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st_damasceneIt is necessary to honor the saints as friends of Christ, and as children and heirs of God, as the Theologian and Evangelist states: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (Jn. 1:12) “Therefore they are no longer slaves but children; and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Gal. 4:7 & Rom 8:17). Our Lord also says to His Apostles in the sacred Gospel: “You are My friends … No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing” (Jn. 15:14-15). If the Lord and Creator of all is called “the King of kings and the Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15), and “the God of gods” (Dt. 10:17), then certainly the saints are gods, and lords, and kings. God is called and He truly is their God and Lord and King. “I am,” He says to Moses, “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex. 3:6). Furthermore, God made Moses the god of Pharaoh (Ex. 7:1). I am calling them gods, and kings, and lords not because they are such by nature, but because they ruled over and conquered the passions, and because they preserved unchanged the likeness of the Divine image, according to which they were made—just as a picture of the king is also called the king. And because they willingly chose to be united with God and received Him within themselves, through communion with Him they became by grace all the things that He is by nature. How then can we not honor them who became the servants, and friends, and sons of God? When we honor grateful fellow-servants, this is proof that we have love for our common Master.

These people have become God’s chambers and pure abodes. “I will dwell within them,” says the Lord, “and I will walk amongst them and I will be their God” (Lev. 26:11-12). The holy Scriptures state that “the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and sorrow will not touch them” (Wisdom 3:1). For the death of the saints is sleep rather than death: “they have labored for ever, and shall live to the end” (Ps. 48:10). And “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Ps. 115:6). What is more honorable than being in the hands of God? God is Life and Light, and they who are in the hands of God exist within Life and Light.

God dwelled within their bodies through their nous, as the Apostle Paul confirms: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” (1 Cor. 6:19). “Now the Lord is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:17), and “if anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him” (1 Cor. 3:17). How then can we not honor these living temples of God, the living dwellings of God? Living, they stand before God with boldness.

—St. John of Damascus

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