Reading the Gospel

30 August 2021

When you read the Gospel, don’t expect pleasure, stimulation or wonderful thoughts. Seek to see the infallible, holy truth.

Don’t be content with fruitless study of the Gospel. Read it in a practical way. Strive to fulfil its commandments. Since it’s the book of life, study it with your life.

Don’t think that there’s no reason why the most sacred book, the Four Gospels, begins with that of Saint Matthew and ends with that of John. Matthew teaches us mostly how to comply with the divine will and what he has to say is most appropriate for those just setting out on God’s path. John has more to do with the manner of union of God and people who have been renewed through the commandments. This union is achieved by everyone who has progressed along the path to God.

When you open the holy Gospel, bear in mind that it will define your eternal state. We’ll all be judged in accordance with it and will either be saved or punished eternally. The Lord says that those who reject him and don’t accept his words will find in those words him who will judge them. The word he preached will judge them on the final day.

God revealed his will to the paltry speck of dust we call the human person. The book where you’ll find a record of his all-holy and saving will is in your hands. You can either accept the will of your Maker and Savior or reject it. Your eternal life or eternal death depends on you yourself. So think carefully about applying proper care and attention. Don’t mess with eternity.

Pray to the Lord with a contrite spirit, that he’ll open your eyes so that you see the wonders contained in his Law, the Gospel. The word of God opens the eyes of the soul and miraculously cures it from its sin. The bodily treatments performed by the Lord were merely illustrations and proof of the cure of the soul, necessary evidence for carnal people whose minds had been blinded by pleasure-seeking.

Read the Gospel with great reverence and attention. Don’t think any part of it is unimportant; don’t skim over any passage superficially. Every jot in the Gospel radiates life. Indifference to life means death.

When you read about the lepers, the paralytics, the blind, the lame and the demoniacs that Christ healed, consider that your soul, mutilated by sin and imprisoned by the demons, is like those invalids. Learn about their faith from the Gospel. The Lord will make you well, too, if, with faith, you implore him unceasingly to heal you, as they did.

To be worthy of being healed, you have to have the right spiritual frame of mind. People are healed when they’re fully aware of their sinfulness and when they make the decision to abandon it. The Savior’s powerless to help the proud and righteous (who, in reality, are sinners), because they don’t see their sinfulness.

Seeing sinfulness, that is the fall of the whole of the human race, is a special gift from God. Ask him for this gift and when you receive it, the book of the heavenly Physician, the Gospel will be more comprehensible to you.

Try to become familiar with the Gospel in your heart and mind. Let your mind sail along within it, let it live within you. This will make it easier for the whole of your activities to become Gospel-centered. Anybody can do this, by ceaseless exploration of the Gospel and by reverential study of it.

One of the most famous ancient Fathers, Saint Pahomios the Great, knew the Gospel by heart. Indeed, following a divine revelation he urged all his disciples to learn it. In this way, the Gospel accompanied and guided them in all places and in all things.

Why is it that modern Christian educators don’t adorn the minds of innocent little children with the Gospel, instead of filling them with Aesop’s fables and other trivia.

What happiness, what riches are represented by memorizing the Gospel. You see, we don’t have the ability to foretell the changes that will take place in our way of life, nor the disasters that will befall us over the course of our earthly existence. If the Gospel’s stored in the memory, it can be studied by the blind, it can provide company for the condemned in prison, it can converse with the farmer in the field, provide guidance for the judge in court, direct the merchant in the market and comfort the sick during times of wearisome insomnia or burdensome loneliness.

But don’t dare try to explain by yourself the Gospel or the other books of Holy Scripture written by the prophets and the apostles. This mustn’t be done arbitrarily but through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Given that they weren’t written extemporaneously, isn’t it irrational to interpret them spontaneously?

(to be continued)