Here is an excerpt from the most recent prison ministry letter (http://www.orthodox.net/prison-ministry/prison-ministry-pastoral-letter-2012-02-14+readings-for-cheesefare-and-clean-week.doc which I sent out last week. I try to comment a little bit about the daily scriptures. Please read them. The commentary today is on Jude 1-10 and Luke 22.39-42, 45-23.1.
This first thing to notice is how Jude addresses himself. He was the son of Joseph the Betrothed, who, you will remember, was a widower when he was called to be betrothed to the Theotokos and be her protector. He always referred to himself as “the brother of James”, who was known as the “brother f the Lord”. The story of how he gained this appellation also tells us why Jude, with his great humility, referred to himself as subordinate to his brother.
Note that Jude was one of the 12 apostles, but James was not – he was of the Seventy. The Brother of the Lord, however, was also with the Lord during his earthly ministry, and, like James, grew up with him. After the resurrection, he was appointed Bishop of Jerusalem – at a time when Jerusalem was filled with the twelve Apostles! He was well respected and loved, and wrote one of the most important epistles of the NT (and most maligned, because it says in plain “English” that we cannot be saved without works (“faith without works is dead”, and this dogma does not set well with those who are in thrall to the new doctrines promulgated since Luther and the reformers). It was said that his knees looked like those of a camel, because of his many prostrations, and he was a lifelong virgin. He died a martyr, and quite early, being thrown off a building by the (unbelieving) Jews, and having his head crushed by a blow.
Here is the story. When Joseph was old, he wished to divide his property to his four sons – Rueben, James and Jude, and also Jesus, whom he counted as a son, although he knew (and his family too) that He was not his natural father. Jude protested, and James offered to give Jesus his portion. For this one act of kindness and love, James is remembered as the “brother of the Lord”, and Jude forever remembering his sin, referred to himself humbly as the “brother of James”.
Do not be afraid to let your past sins humble you. If you forget where you came from, you will lose your way. We should not wallow in our sins, and “forgiving ourselves” can be difficult, but we must remember that we have sinned grievously in the past, and this knowledge will help keep us humble. If we gain true humility, we will “forgive ourselves’ too, but we will never forget who we were before.
The Apostle Peter also remembered his denial of the Lord, and when he was crucified, considered himself unworthy to be crucified in the same way his Lord was, ands asked to be crucified upside down. The is not doubt that these great apostles, Jude and Peter, repented fully of their sins, but in their humility they remembered them.
It is clear that heresies began to assail the church very early, and Jude makes a general reference to them, and in so doing describes the basic content of most heresies: “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4)
There is more here, and in time we can discuss it, but we must move on.
Our Lord’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane shows His divine and human will. He was not a madman – His human flesh did not want to suffer, but He gave His human will over to the will of God, as an example of what we must do: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Vs. 42). May god help us to emulate this. It is always best to seek the will of God and do it. Our will, when separated from God, will ALWAYS be wrong.
A little historical note. The one who stuck the servant of the high priest was Peter. (Vs. 50) He was identified in St John’s Gospel. When St John’s gospel was written, the need for secrecy (to protect Peter) has ceased.
This passage also talks about Peter’s denial of the Lord. He denied him because he was afraid. Fear has overtaken great men before. Remember that Elias, after killing all the prophets of Baal, ran away because he was afraid of Jezebel. Since Peter has great love for the Lord, and was true to His teaching, he overcame this great sin. This was because of his courage. He went out and wept, but he did not run away and hang himself as Judas did. Like any man, Peter was a mixed up combination of fear and courage, sin and sanctity. We are like him as regards sin and fear, but will we emulate his courage?
“70 Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.”
The Jews considered the lord to have committed blasphemy because He unambiguously called himself God. The words “I am” are the way God describes himself – He is. He did not begin, He will not end, He is. Jesus assertion concerning himself directly refers to the verse in Exodus that any Jew would know: “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. ” (Exodus 3:14 KJV). The pre-incarnate Jesus was the one who spoke to Moses, according to our tradition.