Father Rodney Torbic

January 8 / 21, 2018

The Sunday after Theophany

Matthew 4:12-17

Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (KJV)

Zacchaeus Sunday

Luke 19:1-10

And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (KJV)

Specific Gospel readings exist for the Sunday before and the Sunday after Theophany just as they exist for the Sunday before and after the Feast of the Nativity of Christ.

The existence of the specific Gospels provides a certainty of themes that will exist in all churches. In the Gospels before and after Theophany, the importance of the feast is emphasized with the extended attention.

The Church wants believers to recognize great significance is attached to the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Believers are not to simply to pass through the period of Theophany without giving due attention.

Believers are expected to live the life of the Church every day of the year. The feasts and the fasts, the saints and the martyrs and all events incorporated into the Church calendar have a place in the daily lives of believers.

Believers do well by acknowledging in their daily lives each day the Calendar of the Church. Time has a way of being transcended. Immediacy can be experienced.

The current Gospel is read on the Sunday following the celebration of the Feast. The believer has the festal celebration as a point of reference when considering the current Gospel.

St. John the Baptist was in prison and his imprisonment was known to Jesus. The prisons at the time were not the modern and large facilities currently in use in the United States.

That a person such as St. John could be imprisoned in current times is not unheard of. Currently religious figures can find themselves imprisoned in certain cultures due to their strong beliefs running counter to the prevailing views.

That St. John spent a period of time in prison has value when considering ministry to contemporary prisoners and their families. Believers do well to think about the period of time St. John spent in prison and his eventual beheading.

Believers do well to think about the eventual arrest and being taken into custody of Jesus. St. John was an advocate of repentance. Current prisoners certainly can benefit from St. John’s message of repentance,

Jesus came to save sinners. He voluntarily experienced arrest, trial and crucifixion in His authentic love for each person. Believers benefit from considering the loftiness of Jesus’ baptism….the opening of the heavens. (Mt. 3:16)

In addition to being the Sunday after Theophany, this is Zacchaeus Sunday. The Church wants believers to continue to learn about Jesus and the time He spent with Zacchaeus.

This Gospel account is read each year as the Church prepares for the arrival of Great Lent. Believers are at a point in time when it is necessary to more earnestly redirect their thoughts toward the Lord Jesus Christ.

Steps are to be taken to repent of sins. Jesus took the initiative to take on human flesh. Jesus took the initiative to enter and pass through Jericho. Believers have a responsibility to take the initiative for the salvation of their souls.

Christ makes Himself available to each person. Each person needs to be honest enough to admit personal sin and repent of that sin. Each person needs to seek the mercy and forgiveness of God and appeal for strength and guidance to live in ways pleasing to God.

Individuals benefit from making full use of each day of the year. Great value exists in structuring daily life according to the Church calendar. This is a time in the Church year when individuals do well to consider personal goals and actions.

It is time to make wise investments in the Kingdom of God. The arrival of Zacchaeus Sunday is the initial call to prepare for Great Lent. The time is at hand for each believer to think more seriously about his or her soul.

Believers may not intentionally sin but sin occurs and believers are responsible for their sins. Serious believers will take steps to address sins and attempt to live regularly in ways pleasing to God.

January 8 / 21, 2018.
No. 11. The Sunday after Theophany.
Zacchaeus Sunday.

Fr. Rodney Torbic
Hidden Valley, Pennsylvania

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