Sunday of the Last Judgment – Sunday Meat-fare

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
my Glory and the One
Who lifts up my head“.
Psalm 3: 3

What fear is there in this life,
to the man whose Guardian in
this life is God?
“.
Saint Cyprianos

The previous two Sunday-Parables
– especially that of the Prodigal Son –
have presented to us
God’s extreme Goodness and Love for manhood.
But lest certain persons, putting their confidence in this alone,
live inaccurately, extravagant upon sin the time
given them to work out their salvation, and
death suddenly snatch them away.
Most of the Holy Church-fathers have appointed this day’s feast
commemorating Christ’s impartial Second Coming,
through which we bring to mind that God is not only the Friend of man, but
also the most righteous Judge, Who recompenses to each according to his deeds.
Most of us have the idea that by doing good works, the balance of God’s opinion upon us
will be tilt in the right direction.
But by doing good works humans feelings will be growing but
it’s the questions or God’s opinion upon us will change.
God is a father and not a commercial dealer, so
He is looking for love and not for money or things like that.

It is the aim of the holy Fathers, through bringing to mind that fearful day, to
rouse us from the slumber of carelessness unto the work of virtue, and
to move us to that Love and compassion for Him through our brethren.
Besides this, even as on the coming Sunday of Cheese-fare we commemorate Adam’s exile from the Paradise of delight
– which exile is the beginning of life as
we know it here & now –
it is clear that today’s is reckoned the
last of all feasts, because
on the last day of judgment, truly,
everything of this world will come to an end.

Besides for those
who are grown up and able to do this
all foods, except meat and meat products,
are allowed during the week
that follows this Sunday.

On Last Judgment
The day of the Last Judgement!
That day no one knows – only our Father, our God knows – but
its signs are given in the Gospel and
in the Apocalypse of the holy Apostle John the Theologian.
Revelation speaks of the events at the end of the world and of the Last Judgement primarily in images and in a veiled manner.
However, the Holy Fathers have explained these images, and there is an authentic Church tradition that speaks clearly concerning
the signs of the approach of the end, and concerning the Last Judgement.

Before the end of life on earth
there will be agitation, wars, civil war,
hunger, earthquakes…
Men will suffer from fear, will die from expectation of calamity.
There will be no life, no joy of life but a tormented state of falling away from life.
Nevertheless there will be a falling away not only from life, but from faith also, and
When the Son of Man cometh,
shall He find faith on the earth?
“.
Luc.18: 8

Men will become proud, ungrateful, rejecting Divine law. Together with the falling away from life will be a weakening of moral life.
There will be an exhaustion of good and an increase of evil.
Of these times, the holy Apostle John the Theologian speaks in
his God-inspired work, the Apocalypse.
He says that he “was in the Spirit” when he wrote it;
this means that the Holy Spirit Himself was in him, when
under the form of various images,
the outcome of Church and world was opened to him, and
so this is a Divine Revelation.

The Apocalypse represents the fate of the Church in the image of a woman who hides herself in the wilderness:
she does not show herself in public life, as
today she is hidden not able to show
her real face.
In public life, forces that prepare
the possibility for
the appearance of Antichrist
politicians, journalists, public opinion, backbiting,
will play the leading role.

Antichrist will be a man, and not the devil incarnate.
Anti” means “old” [“from the past“] and
it also signifies “in place of” or
against[“in contrast to the original Icon”].
Antichrist is a man who desires to be
in place of Christ, to occupy His place and
possess what Christ should possess
[“to be the ruler of the world“].
He desires to possess the attraction of Christ and
authority over the whole world
[“in word, deed, and through manipulation“].
Moreover, Antichrist will receive that authority
before man’s destruction and
the destruction of the world,
[in such a way that leaders in Church and world
are not anymore able to find solutions;
everyone is in despair over what he beholds].

What is known of this man — Antichrist?
His precise ancestry [heritage] is unknown:
his father is completely unknown, and
his mother a foul pretended virgin.
He will be a Jew of the tribe of Dan.

According to the Torah,
the tribe consisted of descendants of Dan, a son of Jacob and Bilhah,
Rachel’s maidservant [Gen.30: 4). In the biblical account,
Dan is one of the two children of Bilhah,
the handmaid of Jacob’s wife Rachel,
the other child of Bilhah being Naphtali.
Scholars see this as indicating that the authors saw
Dan and Naphtali as being not of entirely Israelite origin
living in the North & North-west
[being descendants of handmaids rather than of full wives].

This man – the Antichrist – will be very intelligent and
endowed with skill in handling people.
He will be fascinating and kind.
The philosopher Vladimir Soloviev worked a long time at
presenting the advent and person of Antichrist.
He carefully made use of all material on this question,
not only Patristic, but also Muslim, and he worked out a brilliant picture.

Before the advent of Antichrist, there was a preparation in the world,
the possibility of his appearance.
The mystery of iniquity doth already work” [2Thess.2: 7].
The forces preparing for his appearance
fight above all against the lawful Imperial authority.

The holy Apostle Paul says
that Antichrist cannot be manifested until
what with-hold is taken away” [2Thess.2: 6-7].
Saint John Chrysostom explains that the “withholding one” is the lawful pious authority: such an authority fights with evil.
For this reason the “mystery” already at work in the world, fights with this authority; it desires a lawless authority.
When the “mystery” decisively achieves that authority, nothing will hinder the appearance of Antichrist any longer.

Fascinating, intelligent, kind, he will be merciful
– he will act with mercy, fascination  and goodness;
– but not for the sake of mercy and goodness,
– but for the strengthening of his own authority.
When he will have strengthened it to the point
where the whole world acknowledges him,
then he will reveal his face.
We see it around us every day,
sports, magical computer-games, horrible television etc.

For his capital, he will choose Jerusalem, because it was here that the Saviour revealed His Divine teaching and His person.
It was here that the entire world was called to the blessedness of Goodness and Salvation.
The world did not acknowledge Christ and crucified Him in Jerusalem;
whereas, the whole world will acknowledge the Antichrist’s authority and Jerusalem will become the best-known capital of the world.

Having attained the pinnacle of authority,
Antichrist will demand the acknowledgement that
he has attained what no earthly power had ever attained or
could attain and then demand the worship of himself as
a higher being, as a god.

Vladimir Soloviev describes the character of
his activity well,
as “Supreme Ruler“, organizing the country,
using attractive things like
television, sports, money,
without accepting any resistance.
He will do what is pleasing to all –
on the condition of being recognized as
Supreme Authority.
He will allow the Church to exist, permit her Divine services, promise to build magnificent churches…,
on the condition that all recognize him as
“Supreme Being” and worship him; even Churchleaders and priests are trapped!!!
Antichrist will have a personal hatred for Christ; he will visit him in church but
he will see Him as a rival and look upon Him as a personal enemy.
He will live by this hatred and rejoice in men’s apostasy from Christ.

Under Antichrist, there will be an immense falling away from the faith.
Many bishops will change in faith and in justification will point to
the brilliant situation of the Church.
The search for compromise will be the characteristic disposition of men.
Straight-forwardness of confession will disappear.
Men will cleverly justify their fall, and
gracious evil will support such a general disposition.
There will be the habit of apostasy from truth and
the sweetness of compromise and sin in men.

Antichrist will allow men everything,
as long as they “fall down and worship him” and
the whole world will submit to him.
Then there will appear the two righteous men,
who will fearlessly preach the faith and
accuse Antichrist.

According to Church tradition,
they are the two Prophets of the Old Testament,
Elijah and Enoch“,
who did not taste of death, but will taste it now for three days, and in three days they must rise.
Their death will call forth the great rejoicing of Antichrist and his servants.
Their resurrection will plunge them into great confusion and terror.
Then, the end of the world will come.

The Apostle Peter said that the first world was made out of water
– an image of the primordial chaos, and perished by water – in the Flood.
Now the world is reserved unto fire.
The earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up [2Petr.3: 5-7, 10].
All the elements will ignite.
This present world will perish in a single instant.
In an instant all will be changed.

Moreover, the Sign of the Son of God, the Sign of the Cross, will appear.
The whole world, having willingly submitted to Antichrist, will weep.
Everything is finished forever:
– Antichrist killed,
– the end of his awful kingdom of warfare with Christ,
– the end, and one is held accountable;
– one must answer to the true God.

The end of the world” signifies not:
– the annihilation of the world, but its ‘transformation’.
– everything will be transformed suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye.
– the dead will rise in new bodies:
their own, but renewed, just as the Saviour rose in His own body and
traces of wounds from the nails and spear were on it,
yet it possessed new faculties, and in this sense it was a new body.
It is not clear whether this new body will be the same as Adam was made, or
whether it will be an entirely new body.

Afterward, the Lord will appear in Glory on the clouds.
Trumpets will sound, loud, with Power!
They will sound in the soul and conscience!
All will become clear to the human conscience.

The Prophet Daniel, speaking of the Last Judgement,
relates how the Ancient of Days, the Judge sits on His throne, and before Him is a fiery stream [Dan.7: 9-10].
Fire is a purifying element; it burns sin.
Woe to a man if sin has become a part of his nature:
then the fire will burn the man, himself.

This fire will be kindled within man:
– seeing the Cross, some will rejoice
– others will fall into confusion, terror and despair.
Thus, men will be divided instantly.
The very state of a man’s soul casts him to
one side or the other, to right or to left.

The more consciously and persistently
man strives toward God in his life,
the greater will be his joy when he hears:
Come unto Me, you blessed“.

Conversely:
the same words will call the fire of horror and
torture to those who did not desire Him, who
fled and fought or blasphemed Him during their lifetime!

The Last Judgement knows of no witnesses or written protocols!
Everything is inscribed in the souls of men and these records, these “books” are opened at the Judgement.
Everything becomes clear to all and to oneself.

Moreover, some will go to joy, while others — to horror.

When “the books are opened”
it will become clear that the roots of all vices lie in the human soul.
Here is a drunkard or a lecher:
when the body has died, some may think that sin is dead too. No!
There was an inclination to sin in the soul, and
– that sin was sweet to the soul, and
if the soul has not repented and
has not freed itself of the sin;
– it will come to the Last Judgement with
the same desire for sin;
– it will never satisfy that desire and
in that soul there will be the suffering of hatred;
– it will accuse everyone and everything in its tortured condition;
– it will hate everyone and everything.
there will be gnashing of teeth” of powerless malice and
the unquenchable fire of hatred.
A “fiery gehenna” — such is the inner fire.
“There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth”.
Such is the state of hell.
Cf. Saint John [Maximovich] of Shanghai and San Francisco;
one of the greatest Saints of the 20th Century.

Vesperal stichera
Righteous Judge of all mankind!
Every man will stand in fear before Thee,
Trembling at the river of fire flowing past Thy throne,
As each one wait to hear the sentence he deserves.

On that awesome day have mercy on us as well, O Christ;
Count us worthy of salvation,
For, worthless as we are, we turn to Thee in faith,
Compassionate and merciful Lord!

The books will be opened and the works of all men laid bare:
The value of tears will echo with gnashing of teeth;
The sinners will mourn in vain, as they depart to eternal damnation.
Thy judgements are just, O Lord Almighty!

We beg Thee, Master, full of goodness and compassion:
Take pity on us who sing to Thee, most merciful One!

The trumpet shall sound and the graves shall be opened:
All mankind will arise in trembling;
The righteous will rejoice, as they receive their reward,
But the wicked will depart to eternal fire with wailing and horror.

Lord of Glory, have mercy on us!
Number us with those who love Thee, Master,
For Thou alone art good!

I shudder in terror when I think of that dreadful day;
I weep as I consider the darkness that will never see light:
There the worm shall not cease, or the fire be quenched;
The pain of those who reject Thee will never end.

Save me, Thy most worthless servant, Righteous Judge,
For Thy mercy and compassion are my only hope!

When the thrones are set in place and the books are opened,
Then God will take His place on the judgment-seat.
What a fearful sight,
As the angels stand in awe and the river of fire flows by:
What shall we do, who are already condemned by our many sins,

As we hear Christ call the righteous to His Father’s Kingdom,
And send the wicked to eternal damnation?
Who among us can bear that terrible verdict?

Hasten to us, Lover of mankind and
King of the universe:
Grant us the grace of repentance
before the end and
have mercy on us!
“.

Doxastikon of Matins   Tn 1
Let us go before, O brethren, and
cleanse ourselves for the Queen of virtues;
for behold she hath come bringing to us fortune of good deeds,
quenching the uprisings of passion and
reconciling the wicked to the Master.
Let us welcome her, therefore, shouting to Christ God,
You Who arose from the dead, keep us un-condemned, who Glorify You,
You who alone art sinless
“.

Kontakion          Tn 1
When You comes, O God, upon the earth with Glory, the whole world will tremble.
The river of fire will bring men before
Your Judgment Seat,

the books will be opened and the secrets disclosed.
Then deliver me from the unquenchable fire, and count me worthy to
stand on Your right hand,
Judge most righteous
“.

 

Sunday of the Prodigal Son – Glorify God in body and spirit

All things are lawful for me,
but all things are not helpful.
All things are lawful for me,

but I will not be brought under the power of any.
Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods
but God will destroy both it and them.
Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord
and the Lord for the body.
And God both raised up the Lord
and will also raise us up by His Power.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
Shall I then take the members of Christ
and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!
Or do you not know that he who is joined
to a harlot is one body with her?
For “the two,” He says,
“shall become one flesh”.
But he who is joined to the Lord
is one spirit with Him.

Flee sexual immorality.
Every sin that a man does is outside the body,
but he who commits sexual immorality
sins against his own body.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,
whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
For you were bought at a price;
therefore glorify God in your body
and in your spirit, which are God’s
“.
1Cor.6: 12-20

This wise teaching of the holy Apostle Paul
is an excellent opportunity for us to reflect on certain issues
and find answers to contemporary questions
that the Holy Church has not had the time to answer yet.
All things are lawful for me,
but I will not be brought under the power of any”, says the Apostle.
I will not be brought under the power of any
is the right answer to many of these questions.

The apostle Paul said not,
abstain from fornication, but Flee:
that is, with all zeal make to yourselves
deliverance from that evil.
Every sin that a man does is without the body;
but he that commits fornication
sins against his own body.
This is less than what went before;
but since he had to speak of fornicators,
he amplifies that guilt by topics
drawn from all quarters,
from greater things and smaller alike,
making the charge heinous.
And, in fact,
that former topic was addressed to the more religious,
but this to the weaker sort.
For this also is characteristic of the wisdom of Paul,
not only to allege the great things wherewith to a bash men,
but the lesser also, and the consideration of what is disgraceful and unseemly.

What then, say you,
does not the murderer stain his hand?
What, of the covetous person and the extortioner?
I suppose it is plain to everyone.
But since it was not possible to
mention anything worse than the fornicator,
he amplifies the crime in another way, by saying that in the fornicator
the entire body becomes defiled.
For it is as polluted as if it had fallen into a vessel of filth
and been immersed in defilement. And this too is our way.
For from covetousness and extortion no one would make haste to go into a bath,
but as if nothing had happened returns to his house.
Whereas from intercourse with a harlot,
as having become altogether unclean, he goes to a bath.
To such a degree does the conscience retain
from this sin a kind of sense of unusual shame.
Both however are bad, both covetousness and fornication;
and both cast into hell.
But as Paul does everything with good management,
so by whatever topics he had
he magnified the sin of fornication.

Do you not know that your body is a
Temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you?
He did not merely say, of the Spirit,
but, which is in you;
which was the part of one
who also was soothing.
And again, explaining himself still further,
he added, which you have from God.
He mentioned Him that gave also,
both exalting the hearer and
putting him in fear,
both by the magnitude of the deposit
and by the munificence of Him
that made it.

And you are not your own.
This is not only to a bash, but even to force men towards virtue.
For why, says he; does you what you will? You are not your own master.
But these things he said, not to take away free-will.
For so in saying, All things are lawful for me,
but not all things are expedient,
he does not take away our liberty.
And here again, writing, You are not your own;
he makes no infringement upon freedom of choice,
but he leads away from vice and indicates the guardian care of the Lord.
And therefore he added,
For you were bought with a price.

But if I am not my own, upon what ground
do you demand of me duties to be done?
And why do you go on to say again,
Glorify God therefore in your body
and in your spirit, which are God’s?
What then is the meaning of, you are not your own?
And what does he wish to prove thereby?
To settle them in a state of security against sin
and against following the improper desires of
your own mind.
For indeed we have many improper wishes:
but we must repress them, whenever we can.
And if we could not, exhortation would be in vain.
Mark, accordingly, how he secures his ground.
For having said, You are not your own, he adds not,
– but are under compulsion;
– but, You were bought with a price.

Why do you say this?
Surely on another ground, one might say perhaps,
you should have persuaded men,
pointing out that we have only one Lord, the Master.
But this is common to the Greeks also together with us:
whereas the expression, You were bought with a price belongs to us peculiarly.
For he reminds us of the greatness of the benefit
and of the mode of our Salvation,
signifying that when we were alienated, we were bought:
and not simply bought, but, with a Price.

Glorify then, take up and bear,
God in your body, and in your spirit.
Now these things he says,
that we may not only flee fornication in the body,
but also in the spirit of our mind abstain
from every wicked thought,
and from driving away Grace.

Which are God’s.
For as he had said your, he added therefore,
which are God’s:
continually reminding us
that all things belong to the Lord,
both body and soul and spirit:
For some say, that the words in the spirit mean the gracious gift;
for if that be in us, God is glorified.
And this will be, if we have a clean heart.

But He has spoken of these things as God’s,
not only because He brought them into being,
but also because, when they were alienated,
He won them again a second time, paying as the price, the blood of the Son.
Mark how He brought the whole to completion in Christ,
how He raised us up into Heaven.
You are members of Christ, says he,
you are a temple of the Spirit.
Become not then members of a harlot:
for it is not your body which is insulted;
since it is not your body at all, but Christ’s.
And these things he spoke,
both to make manifest His loving-kindness in that our body is His
and to withdraw us from all evil license.
For if the body be another’s, you have no authority, says he,
to insult another’s body; and especially when it is the Lord’s;
nor yet to pollute a temple of the Spirit.
For if any one who invades a private house and
makes his way revelling into it,
must answer for it most severely;
think what dreadful things he shall endure
who makes a temple of the King a robber’s lurking place.

Considering these things therefore,
reverence your Him that dwells within.
For the Paraclete is He.
Thrill before Him that is enfolded
and cleaves unto you; for Christ is He.
Have you indeed made
yourself members of Christ?
Think thus, and continue chaste;
whose members you were
and Whose you have to become.
Erewhile they were members of an harlot
and Christ has made them members of His own Body.
You have therefore henceforth no authority over them.
Serve Him that has set you free.

For supposing you had a daughter
– and in extreme madness had let her out to a procurer for hire
– and made her live a harlot’s life
– and then a king’s son were to pass by
– and free her from that slavery
– and join her in marriage to himself;
you could have no power thenceforth to bring her into the brothel.
For you gave her up once for all, and sold her.
Such as this is our case also.
We let out our own flesh for hire unto the Devil, that grievous procurer:
Christ saw and set it free, and withdrew it from that evil tyranny;
it is not then ours any more but His Who delivered it.
If you be willing to use it as a King’s bride, there is none to hinder;
but if you bring it where it was before,
you will suffer just what they ought who are guilty of such outrages.
Wherefore you should rather adorn instead of disgracing it.
For you have no authority over the flesh in the wicked lusts,
but in those things alone which God may enjoin.
Let the thought enter your mind at least
from what great outrage God has delivered it.
For in truth never did any harlot expose herself so shamefully
as our nature before this.
For robberies, murders, and every wicked thought entered in
– and lay with the soul,
– and for a small and vulgar hire,
– the [short] present pleasure.
For the soul, being mixed up with all wicked devices and deeds,
reaped this reward and no other.

Sunday of the Prodigal Son

In each church of the whole annual cycle period of righteousness
the Lord is full of blessings.
Blessings sky, shines brightly and guide believers in God’s likeness.
But it must be said
that the period of the Triodion blessed the devout
this period has been going through something special.
Bring us, among others, the sweet pain of heart for our mistakes,  failures and, alas our sins.
In only a couple of weeks we come to Lent
–  that period of fasting and prayer
– that the Church puts before us;
and the next few weeks are a preparation for it.

Last week, it presented us with the Parable of Humility
[only with humility can we come close to God].
This week it presents us with Repentance
– we need Repentance to come to God.
Next week it will present us with Judgement
– the Gospel of the Second Coming of Christ.

Humility, Repentance and then coming face to Face with God; this is the journey that the Church takes us on before Lent.
Today Jesus teaches us with symbols,
people have got a problem with symbols in Christianity.
You Orthodox always use symbols“.
Jesus used symbols
– that’s why Orthodox use symbols.
Because Jesus used metaphors, and Jesus used parables, and Jesus used symbols;
we as Orthodox follow Jesus in using symbols
– and those who accuse us of                                                              being too symbolic –
let them read the Scriptures
and know what they’re talking about.

And so today Jesus uses symbols.
A father who symbolises who? … God.
Two sons who symbolise who?…all of us.
Property and wealth that symbolise what?
… every Grace [gifts] that God has given us.
Inheritance which symbolise what?
… the Grace of God that has been given to us.

And the younger of the two sons goes to the father,
“Give me my inheritance”.
Now I don’t know about you but if my son came to me,
while I was still alive and asked for my inheritance,
I’d be very, very upset.
You’d think
wouldn’t it be nice if you just waited till I died,
at least, before you wanted to take
whatever is yours anyway“.
And yet this father says
if you want it, here, come and just have it“.

What was the younger brother’s problem?
The inheritance was his, he was going to get it
– everything the father had was for the two sons.
But no, he wanted it HERE and NOW!
He wanted it on ‘his’ terms. He wanted it self-centredly.
He wanted all the Grace [gifts] without the relationship with the Father.
In fact, the ultimate insult to the Father was what?
… that he asked for his inheritance while his Father was still alive.

Only ‘hate’ could inspire a son to do this. The ultimate self-centredness.
Yet the father in today’s Gospel reading just gives it to him,
and what does the son do?
He squanders it, he goes to a foreign land and he spends all his money
at the treasury Casino, and on picking up pretty girls at new farm and partying;
and then guess what?
… The arabics invades Syrië and there’s no food anymore,
and he’s got no money,
and he’s a long way from home.

So he finds someone and this person says
“hey, listen, mate, I need someone to feed my pigs”.
It’s a job. So here he comes, from a mansion,
here he comes from wealth, here he comes from where he had everything he wanted
– and he feeds pigs.
And not only does he feed pigs, he lives like one.
Why? Because he says
“if only I could eat what these pigs eat”
– that’s how hungry he was.
And the parallels between this man and us are phenomenal.

What does Adam and Eve do?
They want their inheritance.
What’s the inheritance?
If God is the Father then everything that God has:
Immortality, Love, Harmony, Peacefulness,
even an Identity – all of these things He gives to us.
He will gee to us. These are the things God wanted to give to Adam and Eve.
These are the things He wanted to give to all humanity – His own likeness, He wants people to become like Him.
This scandalises a lot of Orthodox Christians.
If the biblical teaching is nothing less, then
we are all to become partakers of the Divine nature,
as Peter says in his Epistle:
That we are created in the image of God
to achieve His likeness“,
– to become gods, through Grace as a gift from Him.
And yet we want inheritance ‘without any relationship‘, just because of Tradition,
because our parents did it in the same way? They were also only baptised,married and were burried in front of the face [πρόσωπο] of God and nothing else?
Adam and Eve took their inheritance and because of their spiritual immaturity,
they squandered it.
They took the Grace [gifts], they tried to live by the inheritance
and made a mass of it.  And so they were exiled from paradise and humanity
has lived like pigs since.
Because humanity continues to do what came for the feet, to lie, to steal, to rape,
to murder, to exploit, not in any differens with the others.

Humanity continues to crush
all the Grace [gifts] God gave it
… and puts itself on top [on a throne], as
most important!
That’s what it means to live like a pig.
Because a pig in Jewish culture was unclean.
And that’s why Jesus in the parable,
specifically chooses pigs.
The prodigal son did the most unthinkable job for a Jew.
He worked with swine,
he worked with what was unclean.
To show that that’s how unclean he had become,
to show that that’s how unclean humanity has become.

And yet this guy comes to his senses.
He experiences an awakening. A conversion.
Something happens within him. You see, he’s blessed.
Because in the depth of his futile existence, he wakes up.
After he’s been to the Treasury Casino,
after he’s slept with all the prostitutes,
after he’s drank himself senseless,
after he’s smoked every drug there is on earth
and injected himself with whatever is available,
he still woke up — others don’t.
They don’t struggle they just die in that state.

He wakes up and says
Hang on a sec, at Dad’s place
people who are the servants,
the hired servants,
the slaves of the household

– these people have more than enough bread to fill their stomachs.
And here I am living like a pig!“.

And so he comes to his senses, which means what?
– when he starts thinking logically,
– when he starts thinking rationally,
– when we start thinking rationally,
– when we start thinking logically,
we turn to God.

When we come to our senses, we come to our Father in Heaven,
and we too think:
“hang on a sec, God promises all these things – bread – heavenly bread – the Eucharist.
– He promises safety, Salvation.
– He promises Eternal Life,
regardless of the suffering that we go through in this world
– sometimes because of the suffering we go through in this world.
And the person that comes to his senses
and the person who thinks rationally
and logically goes to God the Father and says
Father I have sinned against you, I have sinned against heaven.
I have sinned before my brothers and sisters — forgive me.
If you have something in your mercy give it to me“.

And if you feel that it can’t be done for you, well,
then let me tell you what this young man is called in Greek,
because “prodigal” son doesn’t quite get it, Ο Ασωτος Υιος
– the unsaveable son,
– and so when we turn
– and when we present God with our sins
– and we pray
Father, I too have sinned against heaven and before you“,
His only response can be
Bring the fatted calf and kill it so that we can eat and rejoice“.
Put a ring on his or her finger [the Covenant]
Bring a white robe which symbolises the Grace [gifts], or
rather the fruits, of the Holy Spirit.
Put a ring on his finger” symbolises what?
… That when we turn to God like that, He adopts us as sons, as daughters;
and our inheritance is given to us on the way,
through obedience and humility to the Father,
Who knows what [even with our struggle]
will be given to us
for our Salvation.

Orthodoxy and love-hate relationship

… time is fulfilled, and
the Kingdom of God is at hand:
repent you and
believe the Gospel“.
Marc.1: 15

Repent you therefore
and be converted,
that your sins
may be blotted out…

                                                                                 Acts 3: 19

The memory of the righteous is blessed;
but the name of the wicked will rot
“.
Prov.10: 7

Salvation
Orthodox Christians hold that man was originally created in communion with God,
but through acting in a manner contrary to his own nature
[which is intrinsically ordered to communion with God], man disrupted that communion.
Because of man’s refusal to fulfil the “image and likeness of God” within him,
corruption and the sickness of sin whose consequence is death
entered man’s mode of existence.
But when Jesus came into the world
He Himself was Perfect Man [τέλειος Θεός] and
Perfect God [τέλειος άνθρωπος]
united in the divine Hypostasis of the Logos,
the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.
Through his assumption of human nature, human existence was restored,
enabling human beings, the fulfilment of creation,
through participation in divinity by incorporation into Jesus Christ.

“The Word of God came in His own Person,
because it was He alone, the Image of the Father,
Who could recreate man made after the Image.
In order to effect this re-creation, however,
He had first to do away with death and corruption.
Therefore He assumed a human body,
in order that in it death might once and for all be destroyed and
that men might be renewed according to the Image
[of God]”
Saint Athanasius – “On the Incarnation

Salvation, or “being saved“, therefore,
refers to this process of being saved
from death and corruption and the fate of hell.
The Orthodox Church believes that its teachings and practices represent the true path to participation in the Grace [gifts] of God.
Yet, it should be understood that the
Orthodox do not believe that you ought be Orthodox to participate in Salvation.
God is merciful to all.
The Orthodox believe that there is nothing
that a person (Orthodox or non-Orthodox) can do to earn Salvation.
It is rather Grace [a gift] from God.
However, this gift of relationship has to be accepted by the believer,
since God will not force Salvation on humanity.
Man is free to reject the Grace [gift] of Salvation continually offered by God.
To be saved, man must work together with God in
a synergeia whereby his entire being, including his will, effort and actions,
are perfectly conformed with, and united to the Divine.

God becomes powerless before human freedom;
He cannot violate it since it flows from His own omnipotence.
Certainly man was created by the will of God alone;
but he cannot be deified [made Holy] by it alone.
A single will for creation, but two for deification.
A single will to raise up the image, but
two to make the image into a likeness.
The love of God for man is so great that it cannot constrain;
for there is no love without respect.
Divine will always will submit itself to groupings, to detours,
even to revolts of human will to bring it to a free consent
” .
Vladimir Lossky – “Introduction to Orthodox Theology

The ultimate goal of the Orthodox Christian is to achieve Theosis, or Union with God.
This is sometimes expressed thus:
“God became Man so that Man might become god”.
Some of the greatest Saints have achieved, in this life, a measure of this process.
The individual who achieves Theosis never realizes his accomplishment,
as his perfect humility keeps him blind to pride.
Salvation therefore is not merely
an escape from the eternal bondage of death,
but an entrance to life in Christ
here and now.

It is a signs of the end-time that worldwide Christians suffer for their faith in one way or another; November the 15th is promoted as an international Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church in which all Christians participate.
But man and even Church needs to realize its performance in order to preserve their perfect humility what makes them blind to their pride.
It has to be strong legs that are enabled to transfer the wealth.

We see it in history again and again,
when Church is longing for the respect of
the established power
she is always losing her credibility.
Because of that reason alone it is necessary
that there is a separation between the Church and the State.
Money and power are the downfall of her own principles and that’s why Church should be vigilant.
When a community is dependent on other people’s money
she is in great risk and is no longer independent.
We test this in today’s way of doing things in
the Greek and Russian Church
which praise the politics in several meetings with great ceremonies [and gifts].
Political leaders prove at heydays their [feigned?] adherence to the Church,
they are received with great deference to others,
surrounded by surrounded by their peers [most military bobo’s].
Of course Church needs  support to pass the time,
but the support has to come from the simple in heart;
the little money of the widow.
In this way Church keeps her objectives, to stay simple as Christ Himself was.
When a new-chosen bishop is longing for his own new-built cathedral
something is totally wrong and he needs to reflect his duty.
When an old bishop needs to keep three shelters to survive
[one in the town, one at the see-site and one in his home-land]
something is totally wrong and he needs to reflect his duty.
When a Patriarchate is longing for more and more influence in the west
by supporting his own total number of communities as a replacement for
longing for the whole Church of Christ something is totally wrong.
Christ is not waiting for great church-buildings and splendour and ostentation.
Church is kept by the will of God alone;
it can be deified [made Holy] by God alone and
we have to pray for it, not to buy or force it.
God have mercy . . . . .?

“…there is one God, and one mediator
between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all,
to be testified in due time
“.
1Tim.2: 5-6

Orthodox church is holding
that man is originally created in communion with God.
Through acting in a manner contrary to
his own human nature
he disrupted that communion
and will even church not be able to
present the Body of Christ.

How much greater is the gladness in God the Father, when any one is so spiritually born that in his acts and praises
the divine eminence of race is announced!
Saint Cyprianos

Beginning of the Triodion – Who do you follow???

But you has fully known
my doctrine, manner of life,

purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured:
but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse,
deceiving, and being deceived.
But continue you in the things
which you has learned and has been assured of, knowing of whom you has learned them;
And that from a child you has known the Holy Scriptures,  which are able to make you wise unto Salvation
through Faith which is in Christ Jesus“.
2Tim. 3: 10-15

The doctrine of the Apostle Paul
After describing the false teachers who hold to a form of religion, but deny its power in 2Tim.3: 1-9, Paul again exhorts Timothy to
remain faithful, even through persecution.
He reminds Timothy of his own example, which
Timothy has observed for many years now.
Paul was not boasting in himself, but rather was saying,
Timothy, my life is open to you.
You know my life and my teaching.
You’ve seen me under persecution of the worst sort,
including being stoned and left for dead in your home town of Lystra.
You’ve seen me go through imprisonment, beatings, shipwreck, and other hardships.
You know that my life backs up my message, the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.
So after I’m gone, remember my example and continue in it yourself

In this message the Apostle summed up:
-Spiritual faithfulness is not automatic, but
requires recognizing and following godly examples
who follow the Scriptures.
1.] Spiritual faithfulness in the past is not
an automatic guarantee of faithfulness in the future.

These verses fall into two sections, marked out in the Greek text by
two identical phrases [3:10, 14] that should be translated
identically, “But you“, or, “You, however. . . . . ”
– In 3:10, Paul draws a contrast between the character of the evil men [in 3:1-9] and
Timothy’s faithfulness up to this point.
– In 3:14, the contrast is between the evil men and impostors [in 3:13] and
Timothy’s needed faithfulness in the future.
Even though Timothy had followed Paul’s teaching and example thus far,
Paul felt it necessary to exhort him to continue doing so in the future,
especially when he encountered persecution, as he surely would [3:12].
In other words,
past faithfulness does not automatically guarantee future faithfulness.
The lives of these evil men that Paul has been describing [3:1-9, 13] serve as a warning.
– They were not atheists or outwardly opposed to religion.
– Rather, they made a profession of their faith.
– They had been leaders in the church.
– They held to a form of godliness, but
now their lives denied its power.
– They were impostors, or charlatans.

Proceed” [3: 13] means to make progress.
So Paul is sarcastically saying,
They will make progress all right,
from bad to worse,
deceiving and being deceived
“.

Whenever the Bible warns about deception [dishonesty], be careful,
because deception is always tricky.
It picks your pocket when you think everything is okay.
In the context here, the warning is,
just because you have been a faithful Church member for years or you have served faithfully for years, or you’ve been faithful in your marriage for years,
none of these things guarantee future faithfulness.
Long term spiritual faithfulness does not happen by accident.
You must be deliberate [thoughtful] about it.
So, recognizing the danger,
how can we remain faithful to the Lord in
the face of temptation and trials?

2.] Spiritual faithfulness in the future requires recognizing and
following godly examples who follow the Scriptures.
We all need examples to follow, which is why the
Good Message gives us  the stories of
so many faithful witnesses.
Although we see many that fall into sin,
thankfully there are many others,
such as Paul and Timothy, who finish well.
Next is shown
– both how to recognize and
– follow godly examples.
a.] To be spiritually faithful,
learn how to recognize godly examples.
Timothy had Paul as his example, but not as his only example.
The word “whom” [3: 14] is a plural [in the best manuscripts].
Beyond Paul were Timothy’s mother and grandmother, who
taught him the Scriptures from infancy [2Tim.1: 5; 3: 15].
It is not clear whether they led Timothy to salvation, or
whether their teaching him the Scriptures prepared him
to respond to the Gospel when he first heard Paul preach
[Paul calls him, “my true child in the faith” in 1Tim.1: 2; also in 2Tim.1: 2].
There were also probably many other godly examples in Timothy’s life.

There is an important lesson here, namely,
that we all need to be exposed to a number of godly examples.
Also, we should pray that our children would come
under the influence of many godly examples!!!
I have known parents that have tried to keep
their children exclusively under parental influence,
not allowing church youth leaders or anyone else
to get close to their children.
Their motive, no doubt, is to protect their children
from harmful influence, which is always a risk.
But it seems to me that it is to our children’s advantage
to be exposed to a number of godly adults
besides that of us as parents.
We needed all the help that we could get in rearing our children, and
if another godly adult could have an impact in their lives, I thanked God for it.

The same is the Truth of pastors.
Some pastors are afraid of having their people
listen to other pastors, perhaps out of fear
that the other pastor will say something
that undermines what the local pastor is saying.
But there is no corner on God’s truth!!!
I encourage you to benefit from other ‘God-fearing’ pastors
who are faithful to Scripture.
But, how do you discern whether or not a man is a godly example?
Let’s face it, there are a lot of religious charlatans out there!!!!!

Paul gives us three solid guidelines:
[-1-]. A godly example is known for his teaching [3: 10].
Paul writes [3: 10], “But you followed my teaching . . . . .“.
In 2Tim.4: 2, The Apostle will give Timothy a strong charge to preach the Word.
Paul put a premium on sound doctrine,
which is a frequent theme in the Pastoral Epistles.
1Tim.1: 3-5,10; 3: 3,15; 4: 6,13,16; 5: 17; 6: 1,3,20-21; 2 Tim.1: 13; 2: 2,15; 4: 3;
Titus 1: 9; 2: 1,10

So listen to what a man teaches.
It won’t take you long to discern whether he is teaching the Bible or
whether he is merely using the Good Message as
an inspirational springboard to launch off into his own ideas.
Some preachers use the Holy Bible like the Reader’s Digest or
like they are a populair teacher in a class-room:
It has some good quotes that support or illustrate their points,
but they don’t teach it as God’s authoritative Word that
we must understand and submit to.
When you listen to a sermon, ask yourself,
Did he explain and apply the text of Scripture so that
I come away understanding what it means and
how it applies to my life?
Also, a godly Good News teacher does not skip the difficult sections and doctrines.
He teaches the whole purpose of God.

Note also [3: 15] that a godly teacher uses the Scriptures to
lead people “to Salvation through Faith which is in Christ Jesus“.
Timothy’s mother and grandmother had taught him the “sacred writings
[a Jewish term for the Old Covenant] from infancy.
God’s Word is able to give even a child the wisdom that leads to Salvation,
which means, Salvation from God’s righteous Judgment on our sins.
That Salvation does not come by keeping the moral precepts of the Bible, or
even by believing the Bible.
Rather, Salvation comes through Faith in Christ Jesus alone.

As parents, pray for your children’s Salvation and
use the Good News to explain to them their need for the Saviour and
how to trust in Him to forgive their sins.
The popular idea of having your child
ask Jesus to come into his heart” is probably not the clearest way
to present the gospel [it’s too sweet].
A child needs to come under conviction for his sins, so
that he sees that he is guilty and deserves God’s judgment.
He also needs to know that on the Cross Jesus paid the penalty that he deserves,
if he will trust in Christ.
There should be evident signs of new life
if a child truly has been born of God.
Whether with children or adults,
use the Bible as the main tool
in leading people to Salvation.

[-2-]. A god-fearing preacher’s example is known for his character [3: 10].
He practices what he preaches!!!
So when a priest steals money from
the telephone-money-box or
when he promotes that he will even built a new church from criminal [black/stolen] money, leave him immediately!!!
His life backs up his teaching.
Paul mentions six areas of character:

·         Behaviour –

The word [used only here] means,
his way of life“.
You should be able to look at a person’s way of life and tell whether he or she is a godly example worth following.
This would include how he spends his time,
how he manages money and possessions, what kind of entertainment he enjoys, and
how he relates to his family, friends, fellow workers, and  even to strangers.
Is he rude [bad-mannered] or sensitive?
Is he oblivious to the needs of others or kind and caring?
Christianity is a way of life that affects all of life.
A godly example lives under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

·         Drive –
Paul was a man of drive.
– His drive was to help bring about God’s purpose [Eph.3: 9-11].
– He did everything for the Glory of God [1Cor.10: 31].
– He related every aspect of his life to
the supreme purpose of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord [Phil. 3:8-10] and
– making Him known to others [1 Cor. 9:23; 10:33].
– He disciplined himself for the purpose of godliness [1 Tim. 4:7].
– He made it his ambition to be pleasing to Christ [2 Cor. 5:9].
– He told the Ephesian elders [Acts 20: 24],
I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself,
so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus,
to testify solemnly of the Gospel of the Grace of God
“.
Godly examples will always be men and women
who live daily in the Light of God’s purpose.

·         Faith –
The word may mean “faithfulness“, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit [Gal. 5:22].
Paul was certainly a faithful man [1 Cor. 4:1].
But it also may refer to trusting God to do what is humanly impossible,
so that God will get the Glory.
Refering to how God delivered him from the brink of death,
Paul said:
Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so
that we would not trust in ourselves,
but in God Who raises the dead
“.
2Cor.1: 9
So a pastor who doesn’t believe in the Resurrection
isn’t a pastor, but a wolf in sheepsclothes.
A man or woman of faith lives in light of eternity,
trusting that God will keep His promises beyond the grave [2Tim. 4:8].
Look for those examples that live by faith.

·         Patience –
This also is a fruit of the Holy Spirit [Gal. 5:22].
It comes from two Greek words that literally mean
to be long before passion or anger.
The patient man doesn’t have a short fuse [temper].
He can bear with difficult people without exploding in anger.
He doesn’t snap at his wife or children with angry words.
The supreme test of patience had not been invented
when Paul wrote, but a truly patient man is patient when he drives!

·         Love –
This leads the list of the fruit of the Holy Spirit [Gal. 5:22].
Love, above all other virtues, should mark believers in Jesus Christ.
John 13: 34-35; 1Cor.13
My definition is, “Biblical Love is a self-sacrificing, caring commitment that shows itself in
seeking the highest good of the one loved
“.
Sometimes the highest good requires
confronting someone in sin and
holding him accountable.
The aim is to bring him under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, so that his life brings Glory to God.
Such Love should govern everything that we do.

 

·         Perseverance –
This word has the nuance of enduring difficult circumstances over the long haul.
It means trusting God when things aren’t the way
you want them to be and there is no immediate solution in sight.
Many Christians either imply or directly tell you that if you have enough faith,
God will instantly deliver you from your problems,
whether it is a serious health problem or
a difficult relational situation or whatever.
Just name it and claim it by faith“, they say.

Many years ago,
I was wondering what was wrong with my faith,
because I wasn’t experiencing many instant,
miraculous answers to my prayers.
Then I met the text, where Paul prays that we may be
strengthened with all power, according to His Glorious Might“.
Col.1: 11
I thought,
Yeah, that’s what I want.
Give me that Glorious, Mighty Power of God!“.
But read on:
for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience,
joyously giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified us
to share in the inheritance of the Saints in Light
Col.1: 11b-12
Steadfastness and patience” [Επιμονή και υπομονή] are
the same words in Greek
as “Perseverance and patience” in our text.

I thought,
Wait a minute!
If God’s Mighty Power delivers us instantly from our trials,
why would we need Steadfastness and Patience, with joy?“.
The only reason we need steadfastness and patience with joy is
that God has not yet delivered us from our trials.
It takes His Mighty Power to give us joy in the midst of
unanswered prayers and ongoing trials.
That leads to the third mark of a god-fearing example.
A godly example is known for the preacher’s teaching and his character.
Also,

[-3-]. A godly example is known for
his godly demeanour
[appearance] under trials [3: 11-12].
– How does a man respond when trials hit?
– Does he rail at God or submit to God?
– Does he drift into the world or draw near to the Lord?
A godly example trusts God and grows through trials.
Paul mentions the trials that he encountered at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra [Timothy’s city], three cities in the Galatian region of Asia Minor.
During the first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas were driven from Antioch
because of intense persecution [Acts 13: 50].
At their next stop in Iconium, they had to flee to avoid being stoned [Acts 14:5-6].
In Lystra, Paul actually was stoned, dragged out of the city and left for dead.
He was probably unconscious, but God miraculously raised him up [Acts 14:19-20].
Rather than let such awful persecution deter him,
Paul went right on preaching the Gospel in that region [Acts 14:21-22].
Timothy had witnessed Paul’s courage and joy in the face of these terrible trials.
When Paul says that the Lord rescued him out of them,
he means that God brought him through them.
God did not always keep Paul from trials,
although at times He did [Acts 18: 9-10].

Don’t miss verse 12 –
it’s a promise for you to claim!
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted“.
While the type and intensity of the persecution will vary
from ridicule or rejection to physical violence or even death,
every true Christian who lives a godly life in this evil world
will experience persecution.
If you are honest at work,
your honesty will convict those who cheat, and
they will try to get you down again and again until they smile they bejewelled you down.
If you speak out about injustice or evil,
you will be ridiculed and attacked.
Saint Nectarios of Aegina put it plainly:
Those who wish to be exempt from persecutions
must necessarily renounce Christ“.

Thus spiritual faithfulness requires recognizing and following godly examples of those who
follow the Scriptures.
You can recognize them by their teaching, their character, and
their godly demeanour [behaviour] under trials.
But, once you recognize them,
you need to follow them.

b.] To be spiritually faithful,
learn how to follow godly examples.

Three things are involved here:
[-1-]. Follow closely so as to understand and embrace.
That’s the meaning of the Greek word, “followed” [“know all about”].
It means to follow closely in somebody’s footsteps.
Lucas uses [in Luc.1: 3] the word when he tells Theophilus
that he has investigated everything carefully.
He means that he has traced out the history and
carefully checked his sources.
In our text, Paul means that Timothy was thoroughly familiar with Paul’s teaching and
his life because he had spent so much time with him, watching how he lived.
The consequence is that we need examples whose lives are open and transparent.
They are not afraid to let us see how they relate to their families and
to share areas where they struggle.
It implies getting to know someone well enough
that you can tell whether he walks with Christ or is faking it.
If he’s the real deal, then follow his example.

[-2-]. Follow by learning so as to develop strong convictions.
Paul says [in 2Tim.3: 14] that Timothy has learned these things and
become convinced of them.
Christianity involves learning certain doctrinal truths and
developing convictions about them.
Some doctrines are not essential to the faith, and
god-fearing men may differ on them.
We need to hold our views on these matters
with tolerance towards those who differ.
But on core matters, we should not compromise at all.
It requires maturity to discern
where you should draw these lines.

[-3-]. Follow by continuing in your convictions, even when under fire.
Timothy had learned these things and was convinced of them, but Paul tells him to continue in them.
The context makes it clear that he must continue in them even if it means persecution.
With Saint Nectarios, we must say,
even under intense pressure to yield,
Here I stand!
Besides reading about Saint Nectariosof Aegina, St Nectarios Metropolitan of Pentapolis,
who risked his spiritual live to stand for the Gospel against Alexandria,
read the lives of others who stood for the Truth under fire.

I conclude by asking you two questions.
– First, who are the examples that you follow?
To be spiritually faithful, you need godly models who follow the Scriptures.
As I said, if you can’t know them personally,
read about their lives in the Good Message or in Saint biographies.
I have been strengthened greatly by reading
the lives of the God-fearing men who went before me.
Although I do not know them personally,
contemporaries like Saint Nectarios and others
who stand for God’s Truth
encourage me to do the same.

– Second, to whom are you an example?
If you are growing in Christ as you should be,
then you should pray that God will use
your teaching, your conduct, and your godly demeanour under trials
to impact the lives of younger believers.
While none of us may ever be well-known or as strong an example as Paul was,
we all should be faithful enough that our lives are worth imitating.

Beginning of the Triodion – Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee – Come ‘all’ to me

Two men went up into the temple to pray;
the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself,
‘God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are,
extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or
even as this publican.
I fast twice in the week,
I give tithes of all that I possess
‘.

And the publican, standing afar off,
would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven,
but smote upon his breast, saying,
‘God be merciful to me a sinner‘.

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other:
for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted
“.
Luc.18: 10-14

Notice:
This Bible-story of Lucas follows at
the story of the widow who
is searching for Justice!!!
Why?
Because Christ calls us that we should
always pray and not to faint doing this!!
He will give us Justice speedily!!!
Christ Himself spoke these words with
the view to some, who trusted themselves
that they were righteous and despised others.
Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes,
shall He find faith on the earth?
Luc.18: 1-9

Jesus Christ shared the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee with us
to warn us of the great spiritual danger of arrogant self-confidence in our own righteousness, coupled with contempt for those whom we consider to be beneath us.
In this way Jesus sought to protect us from the terrible spiritual sickness of Pharissee-ism.

This disease of the soul first manifests itself as
absolute confidence and trust in the rightness of our own point of view and judgement;
it presupposes our personal superiority over others.
And this twisted expression of self-confidence quickly degenerates into
uncritical self-satisfaction and self-righteousness,
into a kind of mindless self-admiration.
It takes endless pleasure in the self, and
in all that it does.

Let us look at the Pharisee in today’s parable.
He goes into the Temple of God
to offer incense to his own self-idol [Gr. eidōλolatreíα].

He proclaims his saintliness and
enumerates his good works.
He admires and praises himself and
is standing before God in his best clothes;
big crown on his head and a
mozes-staff to show his importance.
He, after all, is not like other people
who are up to their necks in immorality and evil.
In the midst of his supposed prayer
he does not hesitate to spill
the poisonous bile of his hatred
for the Publican [sinner]
whom he sees praying off in a distant corner.

With exaggerated self-satisfaction
he refers to his careful fasting and
his generous support of the temple.
He is indeed, a fastidious observer of
the law of the [New] Covenant.

And even though we feel repulsed
by the attitude and behaviour of the Pharisee,
we need to be honest enough to
admit to ourselves
that there are more than a few times
when we astonishingly resemble him.
After all, who among us
does not want others to think
that we are better people than we actually are?
Which one of us does not suffer from some
lack of respect toward others?
Is there even one of us
who is very lenient in his judgement of others , and sterner in his own self-criticism?
I sincerely doubt it.
Every one of us, more or less, has something of that Pharisee inside of us.
Something of that self-adulation and righteousness.
And so to protect ourselves form infection by this disease
requires nothing less than constant struggle [praying] and
vigilant effort [works] on our part.

A truly Christian heart seeks to do what is just and right as
a simple and natural expression of
our responsibility as persons to the flock around us.
But even then we understand that
our good deeds do not reflect perfection and so
should not be the cause of weaning pride on our part.
That is why Saint Basilios,
who devoted his entire life to the loving service of others wrote,
Even if we were somehow able to do absolutely everything that is required of us,
we would still have to conclude that we are unworthy servants of the Lord.
And this is because after having done all this,
we will only have fulfilled our basic duty and
obligation and nothing more
“.
Even when we have to suffer martyrdom [μαρτύριο].

This condemnation of the smug self-satisfaction of the Pharisee, leads us to the justification of the Publican,
who keenly feels and readily acknowledges his personal inadequacies,
Because each of us has to carry his own human, sinners-status.
The Publican is admittedly burdened by a host of sins.
But he is acutely aware of his sinfulness and spiritual poverty.
And so he stands back, in the farthest corner of the temple.
He does not dare to even lift his eyes toward Heaven.
With heavy sighs, he whispers his short prayer,
God, have mercy on me, a sinner“.

His prayer is a request, a plea actually,
that is filled with contrition.
And this contrition, this acknowledgement and confession of personal imperfection,
is nothing less than the very cornerstone of the entire spiritual life.
And this is because it is inseparably bound with humility of the soul; and
it is humility that allows divine grace to transfigure and sanctify our lives.

Perhaps the attitude that we need to acquire if
we wish to offer prayer that is acceptable before God, is
summed up in the words of Jesus himself who said to us,
Come to Me, all you that are weary and
are carrying heavy burdens and
I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me;
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and
in Me you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light
“.
Matth.11: 28

May we too approach the altar of God with
that same gentleness of spirit, and
that same humility of heart and soul.
In that case the Son of man when He comes,
shall find real faith on the earth.

The desert of Zin
At the end of Moses’ song,
he reminds Israel
that these are not just idle words
to pass on to their children.
These words are their life!
In keeping with these words
they will live long in the land
that God is giving them.
As we continue with
the narrative of the Old Covenant
we’ll see that they choose not to hold on to life.

Moses is reminded a number of times
that he will die because he did not uphold
God’s holiness in the Desert of Zin.
Despite not getting to reap the reward of a long journey,
Moses concerns himself with the real needs of the people.
He makes sure that when he is gone
that they will continue to follow God.
This has been striking to me over and over again.
I pray that our Church-leaders will be as concerned with the lives of others.

 

Orthodoxy & the Ten Virgins – Christ is with with you always

I have been reading sermons about this subject from preachers whom started with a preconceived idea they learned in their college as taught by their western professors.
As a result many men in leading positions
who never took the time to study what is really recorded in the Good Message on this subject nor do they ask and answer the
most important questions necessary to understand what is meant concerning the ten virgins and
don’t get the points that Jesus, our Lord, was making.

Another reason many clerics miss the mark is
because they do not take into consideration that
the Bible was not broken down in chapter and verse
in the beginning of the writing of the Holy Scriptures.
With this knowledge and approach
we can get the True story flow and
intent of statements made in the Bible
by not taking verses out of their proper context.

The reason I bring this out here is
because we must go into the preceding chapter
that is now titled chapter 24 of the Evangelion of Matthew.
Jesus was asked in the beginning of this chapter
what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age.
In other words they were asking a very important question, which was
When will you bring in the Kingdom of God and
overpower
[or take over] the kingdoms of this world?“.
What’s truly ironic is that the Governments of this world
don’t believe the message Jesus brought brethren
because if they did than they would realize
that this Message is about putting them out of power!

Jesus gave many other warnings and
signs to look forthat we are not going to
cover in this scholarshipso you might want
to read this education titled Revelation six vs.
Matthew 24 as this education gets into the details of Matth. 24.

Now let’s take a look at the statement He made after He was asked “What would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age“.
In what is now titled chapter 24 that ties into the statements recorded in chapter 25 referring to
the Ten Virgins.

Let’s start with verse 42 of Matth. 24;
Watch therefore, for
you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
But know this that if the master of the house had known
what hour the thief would come,
he would have watched and not allowed his house
to be broken into.
Therefore you also be ready,
for the Son of Man is coming at an hour
you do not expect.
Who then is a faithful and wise servant,
whom his master made ruler over his household,
to give them food in due season?

Blessed is that servant whom his master,
when he comes, will find so doing.
Assuredly, I say to you that
He will make him ruler over all His goods
“.
Matth.24: 42-47

So we see that the very important point that
our Lord, the master of the world wants His servants to do is continue to be faithful
and continue in those things they were instructed by Jesusin the beginning of
the New Covenant.
What did Jesus instruct
the early Church to do?
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [Should be power of the Holy Spirit]
teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age
“.
Matth.28: 19-20

Notice,
Teaching them to observe all things
that I have commanded you
“!!!
That covers a great deal of scriptures and instructions, including the Ten Commandments as well as the command to teach about the coming Kingdom of God that many clergy today have stopped doing.
It also covers the very important statements and commands that our Lord gave the Church after His Resurrection to feed the flock and that means with what Jesus delivered to them.
The Apostles did not go out teaching their own Gospel message but were faithful to teach all things that Jesus commanded them to teach.
If they had gotten off on other things they would have become unfaithful servants
so what does that make ministers today that just go along with what
they were taught by their professors?
So let’s note;
Who then is a faithful and wise servant?“.
And is a very important point to think about as
we study along here,
however, the main point is stated as . . . . .
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at any time you do not expect“.
This is what I call the “focal point” of the parable of the Ten Virgins
because the points in Chapter 24 and 25 are warning us to be ready!!!

Now let’s get to the meat of this subject in
the scriptures down in what is numbered as
chapter 25 vs. One.
It states;
Then the Kingdom of Heaven shall be likened to
Ten Virgins who took their lamps and
went out to meet the Bridegroom.
Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
But while the bridegroom was delayed,
they all slumbered and slept and at midnight a cry was heard:
‘Behold, the Bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out’.

[This in the Greek is stated as “have gone out” not going out]
But the wise answered, saying,
‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you;
but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves’.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and
those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and
the door was shut
“.

“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying,
‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’
But He answered and said,
‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you’.
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in
which the Son of Man is coming”.
We see here that the Bridegroom [the Lord] was delayed and
as a result all ten Virgins slept.
We also see where at midnight [a time not expected] the Bridegroom came, and
those who were ready “went in”  like into a chamber and then the door was shut.
Now once again it’s very important to note here
that the reason the first five virgins were ready was
because they had “brought oil” with their lamps
but the others did not even bring oil.
The others that brought their oil
were prepared for the coming of the Bridegroom.

[The oil here may be
the representation of the Holy Spirit as some have taught
but I’m not sure about that at this time
because if you search the scriptures
you will not find one reference
that the Holy Spirit is represented by oil.
It is represented by “living waters” but
not oil as far as I have found.

Orthodox customs
The first thing that should be done when an Orthodox Christian family moves into a new apartment or house
is to determine which eastern wall or corner can be turned into the icon corner, with Christ in the Centre.
This should not be a non-conspicuous place
where the icons will be hidden from people’s eyes,
rather it should be a very prominent spot which
all can see.
The icon corner should have icons of Christ and the Theotokos as well as icons of the saints for whom the family has particular devotion.
Many times an Orthodox family chooses a particular Saint to whom they wish to dedicate their family church [in my family Saint Panteleimon], and
place it under his or her protection.
The icons in the icon corner of a family church dedicated to a saint will, of course,
have an icon of the saint together with those of Christ and the Theotokos.

The icon corner will either have a small table or a shelf upon which may be placed prayer books,
a [hand] censer, a bottle of holy water, a blessing-cross,
the candles that the husband and wife held at their wedding,
holy oil, palm branches and sometimes other religious objects.
In front of the icons an oil lamp should ‘perpetually burn.
Some families burn wax votive candles before the icons;
however, the tradition is to burn olive oil.
Electric lights are not appropriate for use as
the light to burn before icons.
The traditional oil lamps require an amount of attention
which electricity does not, thereby directing our physical services and
thoughts to God several times a day when
we are required to trim the wick and refill the lamp with oil.

The use of pure olive oil may be objected to because of its high cost;
however, God is beneficent to those who think first of spiritual matters and
then of themselves.
A family with which I am familiar had a multitude of problems,
one of which was not enough money to purchase food.
The head of the family placed the household
under the protection of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.
As an offering of faith and love, the family’s head
promised that the lamp in the icon corner would burn only pure olive oil and
that it would be allowed to go out only after there was no more food on the table and
no money to buy either olive oil or food.
Because of the strong faith shown by the family head,
the Theotokos has miraculously provided the family with enough money
to purchase both olive oil and food for months on end.

There are a number of different kinds of utensils designed for burning oil before icons.
A very common one is the wick-float
which utilizes cork to keep the wick and
flame floating on the oil.

The meaning of oil
Let’s take a moment to address the point of oil
before going on with this assessment.
I had to contemplate a long time before stating that
the oil could be the representation of the Holy Spirit
because I could not find any reference to the Holy Spirit and oil.
The reason I did is because of scriptures like Exod 30:25-28.
And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil,
an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil.
With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting and
the ark of the Testimony;
the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense; the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base
“.
Let’s look at some more . . . . .
He who is the high priest among his brethren, on whose head the anointing oil was poured and who is consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes; nor shall he go near any dead body, nor defile himself for his father or his mother; nor shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the Sanctuary of his God;
for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him:
I am the Lord
“.
Lev 21:10-12
What else could this consecration of the anointing oil of his God be?

In 2Kings 9: 6 we find that oil is poured over the Kings head as
an anointing which seems to me that
this is giving the man power from God so
again it is like the power of the Holy Spirit.
It states . . . . .
Then he arose and went into the house.
And he poured the oil on his head, and said to him,
“Thus says the Lord God of Israel :
‘I have anointed you king over the people of the Lord, over Israël
“.
Lev.21: 10-12
Another example is.
Then You spoke in a vision to Your holy one, and said:
‘I have given help to one who is mighty;
I have exalted one chosen from the people.
I have found My servant David
‘;
with My holy oil I have anointed him,
with whom My hand shall be established;
also My arm shall strengthen him
“.
Psalm 88: 19-21
Let’s also look at.
“And if you bring as an offering a grain offering baked in the oven,
it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, or
unleavened wafers anointed with oil”.
Lev 2:4

Notice
The reference here to the unleavened cakes which we know
is not the body of our Lord Jesus but is a reference to Him.
The same can be true for the oil and the Holy Spirit.
And I’m sure many of you know this scripture in which states;
Is anyone among you sick?
Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him,
anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and
the Lord will raise him up.
And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven
“.
James 5: 14-15
The point is that I could see more scriptures that [denoted]
the holy oil was like the power of God which
we know that the Holy Spirit is the power of God
that heals and works with those God has chosen.
I believe that we can’t always find scripture
that states some things exactly but
we can find examples that help us understand.
The oil used concerning the ten virgins denotes
being ready by the power of the oil.
Without it you can’t light the lamp.
Am I saying that I’m 100% correct about this?
Not at all; just that I could see the point in the above scriptures.
I can only know if I have the information and
God may tell me in the Resurrection that I was wrong and
then I will repent and ask Him what should have I written?

So to continue we see from what we have covered
that the parable Jesus gave concerning the Ten Virgins, and
the Kingdom of God is for us to understand that
we need to be much more diligent in what we are doing as Christians, and
even though some may think they are worshipping the correct way and
the correct God because their Church has Jesus on the door
many need to realize they may not have any oil.
Many will look at the other person and wonder if
they have oil but we all need to ask this of ourselves and
not be too concerned what another person is doing.

It is very important to know that we can become lax
if we just follow some church and not study or question
the sermons given for ourselves.
I understand that many believe the pagan ideas because they don’t know any better and
will not even look into it so God the Holy Father must call them and open their minds.
Their conversion is God’s business and we have no power over their will so
as I have stated many times I put out the information but I don’t get
into the conversion church-business.
There are a great deal of warnings about this time we live and
the people being deceived into another Gospel so
let’s look at a warning by Jesus Himself.

Jesus stated:
For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’, and
will deceive many
“.
Matth.24: 5
On into the discussion He stated that many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
There will be some in the future declaring that they are our saviour and as we read before we are warned from Jesus Himself not to go after them.
So make your own choices and choose that Christian community which offers you the best progress in being a good servant.

This could mean that the man of perdition will come as the saviour but if we think about this we can also see how men are using other in very clever ways to so say if you don’t keep the Sabbath
just the way they tell you too then you could be disobeying God.
Or men can state that if you don’t speak Jesus’ Name in the original Hebrew or Aramaic [Joshua] your prayers will not reach Him.
If that were true brethren Jesus would have made sure He instructed us and taught just how to pronounce His name.
And you also have to know that when you are entering the Kingdom of God
you will understand a language you have never heard before .
I think it will be the Langueage of ‘Love’; everybody understands it without words.
The apostles and his followers would have made sure
everyone has to be instructed on this as well
but we find no such teaching.
The statement “In My Name” as we read before means
“by My [Christ’s] authority” not that one must say the name Jesus in a certain way or
you want reach Jesus in prayer to even receive Salvation through repentance.
This would be preaching another gospel because Jesus, our Lord is the only way to
Salvation and into the Kingdom of God!!!

The language to educate
I have done a very detailed research on this subject on
what is called “sacred names” and
found that the original Hebrew can’t even be understood by anyone today.
It is a dead language and has been mixed with Aramaic just like
all languages have been mixed with other languages.
English is a good example as
it has been mixed with just about every language in the world.
So use [also in church] the language the people in that area are used to speak.
What I’m saying is many men use this kind of teaching
to so-say guide you to the real Saviour but
they are really holding you to things that
distract from the real Blood Sacrifice that
Jesus Himself stated and His Apostles taught is
the only way to enter the Kingdom.

Now it is very important for all of us to note the warnings
given in the Good Message and there is another warning we find,
that there will be a great falling away
from the True word of God in the end times [2Thess.2: 3,4].
Let no one deceive you by any means; for
that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and
the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition“.
These and other scriptures warn of a great Apostasy that
is predicted to come about in the last days and
this warning should cause people who
want to follow the True Messiah great concern because
we are in the time of this falling away.

Now please turn to Matt 7: 22-23 for more foundation to this fact . . . . .
You can see here that we find Scripture that state
Many will say to Me in that day,
‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and
done many wonders in Your name?”.

And then I will declare to them,
‘I never knew you; depart from Me,
you who practice lawlessness!’
“.
These people being judged in this story Jesus told were doing things during their lifetime in the Name Christian, but
Jesus will not accept them.
Notice
how this warning relates to what we read
that there will be a great falling away from the true word of God.
2Thess.2
We also read a warning from the apostle Paul
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“.
2Tim.4: 3-4
Notice

that these people will heap to themselves teachers . . . . .
I would have to assume that these teachers are teaching scripture
from the bible because Paul is referring to the end time Church of God.
It would take many years for this to be put in place and
for it to deceive the masses into accepting another gospel so
the question is, can we see it in the Christian religion today and
if so where and how?

Acceptance of Pagan God’s:
So brethren how else is it that many are being deceived into
not following the true Messiah but appearing to be Christians
therefore not bringing their oil?
– We as in the West have gone into idolatry in a big way and most of the leaders of many thousands of churches don’t even speak out against these things.
The pyramids and other pagan gods of Egypt
are fast becoming part of our every-day life
in the wetsren nations.
The symbols are showing up on advertisements everywhere. People are buying Egyptian jewelry by the thousands.
Amusement parks are using Egyptian pyramids, Egyptian coffins, and objects of pagan worship as the main attraction.
Egypt and all her pagan gods and the magic witches use are being presented to the people of the world and
the West in the spirit of the carnival and
the sad thing is they are being accepted.

It’s even being taught to our children as good and acceptable in the schools.
It starts out as themes that are just fun things for people’s amusement,
but in time people will accept, and
are accepting Egypt’s pagan ways along with all the rest as if it’s just another way to worship the true Creator God.
Witchcraft is entering the Christian Church and home through the “Harry Potter books and movies” and
I hope that those that has eyes to see, and ears to hear understand that this world is fast being moved towards the ancient occult practice of sorcery.
It’s too bad that many Christians today fail
to be alarmed so they could see the importance of shunning this evil and all its ways.

The Truth is that we can’t afford to allow it in our personal lives even if it looks innocent.
We can’t allow the practice of sorcery in our children’s lives just because it is presented as
a fun educational tool in schools.
[a nice Greek, Latin or Russian sounding church-service, like we had in our formal homeland, instead of understanding what is sung and said during the service]
I compare the things in this amendment that
show how black magic is presented such as levitation,
like when they were riding on brooms as well as Astro-Projection
which is the method in which an individual can separate
his consciousness from his physical body.

When a seeker goes to the Path of Liberation, he is often unsure of what to do.
If he is able to empty his heart of all self, and
to surrender his whole being to his inner god,
his next few steps on the Path will be illuminated as a result of fervent prayer.
Now this inner god idea, brethren, is
directly from the teaching of the witches and Anti-Christ.
What will children think when looking to the True saviour
when they have grown up believing that they need to look to and
surrender their whole being to their inner god?
I hope you are seeing here how the now-a-days stories are
removing Jesus and God the Holy Father and
replacing them with self-power.

Now let’s look at the greatest deception in the world.
God’s people were slaves in Egypt several thousand years ago and
Beware” as Egypt is fast enslaving God’s people once more and
many will have to be delivered once more by God’s hand, but
this time, Jesus will take the throne from Satan and rule forever!
The question is…
Are we going to be ready;
are we going to have our oil
when the Bridegroom comes?

32nd Sunday after Pentecost – there raised another Priest after the similitude of Melchisedec

And without all contradiction
the less is blessed of the better.
And here men that die receive tithes;
but there he received them, of
Whom it is witnessed that He lived.
And as I may so say, Levi also,
who received tithes, paid tithes in Abraham.
For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and
not be called after the order of Aaron?

For the Priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
For He of whom these things are spoken pertained to another tribe, of which
no man gave attendance at the altar.
For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe
Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood.
And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec
there arose another Priest,
Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment,
but after the power of an endless Life.
For He testified,
Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec
“.
Hebr. 7: 7-17

The feast today, the feast of the Meeting ,
surprisingly brings us back to the time of Christmas , the birth of the Lord.
We have the Baptism of the Lord fresh in our memory and it is important to realize that this festival goes back to Christmas,
this is the 40th day after the birth of Christ.
It is the day on which He is charged.
To the Temple as a new-born child , John the Baptist is only a half years old,
Christ Himself is a small baby being brought to the Temple.
Wherein lies the meeting
where this festival is dedicated to?

If we look closely, we see a lot of meetings .
We see the meeting – of course –
between the Old and New Testaments.
But that is an encounter that lasts the whole Gospel,
from the time of Christ’s birth to the moment when
He says, “It is finished” [John.19: 30]
We also see the meeting between
the legislature and the Law.
We see that Christ , the Lawgiver of both
the Old and New Covenant,
obediently adjusts to the Law of the Old Testament.

We see encounters with the Temple .
– the Temple within Himself so that
He would later say,
I will destroy the temple and in three days I will rebuilt it“.
John.2: 19, Marc.13: 1, Luc.21: 6, Marc. 14: 58
the Temple of His Body [John. 2:20]
the Temple in relation to the Holy Trinity
Although the Glory of the Father eternally in the Temple and before. . .,
has been in the Tabernacle  [Ex.40: 34, 2Cron.(O.S.B.)5: 13-14, Ez.9: 3],
although the Spirit of God has always been present
meets the Temple now the incarnate Son of God [John.1: 14].
And as the Trinity in Baptism has become public to all [Apolyticion Theophany],
it is now revealed to the Temple .

The priests of the temple are meeting the new Priesthood,
the Priesthood spoken of in the reading of
the Letter of the Apostle Paulus [Hebr.7: 11-12, 2Petr.2: 9] today.
The people of Israël, represented by Symeon and Anna,
are meeting Him Who is the Bridegroom of the Church of
the New Covenant [Matth.9: 15].

Still not quite explain all these encounters
why we have called today’s festivities “feast of the Meeting“.
After Christ was in the Temple and the sacrifice was made,
bringing him back to his parents Nazareth.
We then read that
He Grows up in Wisdom and
the Grace of God was upon Him
” [Luc.2: 40].
A time of preparation breaks, a time of preparation for several meetings.
Which encounters? With us, you and me.
And if you want a meeting is a meeting,
it must come from both sides .
Not the one who comes to the other more and more [from above] ,
but from two people who are coming together.

And therefore it is important that we are prepared for the meeting with Him .
About that meeting He spoke when He talked about
the foolish and the wise virgins.
Then He said,
What do we do as it sounds in
the middle of the night,
the Bridegroom comes,
Come meet Him . . . . . . ?
“[Matth.25: 1-13].
The biblical word for “meeting” in
Greek is the word “συνάντηση”.
What is our answer
when we are asked the question:
What do you do as the Bridegroom comes!
Is your lamp then ready?

The man-made lights – the candles – are blessed today.
But what about those inner lamp , ‘our eye [Matth.6: 22],
‘our soul, our heart must burn [Luc.24: 32]!!!
Let us, then , now that Lent arrives,
look after the inner lamps and
light the sources of our works,
so we Christians can go with a lighted lamp,
so that we can unite our light with His Light to meet
“.
Sophronios of Jerusalem
and then , as Saint Theophanos the Hermit says:
He will take his residence in us,
just as he took place in the arms of Saint Symeon
“.
homilies at the Meeting of the Lord

32e Sunday after Pentecost – meeting of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished,
they brought Him to Jerusalem, to
present Him to the Lord;
As it is written in the Law of the Lord,
every male that opened the womb
shall be called Holy to the Lord;
and to offer a sacrifice according to
that which is said in the law of the Lord,
a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and
the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and
the Holy Spirit was upon him.
And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that
he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and
when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to
do for him after the custom of the law,

Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Lord, now let You your servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
For mine eyes have seen Your Salvation, Which
You have prepared before the face of all people;
a light to lighten the Gentiles and the Glory of Your people Israel.
And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary His mother,
Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and
for a sign which shall be spoken against;
[Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also],
that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
And there was one Anna, a prophetess,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser:
she was of a great age, and
had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years,
which departed not from the temple,
but served God with fasting and prayers night and day.
And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and
spoke of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord,
they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and
the Grace of God was upon Him
“.
Luc.2:22-40

The enactment of religious rituals for children in the Jewish faith of Jesus’ time is the background of this only biblical glimpse we have of Jesus’ early infancy.
This luminous text of hope from Lucas’ Gospel is
pictorial in its rendering of Jesus presentation at the temple.
As a new-born, He is brought by His parents to be circumcised and officially named, following the custom of their faith.
This story of a baby’s first religious rituals prompts
the memories of many adults whose own parents involved them at an early age in the practices of their faith.
Lucas paints a touching and very typical picture of just such an occasion.
Today, even though obscured in the unknowingness of early infancy,
how many adults still cherish the pictures and artifacts from their own infancy rituals?
Caregivers of all sorts save a scrapbook of pictures, perhaps a special robe,
a candle, a signed guestbook or maybe a picture of the banquet table of well-wishers.
All of these are reminders which can still bear meaning for adults about the religious and personal commitments caregivers made for them as infants.

The child, Jesus, launched into the world,
through the faithful hopes and practices of his parents and others, prompts the Gospel writer to conclude:
The child grew and became strong …..
Paradoxically this text, while focused on Jesus throughout, also records the responses of the adults around him to the child.
In fact, this text poses a critical set of questions for adults who have anything to do with children, be they parents, members of religious communities or the general public.

What expectations do we have for our children
as they grow towards adulthood?
What are our hopes for them?
How do we utilize the resources of
our faith communities to support children?
What protection and guidance do we offer them so hopes and
expectations can be realized for their flourishing?
What responsibilities do all adults have for children,
regardless of whether or not
they are related to them by blood or marriage?

Lucas’ words portray a picture of hope,
innocence and adult concern for the infant Jesus.
His words foster nostalgia and loving sentiments.
This child, Jesus, has received
a strong start in life.
But in juxtaposing this text with some of today’s
facts and realities about children,
the Biblical passage slashes across
our lives with one harsh notice:
“Warning!.               

Lucas’ words have
at their centre a child:
surely a prompt to everyone to consider the treatment of children today.
—> What does it mean to cherish and value children?
Several years ago a proverbial phrase was popularized through a speech; “It takes a village to raise a child”.
How true in the best sense of that phrase.
And yet, there is ready and ugly evidence that communities of varied sorts
are devoted to the destruction of children,
[particularly through sexual trafficking].
One witnesses this in the print and electronic media and in the reports about those who have been caught vandalizing the souls and bodies of children.
Indeed, the incredible commodifying of children’s lives and bodies can be seen on
the streets and hidden rooms of both large urban centres and
smaller towns throughout the western countries.

This destruction of children through sexual trafficking stands in absolute contrast to
the Lucan story of the nourishing and flourishing of children.
Children’s bodies instead of being blessed and protected are bought and sold by adults.
These adults seek only to gain obscure and profit from them.
In the words and acts of the devout adults who bless Jesus,
Lucas offers an unsettling warning of his own about this child, Jesus.
Simeon notes to Mary, his mother, that her child will cause
“the rising and falling” of many.
What will happen to her son will cause her own heart
to be pierced as though by a sword.
Furthermore, Anna’s act of endurance involves fasting.
Fasting does not signify feasting.
To the contrary it signifies that there are things yet
to be accomplished and fulfilled.
Anna was also keenly aware of the need for the coming redemption.
The child, Jesus, exemplified that for her.

How we are caring for our children
Within this text of love and support for a child,
we unmistakably hear the note of justice sounded clearly.
Indeed the rising and falling of many has and
will occur in terms of their treatment of children.
Lucas’ words have set both the model of parental and adult love for children and they also challenge all adults to ask:
How are we caring for
our children today?

Are we educating our children in our communities or do we force them to come to a Church
in which they don’t understand any word and any background?
Are we educating our children in our churches to
Greek, Russian, Romanian, Georgian, Serbian, Bulgarian nationalists
who are longing for a faraway, strange country?
Are we separating them from the
True Word by keeping them away
from an intelligible [understandable] words, written by the Holy Fathers?
Do we support them by forcing them
to attend hour-long services
in a language they do not understand?
Are we supporting their healthy development in relation to
their environment or
do we condemn them to be a continued stranger and guest-worker and to award themselves to make choices of open and free development.
 What responsibilities do all adults have for children,
regardless of whether or not
they are related to them by blood or marriage?

Lord have mercy“, for
they don’t understand what they are doing
and their leaders are missing any point of view.

31th Sunday after Pentecost – Let no man despise thy youth

This is a faithful saying and
worthy of all acceptation.
For therefore we both
labour and suffer reproach,
because we trust in the living God,
Who is the Saviour of all men,
specially of those that believe.
These things command and teach.
Let no man despise thy youth;
but be thou an example of the believers,
in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy,
with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them;
that thy profiting may appear to all“.
1Tim.4: 9-15

The words you speak today should be soft and tender …..
for tomorrow you may have to eat them

Anonymous

Regardless of how old or young you are physically or spiritually,
soaring high or otherwise in your Christian life and
service is a matter of choice.
Let no man despise your youth.

As we go through life,
I hope many of us believe
we have grown or gained knowledge.
If we talk to a 20 year old,
he will readily admit he knows a lot more as a college student
than he did at 10 when he was in 8th grade.
When one talks to a person in their 40s,
many feel that they know more today
than they did when they were 20 and
if they had to do it over, they would do some things different.
I assume that as one reaches senior citizen age,
they have additional life experiences
that they can share with others.

Because of this the Bible instructs us wisely
to honour the elders.
While our society today teaches to put our older people away, and focus on the fleeting beauty of youth, it is stabbing us in the foot.  The society, advertisers, companies wish us to focus on youth so that the wisdom of the elders is gone and that the media is the one replacing the godly father’s leadership role
with their self for the purpose of influencing us
the way that benefits them.
The lie builds on our pride and
is nothing new.
It goes back to the Garden of Eden when the serpent told Eve, that she would be wiser than God and didn’t have to listen to Him or
respect His commandments.

Many youths through their lack of wisdom believe that they know everything and the adults know nothing, which is not true.
When I was in high school,
I noticed that there were people who applied them self. Some gained wisdom slowly,
some who worked hard to improve had learned more.
Those who didn’t try had less.

Regardless any age,
there are people who have more knowledge
or less knowledge.
A small part of it is genetics.
A big part of it is
what direction one desires to focus.
Whether they desire to grow in knowledge and maturity or
rather spend the time watching mindless entertainment or
playing video games that teach little knowledge to one.
Also, with the wide variety of knowledge out there
one can learn through their life,
everyone will know something a little different and
all can learn from them.
For example one who has a legal degree at 35
probably will know more about law
than an 65 year old physicist, yet
the physicist will know more about science.
Some may have years of experience
drawing closer and closer to God.
Others might have years of experience
being a criminal or a con artist, so
we need to be careful who we have influencing us, and
what knowledge we have entering our minds.

In our society because we have certain things revealed to us,
[ie sciences, technology, etc.] we have many pieces of knowledge
that were not known in the past.
Therefore in these areas of our current society,
we have knowledge which is greater than the past.
TV, computers, space travel are examples of this knowledge
that we have different.
Conversely, the nurturing environment is not as sheltered from sin as
it was 100 years ago in the Europe/ Middle East or the United States.
There are many negative influences on the lives of our society today
training their brains and becoming a part of their formative years.
Therefore, those who grew up in the past, where studying and learning the bible,
morality and other pieces of wisdom
isolated from the influences of our modern decadent culture
in their early schooling, grew much closer to God and
had greater wisdom in those saints than
we do today in our world.
So as I look at the Christian leaders of many denominations,
many appear be a blend of our current decadent/socialist values with Christian principles,
rather than those who were totally separated from that world and
didn’t have to be politically correct to pacify them.
I need to also point out that there were also areas of enlightenment
that they did not have.
Also, so the point being made here, is
that if one does not have spiritual leaders as role models,
one can also learn at the feet of the past saints
in their writings as well as our blessed Lord through the Holy Scriptures.

Because of the lack of wisdom of the elders in our modern environment,
many youths have less exposure to
gaining godly knowledge from the elders.
They are also not stimulated by their parents; many youths without the knowledge come across as
wreck less or carefree.
This may cause parents to think less of them. Yet at the same point, the way we overcome is not to merely brush it off
but to strive to know our weakness and go to improve ourselves.
And those who do, will reach greater heights and wisdom,
growing on the wisdom of the elders which they will appreciate.

Again what’s in a name:
what is the meaning of the name Timothy?
Τιμοθεος  [Timotheos] meaning “honouring God“,
derived from τιμαω [timao] “to honour
and derived from θεος [Theos] “God“.
Timothy had a similar situation and
Paul wrote to him the oft quoted phrase,
let no man despise thy youth“.
And I see so many youth quoting this as if it implied their youthfulness and
immaturity should be appreciated.
But what it is saying is that Paul’s goal was
for Timothy to be a youth that should not be despised.

To gain respect
How quick we forget the second half of the verse
where Paul gives the solution to being despised.
The way he says to gain respect is
to “be thou an example of the believers,
in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity
“.
Notice Paul did not tell Timothy, go out and demand respect?
He showed him instead how to earn it.

Let’s go through each part of this verse.
“an example”
►  the Greek word here is toopos which means, a model for imitation, pattern, form.
So what this word is saying that instead of being despised,
we should strive to be the best in these following areas
where we will be one that others desire to copy.
► The word ‘word‘ here [logos] means something said,
by implication of topic, reasoning, computation.

The bible teaches us to beware of idle words.
Too often all of us at all ages speak frivolously, but
rather it is teaching we must strive to watch
what we say, that it is holy, godly and just and
that we are a proper example of the king of kings.
Let us not strive to justify our self,
but rather seek the Truth of God and
be able to have the verbal/logical skills
to communicate it wisely to others.
► Communication is talking and speaking with each other and
not blaming someone and smash another one totally down.
Conversation, the Greek word here is anastrophe
which basically means our behaviour.
We should strive to be a role model of perfect behaviour.
How sad in Christians of all ages
we see behaviour in our professing Christian communities
focused on the things of the world rather than on God.
As we do our tasks, we should ask our self,
is this what Jesus would do?
Is this bringing me or the other closer to Our beloved Lord?
Or is this action causing me to fall farther from Him.
Has my presence in this community been as a healthy development or
am I just a block to their bones.
When they really not accept me
I have to search for another possibility and
stay in my study room and far, far away from them.
Christ did it in the same way,
in these moments He went up to the mountain and
prayed to His Father in Heaven.
►in charity – the Greek word here is agapè,
which means the greatest Love.
The Love of sacrificing one’s self for another.
How true are the words in the Good Message which say,
Without Love I am nothing” and
when Jesus states, the greatest commandment is to
Love the Lord with all your heart soul and strength“.
Paul is not saying that we should merely love others.
He is saying that our love should be a role model.
And the greatest source of love is
the One Who loved us the most,
our blessed Lord Jesus.
That when people see us,
– they see Jesus in us and His Love though us,
then we can truly be a Light to His Truth.
How sad when
many professing Christians say
– they do not love their brother or
– they do not love their neighbour.
Is God happy with that?
Is he not grieved like the ruler
who forgave so much to a man yet
the man refused to forgive something small of his neighbour?
As we grow closer to God, we will understand His Love,
the Truest and Greatest Love and
that Love will spread out to others.

►In spirit – this is the spirit or one’s rational soul.
It is our essence.
When people see us,
our essence and our spirit should be in line with God’s Spirit,
facing the same direction, desiring the same things.
As John the Baptist once said, not my will, but thine.
So should we have a heart seeking
the things of God so when people see us,
they know our heart is desiring the Lord.

” In faith – the greek word here is pistis,
which means our beliefs or moral convictions.
When people look at us, what do they say as we believe?
Do we ‘mouth‘ the things of God,
but by our actions we live a different life and
show a different belief system?
Faith in God, our belief in Him should be a centerpiece
in our life where our actions flow.
It is not following laws, but coming from a heart
who truly believes God, trusts God and
cannot be happy in any other path than serving God.
Let us look at our heart, and search out our beliefs truly are, and
then use that knowledge to resist the lies of the devil.

►In purity – the Greek word here is cleanliness specifically chastity. or physical purity.
The culture of our world is to sleep around outside of marriage.
Our society, not only doesn’t find it wrong, it glorifies it.
Many churches don’t desire to address this sin,
because it is so rampant in our society.
Yet God takes a firm stand against it throughout the old and new testaments.
Our youth today, many in our churches unfortunately
are committing fornication and think its fun.
Also we give our virgin children to men/women who have them
as one of many women in their life because they are pleasing to us, or
have things of the world, or are great seducers.
Yet we see here, that it makes the person dirty,
it isn’t pleasing to God yet they don’t care and commit deliberate sin
because they believe it will be forgiven,
yet they forget to realize that
deliberate sin perhaps is a sign of problems with
their relationship with God in the belief area.
How sad it is that we no longer aspire to seek the purity of Body.
The Good Message says that fornication is a sinning against our body, and
describes it as marriage when it says the two become one.
Let us not only remain pure for marriage,
let us also respect purity and not hold it as a nice extra
but rather a value that God desires of us, and
teaches us leads to the best relationships of this earth.

So to summarize, understand those who are older than us,
likely they have more wisdom than us.
That we should seek after godly elders for wisdom.
Whether we are younger, or older,
let us be willing to respect others, learn of others, and
respect the wisdom of those who are older, wiser and godly influenced.
Rather than despise others, let us love them.
Rather than defend ourselves,
let us strive to be more perfect and
pleasing our Master.