Feast of St Andrew of Crete
THERE ARE many things of which we stand in need throughout life—such as air, light, food, clothing, our natural faculties and members; yet it so happens that we do not use any of them constantly for all purposes. We use one of them at one time, another at another time, each in turn helping us to meet the need which is at hand. When we put on clothing it cannot feed us, those who need nourishment must seek something else. The light does not enable us to breathe; the air cannot take the place of a ray of light. We do not constantly employ all the functions of our senses and members, but from time to time the eye and the hand are idle, as when we have to listen. The hand will suffice for those who wish to touch, but not for smelling or hearing or seeing; for those purposes we ignore it and look to some other faculty. But in such a way the Savior is ever present in every fashion with those who dwell in Him, that He supplies their every need and is all things to them, nor does He suffer them to look to anything else whatever nor seek anything from elsewhere. There is nothing of which the saints are in need which He is not Himself. He gives them birth, growth, and nourishment; He is life and breath. By means of Himself He forms an eye for them and, in addition, gives them light and enables them to see Himself. He is the one who feeds and is Himself the Food; it is He who provides the Bread of life and who is Himself what He provides. He is life for those who live, the sweet odor to those who breathe, the garment for those who would be clothed. Indeed, He is the One who enables us to walk; He Himself is the way (Jn. 14.6), and in addition He is the lodging on the way and its destination. We are members, He is the head. When we must struggle He struggles on our side. For those who are champions in the contest He is the awarder of the prizes; when we are the victors He is the crown of victory.
Thus He turns our mind to Himself from every side and does not permit it to occupy itself with anything else. Even though we move our desires in another direction, He checks it and quiets it. He blocks that way and takes in hand those who go astray. “If I go up into heaven, thou art there,” it says, “if I go down to hell, thou art there also. If I take up my wings in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there also shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Ps. 139.8-10). By a wondrous compulsion and gracious governance He draws us to Himself alone and unites us to Himself only. This, I think, is the same compulsion by which He gathered those whom He invited to the house and the banquet when He said to the servant, “Compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Lk. 14.23).
—St Nicholas Cabasilas, My Life in Christ