Archive for June, 2009

FISH-B-Que Invitation. Please join us Sat, July 4.

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

 





The Brotherhood of St John of San Francisco, St Nicholas Orthodox Church

Presents

The first annual “Fish-b-Que”

Saturday, July 4

 

Please join our parish brotherhood as they celebrate the 15th anniversary of the glorification of their patron, St John of San Francisco. This is also the 15th anniversary of our rector, Priest Seraphim being a resident of Texas and pastor of our parish.  

 

After liturgy, we would be honored to feed you with fish, corn on the cob, German potato salad, and watermelon.

 

We will also screen the new DVD (in English) about the life of St John of San Francisco. It is mostly in English and Russian with English subtitles, and has sold out its first pressing.

 

Why fish? We are still in the Apostle’s fast. But no worries! We will have butter for you to put on your corn!

 

Schedule:

Friday 7 PM Vigil for St John

Sat      9 AM Divine Liturgy (preceded by the hours)

           10:45 AM FISH-B-QUE and movie

 

Where? 3617 Abrams, Dallas Texas, 75214-3009

We are in the Lakewood area of Dallas, on the West side of Abrams, a bit South of Mockingbird The church is on the campus of All Saints Episcopal, in white building behind their main building, and totally separate from it. There is an entrance off the alley, and a sign on the door.

More Info: rjd@flatwillow.com

 

 

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3rd Sunday after Pentecost 2009. Patience and the eye of the soul. Audio Homily.

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

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To the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. Freely you have received, freely give. Hunters for humility.

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Matthew 10:5-7


These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 10:5-6)

 

Why did Jesus send his disciples to the Jews, and expressly forbid preaching to the Gentiles or Samaritans? Blessed Theophylact explains that this was to deprive the Jews of any excuse, such as

 

“the apostles were sent to the Gentiles and because of this we Jews did not believe”[1]



 

This is not a totally implausible excuse. Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law, and therefore followed it. If He had sent his disciple to the Gentiles or Samaritans first, or even along with the Jews, in the mind of a Jew, He would have been breaking the law. Jesus took pains to not openly do things that appeared to be contrary to the law (or what the contemporary Jew thought was the law), except in certain circumstances (e.g., healing on the Sabbath, talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, and others).

 

One must note here that the “law” in the mind of the Jew of Jesus’ time was much more than the Ten commandments and other ordinances contained in the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Jewish (and Christian) canon, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers) . The Jews had created a bewildering mix of rules that interpreted the original law in the minutest detail. Jesus refers to this when he rebuked them:

 

But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Luke 11:42 )

 

In this ultra-legalistic climate, Jesus would have been certainly condemned out of hand for sending his disciples to preach to anyone except the Jews.

 

 

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:7)

 

Blessed Theophylact explains that this phrase: “freely ye have received, freely give” indicates the two virtues, humility and non-possessiveness[2]

 

We have the proverb that we should “give with an open hand”. This applies equally well with receiving, since all that we receive from God is a gift (of which we are undeserving). The Christian knows that since all good comes down from God the Father of lights[3], he attributes no good to himself, and does not attempt to “possess” it, that is think highly of himself because he has some virtue, or success or good thing. He receives all God gives with an open hand, ready at any time to freely give to others what he has freely received.

 

.How in practice do we do this? The perfect answer is to become holy! What is the long answer for us not yet, but becoming more holy ones?

 

All sin and virtue begins in the mind. This is the place to start. We must constantly remind ourselves of our condition, and God’s grace. One of my favorite “mindset” verses is Jesus’ instruction to His apostles:

 

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. (Luke 17:10)

 

It is hard to be humble! We must think about this virtue, but we must reinforce our thoughts with our actions. We should be like hunters, looking for opportunities to humble ourselves. If our eyes are open, we will see them! Such an opportunity may be dishes we have not dirtied, an undeserved rebuke, being treated unfairly, kindness to someone we do not like. The possibilities are truly endless.

 

Humility is an internal virtue of the mind, but it is expressed with the body and the mind. Since we can so poorly control our mind, we must bring our body under subjection. It is possible to be kind when we do not feel kindness, to help when we do not want to help, and to hold our peace when our thoughts are not peaceful. From such self-control and truly, asceticism, we will learn to be humble.

 

Of course, none of this “humility” happens in a vacuum. We must surround ourselves with an orderly life (as orderly as we are able to make it), of prayer, and fasting, confession, communion, and not watching the “Tonight Show” instead of saying our evening prayers. And in the midst of all this, we must seize, like a drowning man seizes a line, every opportunity to humble ourselves. This we must do with discretion and wisdom, because we are not capable of ALWAYS humbling ourselves.

 

 

Matthew 9:36-10:8 is read on the 3rd Monday after Pentecost:

 

     36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. 1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

 

 

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-24.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-24.doc

 

New Journal entries are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

Archive of Journal Entries: http://www.orthodox.net/journal

 

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!

 



[1] Blessed Theophylact, The Explanation of the Holy Gospel of St Matthew, Chrysostom Press, Pg 84.

[2] Ibid, Pg 84

[3] Jas 1:17 KJV  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

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Freely ye have received, freely give. A fundamental principal of priestly ministry

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Simony.

Almsgiving.

A great privilege.

The multitudes and the pastoral heart.

Laborers.

3rd Monday after Pentecost.

 

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-21.htm

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-21.doc

A fundamental principle of the priestly ministry is contained here:

 

“freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)

 

Actually, this is a fundamental principle of the Christian life, and therefore even more so of the life of a Christian priest. All we have is from the grace of God, which is freely given, without respect to person, because of His NATURE. If we are to know God, then we must become like Him. Therefore, we must freely give of ourselves, without respect to person.

 

For a priest, this means that he must not expect “payment for services rendered.” It grieves my heart terribly to know that there are “payment schedules” posted on walls in churches (I have been told this is the case in some places (but not all!) in Russia, for instance), detailing fees for baptisms, molebens and any other service where a priest may be called.

 

This is a great sin. I think of it as a form of “simony” (which is the paying of money to obtain position or authority in the church). Simon the Magus[1] wanted to pay the apostles to gain the power they had, most likely to make a profit himself.

 

We have many examples of giving without expecting payment. The whole of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ is an example! We also have the example of Elisha (Elijah), who refused payment from Naaman, after he had been cleaned of leprosy by following the commandment of the prophet and dipping himself into the Jordan seven times:

 

And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.  (16)  But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused. (2Ki 5:15-16 KJV)

 

And we have the rebuke of Peter to Simon, which falls heavily upon the head of any priest who would dare to charge for something that is without price:

 

But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.  (21)  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.  (22)  Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.  (23)  For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. (Act 8:20-23)

 

 

Often when I am called regarding a baptism or marriage, I am asked what “the charge” is. I always reply that there is no charge, but they are free to give a donation of any amount if they wish. How can they “freely give” if they are charged? A priest sins twice by charging for services: he sins against the solemn admonition to “freely give”, and he does not allow for others to “freely give” since they are being charged a fee, and to consider the church as a secular institution.

 

I think it is imperative that we give alms with our prayers. A person who has a baby baptized, or a moleben served should give some sort of alms. I have always stated this in my ministry, and by not expecting any payment for anything, I give each person the opportunity to freely give alms.

 

I find that those who ask “what the charge is” are those whom I have never seen, and rarely see again. Why is this? Why are so many who call themselves Christians basically unchurched? It is a great mystery to me why so many people are so little touched by the grace of the services and the Orthodox Christian life, but I believe that a part of the reason is because they have learned to see the church in a secular way. After all, if you want a hamburger, you must pay a certain amount. Why should it be different if you want a baptism?

 

Every time we do anything for anyone, we are privileged to participate in the economy of God! This is a privilege that cannot be valued, as it is priceless. The clergy of today need to be more spiritual, and not secular, and realize that the privilege of being God’s instrument, even though they are a weak and infirm vessel, is payment enough.

 

Matthew 9:36-38 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

 

 

The multitudes are those in need of the gospel; they are just as numerous today as they were then. The Christian pastor sees multitudes everywhere; in the city, in the country, and in the temple! The pastoral heart burns with great sadness for those multitudes who bear the name of Christian and yet rarely pray, whether at church or at home, and hold on to ideas and morals that are in no way Christian. With each candle that is lit by a stranger, most to be never seen again, the pastoral heart cries out for some strength to help those fainting, that is, with weak faith and knowledge of the gospel.

 

It is possible for sheep to have no shepherd even when the shepherd is near, because the sheep follow the shepherd only if they know his voice[2]. These multitudes of sheep, who have the name of Christian, but little of the power and knowledge, are fainting with hunger and thirst, even when they go to the church where the table is heavy laden.

 

Indeed, we must pray for laborers! There should be more priests, more deacons, more godly bishops, more people to sing, to pray, to labor in all things!

 

When I was a layman, I interpreted this verse to apply FULLY to me, because it does. This is not merely a plea for more clergy, but for more laborers. We all should be willing, active and zealous laborers. As a layman, I considered it my sacred duty to attend every service possible, and attempt to pray. Things happened; later on my ministry changed, but the obligation remains the same; we all must be laborers in the vineyard.

 

 

 

Reading for the 3rd Monday after Pentecost : Matthew 9:36-10:8 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. 1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-21.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-21.doc

New Journal entries are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of Journal Entries: http://www.orthodox.net/journal

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!



[1] Simon was a socrcerer, who offered the Apostles money when he saw their ability to expel unclean spirits. Act 8:9-24 KJV  But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:  (10)  To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.  (11)  And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.  (12)  But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.  (13)  Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.  (14)  Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:  (15)  Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:  (16)  (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)  (17)  Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.  (18)  And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,  (19)  Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.  (20)  But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.  (21)  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.  (22)  Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.  (23)  For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.  (24)  Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

 

[2] John 10:1-4 KJV  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.  (2)  But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  (3)  To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.  (4)  And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

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2nd Sun after Pentecost 2009. Multitudes may claim to be with Christ, but few really follow. Audio sermon.

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

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Second Sunday After Pentecost. “And they straightway left their nets”

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

Today, on the Second Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the memory of all the saints of Russia who have enlightened that land and shown their light on top of the hill instead of under a bushel.  What is it that makes a saint?  We’ve talked about this last week.  We read part of the same reading today as we read last week also. 

 

When Jesus called His disciples, they left immediately, left their nets, and they didn’t look back. They left with many weaknesses. We can see them. Their warts are shown in the scriptures: they argued with one another, they jousted with one another to see who would be the greatest, they had lack of faith, they even denied our Lord, and not just Peter, by the way; all of them were afraid, even St. John, who followed from a distance.  They all had human frailties.  But they did as the good farmer that our Lord speaks about in a parable: you put your hand to the plow.[1]  And no man who wants to plow a field looks back, because then the furrows will be not straight, and you will not get as much fruit from the ground. 

 

This is the key, brothers and sisters.  Have you left your nets?  Our Lord called James and John, the sons of Zebedee, and straightway they left their nets.   The "nets" are the "world", in this context.  The spiritual, the inner meaning, of the nets is this: all the things which entangle us.  Have you left your nets?   Or do you still keep nets around? 

 

I’m not talking about whether or not you fall into sin.  We are sinners.  We should not be surprised when we sin.  I’m not talking about if you have weaknesses, passions.  I’m talking about your priorities.  Have you left your nets?  Do you understand?  Do you live your life in accordance with the fact that Christianity must be a continual ascent, away from the earth, into heaven? A continual change, a continual changing of one’s mind. Warfare till the last breath. This is what Christianity is. You must leave your nets.

 

If you set your face towards Jerusalem, as the Lord did[2], meaning, if you don’t let the world get in the way of what your life is for, and then God will strengthen you and will help you.  You’ll have many problems.  You might have many sins.  In fact, you might sin wretchedly and continually, but God will help you if you have the right priorities, and if you beg Him to help you. 

 

Christianity is not what we believe; it’s how we act, it’s what we become.  It’s not possible without belief, but belief is only the beginning, just like when the grain of mustard seed is put into the ground.  That is only the beginning.  That is only the start.  Then the seedling starts to grow.  Many things endanger the seedling, but eventually, with care, it becomes a great tree.[3]  This is what we must do.  We must have the priority to grow, to change.  This is Christianity.  This is the essence. 

 

Our Lord called His disciples; they straightway left their nets.  They’d been waiting for the Messiah.  At this point they didn’t really understand.  He was a charismatic man, and there was something about Him. Those with sensitive souls would see such a thing.  They might not understand it, but they saw it and they desired to follow it.  They gave up everything in order to follow it.  Everything.  And they didn’t look backwards.  Now they still brought along their baggage, and their sins, and their passions, and their pride, and … everything else.  But their desire was to change. 

 

And look what God has done, with twelve men!  He didn’t come to twelve kings, twelve princes, twelve great ones, twelve scholars, but twelve simple men, uneducated for the most part.  Simple.  Men of the sea, men of the earth.  And look what happened.  Because they desired to follow Christ, they left their nets.  And anything that was imperfect in them would be, eventually, healed because of their desire. 

 

It is so important to understand the purpose of the Christian life.  We can talk about it, but to really understand it is to live it.  Perfection.  Self-amendment.  Change according to the One Whom we say we love.  Leaving behind those things that shackle us.  As St. Paul says, "We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses."[4]  Let’s leave behind sin which so easily entangles us.  But the first step to leaving behind sin which entangles is to leave your nets. 

 

The sin may still come with.  We see that from the apostles.  The sin may still come with.  The weakness still comes with.  But if God sees a man who wants to change, He will help him.  Grace will descend upon him and will warm him.  This is the key.  You must desire to change.  You must desire to become like Christ.  You must desire to be all fire.  And all these imperfections, they’ll just be a memory some day.   All the things that are wrong with us, they’ll burn away, and all that will be left, if we live according to desire for Christ, will be the pearl[5], all burnished and shining because of our efforts, because of God’s grace which has descended upon us. 

 

Don’t lament so much out of proportion about your sins that you commit and your difficulties with passions; don’t lament about those more than you lament about your attitude and your desire.  A lack of desire, a lack of proper priorities, a lack of faith and belief in the resurrection is what really makes those sins which entangle you still hang around.  They will be burned away by the grace of God, but you must leave them.  You must struggle with all of your might to leave them. 

 

Now after having been a priest for I think over five years now, I am well aware of the great grace of God and the great weakness of men.  Unfortunately, I’ve learned it autobiographically, but also by observing my flock whom I love.  But mostly by observing my own weakness and seeing how God takes an imperfect vessel and bestows grace upon it.  Most of the grace is wasted, and is not made fruitful, like the water that flows into the ditch and into the sewer and is not retained in the orchard.  But some of it is retained.  And I’ve learned, and I wish you to know: God desires your heart, and not so much today that you don’t sin but that you desire to not sin, and that you order your priorities according to what God has done, and the grace the God-man gives us.  If you leave your nets, everything else will follow. 

 

Certainly, God who has created us for a good work will complete it in the day of Christ Jesus.[6]  Of course He will.  But He will complete it for those who endure to the end.  Not for those who make a beginning, but for those who endure to the end.[7]  He will not leave those who struggle with their sins.  And I tell you boldly; He will not leave those who fail when they struggle against their sins, who continue to sin.  He will not leave them, if they struggle, if they desire. 

 

This is the key.  This is the pearl.  This is the inner knowledge a Christian must possess.  God will not abandon you, but you must not abandon Him.  You must struggle to abandon all that is not of Him.  Whether you are successful or not, in this life, in this world, in being free of every sin is not as important as if you are successful in ordering your priorities and your desires.  Leave your nets. 

 

There are many of them in the world today.  Sometimes we think that some of these things, the vices and passions and difficulties, have been invented by our generation.  They’ve been around a long time.  But now we have a terrible affliction in our society: lukewarmness of belief.  It affects us, makes us make excuses, and makes us to have false priorities, to arrange for our retirement, but not for the keeping of the church.  To take care of this, or that, but to not say our prayers. 

 

Don’t be entangled by the world.  The world offers you nothing.  The world pushes you to the abyss, and then you fall off.  Leave your nets.  And then you’ll be like the saints. 

 

We can share in something that they have obtained.  We all, I tell you boldly — every one of us, no matter how sinful, are capable of becoming as the saints.  And that is an arrogant statement; that is the truth.  We are made of the same stuff, and the same grace is shed upon us. 

 

But the reason why we are moribund in our sins, and why there is little fruit in our lives, is because we have not left behind our nets.  We still have the wrong priorities.  Then let us obey the apostle Paul, "seeing that we are compassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside sin, which so easily encumbers us."[8]  Let’s strive for the goal.  Let’s struggle.  Let’s desire.  Let us leave our nets.  God will not abandon us.  God will help us. 

 

This is glorious news.  The saints, you know, are the resurrection in action.  The saints are living examples of the resurrection, and even in our life we should experience living examples of the resurrection, if we are able to turn aside from the sins that once beset us, if we are able to make the right choice, instead of the wrong one that we’ve been making for so long.  This is the resurrection at work in a man.  And it is a glorious thing.  It is a privilege, and an honor to be a creature of God, for He dwells within us, an amazing thing.  Let us leave our nets, and let’s truly experience what God desires for us.  Amen.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

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http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-02_1999+all-saints-of-russia.html

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[1] Cf. (Luke 9:59-62)  "And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. {60} Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. {61} And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. {62} And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

 

[2] (Luke 9:51)  "And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,"

[3] (Mat 13:31-32)  "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: {32} Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.". Also in Mark 4:31-32, Luke 13:18-19

 

[4] (Heb 12:1)  "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…"

[5] (Mat 13:45-46)  "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: {46} Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it."

 

[6] (Phil 1:6)  "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"

[7] (Mat 24:13)  "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."

 

[8] Heb 12:1

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Sun of All Saints 2009. Audio Homily. I want you to be ready.

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

LISTEN NOW

Matthew 10:32-33, 37-38; 19:27-30 32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? 28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

 


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Sunday of All Saints. Homily.

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven"

 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

Today, the Sunday after Pentecost, we remember all of the saints, and we are inspired by these two readings, I would hope, that contain much encouragement.  How can one not be encouraged when this whole choir of righteous is enumerated by the apostle Paul, and then he says:

 

"Wherefore seeing we are also compassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us.  Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who, for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." 

 

This should be like an anthem for we Christians.  The saints are all described at the end of the Gospel reading.  Every righteous one who has ever lived, who has ever pleased God, who has ever struggled with his sins, who has ever truly believed in the resurrection is described today, because our Lord says:

 

"Everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children or lands for My Name’s sake, shall receive a hundred fold and shall inherit ever-lasting life.  But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first." 

 

This describes in microcosm the life that pleases God, the life that we are called to.  We are to forsake that which weighs us down, sin which easily besets us, and even father or mother or sister or brother, if they weigh us down, if they keep us from the kingdom of God. 

 

In most cases that would not be literally necessary; Jesus Christ is not telling us to always leave our father and mother.  Indeed we must love them, and honor them, whether they honor God or not.  But it is a value judgement here; it is a set of priorities.  If we are to inherit what is our birthright, then we must live according to that birthright.  You remember, with Esau and Jacob, Esau had the birthright, but he didn’t live according to it, so it was taken from him. 

 

These readings contain not only the encouragement and this incredible joy that we should feel about the grace of God; they also contain a blueprint, a path of how to live.  Not only how to live, but also how not to live.  The promise is there, that also contains, very, very clearly for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see, what happens when a man does not follow Christ. 

 

Now this is the Sunday after Pentecost.  Pentecost, the out-pouring of the Holy spirit, the gift of the Holy spirit upon all in the church, is what makes us capable of being part of this choir of the saints.  It’s what helps all men to attain to the knowledge of God and to righteousness. 

 

St. Paul says through faith they did this, through faith they did that.  This was in the Old Testament times, before the giving of the Holy Spirit.  Even more remarkable are the exploits of the saints before the coming of Christ, because the Holy Spirit did not dwell within them.  The Holy Spirit influenced their lives, guided them, helped them, but did not dwell within them.  This was meant for a later time.  And St. Paul alludes to this when he says,

 

"And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." 

 

He is pointing to the coming of the God-man Jesus Christ, and then the bringing of the Holy Spirit after Jesus Christ showed and in actuality did what was necessary for our salvation.  He showed us how to live, and lived according to His commandments, and caused Himself to be risen from the dead.  And then the bringing of the Holy Spirit enlightens us, strengthens us and allows us to do the will of God, and to obtain the promise. 

 

I want to focus on some things that were said in the Gospel – the Gospel is a composite reading, by the way.  It is actually Matthew chapter ten and also chapter nineteen, a portion of it.  It fits together very nicely in context, and that’s why the Holy Spirit must have desired the reading be put together as it was for this day.  Our Lord said,

 

"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." 

 

This is a fundamental characteristic of righteousness, to confess the Lord Jesus Christ.  And how do we confess Him?  Without lips and with our actions; with our priorities and with our way of dealing with people; with what we say is important and what we show is important. 

 

There are some obvious things that you could have come to mind.  We confess the Lord by showing that we care about Christianity, that we live our life in a moral way.  The entire world has gone off unto Sodom and Gomorrah, but we cannot do this.  We must have the courage to stand against it, to stand against every form of immorality and vice.  This is the confession of Christ. 

 

Now there is a new form of Christianity in name only.  It’s been around now for quite a good many years.  In fact, you really can see the beginnings of it in Apostolic times.  But certainly, in the past few hundred years of the post enlightenment age, it has been codified that this is an acceptable way of life. 

 

This way of life confesses Christ with the lips, but not with action, not with morality, not with the way we live, not with the way we order our lives.  The new Christianity, from which the Orthodox are not immune, has a sort of dichotomy between belief and action.  But there is no such thing.  This is the great lie.  Faith without works is dead.  There is no dichotomy between action and belief.  And if you do not live according to what you say you believe, then you are not confessing Christ.  And we’ve been given everything we need to confess Him.  We’ve been given the Holy Spirit, the comforter, Who lives within us if indeed we make a place for Him, if indeed we clean out our soul, and garnish it and sweep it out with effort and desire.  And He will help us in all things.  But if we do not live righteously we are not confessing Christ. 

 

Christ says He will confess us before His Father, if we live according to His will, and confess Him in this life.  But He won’t confess us before His Father if we do not live in such a way.  For those people who do not live in such a way are reserved the words, "I don’t know you.  I don’t know who you are.  You have no part with Me.  You haven’t become like Me.  Go away.  Go unto outer darkness."  Those words are reserved for those people who confess with their lips but not with the way they live, not with their priorities. 

 

Now there are other practical things.  In our modern society we are constantly in social situations.  Are you afraid to make the sign of the cross before you have your dinner in a restaurant?  If this is the case, you should weep and lament and pound your breast and ask God’s forgiveness for this, and do it the next time.  Are you afraid among your friends or among your business associates or whomever else you come across in your daily walk of life to show your priorities and the Christian way of thinking, or do you change your priorities based upon the vicissitudes of your life, maybe so you are not in trouble, or so nobody thinks badly of you, or maybe just so that you are not inconvenienced?  This is not confessing Christ, either. 

 

This is confessing the Devil, because this is the way the Devil wants us to live.  The Devil is perfectly happy with lipservice to Christianity; he loves that. In fact, I think he prefers it to out and out paganism, because what does our Lord say to those in the church of Laodicea, in Revelations? 

 

"Thou art lukewarm, and I will spit thee out of my mouth." 

 

No, brothers and sisters, we are not to be lukewarm.  We have fire within us.  The Holy Spirit warms us.  That fire should burn things, not burn us; it should burn the sins within us, and it should glow. There should be a light.  People should see it. 

 

I am convinced there are two main  reasons our churches are not full – one is the world is very, very evil, and people are not interested in a Christian way of life.  They are interested in Christian lipservice, but not in actually ordering their lives completely according to Christ.  That’s part of it.  But another part of it is, we don’t shine.  We don’t profess Christ in very aspect of how we live, how we think, how we prioritize.  Every single person in our workplace should notice something about us, or think we’re different.  Some may hate us because it – absolutely and positively.  Some hated Christ.  But there was no one that encountered Christ that did not notice something about Him, that did not have to come to a decision because of Him.  So should it be with us. 

 

We must confess Christ before men.  Don’t live your life according to the priorities of the world.  Don’t let anything get in the way of an all-out assault on your passions, and an all-out desire to follow the commandments.  We have this cloud of witnesses. Look what they did: through faith they subdued kingdoms, they wrought righteousness, they obtained promises, they stopped the mouths of lions, they were sawn asunder, they wandered about in sheep skins and in goat skins.  The world was not even worthy of them.  All of these things were struggles.  None of these things that I just mentioned are pleasant.  All of them were difficult trials.  The Christian life is indeed a trial, a difficulty, it is an arena, it is a life-or-death struggle. 

 

If this causes your heart to contract and be afraid, then you must beg the Holy Spirit to indwell in you more, and be joyful on this day that so many have entered into the kingdom of heaven, so many have endured struggles, and pain, and grief, and endured to the end, and come to the kingdom of heaven. 

 

And they are all examples for us, all around.  And they are poof that the resurrection is real.  The resurrection is true.  And it changes a man.  This news is the best news that can be said.  There is nothing greater.  The resurrection changes us!   Now our life sometimes is filled with bitterness and difficulty.  Some of it is from without, brought on by those whom we know, or whom we don’t know.  Some of it is from within, from our own sinfulness, our lack of belief, our lack of constancy, our lack of good priorities.  But regardless, life is struggle.  Everyone understands this.  But God has given us the tools to endure in the struggle. 

 

God has given us everything we need, and on this day we celebrate the whole panoply of saints that have endured to the end, as an example to us, but also – we must understand, and we must be able to have these two thoughts together at the same time – also as a reproach against us.  They are both a reproach against us, and also an encouragement to us, both at the same time, because they’ve all endured.  They’re made of the same stuff as we are.  They had the same difficulties with sins that we have.  They were given the same grace that we have been given, the same truth, the same God, the same Holy Spirit.  But they fought the good fight, and endured; they finished the course. 

 

And now we ask their intercessions before God, for our sinful selves.  We can attain; we must attain some measure of what they have attained.  We are called to perfection.  Christianity is not just a belief system, or membership; it is the continual, extreme change of a man.  And this is good news.  There is so much wrong with us, so much incomplete, so much that hurts, so much that is imperfect, so much that we don’t know, so much that makes us sad; all of that God will change.  No sadness, no incompleteness, no sickness, no bad thoughts, nothing whatsoever that causes our faces to be downcast, but instead all light. 

 

This is what God wants to give us.  We must live our life according to this promise, aim for this promise, and struggle for this promise.  Then we will truly be called friend by our Lord.  He will call us friend, and we will be able to cry, "Abba, Father."  Such incredible intimacy with God!  The saints obtained it.  And we can attain it.  But only by struggle, only by confessing Christ, only by living according to His commandments. 

 

In the middle of today’s reading it says,

 

"He that taketh not up his cross and followeth after me, the same is not worthy of Me." 

 

We must struggle according to what He has told us to do.  I am continually struck by the lives of the saints, and by the writings of the fathers, by how these two thoughts – our depravity and God’s great mercy – are welded into one.  On almost every page of the Scriptures this knowledge of the condition of man, which is deplorable, and the promise of what man will become, is present.  And we see it in the saints.  We see their righteousness, how God brought them home.  We also see their struggles, and we should compare their struggles to our own, and mix always the knowledge of what God has predestined for us with the knowledge of what kind of person we are.  They always must be mixed together.  And then we will struggle. 

 

We will push on, and we will fight, and we will finish the course.  The Holy Spirit has made it possible for us.  The Holy Spirit enlightens us, and lives within us if we live according to His commandments.  May God help you to confess Christ in everything you say and everything you do, in how you prioritize, and live your life.  Amen.

 

The Gospel and Epistle

 

{Heb 11:33}  Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, {34} Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. {35} Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: {36} And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: {37} They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; {38} (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. {39} And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: {40} God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. {Heb 12:1-2}  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, {2} Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

{Mat 10:32}  "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. {33} But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. {10:37} "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. {38} And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." {19:27} Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? {28} And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. {29} And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. {30} But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first."

 

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2000.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

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Wednesday after Pentecost Romans 1:18-27 May 28/June 10 2009

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Two sins that lead to all others.

It’s always about you.

Idolatry.

Sexual immorality.

The delusion of the age.

We must have courage.


Immediately after Pentecost, we begin reading The Epistle of Paul to the Romans. This is arguably the most difficult, theological and “head spinning[1]” Epistle in the New Testament.

 

As with all Scripture, however, there are always simple messages that we can glean , as long as we read with purpose, expecting to be instructed in righteousness[2] by some detail we read

 

Much of the things St Paul says in today’s reading are very simple. It would be good to talk about them now, while we still can.[3]

 

It would be a great mistake to regard Paul’s words as only referring to idolaters and sexually immoral people, whom Paul refers to here:

 

23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” (idolatry)

 

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” (homosexuality, or in our political speak of the day, both “Gay” and “Lesbian” relations)

 

The most important part of the entire reading is the first verse, and it’s follow-up, which describe two kinds of sins:

 

“18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;”

 

The scriptures must be read in a personal way. This does not mean that they will tell us what car to buy,  or whether or not to do missionary work in another country, but they will speak to our personal hearts, if we listen. Although Paul goes on to describe some of the more extreme examples of holding “the truth in unrighteousness”, we err greatly if we do not consider this admonition to also refer to us.

 

When we read these words, we must wonder in which way they refer to us. To ponder this, we first must understand what holding “the truth in unrighteousness” is.

 

Let’s define it as: saying we believe something, but not doing what we say. This describes all sin. Now, St Paul’s words are very personal, and should make us tremble!  The Holy Theologian tells us:

 

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.  (4)  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1John 2:3-4)

 

And:

 

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1John 4:20)

 

Do we “hold” the truth, and yet remain unrighteous, with our passions and sins and selfishness and laziness and all the rest? If so, then St Paul’s admonition applies to us.

 

Let us not despair, because if we are true Christians, with the “honest and good heart[4]” that our Savior described, then although we are guilty of sins, we will not  be guilty of the greater sins which St Paul described (which lead to all terrible, immoral sins):

 

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…”

 

I have told many people many times that sin, of itself, will not kill us. If it were absolutely deadly, no one would live. Only unrepentance will lead to death. God will forgive all sin, except that unforgivable sin[5] – to not repent. If we do sinful things, AND justify them, we have become vain in our imaginations and have darkened hearts – and God will not abide where there is darkness.

 

Death from sin is a process, with progression, just as gaining eternal life is a process with progression. All sins lead to death, because, unchecked, sin leads to more sin, and eventually, the corruption of the mind so that we are unable to stop sinning. All righteousness leads to more righteousness, and eventually, we are free from sin. Which way are we progressing, towards Jerusalem, or towards Jericho[6]? The way we live our life, the priorities we have, the beliefs we espouse, our own personal honest and integrity – these will determine which road we walk.

 

St Paul’s admonition censures two great sins which lead to all the rest of the woes and illnesses of the heart:

 

1. Holding the truth in unrighteousness, that is, being sinners.

 

And

 

2. The greater sin, which is one of the heart – to not glorify God, and as a consequence of not carefully attempting to follow the commandments, making excuses for our sins, and becoming vain in our imaginings and darkened in our hearts.

 

As for the first sin, there is repentance, and the grace of God which will help us. As for the second, there can come a time when we are incapable of repentance, because our lack of care regarding personal purity and the following of the commandments will have lead us to have a “hardened heart” like Pharaoh. From this sin there is not repentance.

 

If we fear the first, and struggle against it, we will not commit the second.

 

Now, we must say something about the immoral sins that St Paul mentions.

 

Absolutely, these denunciations of Paul refer to what they appear to be referring to: worship of idols, and immoral same sex sexual acts. Of course, our society tries all day long to find some way to change the meaning of these words, but they are very clear. God considers sexual activity between those of the same sex to be impure, “unseemly” and “unnatural”.

 

We must pause here to make two important points.

 

This passage does not mention adultery, but it is also a grave sin, mentioned at many other places in the scriptures. Also, there are different kinds of sins and weaknesses. We understand that even to “look at a woman to lust after her” is adultery, so the church has always understood, as her High Priest has taught us, that sin can occur, even if it is only in the mind.

 

Any impure thoughts are debilitating to the soul, but when we fight them with courage and not with an attitude of “making excuse with excuses in sins”, we will eventually, with God’s help, be at peace. Sexual lust of all kinds can be a very strong and persistent temptation, and to even have this temptation is a sign to us that we are not yet righteous. We truly fall when we give in to the temptation and act upon it, and make it a thousand times more deadly to our soul when we make excuses for it. Can a person afflicted with sexual impurity (of any kind) be saved? YES, OF COURSE, but only if he struggles against it.

 

Our politically correct age is making it a sin to say there is sin. If we understand sin for what it is – something which debilitates the soul and makes it sick, then we can fight this view. To call homosexuality a sin (and to offer solutions for it) is an act of Christian love. My brethren, do not fall prey to the pernicuous propaganda of our age. All sin hurts, and leads to death. It must be fought, and we must equip others weaker than ourselves to fight it, not matter what our government or major papers or television programs try to tell us.

 

To have a moral opinion of life is not easy, and it takes courage. Many so called Christians are afraid to live this way. May God help us. If we attempt to live moral lives with great effort, we will not be prone to the great delusion that our society is trying to confuse us with. This is only solution for our modern predicament. If we are strict with ourselves, and try to live morally, we will not be confused when the world tries to sell us a bowl of pottage, whether by propaganda, coercion, threats or punishments.

 

 

 

Romans 1:18-27 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-06-10.html

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[1] “Head spinning” – Sometimes when I try to understand the depth of Paul’s theology, as I think on the multiple layers of though contained in even one (LONG) sentence, my head spins!

[2] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2Timothy 3:16  )

[3] The impending “Hate Speech” legislation and the overall tone of our society which considers the only sin to be proclaiming that there IS sin, will make any discussion of morality, and especially sexual morality, very dangerous. It will, unless God intervenes, soon be a crime to publicly espouse the church’s view about sexual morality, especially regarding homosexuality. People will go to jail for standing up for the truth, after being slandered as purveyors of “hate speech” and inciters of violence”. Are you ready for this? The only way to be ready is to live a moral life NOW, because when the time comes to stand (and loose your job or life or liberty in the process), you (and I) will not be able to do so, unless we are strengthened by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who only abides in a place that is pure.

[4] “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15  )

 

[5] The church understands blasphemy against the Holy Spirit to be lifelong unrepentance ”Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. (Mat 12:31)

 

Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:  (29)  But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: (Mar 3:28-29)

 

[6] See the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Jerusalem is a symbol of righteousness, and Jericho of sin.

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This Holy Spirit we must seek and must earn. St. Hilary of Poitiers

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

 





Let us therefore make use of this great benefit, and seek for personal experience of this most needful Gift. For the Apostle says, in words I have already cited, `But we have not received the spirit of this world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we may know the things that are given unto us by God.’

 

We receive Him, then, that we may know. Faculties of the human body, if denied their exercise, will lie dormant. The eye without light, natural or artificial, cannot fulfill its office; the ear will be ignorant of its function unless some voice or sound be heard; the nostrils unconscious of their purpose unless some scent be breathed.

 

Not that the faculty will be absent, because it is never called into use, but that there will be no experience of its existence.

 

So, too, the soul of man, unless through faith it have appropriated the gift of the Spirit, will have the innate faculty of apprehending God, but be destitute of the light of knowledge.

 

That Gift, which is in Christ, is One, yet offered, and offered fully, to all; denied to none, and given to each according to the measure of his willingness to receive; its stores the richer, the more earnest the desire to earn them. This gift is with us unto the end of the world, the solace of our waiting, the assurance, by the favors which He bestows, of the hope that shall be ours, the light of our minds, the sun of our souls.

 

This Holy Spirit we must seek and must earn, and then hold fast by faith and obedience to the commands of God. St. Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book II

 

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