Archive for the ‘Great Lent’ Category

Now it is high time to awake out of sleep; exegesis of the Epistle for the Sunday of Forgiveness.

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

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Synopsis: The Epistle for the Sunday of Forgiveness is a perfect introduction into the purpose and aim of Great Lent.

Homilies on Forgiveness Sunday (Cheesefare) are HERE

Homilies on the first Sundday of great Lent are HERE

Romans 13:11-14:4 11 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. 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.


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Do not make friends because of evil & Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Week of the Last Judgment: Thursday

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

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Synopsis: The week before Great Lent begins, we visit the Passion of the Lord; we will of course look at it in great detail Holy Week. The account of the passion is so full and rich that we learn something new from it every time we read it. Today we look at the friendship of Herod and Pilate – it has much to teach us about our friendships. We also look at Jesus' last great teaching by example: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

More homilies on the weeks before great Lent are HERE

Homilies on Forgiveness Sunday (Cheesefare) are HERE

Homilies on the first Sundday of great Lent are HERE

Luke 23:2-34, 44-56 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. 3 And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it. 4 Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. 5 And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place. 6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. 7 And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. 8 And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. 9 Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. 11 And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. 12 And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves. 13 And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: 15 No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. 16 I will therefore chastise him, and release him. 17 (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.) 18 And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: 19 (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) 20 Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. 21 But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. 22 And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. 23 And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. 24 And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. 25 And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will. 26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. 28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. 29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. 30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. 31 For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry? 32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. 33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. 44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. 47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. 48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. 49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things. 50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: 51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. 55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.


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Sunday of the Last Judgment (Meatfare Sunday). Our Father will come to us in our repentance, and He will question us about our changes.

Monday, February 20th, 2012

The Last Judgment

Synopsis: The Sunday of the Last Judgment gives the 3rd piece of important information to us in our preparation for Great Lent. We have learned that to be saved one must not judge others, and feel the weight of personal sins and ask God for mercy. We have seen the process of repentance, from the onset of sin, its destructive affects, self-realization of sin, and the importance process to "arise and go" to our Father, and the critical detail, without which we would never complete our repentance and be saved – our Father will go to us, as we are trying to change, and comfort us and empower us to complete the good work we have started. Today's Gospel about the last judgment shows the end result of true repentance, and also the "flip side" – the outcome for those who do not repent. It is a frightening spectacle, and not a pleasant one to meditate upon, but absolute necessary for us to remember. Lets us talk about how Jesus Christ came the first time, how His second coming will be, and what we must do to hear the blessed words: " Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world".

More homilies on the Sunday of the Last Judgment are HEREThe Last judgment

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.


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“Meat commendeth us not to God” exegesis of epistle reading for Meatfare Sunday.

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

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Synopsis: Perhaps one of the best remembered scriptures among those who do not fast and do not read the scripture much is the well known phrase of Saint Paul: "But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse." We look at the context of this true statement, and its application to our day. The entire passage is about sensitivity to our brother's weakness, and how the phrase "when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ" is quite similar to the one in today' Gospel: " ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" We also discuss why we fast – it is a natural requirement of our human nature, and is an easy and readily available way to train ourselves in self-control. Without self-control, we cannot make any progress in the spiritual life.

More homilies on the sunday of the Last Judgment, Meatfare are HERE

1 Corinthians 8:8-9:2 8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. 9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of your's become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. 10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; 11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. 13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. 1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? 2 If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.


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The Parable of the Prodigal Son teaches us 2 very important things in the process of repentance.

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Parable of the Prodigal SonLISTEN NOW

Synopsis: The Parable of the Prodigal Son is part of a 4 week preparation period for Great Lent. We discuss the purpose and main teaching of the 4 Sundays, and then do a somewhat quick survey of the parable, mentioning all the lush symbolism and metaphor, and concentrating on the most important part – the core of the parable – that we must learn. It consists of two things. We must "come our ourselves" – this is not a one time epiphany as described in the parable, but a daily process, that changes over time, and as we are in the process of "arising and going", we must be ever aware of how our Father is always with us and will help us, even when we feel abandoned, fruitless, or our resolve to change falters. We also look briefly at the older son, who teaches us a very important lesson regarding self-knowledge. This is important stuff!

More homilies on the SUNDAY OF THE PRODIGAL SON are HERE

 

 

Parable of the Prdogal Son

Luke 15:11-32 11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. 29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.


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The simple meaning of the parable of the Publican and Pharisee and the Jesus prayer.

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Ikon of the Parable of the Publican and Pharisee

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Synopsis: This is really two homilies. The first is about the simple meaning of the parable of the Publican and Pharisee. It is that we will not be saved if we are proud and judge others. We discuss some of its nuances. We also discuss the prayer of the publican "God be mercy to be a sinner", and the Jesus prayer. There is a lot of practical detail. This is really important stuff.

More homilies on the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee are HERE

Luke 18:10-14 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.


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Teaching of Vespers on the Publican and Pharisee, exegesis of Timothy

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

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the Publican and the PhariseeSynopsis: The first 3 hymns of Vespers from the Triodion teach us the meaning of the Publican & Pharisee parable. We also examine the epistle for this day, and tremble regarding our example to others. We look at the expectation of persecution that a Christian must have and example from the current news of how "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" is being fulfilled in our day. Also the power of scripture and the necessity of reading it.

More homilies on the Publican and Pharisee are HERE

2 Timothy 3:10-15 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.


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The Sunamite woman, Abraham and Ezekiel proclaim the resurrection Holy Saturday Liturgy 2 Kings 4:8-37 Genesis 22:1-18 Ezekiel 37:1-14

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

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Synopsis: We proclaim the resurrection every week in the scriptures read in matins on Sunday. The resurrection is also declared in a hidden way in the OT. On this Holy Saturday, after we have read the Gospel of Matthew in front of the tomb which proclaims the resurrection, let us see how three of the readings we have recently read from the OT proclaim it in a mystical and beautiful way, with examples including Abraham, Ezekiel, and the Sunamite woman.

More homilies on HOLY WEEK are HERE


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Homily before the shroud. Three reactions to Christ: hate, love, indifference.

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

The Burial Shroud, the Epitaphios.

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Synopsis: The readings of the narrative of the passion of our Lord give us an understanding of the character of our Lord and our our character. I found, and I am sure many of you found this as well, that last night and this morning as Father was reading, as the Lord stood before Pilate, that my heart was often cold, and my mind wandered. The words from St Ephrem the Syrian really resonate: "All creation was in fear and trembling when the King of Heaven, the Savior, suffered, while we sinners, for whom the Only immortal was given up ever treat this with contempt" What follows is a short discussion of the responses to our Lord during His passion, and at all times: devotion, hatred, and indifference. By Deacon Nicholas Park

More homilies on HOLY WEEK are HERE


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Behold the man! What is truth! Holy Week – Holy Friday – At the tomb John 18:38; John 19:5

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Behold the man! What is truth!

Holy Week – Holy Friday – At the tomb
John 18:38; John 19:5

2009

 

Christ, the Bridegroom. http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/christ-bridegroom-03.jpgBrothers and sisters, behold the Man.

 

That’s what Pilate said. He also said, “What is truth?”

 

To “behold the man” is to behold truth, but Pilate didn’t notice. Why didn’t he notice?

Because he did not live according to the truth.

Why was Jesus Christ crucified?

Because people did not live according to the truth.

Why was the crowd, the tumult, why was the crown of thorns, the sham trial, the false witnesses?           

Because people did not live according to truth, and therefore they did not recognize Truth.
 

When the Scripture says something, we must listen. Pilate said, “Behold the Man.” So we must then obey this instruction.

 

So now the Man is in the tomb. Of course we know that He resurrected Himself only a short time after. We know that, as God, He knew all things and could do all things; and, as Man, He allowed himself to be tried and executed as a criminal, to be buried, to be mocked.

The question is, why did they happen? Because they did not behold the Man, and because we do not behold the Man.

The Christian life is about truth, purity, goodness. The reason why we were created is to be good and true and pure. But we’re not good and true and pure. So we need help, and our Savior came to give it to us. And this help was in Him becoming Man, living the life that we must have, that we must live ourselves if we are to be blessed, if we are to be happy.

He fulfilled this life, and He made us capable of fulfilling it ourselves. He taught about it and He did it. And yet when He came to His own, His own rejected Him. And we are His own. And if we have the proper attitude about ourselves, we would also say that we have a part with that crowd because every moment of our life we are asked to behold the Man.

 

It’s not to look at someone. It’s not to know who someone is. It is to live as the person you are beholding. This is what “behold the Man” means. Now,  to Pilate it didn’t mean that. To Pilate it just meant: ‘Look at Him, He’s a problem for me, please settle down so that there is not a riot for the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the ruling class, and the elite.” He was dangerous, and they were jealous of Him.

Many of the people did not really understand, and they were easily swayed by convincing arguments of those that were better educated than them and promised them things.  But truly, to obey this command — and it is a command; it was given by a pagan, but it is a command, “Behold the Man” — to truly behold Him, we must be like Him.

 
So He dedicated His whole life to death. He was born to die. But not just to be dead, so that He would arise and we would have life.

So if we are to behold Him, we are to live like Him. We know that He is not in the tomb for long. We are not really sad on this day concerning these events. We should be sad, though, that these events were necessary because of us. We don’t live as we should. But we can.
 

Recently I told you that Holy Week is a week of contrasts. There are many things that are so diametrically opposed to one another:

 

The children greeted our Lord on Palm Sunday, and then only a few days later there were people yelling, “Crucify Him, crucify Him, we have no king but Caesar, and His Blood be upon us and on our children.”

 

Judas plotted for only 30 pieces of silver to sell Him without a price, Who did not have a price, could not be priced. And the woman who had been delivered from her sins came and anointed His feet with fine ointment and tears and wiped them with her hair.
 

Peter and Judas were alike and very different. They were alike in that, being weak men, they sinned. Judas, by plotting to have Christ delivered because of his avarice. Peter, by boasting and then being afraid and denying Him. And Judas was so sorry. We just read that. We’ve actually read it I think now four times in a short few days. Judas was sorry. He knew what he did was but he went out and hanged himself.
 

And Peter wept bitterly after he denied the Lord three times, and later the Lord restored him. Why? Because Peter stayed with the disciples. He still loved the Lord. He didn’t know how, but somehow he had to make it right.

This is the model we have, that we must follow. We are like Judas and Peter in sin. But we would be like Peter in repentance. Peter beheld the Man. Because of his love for Jesus, he was restored.

 
So may we also behold the Man. Not a dead man in a tomb. Not even a live man in Heaven. But the God-Man in our hearts, speaking to us at all times, helping us, teaching us, rebuking us, comforting us. Will we behold Him? That is the command that you must answer and give an answer for every day and every moment of your life. May God help us to do that.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009  

 

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This homily is at:

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