Singular focus.

Homily 463 – 2nd APE
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
July 4, 2021
Epistle: (81-ctr) – Romans 2:10-16 and (330) – Hebrews 11:33-12:2
Gospel: (9) – Matthew 4:18-23 and (10) – Matthew 4:25-5:12

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

Most of the saints of our church existed outside our land. But some have blessed us with their presence in North America.

St. Herman of Alaska, St. Innocent of Alaska, St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. St. Alexis of Minneapolis and Wilkes-Barre. St. Juvenaly and his companion, St. Peter. St. John of Chicago. St. Alexander, missionary of America. St. Raphael of Brooklyn. St. John of Shanghi and San Francisco.

Others, ones not yet canonized – which means recognized by a date on the calendar – by the whole Church. Metropolitan Leonty, of blessed memory. Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas, of blessed memory. Matushka Olga of Alaska of blessed memory.

And you. And me.

While most of us will never be canonized, we are all called to become saints.

What does that mean, “to be called”? It means, invited, at the command of the King. In this case, God. Now, the Church doesn’t call. Only God.

That is true of saints, of monastics, of clergy, of those married – everyone is called.

The Church, in the services of ordination, or tonsure, or marriage, and especially baptism, chrismation, and communion, recognizes that calling by God to us.

That call is seen as different for each of us – not all are called to be monks, for example, or not all are called to be married, or to be clergy.

But make no mistake, we are all called.

In fact, these callings, which we consider separate and distinct from one another, are actually one calling. Only one.

To be one with Christ.

For sure they are different ways of living out that calling. Some are combined, some are exclusive of one another. But they all live out the same calling.

Deny yourself. Pick up your cross, that is the burdens of others around you. And follow Christ. Do what he does. Love who he loves. Live as he lives.

Without a care in the world!

There is a good question that has been raised in the past about the calling of single adults who are unmarried. St. Paul, by the way, was not married. St. Peter was.

There isn’t a binary dichotomy in my understanding of the Church between being either married or monastic. Rather the primary objective of service changes.

In the married world, one’s primary object of service is one’s spouse. That has been the case for Matushka and me for 34 years today – happy anniversary, my love!

In the monastic world, one’s primary object of service is the brotherhood or sisterhood and the abbot or abbess.

In the world of the single adult – your primary object of service is your community. Your neighborhood. Perhaps family, if they are around.

We all have that calling. We all have that primary object.

And all of it – all of it – is through and in Christ. It is our singular focus on Christ that motivates and directs us.

Let’s put it this way – we must see Christ as every person we encounter. That person, for us, is Christ. No matter how they behave, no matter how they manifest themselves.

And in our world, the ones we encounter most frequently are, if we are married, our spouses, if we are monastic, our monastic community, if we are neither, the places in which we live and work.

That is what determines our manifestation of our calling.

But our calling remains the same.

It is, to quote our Lord, a blessing. We are to be poor in spirit, that is, humble. We are to mourn the distractions away from God. We are to be meek, understanding that God is the power, not us. We are to be merciful, and pure, and peacemakers.

When we do, we manifest ourselves as who we are – saints. And the world hates us. Reviles us, persecutes us, say false things about us.

And in that rejection and persecution and slander from the world, we don’t complain. We rejoice. For our reward is not here, it is in heaven.

Our reward is the object of our desire – the focus of our lives. Our reward is not recognition or fame.

Our reward is Christ Himself.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God.