Bulletin 204 - November 18/December 1, 2002
November 18/December 1, 2002
Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost
Abba Gregory said, 'These three things God requires of all the baptized: right faith in the heart, truth in the tongue, temperance in the body.
Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, "What have I to do with You Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!" For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. Jesus asked him, saying, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion," because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them. Then the demons went out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned. When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed. Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned. Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you." And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
The Nativity Fast of the Holy Orthodox Church has begun. The Fast continues until the Divine Liturgy of the Feast of the Nativity. When we treat the Fast with the seriousness due, we participate in the Fast as best we can throughout each day, for the full period of time.
The Nativity Fast is to be greeted as an integral part of the Orthodox Christian life. The Nativity Fast is to be treated as an essential part of Orthodox Christian life. We benefit from the Fast to the degree we participate according to intent of the Fast. We become better Orthodox Christians when we fast and pray as Jesus would have us fast and pray. We are more effective in battling sin and in following Jesus Christ when we fast and pray.
The devil is always present and always at work. The devil is hard at work when we fast. Our minds must be employed for the glory of God. Our minds must be directed to the way of God if we are to succeed as Christians.
Pride has no place in fasting. Seeking recognition has no place in fasting and prayer. The Kingdom of God is the goal of the Christian. The salvation of the soul is the goal of the Christian.
One needs to read the Holy Scriptures to begin to see the greatness of God. One needs to ponder the wonders of the world to begin to see the greatness of God. One needs to look to the heart and mind with honesty and compare the view against the teachings of Christ to see the sinfulness present.
The Gospel message for today gives evidence of Jesus Christ casting out demons and restoring the rightness of mind to the demon-possessed man. The Nativity Fast is an opportunity for us to draw near to Jesus Christ and seek His help in the battling the demons of our lives.
We can only expect Jesus Christ to guard our hearts and minds, if we welcome Jesus Christ into our hearts and minds. We can only expect Jesus Christ to guard our hearts and minds if we devote our hearts and minds to Jesus Christ.
Discipline is necessary for our hearts and minds to be devoted to God. We cannot fill our hearts and minds with gossip, with images which are contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ and with thoughts that are in conflict with God and then expect Jesus to come to the rescue.
Every day we need to nourish our hearts and minds with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Every day we need to nourish our hearts and minds with the prayers known to God. Every day, we need to keep our bodies in check from gluttony and sloth and other acts contrary to Godly ways if we expect God to help us.
We must always do our best for God. We must always give our best to God. God wants a cheerful giver. The Holy Apostle Paul told the Corinthians: "So let everyone give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." (II Cor.9:7)
When we give our hearts, our minds and our bodies to God, let us do so willingly, freely, and joyfully. God gave us life. God gives us life daily. Let us give back to Him in thanksgiving in appreciation for all that He has given and continuously gives to us.
The present Gospel message is a lesson that we are in our right minds when we are with Jesus Christ. The present Gospel message is a lesson in the greatness of God. The present Gospel message is a lesson in the power of Jesus Christ over the demons of life.
Self-examination according to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ is a constant effort for the serious Orthodox Christian. We grow in Jesus Christ only when we are faithful to Jesus Christ.
We belong to God (I Cor.6:20). Our total bodies were dedicated to God at Holy Baptism. When we live to God, we are consistent with our baptismal commitment, we are honoring and fulfilling our baptismal commitment.
Love replaces fear when God is dominant in our hearts and minds. The Holy Apostle and Evangelist John states fear involves torment.(I Jn.4:18) Torment was cast aside by Christ as described in today's Gospel.
May the Nativity Fast help us to sense more fully and completely the love of Jesus Christ. May we come to know even better why Jesus Christ took on flesh and dwelt among humanity. May we come to know even better why He voluntarily ascended the Cross, suffered, died and was buried.
This Nativity Fast is an opportune time for us to live better as Orthodox Christians This is a time to contemplate the Nativity of Jesus Christ, to honor His supreme sacrifice on the Cross and remain steadfast in hope because of His Holy Resurrection.