Archive for the ‘Great Lent; Scripture’ Category

Isaiah 6:9 The heart of this people has become gross…

Monday, March 21st, 2011

 

And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go to this people? And I said, behold, I am [here], send me. And he said, Go, and say to this people, Ye shall hear indeed, but ye shall not understand; and ye shall see indeed, but ye shall not perceive. For the heart of this people has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. (Isaiah 6: 8-10).

 

Brothers and sisters, do you hear the Lord's anguish in this text?

 

Whom shall I send, and who will go to this people?” The people are in need, somebody must be sent. The prophet responds, “behold, I am [here], send me.” And what does the Lord command him to say? Terrible words!

 

God sees the future as the present, and knows what will happen. He says, “Ye shall hear indeed, but ye shall not understand; and ye shall see indeed, but ye shall not perceive. For the heart of this people has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing.” This is a terrible prophecy, brothers and sisters! The people will be blind to the truth! They will not understand what is best for them! They – or rather, we – will seek diligently after our own destruction!

 

And who, shall we ask, causes this? Does God make our hearts gross, our ears dull of hearing? No – he gives the answer in the next phrase: “their eyes have they closed.” We have done it to ourselves, brothers and sisters! We have closed our own eyes!

 

And why? “Lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.”

 

There are two amazing truths here. First, we have closed our eyes because we don't want to see, or to hear, or to understand the Truth! We want to be blind, because that way we can remain in our own self-satisfied, prideful and lazy state, the broad path that seems easy but which binds us with chains even now…

 

And second: we see the role of the Lord. He doesn't blind us, but if we allow Him to, He will heal us. And He desires this more than we can imagine.

 

All we need do is let go of our own ideas about the way things should be. Hasn't He given us enough reasons to trust Him. He is all-powerful, the Creator of the world. He is all-good and loving, sacrificing Himself on the Cross for the sake of the very men who put Him to death. He is all-knowing, and sees the needs of each and every one of us. And if we allow Him to, if we pray to Him and follow His commandments instead of our own reasoning, He will completely renew us and set us on the path of salvation.

 

May it be so.

 

Dn. Nicholas Park

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Receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved…

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Today’s reading from St. Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews[1] is a beautiful exposition of how we, as disciples of Christ, should live our lives. Why is the reading read on this particular day, the day on which we celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection of Lazarus? I think that the key is in the first words of the appointed selection: "we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved…." Truly, our kingdom cannot be moved, since our King is the "Vanquisher of death," as we sing in the troparion for the day:

In confirming the common resurrection, O Christ God,

Thou didst raise up Lazarus from the dead before Thy Passion,

Wherefore, we also, like the children,

bearing the symbols of victory,

cry to The, the Vanquisher of death,

Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!

Our Lord rose the dead on three occasions during his earthly ministry [2]. On one ocassion, he rose the daughter of Jairus, who had only recently died and who still lay on her sickbed in her parents’ home [3]. On another ocassion, he rose the son of the widow of Nain, who was already being carried to burial [4]. Finally, he raises his friend Lazarus, who has already lain in the tomb for four days – long enough for his body to begin to decay [5]. This latter incident is the subject of today’s celebration. We remember it now because it took place shortly before the Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. But it is significant to remember this event now for another reason as well; it shows us clearly that Christ is the victor over death, and thereby foreshadows Christ’s own resurrection, which we will celebrate in just over a week.

Christ, having conquered death, "the last enemy to be destroyed" [6], is truly the master of all. We, then, being his followers and disciples, can have nothing to fear from anybody, so long as we remain true to Him. It is in this way that His words, "Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?,"[7] acquire their power, for He is truly able to provide all things. Even if we should be given over to death for following Him, He has the power to raise us from the dead.

We, then, can confidently and without being worried by "what-ifs", give ourselves entirely to living in the manner that God has directed, having as our only goal the perfection of His image in our souls. Setting aside our worries, we can "have grace, that we may serve God acceptably." We can zealously pursue brotherly love, hospitality, charity toward those in bonds, purity of body and soul, contentment and submission.

[1] Hebrews 12:28-13:8: 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire. 1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. 4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. 5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. 7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. 8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

[2] Archbishop Andrie of Rockland NY, of blessed memory, points this out in a sermon for the day, which is available here:

http://www.holytrinitymission.org/books/english/sermons_archbishop_andrei.htm

http://www.holytrinitymission.org/books/russian/sermons_archbishop_andrey.htm

[3] Luke 8:40-56

[4] Luke 7:11-16

[5] John 11:1-45

[6] 1 Cor 15:26

[7] Matthew 6:31

 

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The First Week of Great Lent – Clean Monday. Sixth Hour.

Monday, March 2nd, 2009


An Anthem for Great Lent and all of Life.

 

Wash yourselves, and ye shall be clean; put away the wicked ways from your souls before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17. learn to do well; diligently seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, consider the fatherless, and plead for the widow. 18. Come then, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: and though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow; and though they red like crimson, I will make them white as wool. 19. If then ye be willing, and obedient unto Me, ye shall eat the good of the land; 20. but if ye desire not, nor will obey me, the sword shall devour you, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. (Is 1:1-20, First Monday of Great Lent, the Sixth Hour)

 

Everyone needs to frequently wash. The accumulated grime of the day is unsightly, unpleasant and unhealthy. If we wash carefully, and ignore no dirty place, then we will be invigorated, and healthy, but if we ignore some place for a long time, that place will fester and cause us to be ill.

 

Great Lent is especially a time for careful washing. In us there may be wicked ways: thoughts, feelings, priorities and habits that are not immediately apparent, and are all displeasing to God.

 

This time is a time to consciously attempt to put away wicked ways from ourselves just as we put away from ourselves certain foods.  How to do this? By listening and seeking, with diligence and proper priorities. This will lead to actions accomplished with a merciful heart, that is:

 

“learn to do well; diligently seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, consider the fatherless, and plead for the widow”.

 

Why should we make all this effort? Because some stains are so dark and embedded that we cannot of our own effort wash them out, and their ugliness and stench will always be with us, but if the Lord sees our resolve and or effort, He will wash us so that the scarlet and crimson of our sins, and even of our sinful nature and predilections will be annihilated and forgotten, and will not return to infect us again.

 

18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

 

And those who struggle, with an honest and good heart, will inherit the good of the land, and know the Lord.

 

 

SIXTH HOUR – Clean Monday Isaiah 1:1-20  1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. 7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. 10 Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. 11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. 15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland    St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

http://www.orthodox.net/dailylent/great-lent-week-01-monday_2009+sixth-hour.doc

http://www.orthodox.net/dailylent/great-lent-week-01-monday_2009+sixth-hour.doc

 

New material throughout the year is posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Daily Lenten Meditations on the service texts and scripture readings: http://www.orthodox.net/dailylent

Compendium of materials about Great Lent::

http://www.orthodox.net/greatlent

 

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!

 

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The First Week of Great Lent – Clean Monday. Reading of the Sixth Hour

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

An Anthem for Great Lent and all of Life.

 

Wash yourselves, and ye shall be clean; put away the wicked ways from your souls before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17. learn to do well; diligently seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, consider the fatherless, and plead for the widow. 18. Come then, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: and though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow; and though they red like crimson, I will make them white as wool. 19. If then ye be willing, and obedient unto Me, ye shall eat the good of the land; 20. but if ye desire not, nor will obey me, the sword shall devour you, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. (Is 1:1-20, First Monday of Great Lent, the Sixth Hour)

 

Everyone needs to frequently wash. The accumulated grime of the day is unsightly, unpleasant and unhealthy. If we wash carefully, and ignore no dirty place, then we will be invigorated, and healthy, but if we ignore some place for a long time, that place will fester and cause us to be ill.

 

Great Lent is especially a time for careful washing. In us there may be wicked ways: thoughts, feelings, priorities and habits that are not immediately apparent, and are all displeasing to God.

 

This time is a time to consciously attempt to put away wicked ways from ourselves just as we put away from ourselves certain foods.  How to do this? By listening and seeking, with diligence and proper priorities. This will lead to actions accomplished with a merciful heart, that is:

 

“learn to do well; diligently seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, consider the fatherless, and plead for the widow”.

 

Why should we make all this effort? Because some stains are so dark and embedded that we cannot of our own effort wash them out, and their ugliness and stench will always be with us, but if the Lord sees our resolve and or effort, He will wash us so that the scarlet and crimson of our sins, and even of our sinful nature and predilections will be annihilated and forgotten, and will not return to infect us again.

 

18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

 

And those who struggle, with an honest and good heart, will inherit the good of the land, and know the Lord.

 

 

SIXTH HOUR – Clean Monday Isaiah 1:1-20  1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. 7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. 10 Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. 11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. 15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland    St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

http://www.orthodox.net/dailylent/great-lent-week-01-monday_2009+sixth-hour.doc

http://www.orthodox.net/dailylent/great-lent-week-01-monday_2009+sixth-hour.doc

 

New material throughout the year is posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Daily Lenten Meditations on the service texts and scripture readings: http://www.orthodox.net/dailylent

Compendium of materials about Great Lent::

http://www.orthodox.net/greatlent

 

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!

 

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Great Lent, Saturday of the 2nd Week

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.”

What a call to action these words are! We are given the example of the Israelites who were led out of Egypt by a series of great miracles — from the plagues to the turning back of the Red Sea — but who nevertheless forgot the Lord, preferring to pine over the good things of Egypt while conveniently forgetting the slavery to which they had been subject there. As a result, these men and women were found unworthy of the promised land, and instead wandered for forty years in the desert until every one had died, and their children were led by Aaron into the “land of milk and honey.” This history can be found in the book of Exodus.

We, in our turn, have been partakers of an even greater miracle — united to the Holy Church by God’s abundant grace, anointed with the grace of the Holy Spirit to preserve us in all truth, and fed with Christ’s Most Pure Body and Blood, we may abide with Him in our every action, if we so choose. We can say with the apostle Paul, “for it is not longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” — He gives us this grace, if only we choose to accept it, if only we set aside our own sinful desires and allow Him to act in us, if only we take advantage of the Holy Sacraments which He offers to us, if only we continue to encourage each other, “singing to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.”

This is why we gather in church as often as possible. This is why the church has services for every hour of every day, so that whenever our lives allow, we may come together and “exhort one another daily, while it is called To day” — because we are forgetful and lazy, and we need constant reminders of the Grace that had been given us, of the great Goodness of our God, so that we may fulfill our calling, give thanks with out ceasing, and allow Him to live and work in us, now and forever.

This evening, we will celebrate the memory of St. Gregory Palamas. This fourteenth century father taught with clarity the Orthodox truth that we can truly become deified by Grace — we can live with and in God — if we set aside our sinful desires and allow Him to act with an in us through the means He has appointed.

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