"Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight"
Synopsis: On the Sunday before Theophany we read from the beginning of the Gospel of Mark 2 important prophesies regarding the ministry of Jesus Christ, and regarding the ministry of John the Baptist. The "baptism of John", and of Christ, and our own is explained, and the admonition of St John: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight", which applies to each one of us, all the time, is explained. There is a very important nuance of meaning that is missed by too many Christians. Our life must be a continual attempt to obey this admonition, and without our effort to do so, we cannot be saved, while, on the other hand, our success in fulfilling this command does not determine if we are saved either. This is the old faith vs. works argument, which, for those who were not raised in the church, can be very confusing. It is actually quite easy to understand (after you have understood it!). Our baptism, and all that God does to give us His grace, enables us to become perfected and to know Him. We are responsible for trying, and only because of His help, we will succeed. Overall, if our life is an effort to fulfill this commandment, we will be saved.
Mark 1:1-8 1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; 2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; 7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. 8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
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