Archive for the ‘Scripture Commentary’ Category

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Commentary by Saint Nicolai Velimirovich, Missionary Letters, Part 1, Letter 9, followed by contemporary commentary.

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012


"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." (Mat 10:34)

 

Thus said the Lord. Read it as if He had said, "I did not come to reconcile truth and lie, wisdom and stupidity, good and evil, justice and violence, bestiality and humanity, God and mammon; but I came to bring a sword so that I may cut and separate one from the other, so they do not mingle"

 

What will you cut with O Lord? With the sword of truth, or with the sword of God's word, which is the same thing. For the truth is God's word and God's word is the truth.

 

Apostle Paul advises, "Take ye up the spiritual sword which is the word of God"[1]. Saint John saw in a vision "The Son of Man between two candlestands"[2] – "and from His mouth proceeded a double edged sword."[3] What can the sword that proceeds from the mouth be if not the word of God, the word of truth? That is the sword that Jesus Christ brought on to the earth. That sword is unto salvation of the word[4], not unto the reconciling of good with evil, – then, now, and forever.

 

Saint Nicolai Velimirovich, Missionary Letters, Part 1, Letter 9, "To a Blacksmith about the meaning of Christ's words, "I came not to bring peace but a sword"

—-

The sword of the Word is being ignored by many in our world, who lie when they call themselves Christians. Some of these are those among so called Orthodox Christians, who, in lockstep with the world and its fashions and obsessions, espouse and practice the same morality as any other common person.

 

Things that the Apostle tells us that we should not speak of, under the pretence of (the list is long, the following is only a partial list), so called "inclusiveness", "love", "diversity", etc. I have even seen Orthodox Christians ignore clear Scripture about sexual morality (both involving sexuality according to nature, and especially involving that which the Scripture says is not according to nature), either because they are addicted to sexual sin, or because they are addicted to a listening to the intellectual sophism of this age.

 

Those outside the church may deny that Christ descended into Hell (since they do not believe in Hell, or that demons exist), or that He is truly God and Man, or seventy times seven other dogmas that do not set well with their modern, supposedly enlightened mentality. Any Orthodox priest knows that false opinions also prevail among lukewarm, barely practicing Orthodox Christians.

 

Do not be afraid to believe the truth! Most people are, you know. They believe in a part of the truth, but the parts that are embarrassing for them to admit to among their friends and peers, or are just plain too hard to do or even try to do, they reject. Those people have thrown down the sword and will be annihilated by the enemy.

 

We have recently witnessed the President say out loud what everybody knew that he believed in and was a champion of – unbridled legal acceptance and promotion of sexual immorality. Here is a clear, modern opinion that you must apply the sword of truth to. Do not be fooled into thinking that you can contradict the Word of God because of Modern science, learning, laws and opinions. and remain in the Truth. This is not possible.

To apply the Sword of truth to our lives is to consciously submit our will, which includes our opinions, priorities, actions and words, to the truth. We may still sin because of weakness, but we can be healed of such things through repentance and God's grace. We will not be healed if we do not have the courage to speak the truth and attempt to do it.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2012     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2012-05-15-think-not-that-i-am-come-to-send-peace-on-earth-i-came-not-to-send-peace-but-a-sword+saint-nicolai-velimirovich.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2012-05-15-think-not-that-i-am-come-to-send-peace-on-earth-i-came-not-to-send-peace-but-a-sword+saint-nicolai-velimirovich.doc

 

New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

Journal Archive: http://www.orthodox.net/journal

 

Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church to join.

 

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Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (seraphim@orthodox.net)

 

 

 

 



[1] Eph 6:17  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

 

 

[2] Rev 1:13  And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

 

[3] Rev 1:16  And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

 

 

[4] Of course, since "salvation of the Word", is, by the power of the Word, learning of and following the Word of God, who is Jesus Christ.

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Commentary: 2 Timothy 3:16-4:4 – 28th Tuesday after Pentecost

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011


Be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

Our age  and “Political Correctness” “described” by Saint Paul

 

2 Timothy 3:16-4:4 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (28th Tuesday after Pentecost)

 

We should read the daily readings. It is easy to do, with a calendar and a bible, or a computer program. I usually use the Menologion program (on my laptop). I even have it on my Droid phone, in a marvelous calendar app. Whether you do it “old school” by looking at a wall calendar or calendar booklet and use a paper bible, or read on your PC using the Menologion program or online, or read/listen on your Smart Phone, DO IT! If we read the lectionary readings, we keep pace with the rhythm of the church, and the church year does indeed have a rhythm, in which we are taught different things at different times, depending on the season. 

 

This selection has something for everyone.

 

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness

 

All of us must read scripture, and we see the purpose here: for “doctrine, reproof, correction, for instruction in righteousness”. My flock should note that I am not making things up when I repeat that “scripture is *always* about you”! Of course, St Paul was most probably referring to the OT scriptures, since the NT canon was being written, and his words apply even more strongly to the Gospels and Epistles.

 

Perhaps one could construct a “Desert Island” list  of the most important Scripture for personal correction. Certainly the Gospels would rank first, and also the Epistles, the Psalms, Proverbs, Wisdom. All of these books should be read often.

 

If you are not reading scripture daily, how do you expect to learn of God and get better? This is the purpose of your life, and you will not fulfill it by rushing about Christmas shopping or doing whatever else comes up (and things WILL ALWAYS come up), and forgetting the “one thing needful” – to learn of the one Who is meek and lowly and whose burden is light, by sitting at His feet, with reading, prayer and desire.

Be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

 

This scripture refers to all of us, but especially to the pastor. This is a difficult command to fulfill to the letter, because our weak humanity gets in the way. The “child Timothy”[1] is being ordered (and we should remember that these instructions are not optional – they ARE orders) to *always* be ready to do the work of a pastor. Preaching “in season” is that which is done at the usual times, when people are expecting or at least will tolerate a sermon, teaching, a word of edification, etc – such as during the liturgy, in or after services such as baptism, crowning, the blessing of a house, etc and, as I have established a custom, between Vespers and matins at vigil).

 

We *all*  must be ready to give a word “out of season”. This is when preaching and teaching  is not convenient or easy, or perhaps, is unlikely to be received in the spirit in which it is given. It is also when we are tired, or vexed or distracted. This happens to a pastor a lot. Not everybody that comes to church is living a spiritual, intense life. I have many small encounters, often once in a lifetime opportunities to do something, say something or BE something that will attract a person to God who is barely aware of the real purpose of their life.

 

I had one recently, and as they say, I am “kicking myself” because of it. Sometimes people come to the church way after the service, just to light a candle, and then leave. I was in the temple talking to someone, and several people entered. They saw me, I saw them, and their body language was purposeful – kiss the icon, light a candle and leave. I was in a conversation, and it was important, but I could have talked to them. They showed no interest in anything except their errand, and I have talked to many who have been running this errand, and almost never does anything come of it, and I never see them again. This could have been one of those times, but I will not know this, because they did not approach me and I did not approach them. It may have been a short conversation, not well understood by either party because of our apparently different mother tongues, but I will most probably never know. This is an example of preaching (which basically means just being there for people, ready to fulfill their perceived and especially unperceived needs) out of season.

 

There are ALWAYS opportunities to teach, exhort, inspire, comfort out of season EVERY DAY. You have them too. May God help us to see them, and not be like the people of the Gergesenes, who missed their opportunity because of blindness, distraction, and sinfulness.

 

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

 

This time has come! Is not our age being described?

 

Every possible perversion of life is being accepted by supposed Christians. “Politically Correct “ speech is tailored for those with “itching ears”, and to the great shame of many Christians, they have fallen for this speech. It is shocking how many supposed Christians are pro-abortion, pro homosexual marriage, pro “living together because everybody is doing it”, etc.  

 

I became aware of a web page[2] today where a Greek priest is being criticized because he dared to tell a man living in a sexually active homosexual relationship that he could not have communion until he repented[3] of his sin. That people actually consider the actions of this priest to be a sin is beyond me. This is basic Christianity! Nowadays, we have people who have web pages, blogs, Facebook pages that support their sinful way of life. Their itching ears do not want to be told the truth, but rather, be told that they can do what they want, and label it how they want. This is not Christianity. There is no new sin under the sun – St Paul encountered these people too, and wrote about them, but in our age, with the power of technology, the sinful “excuse with excuses in sins”[4] can be repeated billions of times to billions of people.

 

A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, "You are mad; you are not like us. St. Anthony the Great

 

Abba Anthony said, "I saw the snares the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, "What can escape from such snares?" Then I heard a voice saying to me, "Humility." St. Anthony the Great, commemorated 17 January

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2011     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/pentecost-tuesday-28_2011-12-20+instant-in-season-out-of-season+politically-correct-immorality_2timothy3-16-4-4.html

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/pentecost-tuesday-28_2011-12-20+instant-in-season-out-of-season+politically-correct-immorality_2timothy3-16-4-4.doc

 

New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Journal Archive: http://www.orthodox.net/journal

Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church to join.

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Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (seraphim@orthodox.net)



[1] This is how we begin a reading to Timothy in the church.

[2] http://gotruthreform.org/gay-parishioner-denied-communion/  Here is the gist of these sodomy apologists: “The Editors of gotruthreform.org website are compelled to write about an unfortunate matter that has been reported to us. For the sake of brevity, we will not include a long discussion of the Canon Laws regarding the facts. [translation: Don’t confuse us with any stinking rules – we make up our own rules based on how we feel and what we want!! (Fr S]

… Recent events at a Metropolis of Chicago Orthodox Parish in question, concern a devoted Greek Orthodox Christian who is a doctor and the spiritual son of a faith abiding priest. He has been an active parishioner for several decades. He is also gay. The doctor would attend church almost every Sunday and would frequently receive communion. Unfortunately, for the doctor, his spiritual father recently “retired” due to a disability. The doctor sought spiritual guidance from another Greek Orthodox Priest in the Metropolis of Chicago. This new Spiritual Father, like the prior one, did not bar him from taking communion; indeed, with proper preparation, the Priest encouraged it. [Translation: Two priests trampled on their oath to uphold the teachings of the Gospel, and this article is praising them for this Fr S.]

… The new Priest called the doctor and engaged in a conversation with a male person who answered the phone. The new Priest then spoke to the doctor and posed numerous questions including asking who was the male person answering the phone and whether the doctor was living with this man. Of course, being an honest and forthcoming person, the doctor did not lie to this new Priest. The new Priest told him he could no longer receive communion at his Parish. One of the persons reporting the incident to us commented that “his honesty of course was rewarded by condemnation”. [The doctor was honest in reporting his behavior, but his behavior is fundamentally not Christian. Any unrepeated of sin MUST be addressed by a priest! Fr S ]

This article goes on to do some “social engineering” which may occur to have some pastoral merit, but actually, here we have an example,  by no means isolated of people who define Christianity in a way foreign to the Gospel, but perfectly in keeping with the Political Correctness of the Age.  Truly we live in an age of insanity, and “itching ears”!
 

[3] “Repent” means to change one’s mind. It involves admitting a sin, having sorrow for it, and desiring to change. A person who repents of a sin may fall into it again and again. Competence in ceasing a sin is therefore not a criterion to decide if a person has begun the process of repentance, but surely refusing to admit that a sin is a sin, or trying to stop the sinning is absolutely not repentance, and a priest has no choice for a person who will not try to repent – he cannot give them communion. Pro homosexual (activity) politically correct speech is absolutely not repentance. A good pastor will help such a person in many ways, and refusal to give communion is in no way any kind of abandonment. On the contrary, it is the action of a pastor who is trying to encourage and teach.
 

[4] Here is a good “rule of thumb” – If a person cannot recognize the phrase “excuse with excuses and sins” and know what service it occurs in, they are not competent to reject the moral and theological positions of Orthodox Christianity, but should be humble and realize how little they know about Christianity. Such people would benefit by choosing to learn instead of teach. This is part of a Psalm said at every Vespers service. 

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The Christian view of suffering and pleasure. 1 Peter 4:1-2

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Arm yourselves with the same mind.

He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin

The Christian view of suffering and pleasure.

1 Peter 4:1-2

38th Wednesday after Pentecost

 

1 Peter 4:1-2 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

 

 

Our life must be an emulation of Christ. He voluntarily suffered; we must VOLUNTARILY suffer. This idea is not well known or well-liked among many people, including Christians.

 

In emulating Christ, we acquire His mind – we think like Him, act like Him, and begin to understand Him. Since salvation is to know God (“and this is eternal life, that they may know Thee the true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent”), it is essential that we acquire the mind of Christ. There is NO other way to do this except to emulate Christ, with God helping us.

 

The Apostle explains why this is important, and here is the Christian understanding of pleasure: “he that suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”

 

To experience pleasure is not sinful in and of itself, but to seek pleasure above God darkens the mind. If we are pleasure seeking creatures, we cannot cease from sin. We must have the mentality of a soldier, who is willing to forgo pleasure to fulfill his mission.

 

It is not the “suffering” that causes us to “cease from sin”, but the willingness to suffer in order to follow God only. There is much suffering in the world that does not purify us, because we do not experience it seeking God. If we suffer in any way because of our attempt to follow God and Him only, this suffering will purify us (over time, not all at once), “like gold in the furnace”.

 

The Fathers talk a lot about “attachment” and how important it is to free ourselves from this passion. The more free we are from attachment (which is always associated in some way with pleasure, and our own desires) the less we sin, because our motivations will change to spiritual ones.

 

Christians are not “anti-pleasure”, but against the seeking of pleasure above God. If we are honest with ourselves, we all do this, and this is why we still sin.

 

As we think so we are. Let us desire above all things to acquire the mind of Christ, and we will become like Christ.

 

 

The full epistle reading for the 38th Wednesday after Pentecost

 

1 Peter 4:1-11 1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. 7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2011.   St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-02-09-arm-yourselves-with-the-same-mind+he-that-hath-suffered-in-the-flesh-hath-ceased-from-sin+the-christian-view-of-suffering-and-pleasure+-38th-wednesday-after-pentecost_1-peter-4-1-2.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-02-09-arm-yourselves-with-the-same-mind+he-that-hath-suffered-in-the-flesh-hath-ceased-from-sin+the-christian-view-of-suffering-and-pleasure+-38th-wednesday-after-pentecost_1-peter-4-1-2.doc

 

New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

Journal Archive: http://www.orthodox.net/journal

 

Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church to join.

 

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Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (seraphim@orthodox.net)

 

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“let him refrain his tongue from evil” One cannot be a Christian without enduring persecution without complaining 1 Peter 3:10-22 Mark 12:18-27

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

“let him refrain his tongue from evil”

One cannot be a Christian without enduring persecution without complaining

1 Peter 3:10-22 Mark 12:18-27

 

The readings for today, Tuesday, the 38th week after Pentecost are from 1 Peter and Mark. We should read the Scriptures with understanding. Here are a few points about these readings.

 

1 Peter 3:10For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

 

This is a quote from  Psalm_34:12-16.  It cannot be overemphasized how important it is to “keep our tongue from evil”. I have said before, “If you cannot stop sinning, at least be kind!” This is because the first and greatest commandment is fulfilled in the doing of the second – to love our neighbor as ourselves. Perhaps I should say: “at least be kind and hold your tongue!” because it is rare that we talk about others and do not do harm to them in some way. Some of the best things I have ever said are the things I have not said, and I am certain this applies to everyone. We may have poor self-control over many things, but God will help us in all of them if we control our tongue. Even if our thoughts are evil, if we do not let words pass our lips that reflects the evil in our heart, the fire of the passions that causes our evil thoughts will be snuffed out, just as a fire goes out when the flue is closed.  

 

 

1 Peter 3:17For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

 

This is something to remember when we feel persecuted. The Apostle explains later that we must endure persecution gladly because our Lord was persecuted. Our life is an emulation of Him. Perhaps we cannot pray with great attention, and are a little lazy, and many other things. But if we endure persecution and even simple unpleasantness without complaining and responding in kind, God will help us in all things. There are many things we cannot do, but we can be kind to others, and we can stop complaining about our lives. If we do these things, we will truly attract God’s grace to us.

 

 

1 Peter 3:18For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

 

It is important to note that the Apostle says that Christ suffered ONCE for our sins. We do not believe that the Eucharist is a reenactment of our Lord’s sacrifice, but rather an entering into the one sacrifice He made.

 

The Apostle also mentions the dogma that Christ descended into Hades (“prison”) and preached to all the spirits there. This idea is repeated many times in our services.

 

 

1 Peter 3:21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

 

Here the purpose if baptism is described. – a “good conscience toward God”. Baptism enables us to pursue perfection and attain it. We cannot have a good conscience toward God unless we change. This is a well known idea in our daily life. We may do something terrible to someone and be forgiven by them, but we still bear a burden of unease until we have made amends or changed in some way. Our friend forgives us, and his forgiveness is not predicated upon our actions, just as God forgives us, but we must change in order have a good conscience towards our friend (or God). Without baptism, this change is not possible.

 

 

Mark 12:26And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.

 

We show that we BELIEVE the Lord’s words when we ask those who have dies (in the body) to pray for us.

 

 

1 Peter 3:10-22 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. 18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

 

Mark 12:18-27 18 Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, 19 Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man's brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 20 Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. 21 And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. 22 And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. 23 In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. 24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? 25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. 26 And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.

 

 

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2011.   St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-07-08-let-him-refrain-his-tongue-from-evil+one-cannot-be-a-christian-without-enduring-persecution-without-complaining_1peter3-10-22-mark12-18-27.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-07-08-let-him-refrain-his-tongue-from-evil+one-cannot-be-a-christian-without-enduring-persecution-without-complaining_1peter3-10-22-mark12-18-27.doc

New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

Journal Archive: http://www.orthodox.net/journal

 

Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church to join.

 

Redeeming the Time BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (seraphim@orthodox.net)

 

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This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. – The key to progress in life. Audio homily 36th Sunday after Pentecost, 2011

Monday, January 31st, 2011

LISTEN NOW

Synopsis: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." This extreme statement by the Apostle Paul must define the way we live our life, and is the key to making any progress in virtue. It is a &mindset" that permiates Orthodox Christian life and prayers, but is not well understood. Let us look at how in our daily lives we can make this saying "worthy of all acceptation". Many examples from the scriptures will help us, such as the publican, the woman who annointed the Lord's feet, and the Apostle Peter.

More homilies on the36th day after Pentecost are HERE

1 Timothy 1:15-17 15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. 17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.


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Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:1-10 27th Monday after Pentecost

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth

A true widow

The death of Christian Charity

When is a Christian worse than an infidel?

 

1 Timothy 5:1-10

27th Monday after Pentecost

 

Jesus washing the feet of the disciples (Holy Thursday) http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/christ-washing-the-feet-of-the-disciples.jpg Today’s selection from First Timothy is interesting on a historical, sociological and moral level.

 

The Christian church has declined over the centuries, and government has increased to take on roles (POORLY!) that Christians routinely accomplished in the early centuries. We should read this exhortation of St Paul to his son (in the faith) Timothy with great sadness, because we do not live in the same world anymore.

 

Of course, the moral exhortation still applies, but we live in a darker world, with more physical wealth and also more decadence and spiritual poverty. Especially in the so called “developed” world, we depend on our secular governments to do charitable work, and they routinely do it poorly, because they are a hireling, and not the shepherd [1].

 

We cannot change the structure of our society immediately (and I think, not in a significant way, ever, till the Lord comes), and we should not read St Paul’s words as a call to arms to somehow evangelically spread the Christian way of thinking to the world. This is the modern, media savvy Protestant way, but we Orthodox instead look to ourselves and see what is wrong, and with God’s help, try to fix it. My words will be offensive to some, but I believe firmly that much of what passes for Christian politics today is actually myopic pride, and will not be blessed by God because the interior man is not changing.

 

Let us read these words and take then as a personal exhortation, and also a rebuke of our society, which has fallen so far from true Christianity.

 

These exhortations are to Timothy about his own ministry, and also things that Timothy should teach the widows.

 

We so not have “widows” in the church now – in ancient times, this was a distinct group, almost a monastic office, which existed because of the financial and spiritual realities of the times. In ancient times, a widow was truly at risk, because if she did not receive private assistance, she would likely be homeless, hungry and sick. There was no financial “safety net”. Therefore the church, living according to the sentiment St Paul expresses in this passage:

 

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8),

 

took care of its widows. As this selection shows, this was not merely “welfare”, as we know it today, which is given to the deserving and undeserving, but it was part of a relationship the church had with its widows, who were treasured as a repository of wisdom for the younger women (especially), and were valued for their “supplications and prayers night and day.” (1 Tim 5:5)

 

What a concept! That women (and men), when they get older should devote more of their time, even “night and day”, to spiritual things. In our day, the older ones rely on their IRAs and retirement funds, so that they can live in houses too large to be useful, and travel and generally act as foolish as young people, albeit, with more money and less responsibility.

 

Our churches should be filled with older Christians, who show by their words and deeds what it means to be a Christian!

 

 

5:1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

 

These are instructions to Timothy, the young bishop, and protégé and spiritual son of St Paul. As instructions from an archpastor to another (arch) pastor, they apply to any pastor. They describe how we are to think. The operative words implied here, that must be present in any pastoral work for it to be successful, are respect, sensitivity and humility. If you disrespect anyone, then do not expect them to listen to you! All this stuff is really “common sense”, but we live in a world today where there is little “common sense” or any kind of spiritual sense.

 

3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.

 

This introduces the “office” of widow, which was common in the early church. Although we are give respect to everyone according to their status (elder man, younger man, elder women, etc), there is another level of honor that is not obligatory, but must be earned. This is the honor the Apostle is talking about.

 

He goes on to describe what a “widow indeed” is.  We may extend his thought easily to all “offices” in life – to honor “bishops that are bishops indeed” (modern news shows that there are too many that do not deserve this higher level of honor), “priests that are priests indeed”, “fathers that are fathers indeed” etc.

 

4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. 5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.

 

One may argue that St Paul is giving a “legal” definition of a widow – that is, a woman “desolate” – without children or grandchildren or any family that will care for them. This definition certainly applies, but St Paul is also showing that a true widow will be a spiritual person, who prays a great deal, and is of exemplary character (see vs 10). As is always the case in Scripture, the spiritual meaning is far more important than the legal one.

 

6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.

 

A person can be dead before they die! The true Christian will apply these words to everything in his life.

 

 

7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. 8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. 9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man. 10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.

 

We live in an age where children do not take care of their parents. Heed these words.

 

The reference to washing the saints feet refers to the custom of washing the feet of guests in the home. This is a reference to hospitality.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2010.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

http://www.orthodox.net/pentecost-27_2010-11-22+pastoral-approaches,pleasure-and-death,a-true-widow_1timothy5-1-10.doc

 

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[1] John 10:12-13 KJV  But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.  (13)  The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

 

 

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The Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus 1:1-10.Wisdom, The Incarnation

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Wisdom in the Bible

The Incarnation prophesied.

The Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach or  Ecclesiasticus 1:1-10 [1]

 

http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/christ-holy-wisdom.jpg, taken from http://molonlabe70.blogspot.com/2008/08/icon-of-sophia-wisdom-of-god.html - there is an excellent description of the icon here.

Holy Wisdom- Sophia – Moscow early 18th Century [2]

 

The Wisdom of Jesus, the Son of Sirach is one of the “Wisdom” books of the bible, and is one of the so called books of the apocrypha. This is a startling book, for many reasons. It contains many prophesies, and much very practical and earthy advice. In some ways it is like “Proverbs” or the “Wisdom of Solomon”. Concepts in it are used by the Lord Jesus Christ (recorded in the Gospels) and other NT authors.

 

The book begins with a description of “Wisdom”. In many cases, such as this one, “Wisdom” is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many references to Wisdom in the OT, and the NT also makes this reference:

 

“… Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1Co 1:24 DRB)

 

Sirach makes rather startling prophesies.  

 

1:1 All wisdom is from the Lord God, and hath been always with him, and is before all time. [3] 

 

This is a reference to eternality of the Son of God, and echoed  in the Symbol of faith [4]: “Jesus Christ … begotten of the Father before all ages”.

 

(2)   Who hath numbered the sand of the sea, and the drops of rain, and the days of the world? Who hath measured the height of heaven, and the breadth of the earth, and the depth of the abyss?  (3)   Who hath searched out the wisdom of God that goeth before all things? 

 

This is very reminiscent of the rebukes of God towards Job. This kind of language is also in the Psalms.

 

The church knows the answer to the question in vs 3. It is not a rhetorical question!

 

“But to us God hath revealed them by his Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.  (11)  For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God, no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God.  (12)   Now, we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God: that we may know the things that are given us from God.” (1Corithinans 2:10-12 DRB)  

 

 

 

(4)  Wisdom hath been created before all things, and the understanding of prudence from everlasting. 

 

This is another statement regarding the eternality of Wisdom, the Son of God. If Jesus the Son of God is co-eternal with God the Father and the Spirit, then it  must be that He is fully God and equal to the Father and the Spirit, because only God is eternal, that is, uncreated and ever lasting.

 

“Created before all things” is expressed in the Creed (Symbol of Faith) as “only begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages, begotten, not made, of one essence with the Father”. Of course, this cannot be temporal creation, when something changes into something else, because God does not change.

 

This is, of course a difficult concept to understand; it can only be understood by becoming like Wisdom, that is, to emulate Christ, and become perfected. See below.

 

(5)   The word of God on high is the fountain of wisdom, and her ways are everlasting commandments.  (6)   To whom hath the root of wisdom been revealed, and who hath known her wise counsels?  (7)   To whom hath the discipline of wisdom been revealed and made manifest? and who hath understood the multiplicity of her steps? 

 

This is not merely poetic and rhetorical language. This question is answered by Sirach immediately (vs 8-9).

 

Another answer to the question: “To whom…”, given throughout Sirach and on every page of the Scripture in many ways is “Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall see God”.  (Matthew 5:8).  God reveals Himself to those who care able to know Him. Only the pure can know God. It seems like a fantastic thing that man, who is limited, may know God, the limitless, but the promise is clear, as well as the path to obtaining the promise.  

 

(8)  There is one most high Creator Almighty, and a powerful king, and greatly to be feared, who sitteth upon his throne, and is the God of dominion.  (9)   He created her in the Holy Ghost, and saw her, and numbered her, and measured her.  (10)   And he poured her out upon all his works, and upon all flesh according to his gift, and hath given her to them that love him.

 

This refers to the incarnation of the Son of God, and the participation of the Son of God in the creation of the world.

 

“And he poured her out upon all his works”  – “her” is the pre-incarnate, eternal Jesus Christ, Who, with the Father and the Son, was the creator of the universe and all that is in it.

 

“… and upon all flesh according to his gift, and hath given her to them that love him.” – This is a prophesy of the incarnation.

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV)

Remember that the Scripture is always about you. It is useless to read the Scripture without actively seeking to be instructed. Sirach tells us that the gift of Wisdom (Jesus Christ) is given “to them that love Him”. One must have evidence of this love in the way they live, think, act – in everything. The true Christian mind does not pass over these words lightly.

 

 

There is a startling moral conclusion that we must have when we read about “Wisdom” in any context in the scriptures. It is always about Christ. If we do not become like Him, we will never have wisdom. Wisdom as an attribute is necessary to answer any difficult question correctly. The answer to every question is – Wisdom, Jesus Christ.

 

Bibliography

 

The Orthodox Study Bible, Second Edition. The “You Who” language is quite burdensome, and some (not most) of the comments are a little off and remind me of my Evangelical Protestant days, and sometimes appear to not be fully rooted in the ascetical and monastic tradition of the church, but in general, this is a good resource, if used with discretion. Just remember, the Gospel is the Gospel, but not all the footnotes!

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2010.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/sirach-ecclesiasticus-chapter-01-01-10_2010+wisdom,the-incarnation.doc

 

New commentaries are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

Archive of commentaries: http://www.orthodox.net/scripture

 

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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!

Online: King James Translation ( http://www.biblicalproportions.com/modules/ol_bible/King_James_Bible/Ecclesiasticus/ ), Douay-Rheim Translation (http://www.drbo.org/book/26.htm)

 



[1] Sirach 1:1-10 (also known as "The Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach", and  Ecclesiasticus = “a church reading book"”).

 

Online: King James Translation ( http://www.biblicalproportions.com/modules/ol_bible/King_James_Bible/Ecclesiasticus/ ), Douay-Rheim Translation (http://www.drbo.org/book/26.htm)

 

[3] Douay-Rheim translation.

[4] The Symbol of Faith – the Nicene Creed.

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The Gospel in context, always! Reading the scripture with purpose.

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

The Gospel in context, always!

Reading the scripture with purpose.

The Wordly NEVER understand Holy Things!

Luke 9:7-11. 21st Tuesday of Luke and/or the 4th Tuesday of Luke

 

Today’s gospel, like most Gospel selections, must be read in context in order to be understood.

 

Luke 9:7-11 7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; 8 And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. 9 And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him. 10 And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. 11 And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.

 

When we hear this selection in church, we are not reading the surrounding verses which often help elucidate the passage, but if we are students of the scripture, we will remember the context. We should know the scripture better than any book. It should be intimately familiar to us.

There is only one way for that to happen! We must read the scripture often, with purpose!

Actually, there are two more ways to make this happen. The Scripture is particularly “understandable” when it is read in the services (all of them, and not just liturgy). I have experienced this countless times myself. Somehow, the Holy Spirit especially enlightens us concerning the Holy Scriptures when we are standing in prayer in the temple.

These may be particular passages which are read verbatim, or paraphrases and allusions to scriptures passages and themes which abound in our services. If we want to truly understand the Holy Scriptures, we must hear them used in worship, and participate in this worship with inner effort. When we are worshipping with the Scriptures, we are training ourselves how to think concerning them. This activity is more profitable to our souls than the reading of a thousand biblical commentaries by the Fathers; without it we will never understand those commentaries!

Of course, enlightenment is not possible in anything pertaining to God without our personal effort. This is the “third way” to understand the scriptures.  

What does reading the scripture “with purpose” entail? We are reading the word of God, and at that moment, God is speaking directly to us. There is something that we are to learn, at the very moment we are reading (or listening). What is it? We must be a seeker after “goodly pearls”[1] when we read or hear the scriptures. There is something precious that God wishes to communicate with us. Being aware of this, and eager is what “reading (listening/praying) with purpose” entails.

 

In this passage, Herod epitomizes the typical person in the world, which in another place, the scripture calls the “wayside” or sometimes, the “shallow, rocky ground”[2]. He is a little bit interested in spiritual things, much as he might be interested in the latest news at 10 or what his favorite sports team did the previous night, but because he is not really seriously trying to amend his life, he does not understand these things. Herod had spoken with John many times – the scripture says he “heard him gladly”[3], and yet he still is confused about who Jesus is. This is because understanding about holy things only comes to those “who have ears to hear”.

Most of the world is like this. Many who are Orthodox are like this! We cannot understand holy things unless we strive to live with holiness. This is a lesson we had better learn.

The subsequent verses from the Evangelist Luke (and also John) help elucidate this passage and provide an important lesson.

 

Immediately after his passage is the “Feeding of the Five Thousand”. This miracle is recounted in all the Gospels, but is particularly striking in the Gospel of John, where it precedes Jesus’ teaching: “… I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” [4], and “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.  (55)  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  (56)  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. [5]

 

Many people, after they heard Jesus teaching concerning His body and blood, the Holy Eucharist, left Him and never came back. They were like Herod – worldly and fleshly and not attuned to spiritual things.

 

The Christian should tremble when he reads: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him”[6], because the same passions that operated in these people’s souls and rendered them incapable of understanding holy things operate in us to a greater or lesser degree.

 

May reading about Herod and the Lord’s former disciples who left him, and the people of the Gergesenes, and all the rest who had God in their midst and did not understand Him or follow Him humble us so that we pursue the way of humility and do not repeat their errors.

 

God gives grace to the humble, but resists the proud[7]. If we are proud, there is nothing that protects us from becoming just like Herod. May God preserve us from this fate!

 

After the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Luke relates the Lord asking the disciples the question that Herod had in today’s selection:

 

“And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?  (19)  They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again.  (20)  He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:18-20)

 

Herod should have known this. The reason he did not know it is warning to us.

 

“Having become God-bearing heralds, the Magi returned to Babylon, having fulfilled Thy prophecy; and having preached Thee to all as the Christ, they left Herod as a babbler who knew not how to sing: Alleluia!”

(Akathist to the Theotokos, Kontakion 6)

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2010.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/pentecost-thursday-21_2010+4th-tuesday-of-luke+scripture-in-context,reading-scripture-with-purpose,herod,wordliness_luke9-7-11.html

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/pentecost-thursday-21_2010+4th-tuesday-of-luke+scripture-in-context,reading-scripture-with-purpose,herod,wordliness_luke9-7-11.doc

 

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[1] Matthew 13:45-46  “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.”

[2] The parable of the Sower, Matthew 13:3-9, and its explanation Matthew 13:18-23 (Also in Mark and Luke)

[3] Mark 6:20  “For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.”

[4] John 6:35  “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

[5] John 6:54-56 

[6] John 6:66 

[7] 1Peter 5:5  “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”

 

 

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Fifth Monday of Pascha. John 8:42-51

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

The Church Lectionary.

The Pedagogical services – Matins and Vespers.

On being called a Samaritan.

Fifth Monday of Pascha. John 8:42-51

 

 

On the day after we have read about Holy Equal to the Apostles, Photini, the Samaritan woman, the Gospel selection has the Jews calling the Lord a Samaritan, and demon-possessed.

 

They did not know what they were talking about!  The proud, the jealous (a child of pride), the religious (or irreligious) elite  – they never know what they are talking about. The Lord took their characterization and turned it on its head, in the parable about the Good Samaritan, where He is the Samaritan!

 

A few thoughts about this reading and the place it holds in the church calendar.

 

Recently, a priest suggested that our lectionary (the guide for when various selections from the bible are read) may need to be changed because our people are no longer biblically literate. As for the latter, he is absolutely correct – most people, no matter how much they consider themselves to be “Christian” barely know the Bible and its best commentary (from which they will learn much of its deep meanings) –  the services. Matins is particularly important, and it is a forgotten service in most Orthodox parishes, even in many of those those which “serve” it and shorten it to the point that its pedagogical, theological magnificence is lost.

 

This priest mentioned that such an important selection as first Corinthians 13 (please do not take this as being negative – if you do not immediately recognize this selection as the one about love, you have an indication that you most likely do not read the Bible enough) is read during the week, when most people are not in church services. In his estimation, he wants to at least consider a revision of the lectionary to include such readings on the weekend.

 

The sad fact is that most people are not in church services on the weekend either, and most that do go attend only the Divine liturgy, or perhaps the last half of liturgy, often coming after the Gospel has been read and preached. Most people do not read, and many count their prayers before a meal as “praying” for the day.

 

As a pastor, I feel one of my greatest and most important tasks is to encourage my flock to read the scriptures and worship in the pedagogical services (especially matins and vespers) with consistency, expectation, zeal and understanding. The understanding comes AFTER many years of effort; until then, much of the services, which explain the scriptures, are unintelligible to us.

 

The Holy Spirit enlightens every man, as he is open to enlightenment, but He works with our current understanding and brings it higher. Our theological understanding as a people is very low, and our desire for theological understanding, as a people, is low This is why we are so mediocre.

 

The juxtaposition of today’s reading with yesterday’s is startling and edifying to the student of the scriptures.

 

By student I mean the one who reads the scriptures as the church does, with her understanding. This involves not only following the lectionary (which is a minor point – it does not really matter if your daily discipline is to read the daily readings, or if you read the scripture in some other way, but you MUST read if you want to be saved), but is especially having the same “mind” as the church regarding the scriptures. Each word is a revelation of truth, and truth is Jesus Christ.

 

Again, in the redundancy and repetition department, this “mind” is most present in the services, and best understood when standing in prayer – reading Patristic commentaries can supplement this admirably, but not replace it.

 

It MATTERS that this reading follows Sunday’s reading.

 

It is been like this for a long time. Of course, the lectionary could be changed – the church has this authority, but an attempt to make sure all the “most important” readings are on Sunday is well-intentioned, but impossible. They are all important. If a person is not steeped in the scriptures, many “important” readings are as edifying to them as the reading of the phone book. We must try to awaken zeal in our flock to read, and to pray in an Orthodox way. Until a person has thirst for the living water, no rearrangement of the lectionary will be beneficial to them.

 

The Episcopalians rearranged their lectionary so that the entire NT is read in a three year cycle on Sundays. Many  of their people, and their bishops do not follow the Scripture (this is patently obvious, by  just casually observing the immorality that is encouraged, even among their clergy – individuals we cannot judge, but as an organization, it is clear that they are “off the reservation”). Rearranging the lectionary is not the answer for them, or us. Living the Gospel (and also preaching it) is the only answer.

 

If the lectionary was rearranged, little consolations like today’s reading, in the light of yesterdays, would be lost. Those who care would miss out, those who do not care would not even know that they are missing anything. Perhaps, if God wills, there will be changes in time, but none of it will mean anything to the vast irreligious majority. The way is broad… (and how is it that one can be sure he is not on it?)

 

Other thoughts.

 

The attempts by supposed Christians, including even Orthodox, to consider Jews and Moslems to be “people of faith” is contradicted by our Lord’s words. He said it – if we do not love the Son, we do not love the Father. Why are people afraid to say this? Perhaps it is because in our PC climate, they are afraid of being judged as “Samaritans”. Our Lord was judged – and if they did these things to the “green tree”, can we expect any less?

 

The Samaritan woman was despised, even by her own kind, and yet, we now know her as “Equal to the Apostles”. It is an honor to be called a Samaritan.

 

 

John 8:42-51 42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. 46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2010.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/pascha-week-05-monday_church-lectionary-pedagogical-services-being-called-a-samaritan_john8-42-51.doc

 

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The Healing of the Nobleman’s Son, JOHN 4:46-54 3rd Monday of Pascha

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

The Healing of the Nobleman’s Son, JOHN 4:46-54 

Hw does one glean deep and subtle meanings from scripture?

The superior faith of the Samaritans

Signs and Wonders

The Nobleman compared to the Centurion

 

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/pascha-monday-03_2009-05-04.html

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