Bulletin 192 - August 26/September 8, 2002
August 26, 2002/September 8, 2002
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
One day someone asked Abba Silvanus, 'How have you lived, father, in order to become so wise?' He replied, 'I have never let a thought that would bring the anger of God upon me enter my heart.'
Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, "Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!" So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.
When each person is Baptized and Chrismated, he or she becomes very special. The person is set apart from non-believers. The baptized person becomes an Orthodox Christian, a fully professed believer in the Holy Trinity the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The baptized person "puts on Christ." The baptized person renounces Satan and all his works and all his pride. The baptized person professes Jesus Christ as King and God.
The Baptized person proclaims belief in the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ, of His Death on the Cross, His Resurrection, Ascension and anticipated Second Coming. The Baptized person anticipates the resurrection of the dead. These beliefs are reaffirmed each time the Creed is said.
At the Chrismation, the person is annointed with the holy myrrh. The person is sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. The holy Apostle Paul told the Corinthians: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you."(I Cor.3:16)
Baptism and Chrismation change us forever. A new identity is realized. Sometimes it is years later when a person begins to build on the foundation established at Baptism and Chrismation. Many people begin Christian growth at Baptism and Chrismation and continue throughout life.
Growth in Christ varies with each person. Growth may be gradual or sudden. Subtle changes over a long period of time may take place that are not externally observable.
An external event or personal crisis may be cause for a turn to Christ. A person may return to his or her baptismal foundation when a need for God is keenly felt.
The present Gospel is helpful in understanding Christian growth. The present Gospel is a major lesson in forgiveness. Forgiveness enables growth to occur. Indeed, the Apostle Paul was in essence forgiven by God for his persecutions of Christians. St.Paul moved from being a persecutor to a foremost Apostle.
If St.Paul could be forgiven as a persecutor of Christians, there is hope for contemporary people choosing to follow Christ who sin daily but seek to renew the choices and commitments made at Baptism and Chrismation.
The Holy Sacraments enable contemporary believers to renew the joy experienced in the Baptismal fount, to experience once again the fullness, the wholeness, the newness of Christmation.
Sacramental participation is not a duty. It is not laborious to fast in preparation for Sacramental participation. Coming to Holy Confession and receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are opportunities to experience the glory of God in renewing each life. The old person becomes new in Christ.
The love of Christ is obvious in the present Gospel. Jesus said: "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."(Lk.15:10) Christ is willing to forgive sinners seventy times seven. He expects us to forgive each other for the trespasses we commit against each other.
It takes a Christian heart to forgive another person. Orthodox Christianity is the identity we receive at Baptism. Forgiveness is expected of believers. Forgiveness of others is an act of faith. Forgiveness of others is an expression of belief in Christ. Forgiveness of others is an action in conformity with the teachings of Christ.
We experience forgiveness in Holy Confession when we truly repent. We are renewed and strengthened in and by Christ in the Holy Sacrament of Communion.
Christ showed His ultimate love for each person when He was crucified. His love for each person is fully expressed in the present Gospel message.
We can know the joy and love of Christ through being forgiven by Him. We can know and actualize the joy and love of Christ by forgiving others.
The present Gospel in essence asks each believer to act upon the profession of faith made at Baptism.