In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today on this first Sunday after Pentecost, we remember all of the
Saints who lived and struggled and attained salvation. Why do we
remember all the Saints on this particular day? Well, the Church has a
tradition of having a Synaxsis service after the main service-- the
Synaxsis of St. John the Baptist after the Baptism of Christ, since he
was involved in the baptism of Christ; the Synaxsis of the Holy
Theotokos after the Nativity. Well, all sainthood is possible because of
the bringing of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, we could not
be holy, we could not be perfected. So, we could think of today as the
Synaxsis of all the Saints related to Pentecost. 

Now, what is a Saint? A Saint is someone who lives according to what he
says he believes-- believing the Gospel, believing what Jesus Christ
taught. To be a Saint, to be holy, is to labor-- to labor with faith,
with desire, with the right priorities, and with courage. The Lord
defines for us, in this reading about the Cross, what a Saint is, both
in a positive way, and in a negative way. What he should do and what a
person should not do. He says, ?Whosoever shall confess me before men,
him will I confess before my Father which is in heaven.¦ What marvelous
words these are! We poor sinners, unworthy of all blessings-- the Lord
will confess us; the Lord will treat us as friends. He said in another
place: He will call us friends, no longer slaves, but friends. He said
there are many mansions, and He goes to prepare a place for us. He will
confess us as friends. What a marvelous thing, when in the last day the
Lord says: I know you, I recognize you, I know who you are-- you are my
friend. But how will He know this? He will know this because of how we
lived-- whether or not we confessed Him in our life, while we have
breath. And if we confess Him, if we strive to be His friend, indeed, He
will confess us, and call us friends.

What does it mean to confess the Lord? Now certainly the Lord speaks
about the possibility of torture, torment; we must have courage, not
deny Him before men. But confession is much more than just what we say
with our lips. That we stand up and say that we are a Christian, and
perhaps it is difficult for us. Confession is everything we say and do.
Confession is how we live. Your life, your priorities, what people
think, what you think is important should be your confession. People
should see the light of Christ in how you live. Being a Christian is not
only to say that we believe in certain things, or that we have certain
traditions, or even that we are orthodox, and different than the
heterodox because we have the truth. This is not what Christianity is.
Christianity is confession. Confession is with the heart, confession is
with the blood. It-s effort, desire, setting of life-s priorities
according to the Gospel, a desire to follow all of the commandments, not
just some of them. The Lord said, ?Be holy, for I am holy¦. Saint means
Holy one. We-re all called to holiness, not just the ones that we look
on, on walls that surround us in our temples, and in our homes. Not just
them?they were not the only ones called to holiness. We are as well. All
Christians must strive for holiness, and we strive for holiness by
confessing Christ.

Now He says, ?Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I deny before
my Father¦. These are terrible words! What a terrible scene it will be
in the last judgment. Many people will say: Lord, Lord, when did I do
this, and when did I do that, and when were You here, and when were You
there, and the Lord will say: I don-t recognize you; I don-t see myself
in you. The Image that I implanted in you, you dirtied up so much that I
can-t see it anymore. By the way you lived, what you confessed, what you
did, you denied Me, so I deny you.

What is denial of Christ? Now, it is not just to say that you are not a
Christian when someone might be ready to torture you. This indeed has
happened. This temptation will continue to occur, and although we have
just crossed the threshold of the bloodiest century in the history of
mankind, and entering into another one, it is possible that this century
will have more Christian blood spilled than any other one, even than the
last. So indeed, it is a distinct possibility that we may be forced to
confess Christ in a time when it is to our life-s peril, or those of our
children, our loved ones, our friends. This is possible; but this is not
the way most people deny Christ. The way we deny Christ is how we live,
or rather how we don-t live. We deny Christ by living common lives even
though we are called to perfection. We deny Christ by living like the
world lives; by having the opinions that the world has. 

I read something recently about the homosexual agenda, and I read about
a technique-- and it-s good to read sometimes, some things, what-s
happening in our society. There-s a web page called, I
think. It-s very, very good. It has a lot of articles, some by orthodox,
some by secular authors, but they-re all to make you think about things
that are happening in society. And the author described a technique that
is being used by those in dark places, by those who are fighting
___~7:40____, it-s called ?jamming¦. What it is, is this: It tries to
represent something which is abhorrent to God, something which is a sin,
and should be struggled against if one is tempted in such a way, with
also something that-s honorable: Someone who is gay, but is a great
hero, and saves many lives; someone who-s gay, but acts very normal. You
see this in print, you see this in the media, you see this especially in
television and in movies.  They-re all normal, very, very honorable
folk, combining these two things. And now even Christians will start to
believe that they are bigoted in some way if they hold to the gospel
teaching about homosexuality. This happens in many other cases. The
world is trying to entice you to water down the Gospel. 

And why do I mention an example as explicit as this? Because this: as we
reshape our opinions to the world, we are denying Christ. And there is
no doubt whatsoever, that even Christians are desensitized to sin. We
accept readily cursing and swearing in many quarters. We accept readily
immorality; not, maybe, in our own lives, but we don-t stand against it
as we should. 

We deny Christ by not striving to have his opinions. His opinions are
the only ones that are true. We are to have His mind, which means His
opinions and not the world-s opinions. The world is full of filth and
untruth. We are to follow truth. If we are to confess Christ we must
know who He is; we must struggle to be Christians; we must struggle to
pray, and other things the church tells us to do which are to our
benefit such as fasting, confession, and most importantly, along with
these things, if we don-t struggle to bridle our passions, then we are
lost. We are not confessing Christ if we don-t struggle to become good.
This is the purpose that Christ came into the world: is so that we could
be perfected, so that we can know Him. We can-t know Him, unless we
become holy, because how can that which is profane understand that which
is perfect? It-s not possible! If we have jealousy in our hearts, how
can we understand He who is above all jealousy? If we have any
bitterness in our heart, how can we really understand He Who is Love?
It-s not possible. The only way to Know God, is to become like Him. This
can be called confessing Him. 

Now, the Lord gives us a wonderful promise: He says that if we forsake
houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or
children, or lands-- for His namesake-- we-ll receive a hundredfold, and
inherit everlasting life. This hundredfold is not an absolute number, it
means more than we can imagine. What do we have to forsake, our very own
kindred? Perhaps, in some cases. In the century that just passed, it
happened quite often in Russia. But these brethren, these houses, these
lands, they have a spiritual meaning as well. We must forsake sinful
acts, we must forsake earthly attachments, we must forsake
sensuality?attachment to pleasure. These are the things we must forsake.
It takes effort to forsake these things; some of these things are very
pleasurable to us, we develop quite an attachment to them, but we must
forsake them if we are to inherit a hundredfold. 

Now, how indeed can we such a thing, some of these things are very
difficult; some of these things we-ve been trapped in for a long, long
time. Do we have any hope at all? How can this be done, we-re so weak? I
see this all the time as a priest; we lose our belief that we can really
be changed. In essence, and I-ve told you this before, and it is true,
we lose our belief in the resurrection? we stop believing in the
resurrection when we don-t believe we can be changed. Because the
resurrection is all about change, all about perfection, all about taking
that which is infirm and making it healthy. 

How can we be saved? Because the Lord is the author and the finisher of
our faith. As the apostle says, we don-t need to have any ability; we
need to have desire only. Indeed, I-ve said this before-- and it might
shock some: it matters not if you have trouble sinning. It matters how
you feel about this sin; how you struggle against this sin. If you are
weak and continue to sin day by day but hate it, and struggle against
it, and order your life so that you-ll change it-- even if you do a bad
job of it, even if it-s something you can not master?the Lord, He is the
author and finisher of your faith. He who began a good work in you will
complete it. Absolutely, we don-t have to manufacture any ability. The
Lord is with us as long as we struggle, as long as we desire. 

Now, let the Lord decide how well we struggle, let-s not ourselves.
Let-s put ourselves in the Lord-s hands. Let us struggle to confess Him
in everything we do. Not just with our lips, but especially with the way
we live; with the way we order our life. People who see us should say,
?He believes in something, and follows it¦. Faith is active; faith is
not a belief only. Faith is to live according to how we believe. And as
we celebrate all of the Saints today, the Church describes for us what
it means to be a Saint, how to become a Saint not just in how we act,
how we live, but where the power is that makes us capable. And that
power is: Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. All we
need do is struggle, try, desire; our salvation will be accomplished.
What a great promise that the Lord says, ?If we confess Him before men,
He will confess us before His Father¦, this is what we are waiting for,
brothers and sisters; this is that blessed hope that we are hoping for.
May it be realized in each one of our lives by struggling to live in all
ways as a Christian. Amen