On one of the stones in the Church of St. Sophia, the following words were engraved: "Wash your sins, not just your face." Whoever entered this glorious church read this inscription and remembered that the Christian Faith requires of him moral purity: purity of the soul, purity of the heart and purity of the mind. Inasmuch as the complete spiritual man is concentrated in the heart of man, the Lord also said: "Blessed are the pure in heart." (Mt. 5:8) Total external cleanliness does not help at all in gaining the Kingdom of Heaven. Oh, if only we would invest as much effort in washing ourselves from sins as we invest daily in washing our faces, then God would truly be seen in our hearts as though in a mirror!
On the need of caution for those who think that they are secure
"Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." (1 Cor. 10:12)
The Apostle who gives such advice knew human nature and all its weakness perfectly. Day after day, this experience is confirmed: as soon as a man straightens up from the mud of sin, he sways and falls again.
As soon as he is cured of the sin of avarice, he falls into the vice of vainglory. Or, as soon as he extends his hand to help a poor man, pride topples him to the other side. Or, as soon as he becomes accustomed to prayer, he opens wide his mouth to degrade those who are not yet accustomed to prayer. Or, as soon as he feels that the Spirit of God is directing him to the path of salvation, he immediately sets himself up as a teacher to the entire world until, unfortunately, through this he completely drives the Spirit from himself.
When the Lord foretold to His disciples that they would all deny Him and flee, then Peter, confident in his stability, cried out: "Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended." (Mt. 26:33) Discerning his very heart and seeing him already fallen into self-conceit and pride, the Lord responded to him: "This night, before the cockcrow, thou shalt deny me thrice." (Mt. 26:34)
And when such a fall happened to the apostle in the immediate proximity of the Lord, why would it not happen to us? This is why, brethren, when we rise and turn from a certain sin and stand erect, we should ascribe this to the power and mercy of God and not to ourselves, and we should be very vigilant to protect ourselves and implore God that we do not fall again, be it to one side or the other, but walk on the upright path of the Lord.
O All-seeing Lord, help us to stand straight before Thee by the Spirit, and when we become upright, uphold us that we do not fall again.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
The Prologue of Ohrid, Vol. I
8 January, Reflection & Homily