My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of the my heart and my portion forever. For lo, those who are far from Thee shall perish; Thou
dost put an end to those who are false to Thee. But for me it is good to be
near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Thy
Psalm 73:26-28

When Pontius Pilate was interrogating Jesus, he said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38) The irony of this situation is that Pilate looked into the very eyes of truth and could not see it. In a world where we are encouraged to speak our own truth, we are losing sight of THE truth.

The same thing applies to the concept of goodness. What is good? People define that in many ways. It is good to have money, education, power, influence. It is good to have followers on social media and the latest technology. There are some causes that we find good because we spend a lot of time arguing for certain things.

There are several prayers that we are supposed to offer before receiving Holy Communion. One line in one of them says, “It is good for me to cleave (cling) to God and to place in Him the hope of my salvation.”(Pre-Communion Prayers, Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 2015 translation, p. 71.)

One goal, which leads to the ultimate goal in life (salvation), is to understand that truth and goodness come from God, not from our own minds. If we could get to a place where this prayer becomes a focal point, not just when receiving Holy Communion but every day, that would be life changing. Imagine if your first thought every morning was this prayer, that it will be good for me to cling to God today, and to place in Him the hope of my salvation. That means we would see salvation as the ultimate goal in life, and the primary goal each day would be to take a step towards salvation. Let’s say that yesterday I took a step backward, perhaps even a few steps backward, then the goal for today would be to take one step forward. Imagine if the goal every day was to take a step forward, then over time, there would be growth towards God and towards salvation, rather than away from it. When we forget the truth and goodness of God, because we are distracted or when we are willfully sinning and want to take a break from the fight, it is more likely we will take steps backward. When we cling to God, and place our hope in Him, not just our hope for salvation, but our hope for today, it is more likely that we will take steps forward.

The Christian faith, and how we practice it, is meant to be a way of life. It is not supposed to be a box we check, a place we visit once a week for an hour, or a compartment that is separate from the rest of life. It is, as Jesus said in John 14:6, the way, the truth, and the life, and it is this, or should be, every day. We don’t have a Christian compartment that we fit into life. Rather, we are to fit our life into Christianity. The beautiful prayer before we receive Communion also references the words “purification and sanctification of both soul and body.” These should be a focus of every day, yet, I confess that I don’t think of these words every day. Imagine how life could be if a significant focus was on these two things-a pure body, meaning watching what we eat, what we think, what we see, how we behave, what we say, etc.-and continual sanctification, narrowing our focus so that we purge unholy things and instead pursue holiness.

If a person stands in the back of an Orthodox Church, one can hardly see the icon of Christ on the icon screen. There are pews, other icons, other appointments, a view out the window, other people to interact with, Christ almost gets lost in the background. If one begins walking towards Christ, He becomes bigger and other things become smaller, distractions go by the wayside and Christ gets bigger in our view. If one is right in front of the icon, there is nothing but Christ. He is everything. And this is the ideal way to live, not to stand in front of an icon in church, but to keep Christ an all-in all relationships, in the faces of the people we see, in the forefront of our minds, as the source, center and goal of our activities. One can be Christ-centered and still have fun, but it is a wholesome fun that uses the natural things we have in order to enjoy life, rather than manufactured, dangerous and sinful things.

The Lenten journey is just about finished. In a few hours, we will celebrate the Resurrection. We will hear in the Homily of St. John Chrysostom that it’s not too late to come, even at the eleventh hour. But one has to come. We need to utilize the Holy Gifts of God, Holy Communion, and even life itself, to help us prepare for the life and kingdom to come, and it starts with a decision today, to cling to God and place in Him the hope of our salvation.

Master Who loves mankind, Lord Jesus Christ, my God, let not these Holy Gifts be to my judgment because I am unworthy, but rather for the purification and sanctification of both soul and body and the pledge of the life and Kingdom to come. It is good for me to cleave unto God and to place in Him the hope of my salvation. (Pre-Communion Prayers, Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 2015 translation, p. 71)

Cling to God on a daily basis!