The Healing of the Boy with a dumb and deaf spirit

Today is the fourth Sunday of Great Lent and on this day we read about the healing, at the request of his father, of the boy who is possessed of a demon. There are many things to understand about this scripture …

The rest of the homily is a discussion of the meaning of the boy being deaf and dumb, and the fire and the water and very importantly, why we have trouble believing and what we MUST do in order to believe and be free of the fire and the waster.

Old Testament references to the Cross.

During the entire fourth week of Great Lent, the precious cross is a constant subject of the services. … Our hymnology this week is particularly filled with OT references to the cross, some of which may seem obscure to those who are not well versed in the Orthodox understanding of the scriptures and our services.

In the following examples, a hymn for the services of today is quoted, followed by the scriptures it references. …

Once when He descended and confounded the tongues. 4th Week of Great Lent – Thursday Vespers. Gen 10:32 – 11:9

Today we read in Genesis the story of the tower of Babel. In this story, we learn how the human race was scattered over the face of the earth because, in our pride, we wished to build a tall tower reaching unto heaven. Thus, the confusion of our language was a great mercy of God, as it kept us from banding together for evil, so that, scattered abroad, we could learn humility and return to God.

A Christian cannot (should not) think of the expulsion from paradise without thinking of the remedy – the holy Cross.

Likewise, we should not think of the confusion of tongues without thinking of the remedy …

4th Week of Great Lent – Thursday Proverbs are good to read every day.

Evil shall pursue sinners; but good shall overtake the righteous.

(Proverbs 13:21, from the selection Proverbs 13:19 – 14:6, Vespers, 4th Thursday of Great Lent)

Evil shall pursue sinners; but good shall overtake the righteous. (Proverbs 13:21)

The Proverbs are good to read every day. They are good reminders; they help keep us on track. I suppose that they are read during all weekdays in Great Lent precisely because inculcating their wisdom into our daily life enables us to realize the power of the resurrection, which we are pointing to the entire fast. The resurrection is powerful, life changing, but it does not affect everyone. Only those who attempt to change will be affected by it. Many of the changes we must make are elucidated in the Proverbs. …

A sword shall pierce through thy own soul

4th Week of Great Lent – Wednesday Matins, Stavrotheotokion
The “Stavrotheotokion” is a hymn about the cross and the Theotokos (“Stavros” = Greek for Cross). Many of them are found in the services for Wednesday and Friday. They generally focus on the experiences and suffering of the Theotokos when her son was on the cross, and are a rich source of theology about the cross and the incarnation. Basically all the hymns about the Theotokos are about the incarnation. The Stavrotheotokion in particular is particularly poetic, and often presented as a dialogue between the Mother of God and her son. …

The Connection between abstinence and understanding.

Illumined in our souls through abstinence, let us venerate the saving cross upon which Christ was nailed, and let us cry aloud to it: Hail the delight and sure help of those that fast; Hail, destroyer of the passions, adversary of the devils; Hail blessed wood! (Matins Sessional Hymn, Tone 8, from the Triodion, Tuesday in the 4th week of Great Lent)

Why do we fast? If a person fasts because it is a rule, he does not understand- he is not “illumined”. We fast precisely because of the human condition, which needs fasting in order to be “illumined”. This is a biological/spiritual “law”, as binding upon the human body and soul as, for instance, the law that if one drinks a liter of alcohol they will not be able to reason well, or if more calories are ingested than are used in activity, a person will become fat.

There is a connection between the body and soul; each affects the other. We do not understand how this interaction occurs, but we know from experience various ways that each affects the other. …

A golden ring in a swine’s snout, a woman fair and foolish.

A golden ring in a swine’s snout, a woman fair and foolish.
Great Lent, the Fourth Week, Vespers, Proverbs 11:22 from the selection: Prov 11:19-12:6

The Proverbs has many pithy and sometimes humorous phrases.

What a sight it would be to see a woman, beautiful in all ways, except that she has the nose of a pig, with a ring in it! I daresay it would be much easier to avoid the lust of the eyes as soon as our gaze lights upon that nose with that ring! …