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God-Pleasing Sacrifice

[Heb. 11:17-23, 27-31; Mark 9:42-10:1] Every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Before this the Lord said that one must be prepared for all sorts of sacrifice and all deeds of self-denial, only to stand on the good path. Though these sacrifices are dear to us, like our own eye, or indispensable like our right hand, we must offer them without a mo­ ment’s hesitation; for if you grudge offering such a sacrifice, and are lead away because of this from the right path to the wrong, you will be forced to suffer eternally in the fu­ ture life. So, offer painful and sor­ rowful sacrifice here to avoid tor­ ments there. Without purification by fire here one cannot be saved from the eternal fire. Everyone de­ siring to be saved must be salted with fire, and pass through purifica­ tion by fire. All of us, by the law of our creation, must offer ourselves in sacrifice to God; but every one of us is impure. That means we must purify ourselves, so that from us will be made a sacrifice pleasing to God. But if you start to purify your­ self, unearth passions from your soul, it will be painful, like being burned with fire. This operation of inner self-purification is like the op­ eration of fire purifying metal. Met­ al is without feeling. If you were to give it feeling, it would feel the puri­ fying and the burning simulta­ neously. The same thing occurs in a person who purifies himself. Under­ going this operation he is as if burned through by fire. The purify­ ing fire passes through all of the parts of his body like salt penetrates a body which is being salt-pre­ served. And only he who subjects himself to this operation is a truly God-pleasing sacrifice; that is why it is necessary for everyone to be salt­ ed with fire, as in the Old Testa­ ment, where every sacrifice was salted before offering it as a whole burnt offering.

Saint Theophan the Recluse

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