“On the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” Why did the Lord say “patience”?

October 29th, 2012

Christ the sowerLISTEN NOW

Synopsis: In the parable of the sower, the Lord concludes: "On the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience." Why did He specify patience as the necessary virtue, and not faith, hope, love, zeal, etc? We examine patience, and how it is the active aspect of faith, hope, love and many virtues. How can we increase our patience?

More homilies on the 21st Sunday after Pentecost are HERE

Luke 8:5-15 5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? 10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.


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The Psalter. Verse by verse meditations on Psalm 118 – Verse 1: Blessed are the blameless in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord

October 28th, 2012

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Synopsis: The Psalter. Verse by verse meditations on Psalm 118 – Blessed are the blameless in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord


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“Having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself…” – Basic (but not well known) Christology and what happened on the cross.

October 25th, 2012

Icon of the crucifixionLISTEN NOW

Synopsis: Colosians chapter 1 contains one of the most succinct and clear descriptions of Who Christ s, what He did, how the cross was involved, and what we must therefore do. It is "Christology 101" and we must understand it and act accordingly. This is not your Baptist Grandmother's Christology or understanding of the cross!

Colossians 1:18-23 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;


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Parable! of the Resurrection of the Son of the Widow of Nain.

October 22nd, 2012

Icon: Raising of the son of the widow of Nain.LISTEN NOW

Synopsis: The Resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain, like most miracles in the NT, must be read as a parable to receive the full benefit of its instruction. This miracle is our life in microcosm. We are both the woman and the boy in the "parable", and the words "Weep Not" do not fully apply to us now, but they will. In our life we must weep, with purpose and hope, and also "stand still", and only if we do this, will we receive the much anticipated words of our Savior, "weep Not". Apologies for the sound quality. The homily was inadvertently recorded at too low a volume, and the audio was massaged by an incompetent sound engineer!

More homilies on the 20th Sunday after Pentecost are HERE

Luke 7:11-16 11 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. 12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. 14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. 15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. 16 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.


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Why does a priest wear black? Joyful mourning, and the remembrance of death.

October 18th, 2012

Priest Seraphim Holland LISTEN NOW

Synopsis: An answer to a question posed in a prison visit: "Why do priests wear black?". The answer covers a lot of ground, from prison to abortion clinics to the pain of pastoral ministry and life in general for those who are paying attention, to Johnny Cash, who gave a superficially correct answer to this question, and of critical importance, "Remembrance of death" (which we speak of at some length) and "Joyful mourning"


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“Launch out into the deep” – the first great catch of fish teaches about the Jesus prayer!

October 8th, 2012

The great catch of fishLISTEN NOW

Synopsis: When Jesus commanded Peter to "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught;", He was giving a principle, by which, and only by which we will stand in the presence of God, even in this life. This principle is all over the Scriptures. It involves patience, courage, obedience and INTENSITY. Although prayer is not explicitly mentioned, it is also about prayer, and especially about the Jesus prayer. How and why must we "launch out into the deep"?

More homilies on the 18th day after Pentecost are HERE

Luke 5:1-11 1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.


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Martyr Zosima the Wilderness-Dweller Commemorated Sep 19 – I AM A CHRISTIAN!

October 2nd, 2012


Martyr Zosima the Wilderness-Dweller

Commemorated Sep 19 (Oct 2 on Civil Calendar)

 

Let's learn something today from the slave of God Zosimas the wilderness dweller. We live in difficult times. Almost nobody tells the truth anymore, and our society is becoming infested with legally enforced and subsidized immorality and depravity. Many who identify as Christian are no different than those in the world and their love for Christ is cold. I suppose the conditions are no worse and not better than those in which Zosimas live. He chose to reject all the depravity and become holy. That is the ultimate solution for all of us.

 

When you read his life below, ask yourself if you can answer the question as he did – "I am a Christian". I cannot say this completely yet, and that is why I suppose I confess that I am a liar twice a week, at least when I say my preparation prayers for communion[1]

 

 

            The Martyr Zosima the Wilderness-Dweller lived during the IV Century. One time while hunting, the governor of Cilicia named Dometian caught sight of the elder, who calmly and amiably conversed with the beasts around him. Seeing the hunters, the beasts fled. They then interrogated the elder, — who was he and why did he live in the wilderness. The elder answered, that he was called Zosima, that he was a Christian, and that he was not able to live in the city with the enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore he lived alone amongst the wild animals. Then Dometian said threateningly: "If thou dost worship the Nazarene, at Nazareth I shalt hand thee over publicly to fierce tortures, and thou wilt renounce Christ".

 

To the question of what kind of magic Zosima used to tame wild beasts, the elder answered only: "I — am a Christian".

 

At Nazareth the tortures began. They tied the elder head downwards, and to his neck a large stone, and they began to lacerate at his body with iron hooks. The torturers taunted the sufferer: "If the beasts do hearken unto thee, direct one of them to come forth here, and we then will believe in thine God". The holy martyr turned with a prayer to God, and suddenly an huge lion sprang forth. Everyone fled in terror, and the lion went up to the elder, and with its paw began to lift the stone, tied to the neck of the martyr. The governor began to implore the martyr to keep the lion calm, and he gave orders to untie the saint, so as to convey him off to the emperor, but Saint Zosima was already dead, having given up his pure soul to God. (from the Menologion program)

 

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

 

This article is at:

 http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2012-10-02+martyr-zosima-the-wilderness-dweller+september-19.html

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2012-10-02+martyr-zosima-the-wilderness-dweller+september-19.doc

 

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[1] Psalm 115 is read in the preparation prayers for Holy Communion. It begins "I believed wherefore I spake; I was humbled exceedingly. As for me, I said in mine ecstasy: Every man is a liar. What shall I render unto the Lord for all that He hath rendered unto me? " See http://www.orthodox.net/services/order-of-preparation-for-holy-communion.rtf or http://www.orthodox.net/services/order-of-preparation-for-holy-communion.pdf

 

 

 

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“I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” – the Cross and the REMEMBRANCE OF DEATH, which is the ONLY way of life.

October 1st, 2012

Exaltation of the Precious Cross LISTEN NOW

Synopsis: We begin with an admonition from the Apostle Paul, in the selection read on the 17th Sunday after Pentecost: "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." This is the what, but most of a pastor's life is spent explaining the how, which the readings for the Sunday after the Exaltation of the Precious cross do very well. The Epistle ends with the stirring words " I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…", and the Gospel tells us that "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it ". These describe an attitude, a way of living. Without this attitude, we will not be able to make our way and be "perfecting holiness". One way to explain this attitude is to elucidate the uniquely ascetic and Orthodox understanding of the "remembrance of death"; this is CRITICAL stuff! We must understand this way of life, the ONLY way of life, which starts with baptism and the cross, and must continue in the way of the cross.

More homilies on the exaltation of the Precious Cross are HERE

Galatians 2:16-20 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Mark 8:34-9:1 34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. 1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.


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The Canaanite woman – Exactly how to pray. 17th Sunday of Pentecost. Matthew 15:21-28. Text,audio.

September 29th, 2012


The Canaanite woman – Exactly how to pray

17th Sunday of Pentecost

Matthew 15:21-28

2010

 

 

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

 

Christ and the Canaanite woman. http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/miracle-exorcism-of-daughter-of-the-canaanite-woman.jpgBrothers and sisters, today we have a perfect example of how to pray.  Several things that this woman of Canaan did that we must do if we are to pray, even though she was not of the children of Israel, being from a pagan land, but she knew something about Jesus.  That means that she cared, and that means she thought about things. 

 

Many of us Orthodox know very little about our faith.  Here a pagan rebukes some of us, because she was not of the household of God, and she yet had enough intelligence to call Him "Son of David."  That is a term for Messiah, and although He was not her Messiah yet, since she was not of the household of Israel. 

 

This is one of the things that we must have when we pray.  We must know who God is.  And that's not something simple.  We can say, oh, yes, I know who God is:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit; I say it in the Creed.  No, we don't know Who God is.  We know Who God is when we become like Him.  That's when someone truly knows someone, when they become like them, when they emulate them. 

 

Since God is love and we do not love with completeness, we cannot say that we know God.  Since the Son of God became Man and humbled Himself, even to death on the Cross, we can't say that we know humility.  So we cannot say that we truly know the Son of God. 

 

If your prayers are to be fruitful, brothers and sisters, they must be joined with morality; they must be joined with becoming something, becoming what God has intended us to be and that is: perfected.  We cannot know Him, or bear to be in His presence unless we struggle for perfection.  So that is the first and foremost thing. 

 

If you don't try to live a moral life, your prayers will not be fruitful.  I'm not saying to stop praying.  Sure, keep praying.  But don't expect God to reach out to you and answer your prayers if you are not struggling to reach out to Him.  And not through prayer, I mean, but through your living your life in a Christian way. 

 

So this is the first thing we must do.  We must know God.  And we can't pretend that we know God.  We know that we don't fully know Him because of our sins.  So any good prayer is proceeded by and accompanied with and followed by the struggle against sin.

 

Now, this woman came to Jesus with her daughter having a demon.  I think a lot of people have demons today but we don't know it. The demons are a little more subtle or we're just much more foolish, and we ascribe all kinds of scientific reasons for people's behavior.  In the past, people knew when people had demons.  Now, I guess, we're a little smarter, or so we think. 

 

So the woman's daughter had the demon, and she wanted the daughter to be healed.  She was from a benighted land, a land of paganism.  A lot of demons there and a lot of people are demonized in those lands.  Of course we shouldn't consider that our land is really much different than a pagan land.  Look at the things that our society considers important[1].  They're things the pagans considered important too. 

 

So this woman goes to Jesus and she prays simply.  She just says, "Lord, have mercy."  That's all.  She explains very, very briefly:  "My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil."  That's all. 

 

That is all you need to do. 

 

You don't have to come up with any kind of extremely creative prayer. 

You don't have to be eloquent. 

You don't have to cover everything. 

 

If you're going to surgery, you don't have to pray for the nurses and the doctors and the instruments and the autoclave all to be in good working order.  All you need to do is pray for God to have mercy.  That's all.  And that's what this woman did. 

 

The simpler your prayer is, the more powerful it will be, because pure prayer is not from words.  Pure prayer is from the soul communicating with God, and that is always done without words.  That is done in a language that we do not know, in words that cannot be uttered.  So keep your prayer simple and intense[2].

 

So what did she do?  She asked for mercy.  He completely ignored her.  And here we see another very important part of prayer that we fail in continually.  And that is:  Be persistent.  Be persistent even in the face of rejection. 

 

I'm sure that she knew He heard her.  She was close enough, but He didn't even respond.  So we must be persistent even when it seems as if God does not hear, or when it takes a long time for that which we are praying for.  In fact, some of the things that you pray for will take a long time, even a lifetime, because you should be praying for perfection; you should be praying for complete change in your soul, and that is happening moment by moment and will not happen all at once.

 

So the woman is following after Jesus, calling out, "Lord, have mercy.  My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil."  And finally the apostles are tired of it, so they say to the Lord, "Send her away for she keeps crying after us."  The Lord was waiting for this.

 

And then He stopped and then He said to her ‑‑ or said to them, but in her hearing, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of Israel."  He goes on and says, "It is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs."  The dogs, meaning the unwashed, the unbelievers, the pagans, in this context, all that were not Jews.

 

And what does she say?  This gives us another way that we must pray.  When you pray, you might be answered in a way that you don't like. or sometimes will you not hear any answer at all.  So she heard herself called a dog.  It appeared that He was not going to listen to her.  So she told Him something very profound:  "Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

 

So she heard God's words and mixed them with humility, and God responded to her and said, "O, woman, great is thy faith.  Be it done to thee even as thou wilt."  And then her daughter was healed immediately.

 

Her daughter was healed because of:  Her persistence, her knowledge, her humility and her simplicity.

 

This is the way we should pray, and this is why our prayers are so fruitless for us many times.  Because we don't do one of these things. 

 

We must know God.  To know God we must live like Him.  The God‑Man showed us how to do it.  It's all in front of us, but we have to make the effort.  To know God is not only struggling and doing the Commandments but learning of the Commandments.  They're all in the Scripture.  Every page is about Jesus Christ.  Every page is about the sweet Commandments of God.  So we are without excuse if we do not know them.  And we are without excuse if we do not struggle to follow them.  This is foremost the thing that we must do if we expect the Lord to hear our prayers. 

 

We also must be persistent in our prayers, to continually ask the Lord for help, and we must pray simply.  Part of the reason why we must be simple is because it's very difficult to be persistent and to be eloquent.  How are you going to do that?  Over and over, come up with some new way to ask the Lord for all you need is mercy?  No.  It is better just to pray with simplicity and persistence AND in the context of struggling to live a Christian life. 

 

This woman is a great example of faith to us and should be a rebuke to us because we don't live this way. 

 

We are of the household of God, so by that context, by extension, we're of that household of Israel.  We are the children that should have the Master's food, and yet we live in such a way that we have very little of this food.  Not that it's not given to us.  It's all available.  But because we don't take it, because of the way we live and our distractions and our false priorities and our laziness and our lack of knowledge and all the rest of it. 

 

Every single one of us, right now, in this room, every single one of us has something we really need, that we know we need, things that we really care about and are vexing to us.  Loved ones that need help or something in our life that is amiss, or perhaps just a burning in our heart to know God more intimately.  The only way this is achieved is by prayer such as this:  Simple, persistent, knowledgeable and humble. 

 

May God help us to pray like the woman of Canaan.  Amen.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2010    

 

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This homily is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-17_2010-09-19+the-canaanite-woman+exactly-how-to-pray.html

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-17_2010-09-19+the-canaanite-woman+exactly-how-to-pray.html

 

AUDIO: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-17_2010-09-19+the-canaanite-woman+exactly-how-to-pray.mp3

 

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All rights reserved.  Please use this material in any edifying reason. We ask that you contact St. Nicholas if you wish to distribute it in any way.  We grant permission to post this text, if completely intact only, including this paragraph and the URL of the text, to any electronic mailing list, church bulletin, web page or blog.

 

 

 

 



[1] for instance, pagans were known for gross sexual immorality of all kinds, mistreatment of women and children, abortion and infanticide,  lust for power and pleasure. How can we in the civilized nations dare say that our society is different than this with a straight face?

[2] Of course, besides "Lord have mercy", the quintessential simple prayer to pray with intensity is the Jesus prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me" (or a variation similar to this).

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We beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 16th Sunday after Pentecost – 2 Corinthians 6:1 10.

September 22nd, 2012


We beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain

16th Sunday after Pentecost – 2 Corinthians 6:1‑10

2011

 

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

 

This Sunday we read very important words and admonitions from the Apostle Paul.  He beseeches us that we receive not the grace of God in vain.  This is something that you should question, whether or not you receive God's grace in vain or to good purpose, every day. 

 

His admonition is not something that is a rhetorical question.  It is meant to be answered.  All Christians must answer it.  The more holy a Christian is, the more often they consider this question, and the more often they wonder whether or not they have done enough. 

 

He goes on to describe the ministry of being an apostle but really, by extension, the life of any Christian.  Not all of the things he says would apply to us directly but most of them do.  And then he goes on after giving this list of things that is very important to look at closely.  At the end he says that he lives as sorrowful yet always rejoicing. 

 

This is a key to the victorious Christian life, to always have sorrow and rejoicing.  The world doesn't understand this.  The world really doesn't like sorrow, so they try to always replace it with something that makes them happy, whether it is for a little time or a long time, whether it's artificial or natural, they want to feel happy, not to be sorrowful. 

 

The Christian, on the other hand, courts the feeling of sorrow and desires it.  We're not talking about sorrow that is depression and despondency and feeling like there is no meaning in life,  or that there is nothing good that is happening in our lives or that all is difficult and all is terrible.  That is the sorrow of the unbeliever.

 

Our kind of sorrow is that perhaps we have not received all of the grace of God properly and some of it was in vain.  Our sorrow is that we wish to do good and sometimes we do not.  Our sorrow is that God loves us and we do not love Him enough back.  This is Christian sorrow. 

 

But it is also mixed at the same moment, in the same breath; I don't mean on the inhaling and the exhaling, inhale sorrow, exhale joy.  I mean in the same moment, in the same instant we feel sorrow we also feel rejoicing because we are Christians and God has come and become man so that we could become perfect.  This is something to rejoice about.  We sorrow about the things we are not and then we are happy and rejoice about the things that we are becoming, especially. 

 

It's important to ask yourself this question all the time:  Have you received the grace of God in vain?  And it's important to measure yourself against the Scriptures, against the lives of the saint to see whether or not you are living a victorious life. 

 

Let's look at some of the things Saint Paul said right after he said, "I beseech ye that you receive not the grace of God in vain."  Then he quotes Isaiah and he says, "now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation."  This, I would suggest to you, is a sort of pneumonic.  Everything that you do every day is the time for salvation, not later but today. 

 

So everything is important.  Everything you think and do and say, the person you are, the person you are becoming at that moment is important.  And is the acceptable time.  If we put off our salvation until later, later may not come.  But even more so than that, that's a kind of a thing that people can accept, but it sounds kind of trite in some ways, and it's very difficult, when you're tempted in the moment, to realize, okay, I could lose my salvation because of this.  We don't think like that.  But we could think:  This is the time for me to show that I'm a Christian.  Now is the moment.  And if you always think that you are in the "now," to live according to how Christ lived, this will help you immensely.

 

He goes on to say many things about the ministry, but as I said, this applies to us too, although not exactly as he said.  For instance, he says:  In all things proving ourselves as the ministers of God ‑‑ you can substitute "as Christians" ‑‑ in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses.

 

Now, much of his distress was physical.  You can see in the Acts how many things happened.  One time he had to escape being murdered by being let down in a basket from a high wall.  Many times he was whipped; shipwrecked, I think, twice.  Many distresses.  If you had asked him what distressed him the most, it would be that his flock did not always receive the Word of God.  This should distress us the most.  So everyone should have this distress.

 

Look out in the world.  Look at how empty people's lives are.  This should cause you distress and sorrow.  Everyone should feel this, not just the pastors, not just the bishops.  Everyone.  You must feel the pain in the world.  This is part of being a Christian.

 

Then he says, in "stripes and imprisonments".  Perhaps that does not apply to us in its exactitude.  Not now.  "In tumults and labors".  Well, if you care about people, you will find out there are tumults because we are messy.  People's lives are messy.  Our own lives are messy and when you care for people, it's a big mess.  And how can you care for people when there's such a mess?  Only by faith and God.  Because it's way too big for us, it's way too complicated for us, it's way too tiring for us.

 

He goes on to say, "in labors and watchings and fastings".  Watchings meaning watching yourself that you do not fall.  The watchings come about with fasting, with the reading of the Scripture, with coming to the services, with confession, with communion, with efforts in all things. 

 

Then he says, "by pureness and by knowledge".  Our world is far from purity.  It's in the air we breathe now.  Impurity.  We are to live by pureness and by knowledge.  The knowledge of God.  The knowledge of God only comes about by striving for purity, by striving to follow the Commandments.  It doesn't come about by reading books.  It comes about by living what's in the books.  By long suffering because that's the archaic word for patience.  Kindness. 

 

Then he says, "by the Holy Ghost".  Perhaps that should give you a shot of electricity down your body.  Do we live by the Holy Spirit?  Our we vessels for the Holy Spirit?  We should be.  By love unfeigned.  Not to put on pretenses.  By the word of truth.  You better know what the truth is if you're going to speak it.  You can't know what it is unless you live it.  You can read about it, you can spout it off, but unless you live it, you do not speak by truth. 

 

And, he says, "by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness" and he goes on and says many other things.

 

And at the end of this long list of things ‑‑ as I've said, most of which apply to us directly ‑‑ he says:  "As sorrowful yet always rejoicing"

 

Brothers and sisters, I beg you, cultivate this feeling of sorrow in your heart, sorrow for your own sins, sorrow for the situation of those in the world.  Not out of judgment to them.  But out of deep sorrow that there is so much pain, that there's so much aimlessness and uselessness in the world.  And that there are those you love who are having troubles.  And that you don't know how to help them.

 

Cultivate this feeling of sorrow.  Don't be afraid of it.  Don't let the world tell you that you shouldn't feel it.  You should cultivate it, and if you cultivate it carefully, you will always have with you joy. 

 

If you only have sorrow then there's something wrong; there's some sin that is keeping you from feeling joy as well.  Perhaps it is pride, vanity, self‑indulgence.  Those are typical things that can keep us from feeling joy.  It could be other sins as well.  You should feel sorrow and joy together, at the same time.  And then it is, as the church calls it, sweet sorrow.  Joyful sorrow.

 

So let us cultivate this feeling in our hearts, and let us ask ourselves every single day:  Have we received the grace of God in vain or not?  Don't be afraid to answer the question.  And don't be afraid to say:  I have not received it properly.  Because really let's be honest, that's got to be the truth for some of the stuff we do.

 

And then run to God in repentance, in sorrow but in joy because He's your father and you can cry out, Abba, Father, to Him and He will help you but only if you ask.

 

So with the apostle, I beseech you that you do not receive the grace of God in vain.

 

The blessing of the Lord be upon you through His grace and love for mankind always now and ever and unto the ages of ages.  Amen.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2010    

 

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

·         Mailing Address: Box 37, McKinney, TX 75070

·         Rectory Phone: 972/529-2754

·         Email: seraphim@orthodox.net

·         Web Page: http://www.orthodox.net

·         Redeeming the Time Blog: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime/

 

This homily is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-16_2011-10-02+we-beseech-you-also-that-ye-receive-not-the-grace-of-god-in-vain_2corinthians6-1-10.doc

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-16_2011-10-02+we-beseech-you-also-that-ye-receive-not-the-grace-of-god-in-vain_2corinthians6-1-10.html

Audio: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-16_2011-10-02+we-beseech-you-also-that-ye-receive-not-the-grace-of-god-in-vain_2corinthians6-1-10.mp3

 

http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

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

Archive of homilies: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

 

To receive regular mailings of sermons, and scriptural and services commentary and other things throughout the church year, read our blog “Redeeming the Time” (http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime). You may also subscribe to the RSS Feed or receive its postings by email.

 

Our parish Email list (http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church) also has all the latest postings from our website and blog; everyone is welcome to join.

 

All rights reserved.  Please use this material in any edifying reason. We ask that you contact St. Nicholas if you wish to distribute it in any way.  We grant permission to post this text, if completely intact only, including this paragraph and the URL of the text, to any electronic mailing list, church bulletin, web page or blog.

 

 

 

 

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