Bulletin 190 - August 12/August 25, 2002
August 12, 2002/August 25, 2002
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
It was said of Abba Or and Abba Theodore, that they laid good foundations, and at all times gave thanks to God.
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on sea, they were troubled saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them saying, "Be of good cheer! it is I; do not be afraid." And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he was that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out saying, "Lord, save me!" And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" And when the got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshipped Him, saying, "Truly, You are the Son of God."
Our view and understanding of God requires improvement with time. Our relationship with God requires improvement with time. Serious Christians seek to consistancy with the teachings of life and of Jesus Christ.
Fighting sin is a daily battle. With God's help, we can be vigilant. The grace and mercy of God enable us to begin each new day. The Holy Gospel and Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ provide necessary strength.
The words of the Phrophet Isaiah remind us "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Is. 40:31) Christians draw hope and inspiration from the words of the Holy Prophets.
Prayer is a vital part of daily life for Orthodox believers. Prayer enables us to deal with our sins, to pray for our loved ones and to seek direction from God. Prayer gives us the opportunity to think about God and the place of God in our lives.
The present Gospel mentions that Jesus Christ went to the mountain to pray. If Jesus Christ included prayer in His life, dare we do anything less. Indeed, if Jesus Christ prayed in His perfection, our own imperfections are strong impetus to pray fervently.
Recognizing personal sinfulness requires careful examination of the teachings of the Church. Recognizing personal sinfulness requires honest examination of the self. We can begin anew when we realize our limits and the potential for a better life in Christ.
This is a time in the Church year when the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ is celebrated. This is a time of the year when the Dormition fast is in place. Orthodox Christians are called upon to contemplate the glory of the transfigured Christ. Orthodox Christians are called upon to think about Jesus Christ on the Mountain with Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John.
The present Gospel speaks about Jesus being on the mountain. The mountains of God bear our careful consideration. Many turning points in the People of God occured are associated with the mountains.
Mt. Horeb, Mt. Sinai, Mt. Carmel and Mt. Tabor are mountains which come quickly to mind. The mountains of God beckon us to learn more about the heights of God.
The Dormition Fast focuses our attention on the Mother of God. The Dormition Fast is a time of preparation. It is a time of seeking to be cleansed form sin, to seek the Kingdom of God.
The Dormition Fast reminds us daily of the purity and the integrity of the mother of God. The Dormition fast provides structure and discipline for believers. The Dormition Fast is an external structure of the Church providing internal incentive to live the life in Christ.
The present Gospel emphasizes the importance of remaining strong in faith. Had Peter remained strong in his resolve, perhaps he would not have to begu to sink when he approached Jesus. Peter's doubts put him in peril.
Jesus saved Peter from the peril of the sea. Jesus Christ can save us from the perils of sin. When we encounter rough seas in our voyage of life, the Church is the life-boat to bring us safely to shore. Through the Church, Jesus Christ provides protection, direction and help to each believer.
The doubts experienced by Peter when difficult waves arose probably arise in each believer. The presence of Jesus Christ is certain. Jesus Christ can provide the calmness needed in all circumstances. Jesus Christ can rescue everyone willing to reach out to Him.
Jesus does more thna rescue Christians in sin. Jesus offers a way of life that provides for peace of mind, forgiveness, steadfastness, charitable works and love.
Jesus enables Christians to experience life as intended by the Creator and Redeemer. Jesus enables believers to experience joy and to maintain hope even in the most difficult of times.
St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians states: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfullness, gentleness, self-control." (Gal. 5:22). Christians reading the Holy Scriptures will become familiar with the writings of St. Paul and learn more about life with God.
Normally, Orthodox Christians embrace Jesus Christ as King and God while still infants. As we move from infancy to adulthood, our commitment to Christ requires renewal. Our commitment to Christ requires investment and effort.
Daily we must work at being Orthodox Christians. The devil places obstacles and temptations before us. Christ helps us through, over and around the obstacles. St. Paul tells God is faithful and provides the way of escape when we encounter temptations (I Cor. 10:13).
Excercising the choice for Christ at each juncture in our lives will lead us towards the kingdom of God. Today's Gospel is a lesson in faithfulness.
May we remain faithful to Christ, that we may be guided to the heavenly shores of God's eternal Kingdom.