Seminary Pilgrimage to St John The Compassionate: Day 1
by Subdeacon Bill George
We safely arrived at 8pm in Toronto. We had dinner and settled in at the Lourmel House, the home of the Lived Theology School. Father Deacon Pawel talked a long time about the history of the mission and what they do here.
Saint John the Compassionate mission has impacted those whom they serve even if they did not know that the dining area is not part of the Church. Someone had said to Deacon Pawel that this is the Church, and that means serving the poor and needy: those here at the mission are doing what the Church is supposed to do, helping those in need. So the dining area felt like Church to the poor because their needs were being fulfilled in a godly way.
As I was reflecting during our journey through Canada, I thought about the government and social programs that it offers to help those with needs. The programs are designed to help the most amount of people without actually having to know much about them. So it takes care of financial responsibilities, housing, food etc. Both the US and Canada have programs that help their people and yet it seems that there are always shortcoming and people still in need. This is where we as Orthodox Christians come in. Not just in Toronto, but in every single church around the Diocese. We must help those in need. We must have an impact on an individual's life not just the goods they need.
We are called out by Jesus Christ to serve those in need... not just the poor, but all mankind. This is a total life commitment and change. Christ did not descend as a king to rule over Israel and overthrow the Roman government. Instead, He descended as a servant, not to be served to, but to serve. If Christ our Lord and King came to serve, how can we choose not to serve? Governments and social programs can only help so much. It is our responsibility, then, as Orthodox Christians in the course of our daily lives to help everyone in need. All of us need to more than we are currently.
If we cannot live up to that, at least whatever we would buy for ourselves or give ourselves must also be given to those less fortunate. We must reach out to our fellow man because it is what makes us human and because we are created in the image of God. We must reflect His image and glorify Him in all that we do. We give glory to God, by loving and helping others, and by showing that we care enough about them that we are willing to descend into their hells and despair not.
I am here, this week, to offer my ear to listen, my body for physical labor and my heart to enliven another man's spirit. I am also here to be enriched as well. If we share these God-given virtues and attributes, they will multiple and abound as joy and blessings. The life of the Orthodox Christian must be anchored in prayer and actively lived in service to others. Here at the mission, I am ready to get my hands dirty and serve, and ready to pray.