We begin with an admonition from the Apostle Paul, in the selection read on the 17th Sunday after Pentecost: “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” This is the what, but most of a pastor’s life is spent explaining the how, which the readings for the Sunday after the Exaltation of the Precious cross do very well. The Epistle ends with the stirring words ” I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…”, and the Gospel tells us that “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it “. These describe an attitude, a way of living. Without this attitude, we will not be able to make our way and be “perfecting holiness”. One way to explain this attitude is to elucidate the uniquely ascetic and Orthodox understanding of the “remembrance of death”; this is CRITICAL stuff! We must understand this way of life, the ONLY way of life, which starts with baptism and the cross, and must continue in the way of the cross.
Exegesis of the Vespers readings (parables, paremia) for the Feast of the Transfiguration, with emphasis on typology, especially comparing the Theophanies Moses and Elijah experienced to the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, and the significant moral instruction these events give us, when viewed in a Christian light.
The history of what Jesus did after His baptism is critical for us to understand. He set the example, both by accepting baptism and showing us what we MUST do after baptism. Let’ look in detail at how to encounter temptation, which will surely come to us. We must be ready.
Prison Ministry Pastoral Letter.
Theophany, The Baptism of the Lord, & ?Illumining?. ?To Fulfil all Righteousness?. About Holy Water
THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD, by St. Ioann (John) (Sergiev) of Kronstadt
The Sunday before Theophany (the baptism of Jesus Christ), we read from Mark about the “beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and about the baptism of John, which is a vivid type of Christian Baptism. The entire selection, form Mark 1:1-8 us explained, and especially how John’s baptism (of repentance) is different (and the same) as Christian baptism. It is also appropriate on this day to think about the eventual fruit of baptism, which is human perfection and union with God, and the passage of 2Timothy 4:5-8 presents us with a beautiful “after” picture. This is our destiny, if we accept baptism and work to attain it.
Today, brothers and sisters, on this pre feast of Nativity, we hear so much about the humility and the lowliness of Christ. Many things that are not befitting of a king are happening. Now, we just read from St. Luke’s account about the Nativity that Mary kept all these things conjecturing them in her heart. We should follow that example. That is what the services really do. All of our services are this conjecturing in our heart, this thinking about holy things and rephrasing the dogmas of our faith in ways that touch us. If you listen to the services carefully, you will see things or hear things every day that are striking to you, that are amazing to you, that cut you to the core. And you should conjecture on them in your heart.
Now, today in the ninth hour there is this solemn troparion that is sung. It’s sung three times in the middle of the church. It is very beautiful, very profound, and you do prostrations afterwards. And its meaning is something that you should conjecture in your heart because it ends in this very solemn and profound way: “We worship Thy Nativity, O, Christ. We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ. Show us also Thy divine Theophany.” ….
On this Sunday before the Exaltation of the Cross, two of the epistle readings (2 Corinthians 4:6-15 and Galatians 6:11-18) relate directly to the cross. St Paul states emphatically: “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What does it mean to “glory” in the cross? People glory in many things – wealth, attractiveness, popularity, political correctness, having a good marriage, job, etc. None of these things is glorying in the cross. We answer this important question, and also why we who are “new creatures” because of the cross “have this treasure in earthen vessels”.
An explanation AND APPLICATION of the Gospel on the Sunday before the Exaltation of the Cross, John 3:13-17, which has the famous verse: John 3:16. The more important part of the passage describes the standard with the serpent on it which Moses lifted up in the wilderness. The cross and the resurrection must be thought of in the same "breath;", and how we must live because of the cross. Excerpt … Our poison is sin. Our poison is passions. We are saved from our passions and sin through the Cross. Why? Because the Son of Man has the authority to lay down His life and to take it up again. And He would shortly lay down His life and take it up again. He has the authority to change our nature such that we no longer would be held by death. That is what happened after His death on the Cross. He descended into Hades of His Own will and filled Hades with His divinity and broke the gates of Hades. We sing about this in Pascha, and actually we sing about it every Saturday evening . And in breaking those bars, breaking the bonds that hold humanity when they die, He made us capable of ascending. …
Old for the new but still new for the old since we are in the post-festival period of the Transfiguration, this short homily highlights something we must keep in mind every day.
Synopsis: The most important aspect of the Transfiguration of our Lord on Mount Tabor is that it is a harbinger of things to come. The apostles were not ready to be in the presence of the divine uncreated light of God, and yet in the end we all will be in His presence. What must we do to become ready? The aposticha for the forefeast teaches us: “Illumined with the effulgence of the virtues, let us proceed to the holy mountain, that we may behold the divine Transfiguration of the Lord.” (Vespers Aposticha, August 5, Forefeast of the Transfiguration). Let us look at what happened to the apostles and why and what we must do as the aposticha teaches.
Old for the new, but still new for the old since we are in the midst of the after-feast for transfiguration, the Parables at Transfiguration Vespers are important to understand. Similar events to the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ occurred in the Old Testament. Three selections from the Old Testament are read during the Vespers, involving Moses twice and also the Prophet Elijah. These parables are briefly explained.