Archive for April, 2008

Bright Wednesday: Let us become like Christ…

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008
IV. Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him;

yesterday I died with Him; today I am quickened with Him;

yesterday I was buried with Him; today I rise with Him.

But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us — you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world.

Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image.

Let us recognize our Dignity;

let us honour our Archetype;
let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died.

V. Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us.

Let us become God’s for His sake, since He for ours became Man.

He assumed the worse that He might give us the better;

He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich;

He took upon Him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty;

He came down that we might be exalted;

He was tempted that we might conquer;

He was dishonoured that He might glorify us;

He died that He might save us;

He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were lying low in the Fall of sin.

Let us give all, offer all, to Him Who gave Himself a Ransom and a Reconciliation for us.

But one can give nothing like oneself, understanding the Mystery, and becoming for His sake all that He became for ours.

Paschal Oration (Oration 1) of St Gregory the Theologian

Share

Aidio Homily: Pascha, Agape Vespers 2008

Monday, April 28th, 2008

LISTEN NOW

John 20:19-25 Then the same day at evening, being the first [day] of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace [be] unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them [his] hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace [be] unto you: as [my] Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on [them], and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; [and] whose soever [sins] ye retain, they are retained. 24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.



If the “LISTEN NOW” link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:
http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pascha_2008-04-27+agape-vespers.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pascha_2008-04-27+agape-vespers.mp3



RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianSermonsOnTheGospelsEpistlesAndOtherTopics

Archive of Audio and text homilies:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

Share

Now is the judgment of this world…

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (John 12:31-38)

Ever since mankind’s decision to reject God, to love the world more than its Creator, to wish to be gods ourselves – ever since the fall of mankind, there has been a tension — a battle — between good and evil, between light and darkness, between God and this world. The entire sacred history of the Old Testament describes this battle, as the Israelite people repeatedly abandon God and repeatedly repent.

This battle intensifies when Christ is born, for now He who alone can satisfy the needs of our nature, He who created us, He whom we have rejected – He is present in the flesh. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:10-12). We see this especially clearly in the many accounts of Christ’s interaction with the scribes and pharisees – but it is also clear in the hardness of heart of the apostles prior to Pentecost: “For He taught His disciples and said unto them, ‘The Son of Man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him; and after He is killed, He shall rise the third day.’ But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask Him. And He came to Capernaum; and being in the house, He asked them, “What was it that ye disputed among yourselves on the way?” But they held their peace, for on the way they had disputed among themselves as to who should be the greatest” (Mark 8:31-34).

This battle has intensified yet more in these final days. Christ openly confronts the pharisees and scribes: “Woe unto thee, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matt 12:13). In their turn, “they took counsel together to put Him to death” (John 11:53). Judas makes his choice, betraying the Lord for 30 pieces of silver. The world will soon make its choice, as the multitudes shout, “Crucify Him!” And at some point, each one of us must make our choice. Judgement is a choice we make. God is life, light, and goodness. Each one of us, in our thoughts, words, and actions, will either accept him or reject him. We have a choice – good or evil, life or death, light or darkness.

Ultimately, death, evil and darkness cannot win, for they have no substance. Only God exists by his own power, and in the end only God can be victorious. Life cannot be swallowed up in death. So goodness, light and life prevail, and God arises from the dead, “trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.” We too can arise with him, through His grace, love, and power, if we choose to follow him.

Share

Behold, the Bridgroom comes…

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Why is the Matins service for the first three days of Holy Week called the “Bridegroom Matins”? Clearly, it must have to do with the two special hymns that are sung to a solemn melody during this service:

Behold, the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night, and blessed is that servant whom he shall find watching, but unworthy is he whom he shall find heedless. Beware, therefore, O my soul, lest thou be born down with sleep, lest thou be given up to death and shut out from the kingdom. But rather, rouse thyself and cry: Holy, holy, holy art thou, O God! Through the Theotokos, have mercy on us! (Troparion)

Thy bridal chamber, O my savior, I behold all adorned, and I have no wedding garment that I may enter therein. Make the robe of my soul to shine, O light-giver, and save me! (Exapostilarion)

Why, as we celebrate this week of the Lord’s passion, is the initial emphasis on the coming of the bridegroom – the end of the world – and our preparation for it?

There are several equally valuable layers of meaning, but perhaps the most obvious reason is that this was the focus of the Savior’s own preaching during these Holy days, as we read in the Gospel readings at the Presanctified Liturgy (Matthew 24 and 25). On Monday, the Lord speaks of the coming end of the world – the signs of the approaching end, as well as the last day itself, when “the sun shall be darkened,” and “the Son of man shall come in power and great glory.” On Tuesday, he tells a series of parables emphasizing our need to be ready for this day. The parable of the wise virgins speaks of our need to gather oil for our lamps now, so that they will be lit when he comes. The parable of the talents speaks of our obligations to increase talent given to us, and the story about the last judgment clarifies the actions expected of us – mercy and service to others.

It seems quite significance that, just before beginning his voluntary passion for the sake of our salvation, our Lord speaks of our role in preparing for the coming Kingdom. As the Savior points out in the Gospel readings for Matins (Matthew 22 and 23), the Scribes and Pharisees did not wish to repent, and so all that our Lord suffered brought them no benefit at all. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”

Do we wish to show gratitude to the Lord for all that he has done for us, for all that he has suffered, for all that we remember during this Holy Week? Let us then heed his warnings, and try to live in such a way that the resurrection will bear fruit in us. Then, truly, the Bridegroom –our Savior– will be able to take pleasure in His Bride — the Church, you and I. Then, truly, we will know the joy of Pascha.

Entire Readings:

Matthew 24:3-35

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. 15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Matthew 24:36-26:2

36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. 45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. 14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. 1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, 2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

Share

Palm Sunday 2008 – Audio Homily – "These things they did not understand at first"

Monday, April 21st, 2008

LISTEN NOW

John 12:1-18Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. 3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. 7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. 8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. 9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. 12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. 14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, 15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. 16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. 17 The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. 18 For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.



If the “LISTEN NOW” link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:
http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-06_2008-04-21+these-things-they-did-not-understand-at-first_john12;1-18.m3u

If this great-lent-sunday-06_2008-04-21+these-things-they-did-not-understand-at-first_john12;1-18 does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 great-lent-sunday-06_2008-04-21+these-things-they-did-not-understand-at-first_john12;1-18:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-06_2008-04-21+these-things-they-did-not-understand-at-first_john12;1-18.mp3



RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianSermonsOnTheGospelsEpistlesAndOtherTopics

Archive of Audio and text homilies:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

Share

Sixth Week of Great Lent;Saturday, Lazarus Saturday, The Resurrection Is Now

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

LISTEN NOW



If the “LISTEN NOW” link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:
http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-week-06-saturday_2008-01-19+lazarus-saturday+the-resurrection-is-now_john11;1-45.m3u

If this http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-week-06-saturday_2008-01-19+lazarus-saturday+the-resurrection-is-now_john11;1-45 does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-week-06-saturday_2008-01-19+lazarus-saturday+the-resurrection-is-now_john11;1-45:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-week-06-saturday_2008-01-19+lazarus-saturday+the-resurrection-is-now_john11;1-45.mp3



RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianSermonsOnTheGospelsEpistlesAndOtherTopics

Archive of Audio and text homilies:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

Share

Prayers of the Church – Lazarus Sat and Palm Sunday Troparion

Friday, April 18th, 2008

LISTEN NOW

In confirming the common Resurrection, O Christ God, / Thou didst raise up Lazarus from the dead before Thy Passion. / Wherefore, we also like the children, bearing the symbols of victory, / cry to Thee, the Vanquisher of death: / Hosanna in the highest, // blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.


If the “LISTEN NOW” link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:
http://www.orthodox.net/catechism/prayers-of-the-church-lenten-prayers_2008-04-16+lazarus-saturday,-palm-sunday-troparion.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:
http://www.orthodox.net/catechism/prayers-of-the-church-lenten-prayers_2008-04-16+lazarus-saturday,-palm-sunday-troparion.mp3



RSS feed of Audio catechetical talkshttp://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianCatecheticalTalksRSS feed of Audio catechetical talks:http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianCatecheticalTalks

Archive of Audio catechetical talks:http://www.orthodox.net/catechism

Share

"Having completed the forty days that bring profit to our souls…"

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Thus begins one of the hymns from tonight’s Vespers service. This service marks the transition from the 40 days of Lent to Holy Week. Every year these words seem bittersweet. Holy Week is here – but has my soul truly profited from this 40 day effort? Did I fast as I should? Did I refrain from judging my neighbor, from anger, from selfishness, from all the other sins that so beset us? Honestly, the answer has to be no. But there was profit nonetheless – profit from the small effort that I made, from the temptations sent by God for my healing and growth, from the very difficulties of life, from the moving and edifying lenten services, from the receipt of the Holy
Mysteries more often… There is always room to improve, to make a greater effort, to further grow in the grace of God. But for now, we are called to look ahead to Pascha. With our eyes set on the upcoming feast of the Resurrection, we are called to follow our Lord in the last days before his death as he raises Lazarus from the dead, enters Jerusalem in triumph, preaches in the
temple, tells his disciples of the coming end of the world, institutes the great Mystery of His Body and Blood, endures ridicule, torture, and death, descends into hades, frees the dead from ages past and rises again on the 3rd day, saving our souls. This effort – his effort – is the foundation of all of our efforts, because it alone makes our efforts bear fruit. And so let us cling to Him in thanksgiving. Let us follow Him in his last days, so that we may learn to be truly grateful for what he has done for us. Glory to God!

Share

Great Lent, the Sixth Week, Thursday – "Buy truth, and do not sell wisdom"

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Buy truth, and do not sell wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.

Great Lent, the Sixth Week, Thursday, Vespers. Proverbs 23:23 from the selection Proverbs 23:15-24:5

The wise virgins told the foolish to go and buy for yourselves, when asked to give some of their oil to the foolish.

And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. (9) But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.” (Matthew 25:8-9 )

This proverb, which we read today, expresses the same idea. The oil in the lamps represents the grace of the Holy Spirit, from which all Wisdom comes. Without Wisdom, that is God, who is called Wisdom in many places in the Holy Scriptures, we cannot know truth.

We should not give away or sell the grace of God that is within us. In fact, we CANNOT sell or give it away, but we can lose it.

We have bought it – from those who sell. There is only a small amount of time that this market for truth is open to us, and then comes the time when no man can buy or sell, when the eyes no longer see and the body can no longer obey the soul. We buy through our interactions with others in this market.

No man can give the grace of God to another. It is grace which saves us, gives us wisdom, heals us. Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan?

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. (31) And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. (32) And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. (33) But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, (34) And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (Luke 10:30-34 )

Those that passed by were unable to impart the healing grace of God to the one stricken by thieves. Only the Samaritan, our Lord Jesus Christ, was able to heal.

The Proverb, and the parables of the wise and foolish virgins, and of the Good Samaritan teach us the same thing about grace. We cannot sell it, or even give it, but we must buy it.

This does not imply that we can earn grace! We just recently read this:

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

The answer to this important question is: nothing, and everything. There is nothing we can use to earn grace, but we can buy it by giving ourselves.

We buy what is precious to us. How do we buy truth? WHAT IS TRUTH, Pilate asked. To buy truth, we must know what it is. It is none other than God abiding in the soul. We purchase it by following after it. This is likened by our Savior to be the way of the Cross.

… Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (25) For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25 )

We cannot give money for it – what can a man give in exchange for his soul? We give ourselves. The Lord demands our heart. It is all we have to give.

In the Great Canon, the Holy Bishop Andrew of Crete, no doubt cogitating on the ideas contained in the scripture we have just discussed, instructs his soul:

Watch, my soul! Be courageous like the great Patriarchs, that you may acquire activity and awareness, and be a mind that sees God, and may reach in contemplation the innermost darkness, and be a great trader.“ (Great Canon, Ode 4, Clean Tuesday and the fifth Thursday of Great Lent)

Will we be “great traders”, and buy truth?

Share

Last Week of Great Lent

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Throughout this final week of the fast, the Church looks ahead to the
raising of Lazarus, which we celebrate on Friday evening and Saturday
morning. Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha sent intercessors to Jesus
when Lazarus fell ill early this week, asking the Lord to come and
heal him. The Lord waited two days, then set off for Jerusalem, in
order both to raise Lazarus — who by this time had died — from the
dead and to prepare for his own impending death and resurrection.
Starting now, we begin to travel with our Lord in real time,
discussing the news of Lazarus’ sickness on the day that Christ
received this news, and following Him, day by day, until the very day
of His Resurrection, which we will celebrate very soon. The following texts from
today’s Vespers help us to prepare for our observance of the Holy Week
of the Lord’s Passion:

When Thou wast journeying in the flesh, O Jesus, / on the other side
of the Jordan, / Thou hast said to Thy companions: “My friend Lazarus
is already dead, / and now has been committed to the tomb. / And so
for your sakes I rejoice, my friends, / for by this ye shall learn
that I know all things, / since I am God, inseparable from the Father,
/ though in my visible appearance I am man. / Let us go then, to bring
him back to life, / that death may feel the defeat / and utter
destruction that I bring upon it, // bestowing my great mercy on the
world.

O ye faithful, let us follow the example of Martha and Mary, / and as
intercessors let us send to the Lord our acts of righteousness, / that
He may come to raise up from the dead our spiritual understanding, /
which lies insensible within the tomb of negligence, / lacking all
feeling of the fear of God / and having no vital energy. / So let us
cry: As once by Thy dead authority, O merciful Lord, / Thou hast
raised up Thy friend Lazarus, / so now give life to all of us, // and
grant us Thy great mercy.

Lazarus has now been two days in the tomb, / and He sees the dead from
all the ages. / There he beholds strange sights of terror, / a
multitude that none can number, the prisoners of hell. / His sisters
bitterly lament, looking upon his tomb. / But Christ comes to bring
His friend to life, / that a single hymn of praise may be offered up
with one accord by all: // Blessed art Thou, O Savior, have mercy upon
us.


Reader Nicholas Park
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas TX
WEB: http://www.orthodox.net
BLOG: http://stnicholasdallas.blogspot.com

Share