Bulletin 191 - August 19/September 1, 2002
August 19 ,2002/September 1, 2002
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
He (Poemen) also said, 'David wrote to Joab, "Continue the battle and you will take the city and sack it." Now the city is the enemy.'
And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they did not cure him." Then Jesus answered and said, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me." And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting." Now while they were staying in Galiliee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up. And they were exceedingly sorrowful.
Every Sunday we hear the reading of the Holy Gospel, we hear the message of Jesus Christ. Indeed, Gospel readings are prescribed in the Church every time the Divine Liturgy is to be served throughout the year.
During the first three days of Holy Week all of the Gospels of St. Matthew, Mark and Luke and almost all the Gospel of St. John are to be read.
The Gospel readings open our hearts and minds to Jesus Christ. The Gospel readings cause us to consider and think about God. God's actions in the world and in our particular lives exceed our ability to fully comprehend. God is much bigger, much greater than we will ever be able to fully realize.
Though the greatness and majesty and actions of God are much more than we will ever fully appreciate, God is accessible to each of us. It is still important for us to think about God, about the greatness of God, and about the actions of God. Our understanding of God will help us to determine our value and purpose in life. We take our identities as Christians from God. We bear the treasured and honored name "Christian" because we were baptized into Christ. As we sing in the Church each year on Pascha, "As many have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ."
The words of the Holy Gospel take on more honor, more reverence, more meaning, more value than words contained in any written book. The words of the Holy Gospel contain power and understanding and value that nourish and build up the People of God.
If we listen carefully to the Holy Gospel, we will be transformed. We will change. We encounter Jesus Christ in the Holy Gospel. The Church has the Holy Gospel sitting on the Altar Table because of the importance and centrality the Gospel has for the lives of Christians and for the benefit of all willing to hear.
Today's Gospel reinforces faith, prayer and fasting as essential for believers. Our faith is tested daily. Our faith is to be renewed daily. (Ps.50/51:10, II Cor.4:16) We are to pray without ceasing according to St.Paul.(I Thess.5:17)
In life we are constantly faced with choices, which when made, either continue us on the road to God's eternal Kingdom or put us in peril. (Mt.25:32,46)
Because of the constant necessity of prayer prescribed by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Thessalonians, we all have our work cut out for us. None of us can take final rest in the amount of prayer we do. Until we have reached the state of continuous prayer, we fall short of the standard established by St. Paul.
Fasting is not a condition we undertake or enter for a few days per year. The Church calls us to fast approximately half the year. There are times and reasons, special periods that call us to fast more. Fasting is to be undertaken with seriousness for the effect it will have upon our souls. Fasting brings focus to our lives in relationship with God. Fasting helps us to realize God in our lives.
Each believer does well when he or she takes time to read the Holy Scriptures. The Bibles in our homes afford us the opportunity to learn directly about Jesus Christ. Reading our Bibles helps us to draw near to Christ and to be helped by Him.
Life at home is not separated from life at Church. Our Christian identity goes with us wherever we are. Each home is a small church. When we partake of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ, the precious Body and Blood enters our heart, our veins. Christ is in us.
The body is to be treated as the temple of the Holy Spirit it is. (I Cor.6:19) The body is to be cared for, not abused. The body is to be used for good and honorable purposes consistent with the teachings of the Church.
The love of Christ experienced in the Holy Sacraments, the love of Christ proclaimed in the Holy Gospel, is an everlasting love for believers. When we are faithful to Christ, nothing separates us from the love of Christ. (Romans 8:35-39)
Let us do everything we can to remain faithful to Christ that we may always experience the love and the joy He brings to our hearts and souls.