St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

On the Sunday after Pentecost - All Saints

by Fr. Antony Hughes

Sermon Preached by Father Antony Hughes on Sunday, June 6, 2004

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.

Glory to Jesus Christ!

What have we yet given up for our Master? Have we left houses, or riches, or families, or friends? What great devotion have we given to Him? Are our hearts not still our own? Are our minds not still distracted, as Jesus said to Martha, by many things? Are our loyalties still not divided? Sunday morning belongs to God…sometimes…but the rest belongs to me and I will portion it out it as I see fit? Do we yet understand what it means to love as God loves, to give as God gives, to humble ourselves as God has humbled himself, to die as God has died? Have we yet obeyed a single commandment or resisted a single temptation? Have we yet confessed Jesus before others or offered our lives as a sacrifice for the love of God?

Perhaps we have done something good in a small way for a moment or two in our busy lives. Perhaps along the way we have offered a helping hand or a cup of water. Perhaps we have prayed fervently for a loved one on our knees for an hour or all night when hope seems small and there rises up in us the trembling belief that God exists and alone is able to save. Perhaps we have watched a candle melt before the face of Christ on our walls and come away knowing that the Lord has heard and acknowledged our deepest desire.

The saints demonstrate to us that all this and more is possible. The Lord says that we shall do greater works even than he did in his earthly life. My mind cannot encompass what this means. Are these words really addressed to me? How can I do anything to match the incomparable love of the Master? And yet we are all called to be his hands in this world. He has given us the gift of his Spirit to empower us, the Scriptures to instruct and inspire us, the Eucharist to nourish us, confession to cleanse us, marriage and monasticism to martyr us, angels to defend and aid us, saints to surround us and pray for us and our Christian sisters and brothers to support and encourage us. What is left then for we seemingly have everything we need.

There is one thing, one little thing we must do, not once or twice, but every moment. We must remember. We must make ourselves remember. The saints tell us that we should remember God more often than we breathe, give thanks to Him “at all times and in every hour” and pray without ceasing. The more we remember the more we love. The more we remember the more room there is in us for the Spirit to live and move and the more He lives and moves in us the more our lives are set aflame by love and grace. The more we remember, the more we love, the more we are filled with grace, the more beautiful our lives will become and the more we are able to accomplish to the glory of God. Then every little act of mercy becomes great.

We wonder how to begin. The beginning of the road lies before us at every moment for God is closer to us than our own heartbeat. Bow your head, close your eyes and speak his name. For a moment, acknowledge that you are in his presence and that he is already deep in your heart. Rest for a moment. Allow yourself this one single moment of rest. Allow nothing to hinder you, nothing to get in the way. We do not need anyone’s permission to remember. It takes only a moment, but somewhere along the way, at some time we least expect, a single moment of remembrance may kindle the dry stubble in our hearts and burst them into flame. We cannot know nor do we need to know when this will happen, but know that it will. When it does and we dare to reopen our eyes the world around us will have changed and we will see for the first time the God is all in all, that he surrounds us and fills us; that every cell of our being is bathed in his love and every part of us has miraculously become a part of him.

And all this from a single moment of remembrance.