Go, Ye! ...
From the pages of the Gospel doth the Lord call out: Go, ye!... go, ye!... Few are the labourers. Preach My Word...
There is a painting. Christ is atop a hill... His face, marred by suffering, is illumined with a wondrous light. His great and beautiful eyes look lovingly into the distance. With His gaze, He embraces both those near and far. Extending His nail-wounded hands, He points into the distance. Christ says: Go, ye! His entire appearance, His movements, wounds, eyes, extended hand -- all express one thing: go, ye!... And it seems that hands are extended toward us from everywhere -- not only from afar, but from near-by, as well. From all the outlying parts... From all the out-of-the-way places... From the roadways... Everywhere, there are those who have lost Christ, and are in search of Him. They languish. They suffocate without fresh air. Just as it is impossible to live without water, [and] without food, so also is it impossible to live without Christ...
We once heard the following parable:
For over thirty years, Christ had wandered upon the earth. Those in heaven began to miss Him, and could not wait for His return... And, lo! the hour, it came: all in heaven crowd roundabout Him and cannot gaze their fill upon the desired Countenance. And the Father! How He greets His beloved Son; how He kisses those wounds, borne for the sake of men -- wounds on [His beloved Son's] brow, hands, [and] feet! All the hosts of heaven surround the Divine Crusader; all the angels and archangels fall down before Him in worshipful adoration.
Suddenly, a voice is heard. The Archangel Gabriel opens his mouth to ask: "O, Lord! didst Thou die on earth for the entire world?"
"Yes, for the entire world," Christ replies.
"Didst Thou suffer much?" the Archangel enquires further, looking keenly into that Face, bearing the marks of [His] torments.
"I suffered much," the reply is heard.
"And they all know about this?"
"Oh, no! only a few in Palestine and its environs."
"What will happen next, Lord? How will the world find out that Thou didst die for it? How shalt Thou declare this unto men?"
"I have entrusted that [task] to Peter, James, John, Andrew, and several others," the Teacher answers. "I commissioned them to lay down their lives in order to tell others, farther and farther along, until every human being in the farthestmost reaches of the earth will have heard the good news and experienced the [Gospel's] power."
But the Archangel Gabriel knew what men were like; he does not trust them; he does not expect success -- and, again, the question [is asked]:
"But, what if Peter does not carry out the commission? What if John wavers, and does not tell others? And if their descendants become so carried-away by various irrelevant causes that they do not tell anyone about this work, what then?"
The firm, Divine voice of Christ answers: "My disciples cannot fail in continuing My work. They will not conceal My treasure for themselves. They will pass it on to others..."
Yes, the Apostles did not conceal Christ's treasure -- they carried it thoughout the entire world. In torments, suffering, in the face of death, they preached the good news concerning the Truth, the Life, the Light, the Source of salvation, and the only Way into the Kingdom of God.
Not fearing death, bold, daring, they everywhere sowed the Divine seed. By means of miracles they fortified its power and might. With what fire burned their faith! How great, how boundless was [their] love toward the Saviour! Truly did they leave everything behind; more than father or mother, more than son or daughter, did they come to love Christ and the glory of God. For this reason did they receive an imperishable crown.
The Kingdom of God is taken by force. Without us, God will not save us. A weapon is useless to a soldier unless he takes it up and is capable of using it. Likewise, the sacrifice of the Son of God; likewise, the Holy Spirit, Who was sent down upon us -- without us, without our efforts, They will not save us.
We are like unto the man who, seeing scattered pearls, was too lazy to rise up, bend over, and become the possessor of a treasure incalculable. We are like unto that mad guest who, having been invited to a splendid feast, with a restricted guest-list, considered it to be too great an effort on his part to extend his hand toward the viands, and departed hungry.
What obduracy and profound ignorance of our paramount calling! There is a heavenly tongue, and there is an earthly tongue. Our only task in this world is to walk firmly and reliably in accordance with the will of God. Invariably will it bring us to the final, desired and blessed goal...
The Apostles knew that he who does not himself confess -- and who does not preach -- the Lord, by his deeds and words, the same betrays Him. And the Son of Man will not acknowledge such a one at His judgment...
Souls on fire pass by soundlessly upon the earth; but, like flowers of exquisite beauty, they everywhere leave behind a fragrance sweet. O, God! if even withering blossoms leave fruit-bearing seed behind, then these impetuous souls will give rise to imitators of themselves, who will desire to carry on their redolent labour of bringing joy.
Increase the [number of] labourers in Thy Vineyard, O Lord. Worthless greenery and weeds are bringing harm to Thy Divine Vineyard, planted by Thine loving hand. Preserve It, Lord, and bring to It yet more caring labourers, such as are unmurmuringly and sincerely desirous of Its blossoming.
Strong is the arm of the Lord, guarding and guiding the pathway of our life toward His Kingdom. Help us! Toward Thee do we go, O Son of God, our Saviour. It is for this that Thou didst found Thine invisible Church. And happy and fortunate are we, that we belong to Her and that we love Her, with all our heart.
Reprinted by permission from The Light Of Orthodoxy: The Journal Of the St. Stefan Of Perm' Guild, Summer 1983 issue. Translated into English for "The Light Of Orthodoxy" by G. Spruksts, from the Russian text appearing in Bogosoznaniye - Opyt pravoslavnago mirosozertsaniya [The Awareness Of God: The Experience Of the Orthodox World-view], by Protopriest Nikolai Deputatov. (St. Herman Of Alaska Press. 1975). English-language translation copyright � 1983 by The St. Stefan Of Perm' Guild, and the Translator; copyright � 1997, 2001 by The Russian Cultural Heritage Society. All rights reserved.