The Prelate’s Sermon, Sunday, May 22
Today, on the 6th Sunday of the Holy Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epistle of Saint John reads as follows: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be, has not yet been revealed. What we know is this: when He is revealed, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. And all who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure” (1 Jn 3:2-6).
This is a very brief, yet important statement which irrigates our hope anchored in Christ. Let us therefore benefit from a few drops of trust from the Apostle’s experience to refresh our own faith.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, through the well-known “Our Father” prayer, teaches us that we are God’s children. The Apostle John, who was privileged with the Revelation of the things to come, first reminds us of our status as God’s children in this world, and then humbly confesses that the fullness of our final destiny is known only to our Creator and Heavenly Father. The things in the celestial realm which were revealed to John were just a taste of perfection and yet a solid ground for hope. Even though the transition of our existence from its material to the spiritual form is incomprehensible to our human mind, yet we know that as kin to our God-human Brother Jesus, we will be honored in His presence.
This glimpse of the future Glory offered by the Incarnate One through His teaching, Transfiguration, the Sacrificial Love on the Cross, and the promise delivered before His Ascension, is the greatest energizer of the pilgrimage of faith and hope for all generations. In the Old Testament, Moses was permitted to see the promised land watching from afar (Deut 32:48-50). Moses could not foresee how that land would be what was promised, yet he trusted in Lord’s Word, who had shown so many Signs to him and to the children of Israel.
The concept of a promised land is not unique to either religion or faith but is pertinent to our common life. One example is the excitement expressed by countless immigrants who have arrived at this blessed Home of the Brave, when they have sighted the Statue of Liberty from afar. Surely the entire procedure of naturalization could not be crystalized yet to them, but the fulfillment of being a promised land inspired them to hope that they, too, would soon be showered with enormous bounties.
The Apostles reminds us that the circle of Redemption did not end with the Ascension, but rather it was a phase within the eternal plan of the Planner despite all attempts of disturbances. When and how He will reveal is beyond all knowledge. Jesus Himself humbly tells us that neither the angels nor the Son of Man know the end of time; only the Father knows (Mt 24:36). Without the Next Coming it would be only a partial and not accomplished raison d’être of the Sacrificial Mission that “God will be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28). The Apostle’s statement that we will see Him is not a wish or self-deception, but it is the assurance based on the request of Jesus, when He prayed and asked, “Father, I will that they also, whom You has given to me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory: for thou loved me before the foundation of the world” (Jn 17:24).
The incomparable honor which the Apostle reveals is that we will be like God Himself. This statement is indeed beyond all imagination. Based upon our Lord’s teaching (Luke 15:11-32), if the loving father vested upon his prodigal son the unexpected honor, similarly, by trusting in our heavenly Father’s unconditional love we can be sure that He who sent for our sake His Only-begotten Son to save us knows the way to be like our Brother. The way for all of us who hope in Him to partake of this blessing of the Divine promise is constantly to purify ourselves in His mercy and thankfully praise Him. Amen.