On Tuesday, the second day of Passion Week, we hear this at the dismissal: “May He Who is going to His voluntary Passion…” He is going to suffer for our salvation. And what about us? Are we following Him? Few wish to suffer, although our lives are full of suffering; yet suffering is the only thing that frees us from sin and grants us the right to enter the Heavenly Kingdom.
The Heavenly Kingdom is not given as a gift; one must gain it through suffering. But we fuss about, trying as it were to alleviate our suffering, as if we were going to live here eternally.
The Church, through its hymn “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh in the middle of the night,” warns us that we must keep vigilant in order to meet the Bridegroom.
The Gospel read at the Liturgy tells of ten virgins who were awaiting the Bridegroom, five of whom were wise and five of whom were foolish. The wise virgins did not extinguish their lamps, while the foolish ones slept. Suddenly there was a cry: The Bridegroom cometh! The wise virgins trimmed their lamps and accompanied the Bridegroom into the bridal chamber, while the foolish ones began to rush about. It turns out that they did not even have oil; and while they were running back and forth, the door was closed.
We also read about the talents: everyone is given his own talent, with which we can acquire everything necessary for us. But, unfortunately, we burry our talents in the earth and do not occupy ourselves with that which is needed for the Heavenly Kingdom.
Sometimes people ask where the Heavenly Kingdom is: look at how many centuries have passed, and it still has not come. Perhaps it never will, people mired in sin sometimes say. In that case, what will there be? One needs to ask this, for death will pass none of us by. Is this all there will be? In that case, no matter what we do our entire lives would become meaningless.
But this is not the case. Christ’s suffering is not in vain; our suffering is likewise not in vain. Joy awaits us after suffering. Only, while suffering, one needs to be illumined by the light of Christ, striving to do everything that grants us the right to eternal life. Behold, the Bridegroom cometh!
But first, Christ the Bridegroom of our souls will go to suffer. Let us follow after Him, bearing our suffering with gratitude, for later there will be the resurrection of the dead.
With the end of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, let these words continue to sound for us forever: “with faith and love draw near.” Faith and love are required of us – this is our wisdom, akin to the wisdom of the five wise virgins; this also is our talent, with which we can acquire other talents. Amen.
Translated from the Russian.