout this life and into His great and glorious presence for all eternity.
Archbishop of America