Today we commemorate the 4th Sunday of Great Lent dedicated to the memory of St. John of the Ladder (Climacus).
Primarily, the theme of this Sunday is that of faithfulness which is expressed in the many hymns prescribed for this day. “Let us not labor for the sake of food and drink but through prayer and fasting, let us attain to Christ like virtues”.
The theme of faithfulness to God is exemplified by the lives of saints among whom is St. John of the Ladder. St. John lived during the latter part of the 6th century and the early part of the seventh century, having been tonsured a monk at the Holy Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai in Egypt.
Most of his life was spent in quiet solitude and unceasing prayer at an area (skete) outside of the environs of the Monastery. St. John was a shining example of continuous prayer, perpetual fasting but most of all unwavering faithfulness to God and His Kingdom. His was a radical call to uncompromising obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As his life progressed, St. John was eventually called to become Abbot of St. Catherine’s Monastery. It was during this time, that He wrote his famous work, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, thus the term, “Climacus”. This book offers his wisdom on spiritual and moral perfection through a life in union with God, which is the pinnacle of the human yearning for true life and ultimate fulfillment. For it says in the Gospel of St. Matthew Chapter 5: Verse 48, “You must be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect”. Simply put, it is to live just as Jesus did and to follow Christ without anxiety or hesitation always striving heavenward and expecting help from there.
A Christian is one who imitates Christ in thought, word and deed, as far as is possible for human beings, believing rightly and blamelessly in the Holy Trinity.
Many of us carry burdens in our day to day lives, but Christ helps us carry them, as we are supposed to bear one another’s burdens. As we strive for perfection, we must learn to control our lives from temptation, wrongdoing and other sinful vices, first seeking repentance, faith and union with God.
Faith is primarily an act of trust, an attitude of confidence and an inward decision of reliance on God. It is precisely faith that activates the saving power of God in our lives. Through the commitment of faith, we essentially enter into a personal relationship with God and become open to the flow of His love.
Therefore, “Let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ, our God”.