Once again we have come to the Sunday service to commemorate the day of resurrection. All the other days do not have such a special significance as this day, and the purpose of those other days is also different. But Sunday is, first of all, the remembrance of Christ’s resurrection, and secondly, of our own resurrection. As many Sundays as there will be in our lives, so many steps we will have to pass in order to reach our resurrection. We have been given neither more nor less Sundays than are required for us to attain resurrection. It is not by chance that in ancient times the Church was strict towards those who missed the Sunday service. As many Sunday services as we have missed – so many steps have we lost for reaching our salvation. Let us imagine a staircase with missing steps. To go forward over one missing step already requires an effort, but if several steps in a row are missing, how are we to go forward? What a great effort is required! How to jump over? And yet we have to go forward if we wish to be resurrected from the dead. Perhaps it is for this reason that we stand during the Sunday service so limply, that we have lost so many steps – so many Sunday services, and so we stand and think to ourselves: it doesn’t really matter, we have lost so much already. So why bother, when others are not bothered, but continue on their merry way?
If it were only so! If we could only live and continue living as we live now, but that will not happen, illness will come, old age will come, death will come…
Everyone will have to die. And in the face of death questions will definitely arise: why did you live? For what purpose has earthly life been granted to you? What will come next? Will it be nothing at all?
O thinking man, intelligent man, who searches for the meaning of life, - why do you accept the thought that perhaps there will be nothing? You are deceived, o man, if you accept such a thought. It is material well-being that pacifies you, it is sin that makes a fool of you. You will cry out when death comes.
I would like to mention several examples from modern-day life. There was a certain woman who was well off, who lived for her own pleasure, who had everything. She had health, she had success, she enjoyed life, and suddenly – there was cancer. Such widespread cancer that the metastases took over immediately and it was too late to perform an operation. Perhaps she, too, once agreed with everyone – well, non-existence, there will be nothing left of me, I will submit to this and disappear… But now she did not agree. She cried out in despair:
- I want to live, save me!
For a long time she was comforted, the best doctors were found, but what can doctors do in the face of imminent death? It is standing right there at the door and the doctors helplessly spread their hands. The woman watches their every movement and understands that everything is over, the verdict has been pronounced: she must die..
- I want to live! – she cries out again in a hollow voice.
Such is the cry of those people who have lived extremely well, to the fullest extent of enjoyment. They have everything, and yet they have to leave everything.
As another dying woman, with a character less violent than the one above, said:
- If only I could have one more day. And if I could live not in this luxurious dwelling, but in a simpler one. How I envy you, who do not have all this, but who have life.
And why should she be filled with envy? If we consider dispassionately: all of us are sentenced to die. So should we envy death? It will come to every one of us.
And here before us is an important person, a figure of authority, everyone was under his command, but now he is lying there helplessly. He calls for the cleaning woman, a simple uneducated person.
- What do you think, is there any life over there?
The woman looked him straight in the eye:
- And why do you ask me, a simple and illiterate person? Ask your wife.
- What can I ask her? She is an unbeliever like myself.
So we have always lauded science, considered ourselves to be quite progressive, laughed at the ignorance of old women, but now, when death has approached us, we have started talking to these ignorant women, and in what manner yet! – politely, affectionately…
- Is there any life over there?
Does this mean we do not want to die, we want life to continue? We want to live… To depart into nothingness, to become nothing – we can talk like that about others, but not about ourselves. And when death threatens you, you will appeal to everyone around you, forgetting your vanity, forgetting your pride:
- Tell me, is there any life over there?
The cleaning woman replied: - Yes, I believe there is life over there, - and calmly went on with her work.
When you believe in immortality, you calmly go about your business and calmly repose. In olden times, when death approached, you would gather your children around you, you would give them your blessing, you would even instruct them on how to live and what to do, and then you would calmly die.
Such people did not cry out: - I want to live! – They knew that there is no real life here, it is all over there. If we have not yet completely sacrificed our conscience to drink, if we observe life carefully, we must see it.
Yesterday’s rich men are today’s beggars. People used to live on earth long and strong, and now – no sooner do they grow up that they are subjected to the most horrible, the most extraordinary illnesses. It is impossible to be shielded from anything at all.
Such are our human achievements, such is science.
It is true that science can do much, but it cannot do everything, only of what it is capable. But we have decided that science can solve everything. However, the problems of life and death are beyond the scope of science. These problems each one must resolve for himself.
Thus we have come to the service today, in order to resolve the problem of resurrection from the dead.
For those who pay close attention to the press, in the Literary Gazette you may have seen an entire discussion on the subject: is it worthwhile to live forever?
It seems funny to even bring up such a question: is it worthwhile to live forever? Who would not want to live forever? However, eternity has been terribly misunderstood. Let us assume that, in truth, it would be hardly worthwhile for old people to live forever. Or hunchbacks for that matter. But it is their understanding of eternity that is crooked, because if eternity exists, then surely everything that lives there is tailored to this eternity. Nevertheless, prolonging life does not solve the problem. Yes, when people lose faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, then they begin to solve everything in a funny manner. And the question of resurrection from the dead has long been solved by Christ’s resurrection. Christ arose from the dead – and so shall we arise.
But in what way: will it happen automatically or are we supposed to do something? Of course we must have faith, but faith is dead without good deeds. And with a dead faith we will certainly not attain resurrection. This means that we must have faith and we must do good deeds.
And what should we do? Whatever we do in faith – everything can serve towards our resurrection. Last time we spoke of how people attain resurrection by means of childrearing. In other words, how they can attain resurrection at home. We spoke of the domestic church, which is tied to the temple church, while today we will speak of society, since society must also be a kind of church, and it, too, like the domestic church, is linked with the temple church. The temple church is a special place where we finish the work on our resurrection that had begun at home or in society.
How can we find the Church in public life? We must educate ourselves in the principle that whatever we do – we must do it for the sake of our resurrection. If you work in production – work honestly. Do not steal, do not grab. You may think that you have not hurt anyone by stealing from the production line, but in truth you have stolen something from your resurrection from the dead. I am not even speaking of stealing from others, taking advantage of others. I am not even speaking of the offensive language we hear all around us. We are now forced to learn even the most elementary things: how to give up your place to those who need it; how to hold the door so it wouldn’t strike those behind you; how to help a drunkard get up without being afraid of getting dirty; how not to be afraid to enter the fray when someone is being insulted or hurt.
Now that we are in church – does this reach our consciousness? It is not by chance that the weeks go by, one by one, that every six days we have a Sunday. This Sunday is not a day off, as we think, but a reminder that we must be concerned about our resurrection. Our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished it, but we must master it. There is medication, but it must be taken regularly in order to be effective.
We are always in a hurry, but where are we hurrying? We are hurrying towards death! At the same time our Russian saint, Seraphim of Sarov, said: - Hurry to do good deeds. And we must hurry to achieve our resurrection! May we not be late… Amen.
Father Dimitriy Dudko.