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Monday. [Rom. 9:18–33; Matt. 11:2–15] The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. The kingdom suffereth vio?lence — that is, it is attained with vi?olence, with labour, force, and diffi?cult spiritual struggles; therefore only those who lead a labor-filled ascetic life attain it. This is how comfort of every sort is renounced along the path to the kingdom. Plea?sures of all types distance us from the kingdom; but these days we have concern only for pleasures, sometimes emotional, but more of?ten fleshly: to eat, drink, have fun, make merry and luxuriate in every?thing. We have said to the kingdom, “I beg you to excuse me,” though there is a feast in the kingdom — a royal feast, one so sumptuous that we could not even conceive of it, be?cause we do not have the taste for it. What there is considered sweet, to us is bitter; what there is pleas?ant, for us is repulsive, what there gladdens, for us is a burden — we have gone totally separate ways. And the kingdom, together with the violent who take it by force, with?draws from us. We are glad, even ready to drive them away more quickly, indeed we already have started talking about it; but the evil one does not manage to arrange this.
Saint Theophan the Recluse