(4) 神光 Divine Light 祈禱:心禱 Prayer of the Heart 節慶 復活節 Feast: Easter (and Great Lent) 聖徒 Saints 講道 Sermons

神非受造的恩典與真正的友誼 The Uncreated Grace of God and True Friendship (中英文)

2013.03.31 sermon by Father Jonah   馬可福音 Mark 2:1-11

神非受造的恩典與真正的友誼  The Uncreated Grace of God and True Friendship

今天是大齋期的第二個星期日,教會慶祝偉大的教父、神學家、Thesaloniki的主教Gregorias Palamas的聖日。教會提供我們許多方法,幫助我們為復活節的來臨做好靈性準備。藉著這些方法,我們可以沐浴在上帝的愛中,讓身心得到淨化,讓靈性逐漸提昇。Gregorias Palamas是教會偉大的靈修導師。他為內容抽象而豐富的「正教神學」和「正教靈修生活」提出了完整的系統。今天,我想要與各位分享Gregorias Palamas的一些教導和典範。

大齋期期間,我們應該要更熱切地祈禱。那麼,什麼是祈禱呢?怎樣的祈禱才恰當?教會擁有豐富的祈禱文和祈禱方法。現在,我想要談談Gregorias Palamas的教導。Gregorias的教導廣博而深奧,是正教靈修的核心,要陳述Gregorias的教導並不容易。

首先,Gregorias教導我們許多祈禱方法,尤其,他是「心禱」的靈修導師。「心禱」是什麼?它是與眾不同的祈禱,也是永不止息的祈禱。我們應該如何實行「心禱」呢?一開始,先在心中默念:「主耶穌基督憐憫我」,經過一段時間,這句祈禱文會從我們內心自然湧出,它將與人類、宇宙萬物結合為一,並且轉化我們的生命。

我們會發現,在我們內心深處,內在生命的對話總是在上演;即使是此時此刻,各種思想、念頭也一直湧現。它們源源不絕、永不間斷。一旦開始在心中默念:「主耶穌基督憐憫我」,「耶穌基督」這個名字就會進入我們腦中,逐漸轉化我們的心,直到它真正進入我們心中。讓我們用電腦的語言來詮釋這個過程。首先,它改變了我們腦中的作業系統,然後,「耶穌基督」這個詞進入系統的核心。此時,有兩項工作同時在我們心中運作:第一、日常生活中的工作。我們可以專注在每日的工作上,像是:教學和其他職業。第二、不斷祈禱。「主耶穌基督憐憫我」這段祈禱文,會在我們心中源源不絕地湧現、永不止息。依據Gregorias Palamas和我的屬靈父親的教導,「主耶穌基督憐憫我」當中的「我」,代表的不只是我自己,也代表了宇宙萬物。這是正教祈禱的核心。藉由上帝的恩典和上帝所行的奇蹟,「心禱」就會毫不費力地在我們心中湧現。它就是如此自然,像呼吸一般。我們可以說,念誦耶穌基督之名,就是靈魂的呼吸。

Gregorias Palams是「心禱」的靈修導師,在「正教靈修文獻大全」(Philokalia)和其他著作當中,收錄了許多Gregorias的著作。在大齋期期間,我們更應該在每日生活中實行「心禱」。在通勤的路上、搭捷運或公車的時候,散步的時候,都可以讓它一點一滴進入我們心中。它將為我們帶來上帝的恩典和不可思議的平安。

讓我們想一想,「上帝的恩典」代表了什麼意義?在生活中,我們常常提到上帝的恩典。我常常說「上帝祝福你」、「願上帝的恩典與你同在」。它們代表了什麼意義呢?難道,我可以輕易地將上帝的恩典送給你們嗎?舉例來說,當我說「我為你賜福」(畫十字聖號)的時候,究竟我給了你們什麼?我自己嗎?當然不是。事實上,在阿陀斯聖山,「請為我賜福」是一句實用的日常用語。它代表了請給我一點幫助,像是:給我一點錢、食物、麵包,或是其他需要的東西,而不是賜給我上帝的祝福。讓我們思考一個問題,這是基督徒共同的疑問,在正教會或許已經有了很好的答案,「上帝賜給我們恩典」這句話代表的意義真的是上帝送給我們一些東西,例如:錢、能力,好讓我們在工作上的表現更傑出嗎?我想答案是否定的。

Gregorias Palamas最大的貢獻就是提出了:上帝雖然在我們每個人內在作用,卻沒有給予我們祂的本質。我想要與各位分享一個實例,讓各位明瞭這段話的重要性。有一位來自義大利的希臘僧侶,他受到西方靈修的啟發,也說了很多(攻擊正教會的話)。首先,他的靈修生活是一種虛假的靈修生活:正如許多當代歷史學家所言,他並沒有領聖餐。也因為他沒有領聖餐,所以他並沒有領受上帝的恩典。他也行詐騙。他受過很高的教育,有一次卻在君士坦丁堡Constantinople因為一些數學和哲學的問題而惱羞成怒。[對於自己的憤怒]他也從來不告解。有些人會為「我從媽媽那邊偷拿糖果」這樣的小事告解,卻不會為了真正重大的事告解,舉例來說:「我很想做一些傷害教會和其他人的事情。」他究竟做了些什麼呢?他在阿陀斯聖山聽到神父們念誦:「主耶穌基督憐憫我」。他問道:「這是什麼?」然後,他滔滔不絕地發表他的見解,好像他是一位偉大的導師一樣。神父們說:「我們看見上帝的光。」他說:「你們說什麼?你們根本就是異端。」

聖母瑪利亞將「心禱」這份恩賜傳授給Gregorias Palams,因為他真正認識聖母瑪利亞,也能與她對話,他也留下許多著作。Gregorias認為,上帝的恩典就是上帝本身。某些西方神學家無法上帝內的區別。上帝確實是絕對的「單純」,然而,「單純」並不代表「簡單」,它超越了人類對於「簡單」一詞的理解。舉例來說,就上帝而言,祂有一個本質、三個位格。但是,這個事實並不會讓上帝變得不單純。

此外,正教會對於上帝的榮光,或者說「上帝非受造的能量」的瞭解也與西方不同。對西方神學家來說,上帝是actuspurus,上帝只是能量,就好像太陽一樣。我唯一能做的就是注視著太陽。太陽就在那裡,它很美麗,看著它帶個人愉悅,但是,僅此而已,我無法與它合一,因為如果我與它合一,我也會變成太陽。如果與上帝合一,我就會變成上帝。因此,在西方世界,倫理是一種實踐,它教導人們要行善、成為一個好人。然而,對我們(正教會)而言,倫理是一種實質的東西:它是一種真正的轉變,因為,上帝的榮光、上帝非受造的能量可以真正與我們合一,上帝可以進入我們體內。

上帝曾對摩西說:「你不能看見我的面。」然而,上帝告訴他:「我的榮耀經過的時候,我必將你放在磐石穴中,用我的手遮掩你,等我過去,然後我要將我的手收回,你就得見我的背,卻不得見我的面。」(出33:20-23)當然,上帝並沒有正面和背面。摩西究竟有沒有見到上帝?我想大部分台灣人會回答:「沒有」或是「不知道」。摩西確實見到了上帝,也確實沒有見到上帝。這是怎麼說呢?摩西沒有見到上帝的本質,唯有聖父、聖子和聖靈可以參與並見到上帝的本質,除了他們之外,沒有人能夠見到上帝的本質。摩西見到了上帝非受造的能量,我們應該說,摩西不只見到還沐浴其中。聖經也談到上帝的榮光或者說上帝的能量。耶穌說:「我看見從我體內發出一股力量。」宗徒保羅問:「這力量是什麼?」「功用也有分別,神卻是一位,在眾人裡面運行一切的事。」(哥前12:6)

上帝賜下謙卑的時候,代表了祂真正進入你的體內。你對別人有愛的時候,代表了祂真正進入你的心中。聖經中,先知以賽亞用非常美妙而詩意的語言表達了這一切:神不在暴風雨中,也不在火焰之中,而是在輕柔而美好的微風中。

關於上帝的能量,我想要用幾個例子來說明。例如:我們飲用熱水,讓它溫暖我們的身體。熱水壺就像一個加熱器,我們可以把雙手放在上面,熱能就會進入我們的身體,改變我們的循環系統。我為人們賜福的時候,就好像用一面鏡子,將上帝的愛反射出去,讓上帝的恩典藉由反射進入人們體內。有時候,我會對人們說:「願上帝給予你一顆悔改的心」。這句話並不是一種威脅,也不是為了讓人感到羞恥,或是讓人一邊說「喔!我竟然做了這些,我真的是一文不值」一邊捶胸頓足。「悔改」代表的是一種由衷的轉變:它代表了上帝真正進入我們體內。我們內心深處的謙卑就是上帝本身。這就是為什麼,我們所說的「悔改」與人類的生活方式無關。我們會發現,人們常常不是真心「悔改」,例如:有些人把告解當作是一件簡單的事情,並且輕易地說「我做了這個、做了那個,所以我要懺悔」。甚至有些人,會在告解當中撒謊,他們用欺騙的手法贏得上帝的恩典。然而,上帝進入他們體內又馬上離開。就好像Balaam,他設法分裂教會,在教會中製造了許多問題。

事實上,倫理是一個實質的東西,它代表了上帝在我們體內的作用,我們應該樂在其中。或許有人會問:「為什麼會這樣呢?」這是由於上帝的愛,上帝在祂所創造的宇宙中作用著。舉例來說:買鐘錶的人,並不會在意工廠裡哪一位工程師製作了這個鐘錶,但是,鐘錶還是會繼續運作。上帝並不像某個人扮演特殊的角色。上帝關愛著我們,祂將能量傳給我們,那非受造的能量是一種超越語言文字的能量,是hypostatic不是athripostasis,也就是說,此能量離開了上帝就不存在,它們與上帝緊密相連:上帝依據自己的自由意志,用不同的方式對宇宙萬物產生影響與作用。整個宇宙都充滿了上帝非受造的能量,它們或許是細微之處,卻有強大的影響力。上帝給予世界光明,從這個角度來看,世界是美善的。身為基督徒,我們應該將世界看作上帝恩典的展現。讓我們用神學來詮釋。以西方神學的角度來看,沒有任何一件事情可以證明上帝的存在。然而,在正教會,由於Gregorias Palamas的貢獻,我們可以提出上帝存在的證據,用邏輯(此邏輯指的是教父學的邏輯)來談論上帝。我們也可以從聖經的教導來談論上帝,因為上帝非受造的能量進入我們體內。誠然,這一切都要歸因於「上帝成為人類」藉由領受聖餐進入我們體內。

我想要再一次強調Gregorias Palamas所提出的「非受造之光」的神學重要性。「非受造之光」就好像舊約中提到的光。它是燃燒的灌木叢。整個宇宙都是一棵燃燒的灌木,因為耶穌基督天主子進入了我們的宇宙。我們應該將宇宙看成是一棵燃燒的灌木。我們可以用肉眼看見上帝的恩典。看看這些鳥兒[手指向陽台,一群鳥兒來到陽台],看看整個宇宙,都充滿了上帝的光。Gregorias Palamas和教父們所說的「上帝的光」指的並不是這種光[手指向天花板的燈]。我們應該要看自己內在的光,讓自己成為這光。「上帝的光」也是耶穌「顯聖容」所散發的光,在這幅聖像畫中,你們可以看見耶穌基督充滿了光。[手指向聖像畫] 事實上,他就是光,他的衣服、甚至他身邊的岩石都充滿了光。這光究竟是什麼?對於希臘僧侶Balaam來說,此光是受造的,就像是雲一般,一下子出現、一下子消失。從聖經和教會過去的經驗可知,此光就是上帝。這就是為什麼,我們說此光來自於內在[手指向聖像畫]。如果上帝也願意,我們誦持「心禱」時就能看見自己內在的光,我們甚至會變成此光,將此光放射至整個世界。就好像摩西散發的光芒一樣,他的面容有了巨大的改變,人們都不敢直視他的臉。由古至今,聖徒的光芒也一直被看見。

由此可見,Gregorias Palamas的神學非常偉大,它真切地詮釋出我們如何參與上帝、如何奉獻自己,真正與上帝合一。確實,在世界上,我們無法找到另一件事,可以與「在聖禮儀中與上帝合一」比擬。我們領受了耶穌基督、讓他與我們合一的同時,他如何在我們體內作用、對我們產生影響呢?他改變了我們,而且我們可以看見他的光 —- 我們的內在也轉化為這份謙卑。聖父、聖子、聖靈,或者說聖三的能量,在我們體內作用。這種奉獻自我、天人合一的過程,就是生命的目的。

值得留意的是,我們不應把注意力放在此經驗的奇幻面。我們實行「心禱」的時候,非常需要一位屬靈導師的指導,我們最好能在教會中以正確的方式實行。舉例來說:有些人從不告解,也從不領聖餐,他要如何實行「心禱」?就算他在實行當中有困難,他還是必須試試看,他就會發現上帝的奧秘。

獻身於上帝的恩典、上帝的光是非常重要的,但是,只靠自己一人,它無法實現。在教會中,我們從來不是孤獨一人。我也不像那些隱居在山上的人那樣,宣稱自己擁有獨特的力量,你們來找我的時候,我就變魔術、行奇蹟。無論我們身在何處,都能領受上帝的恩典,因為我們都是上帝的孩子,我們是教會大家庭的一份子。祈禱的時候,我們會說:「我們在天上的父。」我不會說:「我的父。」我擁有兄弟姊妹,大家都是天父的子女,天父也是耶穌基督的父,祂將我們結合為一體。在聖禮儀的前祝聖禮中,你們會看見,神父拿著蠟燭並說:「基督的光照亮我們每個人。」此光就是上帝的光。Gregorias Palams的詮釋如此的美妙。Balaam是一位不可知論者,他曾說:「關於上帝,以人類的語言,我們無法說什麼,因此我們不該談論這個話題。」然而,對Gregorias Palamas而言,it is中的is不是am。.在英文中,沒有陰性、中性、陽性之分。Gregorias Palamas說,摩西問上帝「你是誰」時,上帝並沒有回答「我就是我的本質」,而是說我是o-on [手指向一幅聖像畫],o-on代表了「我就是存在的那一位」。因此,走向我們的是上帝本人,祂賜給我們祂的恩典。這是非常重要的。祂除了祝福「我」之外,還祝福了我們的關係、我們的朋友,因為「真正的友誼」也是上帝的恩賜。

為什麼我要提到「真正的友誼」?因為,在今天的福音中,我們可以聽見「真正的友誼」。有一位癱瘓的人,無法前往去見耶穌基督。他有一群好朋友—-福音中沒有提到他們是誰,所以,我們並不知道他們的名字—-這些好朋友冒著入獄的危險,完成了他們的任務。我想,最真誠的愛,是沒有人可以阻擋的。屋子裡充滿了自私自利的人,但是,這些好朋友找到一個方法。他們拆了房頂(我猜他們拆了房頂之後應該要付錢給屋主,不是嗎?),就把癱子連所躺臥的褥子都縋下來。患難見真情,這些朋友冒著入獄和被人羞辱的危險,不顧旁人的質疑和異樣眼光。

什麼力量使他們團結?我想,是上帝非受造的能量。上帝是我們真正的朋友,從這份友誼又衍生出其他的友誼。這份愛創造了奇蹟。(從福音的描述我們得知),許多人都見到了耶穌基督,也一起見證了這個奇蹟。透過好朋友的愛,病痊癒了。耶穌對那癱瘓的人說:「你的罪得到赦免了。」之後,耶穌又跟他說:「拿你的褥子行走。」為什麼耶穌要這樣做呢?這是一個明顯的標誌。它代表了,上帝寬恕我們之後,過去所經歷的一切並非枉然,它們沒有白費,而是成為寶貴的一課。我們可以運用這些珍貴的經驗來幫助其他人。癱瘓代表的是一種活得像行屍走肉的生命,那條褥子現在成為一面棋子,召告所有擁有相同處境的人:這個世界還有希望,還是有友誼,還有上帝的愛。

最後,讓我們來討論一個問題,當上帝的愛來臨時,或許有人會想拒絕。首先,我們的生命本身就是上帝的恩賜。擁有拒絕上帝的特權也是上帝的另一個恩賜。事實上,我們活著,擁有愛與被愛的能力,都是上帝的恩賜。我們都活在上帝非受造的恩典當中。上帝不會強迫我們,他會詢問我們的意願,就像他問使徒西門。「西門,約拿的兒子,你愛我嗎?」如果我們回應他:「是的,主,我愛祢。」祂就會進入我們內心更深的地方,祂會成為我們的生命,此生命會將我們與所有人緊密相連。

讓我們一起持誦心禱:「主耶穌基督憐憫我。」讓耶穌的教導和上帝非受造的能量留在我們心中。讓我們活在上帝的光中。阿門。

On the Second Sunday of the Great Lent, the Church puts in front of us the memory of the great Father and Theologian, Gregorias Palamas, the archbishop of Thesaloniki. And the Church is doing this because every Sunday, as we say, during this spiritual preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Church is giving us different ways to gradually improve in spirituality, in the love of God and in the cleaning of our souls and bodies. And today it is the great teacher of spirituality, the great teacher of the Church. For many it is the second Sunday of Orthodoxy because Gregorias Palamas is the abstract, the integration of Orthodox theology and Orthodox spiritual life. And this is why today we will say a few things about what he is teaching us and what is his great example in his teachings.

During this period we must pray more. But what is prayer, the proper prayer? Of course the Church has many prayers for us, so I will speak of the teachings of Gregorias Palamas, gradually starting from the first things, which are not easy of course, but they are very deep and they are the heart of Orthodox spirituality.

First of all, Gregorias is the teacher of the Prayer of the Heart. As a teacher of the Prayer of the Heart, he gives us different ways and especially the way of the Prayer of the Heart, which is what? It is not only the different prayers we have, but it is also the prayer that never ceases: to say in our hearts, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” This we start saying in our mind and gradually from our mind it goes to our heart and unites all our human being and it changes our life.

In our life, as you know we have the internal dialogue, we have this always, even now you have different thoughts that are coming, they never stop. But when we have this word, His name inside our mind, this gradually changes: it enters, let’s say to speak in the language of computers, it changes the operating system of our mind. And then the word of Jesus Christ enters into our heart. And then our heart starts to do two jobs. The one is that we do our job every day, we can concentrate on our job, we can teach, we can do whatever we do. The other is the continuous prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.” And when, as Gregorias Palamas says and my spiritual father teaches, it is me, but it is all the universe, it is not only me. This is the core of the Orthodox prayers, and if the grace of God wants and if God is doing this miracle to us, this prayer comes automatically, without any effort. It comes, it just comes. It’s like breathing. Of course we breathe and we do it naturally, and the breathing of the soul is to say the name of Jesus Christ.

Gregorias Palams was the great teacher of the Prayer of the Heart, and we have a lot of his writings in the book of Philokalia and also in many other books. Especially in this period we must start to practice, a little bit, every day, the Prayer of the Heart, especially when we are in the MRT, on the bus, going to our job, when we walk outside. All these things bring us an unbelievable peace and the Grace of God.

But when I say to you, “the Grace of God,” what do we mean by the Grace of God? Because anybody can say this, right? I say, “God bless you. May you have the grace of God.” What is this? Is the Grace of God something simple that I give you? For example when I say, “I give you my blessing.” [making the sign of the cross] What exactly am I giving you? Do I give myself? Of course not. Actually on Mount Athos we say, “Give me a blessing,” and it is a word, practically, to give you some money or some help, some food or some bread, or something. But this is not the idea of a blessing because the Grace of God – and it was a question, and still it is for other Christians, maybe not for Orthodox – is this God giving you something, for example money or some good thoughts so you can work better in your job? It is not like this.

The great contribution of Gregorias Palamas was to say, it is God himself who is working in you in me in everybody, but he is working in you without giving you his essence. Why do I say this? Because there was this question during this time by a Greek monk who came from Italy and he was raised by Western spirituality so he started saying [various things that were against Orthodoxy]. First of all, his spiritual life was a fake spiritual life: he was not receiving the Holy Communion, as many historians of this period say. And because he was not receiving the Holy Communion, he could not receive the Grace of God. And also he was a cheater. Once, because he was very educated, he was humiliated in Constantinople for some mathematical and philosophical questions, and he never confessed [his resentment] actually, truly. You know some people confess, “I have stolen from my mother a candy but they don’t confess the big thing, for example, “I want to do something against the Church or other people.

So what did he do? He went to Mount Athos and he saw the fathers there saying, of course we say this, “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.” He asked, “What is this?” And he examined this as if he was a great master. The fathers said, “We see the light of God.” He said, “What, you are heretics.” So Gregorias Palams wrote a lot because he had the Prayer of the Heart as a gift from the Holy Mother herself because he knew her and he was talking to her. So Gregorias explained that the Grace of God is God himself. In Western theology they cannot understand that in God we have distinctions. Yes, God is the absolute simplicity, but also we distinguish. Simplicity is not a simple thing, like we understand with our human mind what is simple and what is not simple. For example, for God we have one essence but we have three persons, right? And this does not stop God from being simple.

So Gregorias Palamas, and not only him, from the very beginning, from the Bible and before the Bible, we hae another distinction, the glory of God, the uncreated energy of God. For Western theology, God is actus purus, he is only energy. So what can I do? It is like the sun: all I can do is to gaze at the sun. The sun is there, it is very beautiful and I see the sun and I feel happy. But, as they say, I cannot be united with the sun because then I would be the sun, right? And if I am united with God, then I would be God. And so ethics for the Western world is some practice, to be a good person. For us the ethics is an ontological thing: it’s a change because God enters into us, by himself, by his uncreated energy, by his glory.

You see, God said to Moses, “You cannot see me.” But He told him, “You will see my body. Glory will pass in front of you and you will see my back.” Actually, of course God has no back and front. So did Moses see God or not? If you ask people here in Taiwan, they say, “No.” or they don’t know what to say. He saw God and he did not see God. He did not see the essence of God, which is only known and participated by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and nobody else. But he saw – and not only saw – he was in the uncreated energy of God. The Bible says the glory of God or the energy. Jesus says, “I saw power coming out of me.” What is this power? As Apostle Paul says,[1] the energia and the energimata the result of the energies of God.

So when God gives you humility, it is God Himself who enters you. When he gives you love, it is God himself who enters you. Like the Bible says so beautifully and so poetically, for the prophet Isaiah, he says that it was a storm and God was not there; it was like fire and God was not there, and it was like a breeze, a small beautiful air. And there was God.

For the energy of God I will use some examples. It is like when you drink water but you warm the water and this warm water enters you and warms all your body. It is like having a heater and you put your hands there and all your circulation changes because the heat enters your body. So when I say to you to have the Grace of God, it is like I have a mirror and I reflect the love of God, and I send to you God himself, and He enters to you. When we say, “May God give you repentence,” the repentence is not to feel humiliated, or to blackmail God, or to say, “Oh, I am nothing and do this.” [beats his breast] It is a complete change of attitude: it is the entrance of God as humility inside us. And it is Him. This is why repentance has nothing to do with the human way of life. And this is why there is fake repentance, like when people see confession as a simple thing: “I did this, I did that, so I repent.” And especially we know these things when people are lying in confession, as it has happened here to many people. The result is to cheat the Grace of God. God enters and then He goes out. Like Balaam, who split the Church and created a big problem in the Church.

So we must enjoy this, that the ethics is an ontological thing, it is God who is working in us. And you will say, “But how come this is?” But this is the Love of God. God acts on all in His universe, personally. He does not act like somebody, for example, who made a watch in a factory; I buy the watch, nobody cares, and the watch continues to work. It’s not like this. But He cares, and He sends his energy, his uncreated energies which are hypostatic energies, but not athripostasis,[2] which means they don’t exist outside of God. They are not separated from God: it is God Himself acting by different ways in His freedom. All the universe is full of the uncreated energy of God, in small ways and in very strong ways. In less ways because God is giving light to the world. And from this point of view the world is good. And as Christians we should see the world as a manifestation of the Grace of God. You see why we can speak about theology. In the Western way of theology, we say there are no proofs of God. But in the Orthodox way and because of Gregorias Palamas we can speak about the proofs, the logical way talking about God, but this logic is the Patristic logic. From the Bible we can speak about God because of the uncreated energy of God entering into us. And of course this is mostly because God became human, and he enters into us by the Holy Communion.

But once more to say how important is the theology of the uncreated light and of Gregorias Palams. It is like to see the light in the Old Testament. It was a burning bush. All the universe is a burning bush because Jesus Christ entered into the universe, the Son of God entered into the universe. And we should see the universe as a burning bush. With our eyes we see the Grace of God. All these birds here [pointing to the balcony where birds come] or all the universe is full of this light of God. When I say to see the light of God, I don’t mean – and Gregorias Palamas and all the Fathers of the Church that we celebrate today did not say to see the light of God like I see this light here [points to the ceiling], but to see the light inside me, and to become light. And this was the light of the Transfiguration, you see there the icon of the transfiguration, Jesus Christ became full of light, and actually he was light, his clothes, and even the rocks around him. What was this light? For this Greek monk, Balaam, because he was cheating and because of the way he grew up as a spy and his way of thinking [his version of the light] was, just as he writes, as something created, like a cloud, it is created, it appears and then it disappears from this world. But from the Bible, from the experience of the Church, this light is God. This is why we say the light comes from inside [pointing to icons]. And when we have the Prayer of the Heart and when God wants, yes, we see the light inside us because we become light and because radiate this light to the world. And this we have from Moses, as I say, his face changed and even his people could not dare to see his face. And to all the saints that we have seen from very ancient times to today.

And from this point of view, the theology of Gregorias Palamas is so great to express exactly that we have participation with God, and then we have the dedication , which means this union with God. Yes, there is nothing more in this world or the other world than the Holy Communion. But when I receive Jesus Christ inside me, how does he act, how does he work? He changes me and I see the light – not me – and I become this humility in me. It is Him who works by the energies of the Father or the Son or the Holy Spirit, of the one God that works in us. This dedication is the purpose of our life.

It is important that we don’t stay too magical in this experience. It is important that we don’t focus too much on practices. Yes, there are practices in the Prayer of the Heart, but it needs to be with a spiritual teacher and it needs to be in the Church in the right way. For example, someone who does not confess, who does not receive the Holy Communion, how will he practice? But even if he does not, he must try and then he will a miracle, he will see the miracle of God.

It is very important that this dedication, this Grace of God, this Light of God does not come individually. We are not individuals in the Church, like I am sitting in a mountain or somewhere else and I have powers and you come here and I do some magical performance. Everywhere we are, we receive the Grace of God as members of our brothers, as children of God. When I say, “Our Father who art in Heaven,” I don’t say, “my Father,” I say, “our Father,” right? I have brothers who have the same Father and so there is this brotherhood because we have the common Father, the Father of Jesus Christ, who unites us.

So we say in the pre-sanctified Liturgy that we have, you see the priest takes the candle and says, “The light of Christ enlightens all.” So now you understand what I mean in our pre-sanctified Liturgy: it is this Light of God Gregorias Palams that speaks of so wonderfully, and so beautifully. And of course he says that we know God, because Balaam was an agnostic, he was saying, “Well, we cannot say anything about God, so don’t talk about this.” But for Gregorias Palamas it is “is”, not “am”. In English it is impossible to say this word there is one word for the masculine and one for the neutral. Gregorias Palamas says that when when Moses asked God who He was, He did not say, “I am the essence,” He said “I am o-on.” You see the name here [pointing to an icon], o-on I am the one who exists. So it is personal, God is coming to us, He is caring for us, and He is giving us His Grace. And this is very important: He is blessing not only me, but our relationships, our friends, because the real friendship is also a gift of God.

And why do I say about real friendship? Because today in the Gospel we hear about real friendship. There was this person who was paralyzed so he could not go to Jesus Christ, and his good friends – the Gospel does not say anything about them, we do not know their names – but the good friends, they did their duty, and this duty could put them in prison, because if there is real love, there is nothing that can stop this real love. The house was full of people who cared only for themselves, but the good friends found a way, they went to the roof of the house and broke the roof. (Actually, I suppose they should pay money later to he who had the house, right?) Then with ropes they put down their paralyzed friend. This is the real friendship, friendship that cannot stop, friendship that cannot abandon in difficult times, friendship that has consequences – they could go to prison because of this and they could be humiliated when the others said, you crazy people what are you doing?

Because of these things, what was there? What was there uniting them? This uncreated energy of God. It is God who is that friend to us, and from this friendship come all the other friendships. And this love made the miracle. Because, you know so many people were seeing Jesus Christ and there was not an obvious miracle for them. But through the love of a good friend something happened, the cure happened. And you see, Jesus Christ said to the paralyzed person, “Your sins are forgiven.” And later he told him to take up his bed. Why? To show as a symbol that when God forgives us, our previous life is not for nothing. It is not a wasted life but it becomes a lesson. It becomes an experience that can help others. It can become something that we can use in the future for other people, and it can help the others. So this symbol of the paralysis that put this poor person for one life as a little dead – now he becomes like a flag, and this flag is a message for all the others who are in this condition: that there is hope, and that there is friendship, and that there is the love of God.

Finally, you may say that this Love of God is coming, but suppose I don’t want it? First of all, we receive a little bit because we are alive, and the fact that we are alive is a gift of God. The fact that we are alive and we have the privilege to refuse God is also a gift of God. And the fact that we are alive, and the fact that we have the ability to love, as we love, it is also a gift of God. It’s a little bit of the uncreated Grace of God. If we want more, God is not forcing us, but he is asking us, like he asked Simon Zelotes the Apostle. He said, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?” And if we say, “Yes, Lord, I love You.” He will enter into us much more strongly, and he will become life to us, life that unites us with all.

So, practicing the Prayer of the Heart, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me,” remember the teachings and this uncreated energy of God and be inside this Light of God. Amen.


[1] 1Cor. 12:6 And there are diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all.
1Cor. 12:6 καὶ διαιρέσεις ἐνεργημάτων (=workings, energies)εἰσίν, ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς θεὸς ὁ ἐνεργῶν (=who works) )τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν. English cannot really give a good translation on this. (FJ)

[2]αυθυποστατον (hypostatic but self-existing, like for example your hand to exist independently from you ) (FJ)

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