Matthew 1:1-25 1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; 3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; 4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; 5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; 7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; 8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; 9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; 10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; 11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: 12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; 13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; 14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; 15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; 16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations. 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Matthew 15:21-28Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
Matthew 25:14-30 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 21:33-42 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
SCRIPTURE And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. 23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Matthew 18:23-35 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
SYNOPSIS: The story of the healing of the demoniac boy illustrates two kinds of belief (faith) and two kinds of unbelief. If we want to have true and saving belief we must recognize the relationship between faith and prayer and fasting (and also understand that "fasting" involves much more than just abstaining from certain kinds of food).
The "Golden Chain" connecting faith and prayer and fasting.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen. Today, Brothers and Sisters, we see a golden chain linking: belief and action, faith and fasting, what we say we believe and what we do. We see two kinds of unbelief today, and two kinds of belief.
The man who had a lunatic son was rebuked by the Lord because of his unbelief:
"O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you?" (Matthew 17:17)
He was referring to the man, and also the people around him; they all had the first kind of unbelief. This kind of unbelief is when we do not do good.
There was some reason why this boy was possessed by a demon. Demons do not dwell in clean places; Demons live in dirty places. Unbelief is dirty; unbelief is sin. It could be because of the boy’s sins or the man’s sins. The Lord showed that in this case it was because of the man’s sins because He rebuked the man.
The Lord heals the boy and the Apostles wonder why they could not cast out the demon. What does the Lord say?
“Because of your unbelief.”
This is a different kind of unbelief. It is a lack of internal knowledge and certainty. This knowledge and certainty only comes about by living the Christian life.
Let’s look at the Apostles. Look at how they were in the beginning: arguments amongst themselves, fears, questions that seem a little silly in retrospect. Look at them after the resurrection and after Pentecost. They became fearless, wise, and humble. They had changed.
How? By the Lord helping them gain internal belief inside their hearts. This is something that cannot be taken away from us; it is living within us, but if one does not have that kind of belief, then there are things that you cannot do – such as cast out demons.
These are the two kinds of unbelief. There is the unbelief of sin and not doing the commandments, and also the unbelief that is present in all of us until we have lived the Christian life a goodly amount of time.
When I say “live the Christian life”, I do not mean just being a Christian for fifty years. I mean living according to the commandments, with your eyes always set towards Jerusalem. Then you start to have inside you that inner conviction that no one can take away from you. And with this belief, mountains can be moved (so the Lord says).
I have told you before that this mountain signifies our sins; they are large and heavy and they tend to stay where they are, don’t they? But if we have faith, we can say to the mountain of our sins “move” and it will move – we will change.
It takes a great amount of faith to do this. So what does the Lord do? He immediately links faith with prayer and fasting.
He tells us that:
“If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:20-21)
He was referring not only to the demon in the boys, but also any of the things that make up our mountain. They don’t “come out” except by prayer and fasting. They don’t come out except by effort. They don’t come out except by applying the truth of the Gospel to our daily life.
I told you that there are two kinds of belief. Each can be though of as opposite to one of the kinds of unbelief.
There is belief in God manifested by following the commandments and struggling to be good.
If any one thinks that being a Christian is easy then they have not begun to be a Christian yet. There are things in you that don’t want to live in a Christian way. If you do not recognize these things, they lay in hiding, and direct you like a puppet on a string. But when you recognize those things in yourself – your lack of humility, your arrogance, the fact that you take offense easily, that you have thoughts you should not have, that you are lazy and a time waster, too ambitious, and so many other things that are contrary to the Gospel- then you will understand that it is not so easy to be a Christian.
The first step of course is to recognize that they are there, but then it takes great effort to eradicate them. The Lord says that “this kind” does not come out except by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21, paraphrased) This does not mean that you can fast three days and then everything is better; He is talking about a lifetime of prayer and fasting.
Fasting is not just abstaining from food. Fasting is abstaining from our appetites.
If you have an appetite for praise, fast from it. .
If you have an appetite for rising up in business to the detriment of your other duties, fast from it.
If you have an appetite for unclean thoughts or things fast from them.
If you have an appetite for things that waste time fast from them.
Fasting is abstaining from all of our appetites. Of course, the church directs all of us to fast from food because everyone needs and likes food and therefore fasting from food is an offering to God that everyone can give. But the intent of fasting is not just that we should not eat certain kinds of food at certain times. The intent is that we will not sin. Fasting strengthens us so that we will not sin. If you do not understand this then you have not fasted enough. You will learn by experience that fasting helps us to not sin, but only if this fasting is with effort and purpose and not according to convenience.
Prayer must accompany fasting. Of course the Apostle says that we should pray without ceasing, we should ask God for everything in our lives and give him praise for everything He has given us. We must believe in His providence and see His hand in everything that happens to us. Everything should be done with prayer.
So one kind of belief is the following of the commandments, struggle, prayer, and fasting. But the purpose of our lives is not prayer and fasting. Our purpose is not even prayer. In the Gospel, the Lord tells us that there will come a time when we are not to pray. This is when we are totally with God; when we are in such a state, we need not ask to be with God! Those who have reached perfection and are gazing at the face of God need not ask God to come, since He is already apprehended by the mind as fully present. We who have not reached perfection must continually ask God to come, and in His coming, He will prepare us. He is ready, but we are not, so we must be prepared to be before the face of God and gaze at Him continually.
The second kind of belief is when one can gaze at the face of God, without shame or fear, but with joy. And with that kind of belief, anything can be done. The Lord tells us that we can move mountains, and exorcize demoniacs; absolutely nothing shall be impossible for us.
We are somewhere in the continuum between the two kinds of belief and unbelief. Let it not be said that we have no belief! If that is the case, then we are far from God. Take note, it is possible for a person who considers himself to be a Christian to have no belief.
Let it be said that we believe, that we struggle to follow the commandments, and that we beg the Lord to help our unbelief. And we know that in struggling to follow the commandments God will help us. He will not abandon us. The good work which has been begun in us He will complete. When it is completed, then we will have FULL BELIEF. God will be in our hearts, we will know He is in our hearts, we will feel Him. Nothing can take that away. Until that day, let us struggle with prayer and fasting. Amen.
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"And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.(23)And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." (John 16:22-23)
 “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:” (Phillipians 1:6)
Matthew 18:18-22; 19:1-2, 13-15 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. 21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; 2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. 13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. 15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.
The following are notes about a portion of this Gospel.
The Lord had just finished telling all his disciples, that whatever they bound on earth would be bound in heaven, and loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven, referring to the awful responsibility of the priestly ministry, when Peter, apparently not completely understanding, asked how often he should forgive when he himself was personally wronged.
Here are two different things, and priest, mark well the difference!
In the one, the priest has a power and responsibility before God to hear confessions and mandate that God’s forgiveness be given, or in the terrible case of the unrepentant, that such forgiveness not be given. This is referring to a person’s personal sins against God only, for every sin, whatever it is and to whomever it is directed, is always against God.
Regarding sins against himself, such as when one person wrongs him in some way, the priest has NO AUTHORITY, but only a commandment: to forgive “seventy times seven”, that is, to ALWAYS forgive. We all share in this commandment.
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:(15)But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Mat 6:14-15)
What a terrible responsibility the priest has! He must disassociate himself from his personal views and feelings. To those that wrong him, he shares with all men the responsibility to forgive all times. Only in the case of when he is acting as God’s priest, and in his judgment he feels a person is not repentant concerning his sins, may he withhold forgiveness.
Regarding the strange number “seventy times seven”, Blessed Augustine has an interesting comment:
“Yet not without reason did the Lord say, “Seventy times seven;” for the Law is set forth in ten precepts; and the Law is signified by the number ten, sin by eleven, because it is passing the denary line. Seven is used to be put for a whole, because time goes round in seven days. Take eleven seven times, and you have seventy. He would therefore have all trespasses forgiven, for this is what He signifies by the number seventy-seven.”
(Catena Aurea – Gospel of Matthew, Chap 18 – http://www.ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/catena1.ii.xviii.html)
So the number “77” indicates not only that we must forgive always, but that we must forgive ALL SINS ALWAYS.
Some of the Fathers interpret the number as 70 * 7 = 490. The actual number is not important, but its meaning is – it is an arbitrarily large number.
“What then saith Christ, the good God, who is loving towards man? “I say not unto thee, until seven times, but, until seventy times seven,” not setting a number here, but what is infinite and perpetual and forever. For even as ten thousand times signifies 358 often, so here too. For by saying, ‘The barren hath borne seven,’ So that He hath not limited the forgiveness by a number, but hath declared that it is to be perpetual and forever.” (St John Chrysostom,Homily LXI., Matt. XVIII. 2, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf110.iii.LVIII.html – the scripture quotation is from 1 Sam. ii. 5.)
There are other instances in the scriptures when an arbitrary number is used to indicate a limitless number:
“If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.”(Gen 4:24 )
Of course, my parish should be aware of another famous large number (if you listen to my homilies):
“Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.” (John 21:11)
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All rights reserved. Please use this material in any way that is edifying to your soul, and copy it for personal use if you so desire. We ask that you contact St. Nicholas if you wish to distribute it in any way. We grant permission to post this text, if completely intact only, including this paragraph and the contact information above, to any electronic mailing list.
Matthew 14:14-22And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. 15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. 16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. 17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. 18 He said, Bring them hither to me. 19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. 20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. 21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children. 22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
SYNOPSIS:The faith of the two blind man Jesus healed and of the men who brought the mute demoniac for healing demonstrate two aspects of faith. The demoniac’s muteness shows lack of faith; we cannot proclaim that which we do not know and experience, and the Holy Spirit will not reside where Evil is. We are a composite of all of these examples. How do we gain faith, so that the Lord will say to us "According to your faith, be it unto you"? The answer is contained in the Epistle for today: "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves."
Romans 15:1-7 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. 4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
Matthew 9:27-35 And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us. 28 And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. 29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. 30 And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. 31 But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country. 32 As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. 33 And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. 34 But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils. 35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.