SYNOPSIS:On Holy Thursday we simultaneously contemplate the sin of Judas and the institution of the Eucharist. There are two hymns from the matins canon that perfectly explain the greatest sin of Judas – it was not avarice, but to not be angry against sin. This is important to know, and apply to your life. Be angry in a godly way, and become godly. Many partake of communion without understanding why, or what it does. Another hymn from the canon perfectly explains this. We should know why we do things, and how we should do them. Learn from these two hymns the essence of Christianity.
Lacking all conscience, he received the Body that delivers men from sin and the divine Blood that was shed for the world. He was not ashamed to drink what he had sold for money, he felt no anger against sin, for he knew not how to cry, #39;O ye works of the Lord praise ye the and exalt Him above all for ever#39;.
Since I am man not merely in appearance but in reality, the human nature united to Me is made godlike through the exchange of attributes. Know Me, then, as one single Christ, who saves those among whom I have been born and whose nature I have taken.(Canon, Ode 8,9, Matins for Holy Thursday)
Overview of the Gospel on for Presanctified Liturgy on Great Monday, in which the Lord teaches about the state of the world, and His second coming, especially emphasizing the coldness of the hearts of modern man. Our reactions to this coldness and depravity? our hearts must be hot to compensate for the cold, or else we risk being deceived with all the rest. Also a story explains how to know if Christ is coming when someone “Here is Christ”
Homilies on Palm Sunday and Great Monday Matins
Another “two-fer” today. Homilies on St Mary of Egypt, and the Sunday Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent. As is always the case, the Scriptures have a lot to say about how we should live, and St Mary is the quintessential example of how to repent.
Synopsis: The 2 epistles for the 5th Sunday of Great Lent describe well the life of St Mary of Egypt, and also how we must live. Truly, after her repentance, she “Put on Christ”, and had her conscience purged from dead works. We look in some detail at her life and how these scriptures will fulfilled in her life, and must also be fulfilled in ours.
Synopsis: The Gospel for the 5th Sunday of Lent not only sets the stage for our Lord’s passion, which we will shortly go through on our way to Pascha, but also teaches two important truths. Firstly, learning takes time. This may seem like a simple and obvious truth, but it is often an ignored truth. Second: without humility, there will be no learning at all.
Two homilies on the Precious Cross:
The entire Gospel is important, but some passages are absolutely critical to understand and follow. This is one of them. It explains what the way of the cross is, and teaches a principle that we must use literally every moment of our lives – to learn to always make a good “exchange”. We explain what the Lord means when He commands us to “deny” ourselves, and what the answers to His questions: “What shall it profit a man…” and “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” must be. These are not rhetorical questions – you must answer them.
The Epistle for the Exaltation of the Cross never mentions the cross. There are many epistles that mention the cross; why was this one chosen?
Brothers and sisters, this is now the midpoint of the fast, the Sunday in which we exalt the All-Holy Cross, the third Sunday of Great Lent.
In this gospel that we read today, there are many important points, and there are important questions which you must answer. I think the most important question is this: What shall a man give in exchange for his soul? The question before it is: What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? But that is sort of, more of a general question.
The question that follows it, what shall a man give in exchange for his own soul, applies to every moment of your life. It’s not just a general theoretical question. These are not rhetorical questions.
A two-fer today: Homilies on the two Sunday Gospels and St Gregory Palamas
St Gregory PalamasSynopsis: This is an important discussion, too wonderful to believe for most Christians, but absolutely true, and the main teaching of St Gregory Palamas: To be Christian is to become perfect. The Gospel for St. Gregory teaches this in a hidden way, when it says: “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture”. Let us look in wonder at his teaching, the Gospel John 10:9-16, and the Matins Theotokion: “Adam’s nature was made Godlike O Virgin, when without undergoing change, God took flesh within thy womb, and we who were deceived of old by the hope of becoming Gods, have been set free from the ancient condemnation”, and how we are to pursue perfection.
Synopsis: Why do we speak of the Paralytic borne of four during Great Lent? It is because we must learn that we are paralytics because of sin, and the relationship of sin to sickeness, physical and mental. We must also learn what saving faith is and that we must help out our brother.
Orthodoxy and life is very deep and complex, but the essence of Christian life is simple. The Gospel today teaches us a simple way, and if we obey the simple apostolic command, we will not be confounded. If we think too much, we will always be confused. We look at the calling of Nathaniel and the simple way he was told to approach his doubts; this applies to EVERY doubt and difficulty in our life. “Come and see!” is the only door to the triumph of Orthodoxy, that is, the fullness of the indwelling of God, in our hearts.
On Forgiveness Sunday, on the precipice of Great Lent, we hear in the Gospel the last important piece of essential information for preparation for Great Lent and salvation in general. Forgiveness is the most important topic here, after we have been taught about in the preceding Sundays about the Judgment, the process of sin and repentance, and the deadly sin of judging others. The first and last Sundays of preparation are like bookends, because the man who judges will not forgive, and the man who forgives will not judge. We talk about, mainly, how we can learn to forgive others. This is mostly from us knowing ourselves. This skill is not optional, because our Lord said “if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”.
A personal note: I get very little feedback about my homilies, but this one “felt good”, and later I was told by someone whose opinion I trust that this was one of my best homilies
?Spotless Mother of God, only all-hymned Virgin, pray intensely that we may be saved.? (Great Canon, Ode 2, Clean Wed, Theotokion)
When chanting this verse from the Great Canon tonight, which shows the confidence we have in the intercession of the Mother of God, I trembled a little. When a reasonable person asks for something, they know there is an obligation placed upon them. If we ask the all pure one to pray intensely, we must also attempt in our feeble way to pray intensely.