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Father Gavril: Watching the Face of the Lord

ikoni18In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit


The message of this gospel event (Matthew 14, 22-33) is clear. And that is: always when we look at the face of God we walk on the narrow, straight road, that is, we walk before the Lord and we do not fall. But when we turn our face away from Him (towards our thoughts, worries, earthly needs, seeking human justice instead of seeking mercy and faith in the Lord), it is then that we fall and sin. It is good to remind ourselves that in those moments there is no one but Christ that can save us, after we have repented, asked for forgiveness and aspire to return back to Him.

Specifically, after feeding 5,000 people by the miracle conducted through the five loaves and two fish, Lord Jesus Christ sent His disciples on the boat, while He went to a secluded place to pray on the mountain. The boat in the meantime was tossed by the waves and pushed to the middle of the sea, and as the Church psalmist says: where God wants even the natural laws submit to Him. Thus in this case, as Jesus wished to return to His disciples, He walked on the surface of the water as if it was dry land, and the water under His feet lost its natural liquid state and became solid. When the apostles saw this they were frightened because their faith was weak, and they did not know Him truly just yet, therefore they doubted and were afraid, thinking they were seeing a ghost.

6995551815_933369fd02After he came to himself, Peter said to Jesus; “Lord if it is truly You, let me come to You.” When God let him walk on the water and when he started walking, the water also turned solid, until he turned his face away from the Lord; then he noticed the waves and doubted, was afraid and started to sink. When he started to sink he remembered that the Lord is right in front of him and there is no one else but the Lord that can save him, so he cried: “Save me oh Lord”, and the Lord immediately took Peter by the hand, pulled him from the water and safely took him to the boat.

It is the same in our lives, whenever we look the Lord in His face, as King David always did, we will be safe and sound in the worldly sea of temptations. At the moment when we turn our face away from God, when we do things contrary to God’s will, we sink and perish.

When we respond to evil with evil, whether by thought, word or deed. When instead of blaming ourselves, we justify ourselves and even blame our neighbour as guilty of the evil in us. When we do not love. When we do not forgive. When we get angry and furious … all of this is turning our heads away, (looking away from God at the raging sea of the earthly life ), and it is our fall and perdition. It is the acceptance of Adam as our criterion, and not Christ. But we know where Adam will take us and where Christ will take us. Therefore, the choice is ours.

If we are so conscious of our life and our actions, when every deed and word and everything we do in life, we would be doing openly and before the face of God, then we will become God’s fellow workers. We will strive not to sin, we will strive to fulfil God’s commandments through obedience to the Church; through obedience to our own spiritual father, through prayer, fasting, regular confession and communion.

As the prophet Moses did, before killing the Egyptian overseer who tortured his brothers, firstly, he looked to the left and then to the right. Thus, we should also do before we do anything, we need to think whether it is pleasing to God or not. Whether it is useful or harmful for our soul, and then with a sober and enlightened mind by God, to do what is right.

The rippling sea and the waves are the temptations and the demonic thoughts in this world. We all have temptations. In every situation we have the opportunity to choose whether we will act in accordance to the Gospel or we will accept the thoughts of the fallen mind, which the devil tells us that we (our thoughts) are “reasonable, wise”, but in fact are contrary to God’s commandments and the Gospel.

But we are the ones who decide whether we will hold firm to Christ and walk towards Him and not sink into the sea of temptations of this world, or, we will turn our eyes away from Jesus and do something which is against God’s will. This is where all the troubles start – when we do not act Evangelically, but according to the logic of the fallen and darkened mind. Then there is insecurity, torment, sufferings, illnesses…

For example, when man takes a wrong step, and falls into deep water, he loses control, panics and starts to drown. The same happens to us. In the moment of temptation all our decisions and conclusions are wrong. All we need to do in those situations is to take courage and immediately repent. That is, to give our hand to God and He will surely pull us from the danger.

In the first instance, while we walk on the sea with the tossing waves, although the waves are threatening us, we continue to walk with determination towards God, then we will safely arrive at the destination, to Him.

In the second instance, as soon as we turn our eyes from the Lord and stop following God’s commandments, although everything might seem certain, safe and logical to us, yet, in actual fact we sin and sink (drown).

IMG_4454 copy-HDRThere is only one Truth. The path we take in order to enter through the gate of salvation is thorny and narrow. All who enter the gate will be saved, they will find a pasture and the unconditional freedom. Repentance, humility, prayer, obedience, and firm devotion to God are the main components with which we Christians can walk freely on the rough sea of today’s tribulations.

Nevertheless no one is without sin except only the Lord Jesus Christ. Out of weak faith, as in the case of the saint apostle Peter, or out of any other reason, we may turn our eyes from God and do something contrary to God’s commandments, and then we will make a mistake, we will sin. It is essential to have a deep awareness that the Lord is our saviour and He is our life, and we need to ask for His forgiveness. Let us repent and confess for any trespass we may have done. Let us stretch our hand to the Lord, so that He can again lift us and take us to the boat – the Church, to the Holy Table of Oblation, by partaking of the Holy Gifts, of Him Himself, for salvation and life eternal.

So, my brothers and sisters, let us learn from the today’s Gospel reading and walk towards Christ, because there is no other way.


Father Gabriel

Abbot of the monastery “St. Clement of Ohrid”,

Kinglake, Melbourne, Australia


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