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The Gospel, Acts of the Apostles and the Synaxarion



Saint Justin Popovich once said:

Living by Christ, the saints can do the works of Christ, for by Him they become not only powerful but all-powerful: “I can do all things in Christ Jesus who strengthens me” (Phillip. 4: 13). And in them is clearly realized the truth of the All-True One, that those who believe in Him will do His works and will do greater things than these: “Verily, verily I say unto you: he that believeth in me, the works that I do he shall do also and greater works than these shall he do” (John 14: 12). And truly: the shadow of the Apostle Peter healed; by a word St. Mark the Ascetic moved and stopped a mountain… When God became man, then Divine life became human life, Divine power became human power, Divine truth became human truth, and Divine righteousness became human righteousness: everything which is God’s became man’s.

What are the “Acts of the Holy Apostles”? They are the acts of Christ which the Holy Apostles do by the power of Christ, or better still: they do them by Christ Who is in them and acts through them. And what are the lives of the Holy Apostles? They are the living of Christ’s life which in the Church is transmitted to all faithful followers of Christ and is continued through them with the help of the holy mysteries and the holy virtues.

And what are the “Lives of the Saints”? They are nothing else but a certain kind of continuation of the “Acts of the Apostles.” In them is found the same Gospel, the same life, the same truth, the same righteousness, the same love, the same faith, the same eternity, the same “power from on high,” the same God and Lord. For “the Lord Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever” (Heb. 13: 8): the same for all people of all times, distributing the same gifts and the same Divine energies to all who believe in Him. This continuation of all life-creating Divine energies in the Church of Christ from ages to ages and from generation to generation indeed constitutes living Holy Tradition. This Holy Tradition is continued without interruption as the life of Grace in all Christians, in whom through the holy mysteries and the holy virtues, Jesus Christ lives by His Grace. He is wholly present in His Church, for She is His fullness: “the fullness of Him who filleth all in all” (Eph. 1: 23). And the God-man Christ is the all-perfect fullness of the Godhead: “for in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2: 4). And Christians must, with the help of the holy mysteries and the holy virtues, fill themselves with “all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3: 19).

The Lives of the Saints show forth those persons filled with Christ God, those Christ-bearing persons, those holy persons in whom is preserved and through whom is transmitted the holy tradition of that holy grace-filled life. It is preserved and transmitted by means of holy evangelical living. For the lives of the saints are holy evangelical truths which are translated into our human life by grace and podvigs (asceticism). There is no evangelical truth which cannot be transformed into human life. They were all brought by Christ God for one purpose: to become our life, our reality, our possession, our joy. And the saints, all, without exception, live these Divine truths as the center of their lives and the essence of their being. For this reason the “Lives” of the Saints are a proof and a testimony: that our origin is in heaven; that we are not from this world but from that one; that a man is a true man only in God; that on earth one lives by heaven; that “our conversation is in heaven” (Phillip. 3: 20); that our task is to make ourselves heavenly, feeding ourselves with the “heavenly bread” which came down to earth. [16] And He came down to feed us with eternal Divine truth, eternal Divine good, eternal Divine righteousness, eternal Divine love, eternal Divine life through Holy Communion, through living in the one true God and Lord Jesus Christ. [17]

In other words, our vocation is to fill ourselves with the Lord Christ, with His Divine life-creating energies, to live in Christ and to make ourselves christs. If you set about this you are already in heaven although you walk on earth; you are already wholly in God even though your being has remained within the limits of human nature. The man who makes himself a christ surpasses himself, as man, by God, by the God-man, in Whom is given the perfect image of the true, real whole man in the image of God; and in Him are also given the all-vanquishing Divine energies, by the help of which man raises himself above every sin, above every death, above every hell; and this he does by the Church and in the Church, which all the powers of hell cannot overcome, because in Her is the whole wondrous God-man the Lord Christ, with all His Divine energies, His truths, His realities, His perfections, His lives, His eternities.