April 30, 2021

Great Friday - The Last Kiss?

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869) 
"Come, brethren, and let us give a final kiss to him whom death has taken." 
Is it the last kiss of our Lord Jesus Christ today? For Him, no doubt, it is not the last, because always, until the end of the age, as long as His Church will exist on earth, Christians will give Him this kiss, which for you and me, listener, it may be the last, because this year we may die and therefore may not live to see a future Great Friday.
Christian listener! With this, perhaps, the last kiss of our Savior for you and me, let us think about ourselves, about our salvation. Jesus Christ did everything for our salvation, everything, He even did it out of love for us, and more than what can be done in life, He died for our salvation. What, on our part, did we do to save ourselves? Have we taken advantage of what Jesus Christ did for us? Everything He did for our salvation, He handed over to the Holy Church, in which He Himself, as her Head, always invisibly dwells and acts. Have you obeyed this Church? Are you fulfilling what she recognizes as necessary for our salvation and which she certainly requires from everyone who wants to be saved?

Or do you think to be saved another way? Don't you even consider it necessary to think a lot about your salvation? You think that nothing special is needed for salvation, you do not need to make any donations and concessions to others, no restrictions and constraints for yourself, you do not need any fasting, no prayers, no worship, no cleansing, no sanctification, in a word, you do not need to follow the teaching, rules, the charter of the Church of Christ, but it is enough to live and act according to your own understanding and according to your will; to live as you like, to do what you yourself find good, necessary and saving for yourself?

But think about it. If we could be saved this way, by ourselves, living and acting as anyone wants or as anyone thinks, without doing anything special for our salvation, then why did God do so many things solely so that we do not die? Why did He speak to people so many times and in so many ways through the prophets, instructing them on the path of salvation? Why, finally, did He send His only begotten Son into the world, so that everyone who believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life? And why did the Son of God have to do so much for our salvation? He descended from Heaven, was incarnated, He preached everywhere for three years, chose special disciples and sent them to preach, then endured various sufferings, died on the cross, was buried, rose from the grave, ascended into Heaven, sent the Holy Spirit from the Father to His disciples, created a special Church, established special Sacraments, established special pastors of the Church - and all this is solely for the sake of our salvation.

Why would our God do all this for us if we could be saved the way you think and how you live, that is, without thinking a lot about your salvation, not doing anything special for this and not using anything special? Pay attention to this Shroud, where Jesus Christ is depicted lying shortly after His decease when He was taken down from the cross, look: from His ribs there is blood, from His legs and hands - blood, His head - blood. Obviously, He died a martyr's death, painful, although He suffered for us voluntarily. Why should He, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, die such a death for the sake of our salvation, if we can be saved ourselves, without any outside help and without our special efforts?

O, think! It's not only about what is and what was, but also about what will happen to you! Or, in order to rid yourself of fear for your future fate, you are ready to doubt everything, you are ready not to believe anything. But think! What do you doubt, what do you not believe? After all, your eternal fate depends on this. We will die and this cannot be denied, although we are sometimes ready in this too to doubt it. What one does not want so much is reluctant to believe. We will die. And what if after death we regret and grieve that we did not believe in anything here and therefore did nothing for our salvation and did not use anything of what the Savior did for us?

Here, sometimes for a day or an hour you can regret, to grieve when you fail to do something proper, necessary, or do something bad, wicked, or even say something offensive to someone, especially an important person. But what if after death we regret and grieve for all eternity that we did not think about, did not take care of our salvation, did nothing, did not use anything for our salvation?

Think about this and what Jesus Christ did for our salvation. Think, judge, remember, so that you do not sin forever, so that you do not repent forever. And now let us add our sinful lips to His most pure wounds. With His wounds sinners are healed. Perhaps you and I will be healed. Yes, you and I are sick, sick with unbelief, doubt and other mental ailments, sick from birth and spoiled - by bad upbringing, examples of bad people, reading bad books, and most importantly - spoiled by our evil passions.

O, do not allow, Lord, that our present kiss to You be the last for us in this life. And if the latter, then hasten to help us with Your grace and mercy. Amen.