Dr. Haralambis Bousias
Christ, our Redeemer, eternal love, is our merciful God, but also a tenacious beggar. He knocks at the door of our heart and entreats us to give him something. What does he ask for? He beseeches us: ‘Son, give me your heart’ (Wis. 18, 26). Alas, we don’t hear him and, naturally, don’t give him anything: not our heart that he asks for; not even a moment of our life span, a moment of repentance. One moment is more than enough for us to cry out to him as did the grateful robber: ‘Remember me, Lord when you come in your kingdom’ (Luke 23, 42).
Our God’s a beggar. He has provided us lavishly with his good things, the greatest of these being our life span, the time to seek repentance so that he can cosset us in the warmth of his embrace and grant us the gift of eternity, the Kingdom of Heaven.
God became a beggar to make us into gentlefolk, the rich, nobles and saints, to show us our only destination, our transition from being ‘in the image’, to becoming ‘in the likeness’, that is glorification. He’s a beggar, not to benefit himself but for the good of us. This is sublime love.
He created the universe, the sun, the moon, our earth, the stars, the whole of the firmament which works like a well-oiled machine, with each of its components having a particular purpose from which it never deviates for a single moment; and yet he became a beggar.
And, although all things in the firmament have their purpose, the most precious, the crown of creation, we, the human race, have abandoned our purpose, the desire of the beggar who created us, who urges: ‘Become holy, as I am holy’ (1 Peter, 1, 16).
Christ is a generous benefactor and gives each of us the gift of life. He want us to use every year he gives us, to make it a time of repentance. Every year contains 365 days, which means 8,760 hours and therefore 525,300 minutes. Of these thousands of minutes he himself has given us with love, he begs just one back. And we don’t give it to him; or at best we do so with a stingy and churlish attitude. We’re ungrateful and unappreciative of the blessing of time which he’s given us. This is because we’ve forgotten our purpose: the quest for deification. In the year of time granted to us, we don’t labor spiritually, we don’t expend our energies on works of love, on soul-nourishing prayer which elevates us to heaven, on works of peace, on support for the sick, on provision for the poor, on a spiritual outpouring for the needs of those in trouble. We waste our time. We spend it on fleeting pleasures and good times, following the rationale of ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die’ (Is. 22, 13).
We pay a great deal of attention to many issues in our life, but these are matters of lesser significance than using our time to pursue the goal of our existence. We pay careful attention when it comes to not missing out on our transport, the bus, train, ship or plane that will take us to one of our transitory destinations. We pay attention when a short delay can make the difference between life and death for someone who’s ill. We pay attention when a small fire can develop into a blaze capable of destroying vast swathes of land. We pay attention when a few minutes delay in providing reinforcements in battle can lead to a rout.
If the minutes of our life are so important in our everyday affairs, how much more so are they when it comes to fulfilling our true purpose, concerning which, unfortunately, we display indifference. Seeing this, Christ comes to us as a beggar and entreats us to give him one moment of repentance. And this is a moment which isn’t even ours. It belongs to him in any case, yet we still won’t give it to him. We don’t say: ‘Yours from your own’.
The wise Chilon of Sparta said: ‘Don’t waste your time’ and Saint Ioannis Domvoïtis said: ‘Alas, I shall tread the path of life but once, so let me heed my time and every step my foot takes. For from the next life, I shall not come back to earth again’.
Our time is invaluable. If we waste it, we shall answer to Christ, who stands at the door of our heart and begs us to give him a minute. A minute of repentance, a minute of salvation in which we can be healed spiritually and bodily, so that we don’t burn in the outer fire, so that we don’t miss the train to our desired destination, the kingdom of heaven.