Archive for the ‘Gospel:Matthew’ Category

6th Fri after Pentecost – Parables of the field & pearl

Friday, July 25th, 2008
6th Week After Pentecost – Friday

Matthew 13:44-54 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. 47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. 52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. 53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. 54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?

The following are notes about a portion of this Gospel.

The parables about the Kingdom variously describe the power of the Gospel to save, the great worth of the Gospel, and the way of living that those who will attain the Kingdom must have.

“And the former indeed, of the leaven and of the mustard seed, was spoken with a view to the power of the gospel, and to its surely prevailing over the world; but these declare its value, and great price.” (St John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St Matthew, Homily XLVII,
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf110.iii.XLVII.html)

Each parable gives us a different piece of information. We must believe in the ability of God to save us, must value the way of the Kingdom above all else, and must live in a certain way.

One must be careful to not over analyze any parable, otherwise, according to St John: “the parables must not be explained throughout word for word, since many absurdities will follow.” (Ibid)

The parable of the field is a good example. In the parable, the field is the world. Remembering the proscription against worldliness, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”, (Mat 16:26) one wonders, why would the Lord urge us to buy the world?

It is because, as St John teaches, the Gospel is hidden within the world. The treasure is this Gospel. The way of life that leads to eternal life is hidden within the world; those who do not believe do not usually even see it, and when they do, it is “foolishness” to them. We fulfill the resurrection within us, by living the way of life in the world. We need the world in order to be saved. If it were not for the temptations and difficulties of the world, we would not value the treasure that is hidden within it. This is our nature; we forget easily, and become inured to Holy things, unless we continually struggle, and have temptations, and do everything possible to attain the treasure in the world.

The parable of the pearl says the same thing as the parable of the field, with an important addition: there is only one truth.

“One seeking goodly pearls, who when he had found one of great price, sold all and bought it. For the truth is one, and not in many divisions.” (Ibid)

The size of the pearl is also of great importance. The Gospel treasure is very small (it is hidden in our heart), so those in the world cannot see it, and see that we are truly rich.

“And much as he that hath the pearl knows indeed himself that he is rich, but others know not, many times, that he is holding it in his hand (for there is no corporeal bulk); just so also with the gospel, they that have hold of it know that they are rich, but the unbelievers, not knowing of this treasure, are in ignorance also of our wealth.” (Ibid)



Share

5th Sun after Pentecost 2008, Every occurence in our life is a meeting with Christ.

Monday, July 21st, 2008

LISTEN NOW

The Healing of the Gergesenes demoniacs

Every occurence in our life is a meeting with Christ.

Matthew 8:28-9:1 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. 29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? 30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. 31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. 32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. 33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. 34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts. 1 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.



If the “LISTEN NOW” link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:
http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-05_2008-07-20.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-05_2008-07-20.mp3




RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianSermonsOnTheGospelsEpistlesAndOtherTopics

Archive of Audio and text homilies:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons



Share

4th Sun after Pentecost, Freedom and Slavery, Romans 6:18-23, Matthew 8:5-13

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008


4th Sunday after Pentecost, 2002

Freedom and Slavery

NOTE:

This coming Sunday, June 30/July 13th, 2008) is the 4th Sunday after Pentecost

See the bottom of this post for links to other homilies for this day


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Freedom. The epistle today mentions freedom. Freedom is a favorite word in our society. So few know what freedom is. The Apostle says, “Being then made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness.” Then he says, “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh.” He is speaking of an exalted topic that only can be understood with spiritual knowledge, and the only way to obtain this knowledge is by spiritual struggle. Our weak will, desiring to do works of righteousness, being joined to the Powerful Will, to the Everlasting Will of God to make us capable of doing those things which are righteous.

He’s going to give us a way of thinking, sort-of a mnemonic device that you should take to heart and use because it is a very useful device. He says, “as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness, and iniquity unto iniquity, even so now yield your members servants unto righteousness, unto holiness.” In other words, just as before you were enslaved to various sins, now consider yourself a slave to righteousness. Just as before – or even, God forgive us, even now perhaps – you have been a slave to a particular way of thinking or doing something, think of yourself now as being required to do works of righteousness, just as if you had a taskmaster behind you ordering you to do your work.

Now, he is speaking in the manner of men because of our infirmity.

Actually, the only way to understand how the heart is compelled to do righteousness is to compel yourself. Then you will understand how sweet the Lord is, how beautiful His doctrines are, and how there is nothing more perfect, and more holy, and more fulfilling than to follow God’s law.

So he says, “for when ye were servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.” In other words, you didn’t do righteousness, you did sin, and you couldn’t stop yourself. But what Jesus Christ offers us is the power to become holy! Now He offers us that we would become, willingly, His servants. Now, at the end of the age, those who have been good servants He will call friends, no longer servants. But we, in the here and now with all of our sins and all of our forgetfulness and our intransigence, should consider ourselves to be servants – servants of a Benevolent Master, not having a choice whether we should do righteousness or not. Our Lord commands it so we do it.

“What fruit did we have in these things,” the Apostle asks, “wherein ye are now ashamed?” The things that were unrighteous only gave us pleasure for a season, and then we were unhappy. The end of these things is death. He is giving us another idea here, something we should call to mind often. He is saying, “The end of these things is death.”

In order to be able to think such a thought, we must be able to look towards the future. We must be able to see our actions not in the moment, but after the moment, perhaps even far after the moment. If we think of how unhappy we will be if we commit a sin, we will not commit many sins.

Think of your unhappiness after you have fallen into something that shames you. Think about your unhappiness about such a thing before you sin, and then you won’t sin. The end of such things is death. We know this!

We must learn to live for the future, not to live in the here and now, because after all, aren’t we supposed to be setting our eyes upon the heavenly Jerusalem? Isn’t that supposed to be our goal, our purpose: to become righteous so that we can be in the presence of God and not only not be ashamed, but be happy; to be completely free?

Imagine being completely free. Not freedom as the world defines it, to do what one chooses, choosing things that actually cause enslavement, but to be completely able to be righteous, to not be touched by any sin, to not have any wavering in our heart towards evil.

The Church thinks this is very important because in every service we say, “deliver us from tribulation, wrath, and necessity.” That necessity is enslavement to unrighteousness. People make excuses for their enslavements all the time. “Well, I smoke because it’s a bad habit I picked up and I haven’t been able to break it.” “I’m always so tired, so I oversleep.“ “You know, with all of the impure things all about, I just have so much trouble having pure thoughts.” These are all excuses. When you say such things, or even think such things, then you are saying, “I’m a slave to unrighteousness. My master is the evil one.”

How can we say such things? We are slaves to righteousness. Our Master is our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lived the life that He requires us to live. And He made us capable of living such a life. So we must consider ourselves slaves to Him. So when it comes time that there is a temptation for you, you have to say, “I can’t do that, I’m a slave. I don’t deserve to do that. I don’t have any right to do that. My Lord has told me to do the other thing. I’m a slave. I don’t have a right. I only have a right to do righteousness.” If you think in such terms, you will be saved from many, many sins.

Let freedom be that which is in your heart, brothers and sisters, which allows you to always choose correctly, and not to be forced to do that which is unrighteous. That’s the freedom God offers. It’s not the freedom that society offers. Their definition of freedom is that you can indulge in pleasures as you wish. But pleasures have a price. Indeed, even good pleasures have a price. Even the happiness that we will have with God has its price—our Lord paid that price. We’ve been bought with a price. So since we’ve been bought with a price, we’re no longer our own. We’re not owned by the devil, nor do we own ourselves – our Lord is our Master, so we must do as He tells us to do. And it just so happens that everything He tells us to do – every single thing – is for our welfare, so that we would become completely free.

All of us have things in our life that we wish we could change. Don’t you hate those things? Don’t just despise that you fall into something again and again? You don’t want to, and yet you do? Well, start thinking of yourself as a slave to righteousness, and then act as a slave would act when considering doing something. You have no right to commit that sin. You have no right to become angry at someone, because your Lord said that you cannot do that. You have no right to have a lustful thought, because your Lord said, “He who looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery in his heart.” And adultery is forbidden. You have no right!

You do have a right to do works of righteousness, and your Lord has given you a blanket blessing to do righteousness in whatever you do. You need not ask Him for permission to do righteousness. But He will check with you; He will require of you works of righteousness. But He allows you to choose, so that you can learn what true freedom really is. Freedom is always to make choices for righteousness – that is what freedom is. Freedom is to have no regrets, no unhappiness, to be complete, whole, lacking nothing.

What a wonderful thing freedom is! And what a terrible thing that this word has been hijacked in our society, to mean something it isn’t, to mean slavery and not freedom. You’ve been made free from sin by your baptism. The Lord has bought you with a price, now we’d best act like we’ve been bought with a price. And he says, “being made free from sin” – that is, being made capable of being free from sin. We’re capable of it. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, including the evil one in your ear. You’re capable of being free from sin because the Lord made you such. The Lord bought you with a price. And our Lord is a good trader; He doesn’t make foolish purchases. You’ve been bought with a price, so you’re capable of being free from sin. But you must give your will to the Lord, and give your struggles to the Lord, in order to realize this perfect freedom. Being made free from sin and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto holiness, and the end – everlasting life!

So the Apostle teaches us, as it were, two ways of thinking, two mnemonic devices. One is that when you are presented with the possibility of sin or of righteousness, you say “I am a slave to righteousness. I have no right to commit that sin. I’ve been bought with a price. I’ve been made free as regarding sin. There is nothing compelling me to sin as long as I beg the Lord to help me.” And the other is that when you are presented with the possibility of sin, you think that the end of such things is death. “And if I endure but for a little while, I will have fruit unto holiness, and eternal life.

Every sin, every decision in your life, every fork in the road, you should be thinking these things. You have no right to sin. The Lord has told you. You don’t have a right to do it. He has told you that you must do righteousness. You must follow Him. You must desire to be righteous. And He will help you. But you are not a slave any more – not of unrighteousness. So don’t think of yourself as such. And if you fall into unrighteousness, then beg the Lord to forgive you, beg Him to strengthen your will, beg Him to bring to your mind your sadness in this moment so that in the next moment you will recall it and you won’t fall into sin.

This can only be understood by experience. Experience is the great teacher of the soul. The Lord, bit by bit, as we are capable, gives us enlightenment. But He only enlightens those who are struggling, only those who are trying, only those who know their position. And that is that they are slaves of Him. Now, He is a benevolent Master, and He doesn’t require of us anything, but we had best think that we are required! As soon as we turn towards righteousness even a little, He is there to help us. Let us turn to Him all the time, so that He will help us.

We have an example of experience in the Gospel. When I was thinking about the Epistle and the Gospel today, I thought I wanted to talk about both of them. Well, I can’t do that exactly, but I want to say something about Cornelius. A Centurion, he was a Roman. He was officially of a pagan religion. He couldn’t go into the synagogue. He couldn’t say that he was a Jew. But he had Jewish sacred writings, and he read them, and he loved the Jewish nation, and although he was an occupying soldier, the Jews loved him because he loved them. So when Jesus comes into Capernaum, Cornelius meets Him and says, “my servant lies at home sick of the palsy, paralyzed.” And Jesus says, “I’ll come and I’ll heal him.”

But Cornelius is a man with experience. Cornelius is a man who knows something about righteousness. He knows something about authority. He says, “I’m not worthy that you come under my roof,” partially because he is a pagan, and a Jew is not to go into a pagan’s household – it defiles him. “Only speak the word, and my servant shall be healed, for I am a man under authority, and I have soldiers under me. And I say to this soldier, ‘go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘do this,’ and he does it.” And the inference is, “I know how to do what I’m told, too.”

He was a righteous man – so righteous that the Lord said that He had not found so great faith, not in all of Israel. Now that must have made the Pharisees quite angry, don’t you think? Pointing to an occupying soldier, the hated enemy, of the army that they hoped the Messiah would annihilate, and have their blood flow in the streets, and say, “This man is more righteous than all of you put together.” Why was he righteous? Why did he have such faith? Because he knew about obedience. He expected those under him to be obedient because he was obedient to those over him. So let us know something about obedience, brothers and sisters; let us know something about authority. Let us realize that we are under the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Priest Seraphim Holland

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney Texas.

Scripture for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost

Romans 6:18-23 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Matthew 8:5-13 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.



Homilies on the 4th Sunday after Pentecost

4th Sunday after Pentecost (HTML format)

Freedom and Slavery
Romans 6:18-23, Matthew 8:5-13
2002
Also in Format: Adobe PDF or RTF or Word DOC

4th Sunday after Pentecost (Word DOC format)

2003

4th Sunday after Pentecost (mp3 format)

2004

Share

4th week after Pentecost – Tuesday – Matthew 11:16-20

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

4th Week After Pentecost – Tuesday

Matthew 11:16-20 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, 17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. 19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children. 20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:

Who is who?

“This generation” is the Jews who were not accepting Jesus’ preaching and way of life. They found excuses (with excuses in sins) to not follow the righteous way of life. They are also referred to as the “fellows” who would not listen to the rebuke of the “children sitting in the markets” (who are St John the Baptist and Jesus, and, by extension all righteous).

The righteous way of life “speaks” to the unrighteous, whether it be from St John or Jesus, or our poor efforts. They are hearing from their own conscience.

To make excuse with excuses in sins”

The unrighteous judged the Baptist, because his way of life was too severe for them. He is indicated as one who “mourned”. His dedication to righteousness was evident by the way he lived – and their judgment of him was a classic example of the judgment that people heap on others who are righteous because they are not righteous which the Lord described elsewhere: “Is thine eye evil because I am good?” (Mat 20:15) They were chastened by his way of life – it exposed the hypocrisy of their self-indulgence. Rather than repent, they used judgment of St John, with a fabricated charge (having a devil) to mollify their conscience.

They also judged Jesus, whose way of life did not appear to be as severe as St John’s, so He is indicated as one who has “piped”. This does not mean that Jesus way of life was frivolous merrymaking, but rather, that in the eyes of the Jews, his way of life was not as severe and physically self-mortifying as the Baptist’s. Amazingly, they considered Jesus to be guilty of their sins, which they did not recognize in themselves (gluttony and drunkenness).

The self-indulgent sinner will be inherently judgmental of others, and very often, judges another for the very sins they commit. Feeling superior to others keeps us from seeing our own sins. Their prejudice against publicans and “sinners” made it easier to take the focus off themselves. Seeing someone who epitomized the love of God by loving all men cut them to the quick and challenged their prejudices.

In essence, both righteous men were judged for the same reasons – their conduct pricked the conscience of the Jews, and an unrepentant person does not want to be reminded of his sins, so he manufactures reasons to reject the person who pricks his conscience.

“But Wisdom is justified of her children”

Wisdom is another title Christ uses for Himself. The OT uses this title extensively also. The children of Wisdom are those who follow His way of life.

Justified is a word that encompasses righteousness. We are justified when we become righteous. Jesus is saying that He, Wisdom, will have righteous children – Christians.

We have the wrong idea of “justice” in our culture, which thinks of it as something that is imposed as a punishment on someone who has done wrong, or when something is given to someone to correct a wrong. This is not justice, but fallen human nature looking out for its own interests. Justice does not involve revenge or punishment. It is to live in a certain way – the way which Wisdom has taught us.



Share

3rd Sun after Pentecost – 2008. The Light of the Body is the Eye, and other homilies

Monday, July 7th, 2008

LISTEN NOW

All homilies for the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost:

3rd Sunday after Pentecost (HTML format)
2000
Also in Format: Word DOC

3rd Sunday after Pentecost (RTF format)
2002
Also in Format: Word DOC

3rd Sunday after Pentecost (mp3 format)
2004

3rd Sunday after Pentecost (mp3 format)
The light of the body is the eye.
Matthew 6:22-33
2008

Matthew 6:22-33 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you



If the “LISTEN NOW” link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:
http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-03_2008-07-06.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-03_2008-07-06.mp3




RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianSermonsOnTheGospelsEpistlesAndOtherTopics

Archive of Audio and text homilies:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

Share

Forgiveness Sunday 2008 – The Night Is Far Spent – Romans 13:11-14:4, Matthew 6:14-21

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

LISTEN NOW

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.



If the “LISTEN NOW” link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:
http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/sermons/great-lent-sunday-before-great-lent-05_2008-03-10+forgiveness-sunday+the-night-is-far-spent_romans13;11-14;4+matthew6;14-21.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/sermons/great-lent-sunday-before-great-lent-05_2008-03-10+forgiveness-sunday+the-night-is-far-spent_romans13;11-14;4+matthew6;14-21.mp3




RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianSermonsOnTheGospelsEpistlesAndOtherTopics

Archive of Audio and text homilies:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

Share

Sunday of Forgiveness

Saturday, March 8th, 2008
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.1

Today is the Sunday of Forgiveness, and it is also the day we enter Great Lent. After we pray the Vespers service of Forgiveness early this afternoon, we will then be in the Holy Fast. Why is it that we fast? We have a blueprint for our life, and why we fast, in the Gospel today. Today is also interesting, because we are also commemorating the Finding of the Head of the Forerunner, and so we have this additional Gospel reading that has much richness in it. I want to quickly focus on one thing that it said: “… the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”2

We are going to do violence now. We are setting out on a path of doing violence to the violent one. We are casting that which is corrupt within us, and the Church has given us a path to do so. Our Lord said, first of all, “If ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will forgive you.”3 First and foremost in the Christian life is to forgive. To forgive is to be like God – because God forgives all. God loves all, without any respect for persons. So when we forgive, we are participating in the energy of God. We are acting like God! And indeed, that is what we are to do. In the scripture it says, “Ye are gods”4. We are to act like gods. We are to acquire virtue, compassion, holiness, yea, even perfection, because the scriptures also say, “Be ye perfect, as my heavenly Father is perfect”5.

So one must become like unto God, and the first step is to forgive.

And He says, “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”6

This is actually a promise and a threat, but the promise is so much more powerful than the threat. Oh, yes, if you do not forgive, you won’t be saved. If you hold grudges, even though someone has harmed you greatly in this life, you won’t be saved, because, over and over, the Church says, the Holy Scripture says, the saints say, the Holy Spirit says: forgive, forgive, forgive.

And if you do forgive, what will happen? You will see Christ. You won’t be corrupt anymore. You’ll have peace, you’ll have rest. The promise is greater than the threat. Absolutely.

And then He gives us some counsel about fasting. “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”7 These are among the most terrible words in all of scripture: “They have their reward.” This life, this life of corruption, and foul odors, and difficulties, and sadness and strife, and tempests – that is where they have their reward. These are terrible words. So if you want your reward now, God will give it to you. You can be as a hypocrite, you can make it appear that you are holy, and some people will say, “Isn’t that remarkable what he is doing. I could not do that. He must be filled with the Holy Spirit.” But if you have the reward only now, your life is a total waste.

Then He tells us, in a figure through the glass darkly, as it were, what our reward will be. He says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: {20} But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: {21} For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”8 Do you know what we have been promised? All the world tells us a story of death, dying, difficulties, passions and sadness – all the world. No matter how rich a man becomes, the world is a difficult place because within, there is a pitched battle. And a man with a conscience is not at peace with whom he is. He wants to become better. The whole world is corrupt, all we ever see. But what does He say? “If you lay up treasures for yourselves in heaven, they do not corrupt. They will last forever.” These are amazing thoughts here: Forever. No corruption. Full of satisfaction, peace, rest. I do not have a day that I am at rest. There is not a day that I do not endure sadness. There is not a day that I do not sin. But there will be a day, in the eighth day, if I struggle now, and also, if you struggle, that we will be in the presence of God. The mind cannot conceive and understand what this means, because all we see is corruption, and everything changes. It is so hard to stay good. Things change all the time, and so often, it seems, for the worse. But our Lord and Savior is telling us, If we lay up treasures for ourselves now, in heaven they will not corrupt. We won’t corrupt!”

In the other reading, John, a great man, greatest born of woman, could not understand. It was so incomprehensible to him that the Messiah had actually come. He believed, but he was full of wonderment, so he sent his disciples to Christ, and our Lord said, “Look at the evidence. The blind see, the lame walk, the dead are raised, the poor have the Gospel preached to them.”9 That is the greatest miracle. It gives people hope. It makes people know what they are alive for. We know what our Lord can do.

The evidence is all there, even though the world constantly countermands and slanders that evidence, every single day of our life, but we know the truth! And this is why we are entering upon the Fast. Because we want to lay up treasures in heaven, and we want to win the kingdom of Heaven by violence. Violence against our passions, violence against that which saddens us – that part of us which is incomplete. We want to cast it out, so that we can be filled. That’s why we fast. The reason one must forgive is because the task in our life is to become like God, to be filled with Him, and to become like Him morally – to share in the energies of God. His love for us will transfigure us and make us incorrupt. And a man cannot become incorrupt, he cannot become like God, if fundamentally he disavows himself from that most fundamental aspect of God: God is love. Love forgives. Love forgives seventy times seven times; love forgives infinite times. No matter how great the transgression, the forgiveness is greater.

This is why we begin Great Fast with Forgiveness ceremony. No, it is not just a ceremony. Every man who looks into his heart sees that he falls short with every breath he takes, and that he wrongs every man. If you see one of your brothers or sisters, and they have a difficulty, some conflict in their marriage, or with their children or with some substance or some other such thing – we all fall into difficulties – you should berate yourself and say, “Have I prayed for my brother? Have I done something to help my brother? Is it possible that he or she is in peril because of my incompetence?” That’s why we ask forgiveness of one another, even if we have not exactly offended everyone specifically. But then again there might be grudges that need to be settled today, too, and we must do this if we wish to enter into the Fast.

The Apostle says, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. “10 This is the time. The church sets aside this time, this tithe, or tenth, of the year, so that we would be able to intensify and remember who we are, and who God is, and change. The first step is to forgive, and then we proceed with the Fast. And I tell you it will be difficult. I have been through seventeen of them, and all of them were difficult. We all have our different temptations. One is tempted to eat meat. Another is tempted to be angry. Another is tempted to fall into despondency. Another is tempted in another way. As many souls as there are, so many temptations are there. But we struggle together as a community praying for one another and fasting and believing that there is a reward and that it is permanent. Nothing in this life – nothing – is permanent, and we are living for permanence. And when I think of these thoughts, it makes it a bit easier to abstain from this food or that, or to make more prostrations, or to forgive my brother, even when he has harmed me, even when he has hurt me purposefully, because everything in this life is going away, except for how we have lived. The way we have lived, if it is holy, is going to endure

There is something else during this great fast all of you should do. It is very important for us to pray for one another, and also to pray for Paul, Susan and Seth. They are going to be made catechumens next week. We are going to have the service to make them catechumens, and the exorcism part of the service, just before Liturgy next Sunday. I would ask you and admonish you, as ones who love, because He loved us, that you will be here to support them in prayer, and not just on Sunday, but during the whole time of their catechuminate, that they would learn of sweetness, learn about faith, about the sweetness you can never have enough of. And yet indeed there will come a time when we will have enough. But not in this life. In the next life. We will be completely filled with Him if we live now according to Who He is. Amen.

Romans 13:11-14

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. {12} The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. {13} Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. {14} But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. {41:1} Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. {2} For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. {3} Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. {4} Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

Matthew 6:14-21

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. {16} Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. {17} But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; {18} That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. {19} Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: {20} But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: {21} For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

1 This homily was transcribed from one given in 1997, on the Sunday of Forgivensss, the last Sunday before Great Lent. There are some stylistic changes and minor corrections made and several footnotes have been added, but otherwise, it is essentially in a colloquial, “spoken” style.

It is hoped that something in these words will help and edify the reader, but a sermon read from a page cannot enlighten a soul as much as attendance and reverent worship at the Vigil service, which prepares the soul for the Holy Liturgy, and the hearing of the scriptures and the preaching of them in the context of the Holy Divine Liturgy. In such circumstances the soul is enlightened much more than when words are read on a page.

2 Mat 11:12, partial

3 Mat 6:14

4 Psalm 82:6, Isaiah 41:23, John 10:34

5 (Mat 5:48) Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

6 Mat 6:15

7 Mat 6:16

8 Mat 6:19-21

9 (Mat 11:5) “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”

10 Romans 13:11

Share

Sunday of the Last Judgement:Meatfare – Matthew 25:31-46 – Be kind

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

LISTEN NOW

Matthew 25:31-46 31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.



If the “LISTEN NOW” link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:
http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-before-great-lent-04_2007-02-11+sunday-of-the-last-judgment-meatfare.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/great-lent-sunday-before-great-lent-04_2007-02-11+sunday-of-the-last-judgment-meatfare.mp3



RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianSermonsOnTheGospelsEpistlesAndOtherTopics

Archive of Audio and text homilies:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

Share

36th Sunday after Pentecost – Matthew 15:21-28 – The Canaanite Woman: A Perfect Example Of How To Pray

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

LISTEN NOW

Matthew 15:21-28: Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 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. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 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.


If the “LISTEN NOW” link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:
http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-36_2008-02-03+the-canaanite-woman+a-perfect-example-of-how-to-pray_matthew15;21-28.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:
http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-36_2008-02-03+the-canaanite-woman+a-perfect-example-of-how-to-pray_matthew15;21-28.mp3


RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianSermonsOnTheGospelsEpistlesAndOtherTopics

Archive of Audio and text homilies:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

Share

36th Sunday after Pentecost – Matthew 15:21-28 – The woman of Canaan

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

LISTEN NOW

There is an occasional buzzing sound on the recording, but the homily may be heard easily.

SCRIPTURE:Matthew 15:21-28 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 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. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 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.


If the “LISTEN NOW” link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:
http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-17_2002+the-cannanite-woman.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:
http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-17_2002+the-cannanite-woman.mp3


RSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homiliesRSS feed of Sunday and some weekday homilies:http://feeds.feedburner.com/OrthodoxChristianSermonsOnTheGospelsEpistlesAndOtherTopics

Archive of Audio and text homilies:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

Share