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Christ is risen!

The movie “The Matrix” has the hero Neo sitting in a chair in front of Morpheus, and Morpheus offers Neo a choice – the red pill or the blue pill. The red pill reveals the truth about Neo’s real life and the blue pill allows him to go back to the fantasy life he is now living.

The truth of this scene is striking in its accuracy about our own lives. We are all called to “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14) The consistent theme running through the Christian faith, and frankly through most religious and philosophical systems, is the struggle for reality. This is the reason why our Lord would often ask people what they wanted, because He knew that the first step in having someone wake up to reality as it really is is to have them deal with their own desires.

This Sunday we celebrate and remember the Sunday of the Paralytic. You know this story well, but today let’s think about what the Lord was really trying to do when He both confronted this lame man and He healed this lame man. The Lord was trying to get this man all all around him to confront and transcend the illusions that kept them enslaved to their present condition. This is not to say their condition wasn’t real but that their condition didn’t have to be permanent!

This is a huge task and will take the rest of our lives. So how do we overcome the constant temptation to be overwhelmed by the work of waking up?

Listen to Elder Nektary of Optina: “History shows us how God guides the nations and gives as it were moral lessons to the world. Worldly life measures years, centuries, millennia; but the most important thing is that ‘it was morning and it was evening, one day.’ In the process there may be narrowing and widening, but no matter how long a man lives it will always be the same: ‘morning, evening—one day.’ The hardest object is stone, and the most gentle is water. But drop after drop the water pierces through the stone.”

We confront the task of waking up to reality moment by moment. It is a trick of the enemy to get you to focus on either your past or your future, both of which are simply not available to you. If he can keep you focused on the huge task of theosis – becoming like Christ – all at once, then he can enslave you either to shame or futility. You don’t become free from illusions like magic. The wisdom of the faith is meant to bring you to grip the moment.

Today, dear one, take this moment. Take no other moments either past or future. Take this moment and pray. Wake up to the reality of your calling to be like Christ, to be healed of that which paralyzes you into debilitating patterns of behavior. Let the grace of God in this moment rouse you to reality, and then express your gratitude to God for His love in bringing you to Light.

Then, stitch another moment to that moment of reality. Pretty soon you’ve gone a whole day awake! This is why we say “Christ is risen” and not “Christ has risen.” It is this moment that matters.

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