Bulletin 212 - January 13/January 26, 2003
January 13/January 26, 2003
Sunday After Theophany
Abba Nilus said, "Prayer is a remedy against grief and depression."
Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naptali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naptali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned." From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is linear. Our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ develops over time. We come to know Christ as we grow in Christ. We come to know Christ as Christ would permit us to know Him.
We know that Jesus said: Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Mt.11:29)
The invitation from Jesus Christ promises rest for the soul. Jesus is described as gentle and lowly in heart. There is a certain peace, a certain comfort, a certain assurance in the invitation to come to Christ.
We know that elsewhere Jesus said: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Mt.11:24) When following Jesus Christ, there is no escaping the cross.
Jesus Christ died on the cross. Jesus Christ suffered on the cross. We cannot separate the triumphant Resurrected Christ from the Cross. The centrality of the Cross was declared by St.Paul who told the Corinthians: "For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus and Him crucified." (I Cor.2:2)
The present Gospel reminds us of St. John the Baptist ending up in prison. Others continue to go to prison for Jesus Christ. On January 29 each year the Church celebrates the "Chains of St.Peter" (Acts 3:12-19).
Peter's time in prison is reason to think of others who have gone to prison in witness for Christ. Peter's time in prison is reason to know God does not forget about those who are faithful to Him. Following Christ entails a certain amount of suffering. In suffering for Christ, there is always hope. There is always knowledge that Christ suffered for us.
Christians always have reason for hope. The Resurrected Christ is the basis for Christian hope. The darkness of death was replaced by the brightness of the Risen Christ.
All traumas of life, all uncertainty, all periods of darkness give way to the hope in Christ. Christ exceeds our ability to know all about Him. Christ exceeds our ability to fully comprehend everything there is to know about Him.
Divine Christ took on human flesh. Christ taught lasting acts of humility. We know that Jesus washed His disciples feet (Jn.13:12). Each person has an obligation as a Christian to bring his or her body, his or her life into conformity with the way of Jesus Christ.
Living the Christian way rests in Christ. Christ helps those who come to Him in faith. Christ strengthens and nourishes those who are hungry and thirsty for Him.
The Body and Blood of Christ unite us with Him. The Holy Sacraments give focus to our lives. The Holy Sacraments heal and give direction to our lives.
When we come to the end of our strength, when we run out of resources, Christ is present to help us. Christ is present to give us to show us the way from the depths of our lives to the heights of His heavenly kingdom.
John the Baptist was in prison. John the Baptist was beheaded. We can only marvel at the extent of John the Baptist's sacrifice for Christ. We can only devote time to thinking seriously about completeness of John's life in Christ.
Today the Holy Orthodox Church brings to a conclusion the celebration of Jesus Christ's baptism in the Jordan. The Holy Trinity was manifested at the baptism of Christ.
We experience the Divine in the Holy Sacraments. We do well to ponder the place of God in our lives each day. We do well to give thanks to God each day.
The blessings we receive from God exceed our appreciation for God. Everyday is an opportunity to thank God. Everyday is a day to move beyond asking God for help continuously. Prayer involves more than simply coming to God with requests.
The way we pray and the frequency with which we pray bears careful review. We want our prayers to be effective. We want our prayers to come to Christ with great certainty.
The present Gospel is a plea from Christ for repentance. Our hearts and minds will tell us the repentance needed for each of us. All of us can bear Reviewing our prayers and the time devoted to prayer.
Prayers can be simple. Prayers can be complex. Prayers draw us near to God.
May the present Gospel inspire us to repent, to seek first the kingdom of God. (Mt.6:33)