Father Rodney Torbic

February 12 / 25, 2018

Sunday of Orthodoxy

John 1:43-51

The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. (KJV)

Every person is invited to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. The decision to follow Christ is a voluntary decision. The decision to follow Christ requires reaffirmation every moment of every day.

The person following Christ is beset with temptations and attacks intended to inhibit and prevent the person from following Christ. Following Christ is an experience of joy and fulfillment. Spiritual warfare is part of the journey.

The believer can expect periods of testing and hardship. A person’s faith in Christ is strengthened in hardship. The Holy Apostle Paul told Timothy: “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (II Tim. 2:3)

Hardship creates an opportunity for a person to turn to God with increased faith. Hardships enable a person to draw upon faith in the heart. Hardships bring a person face to face with the extent of his or her faith in God.

Believers can use Great Lent to personally assess their faith in God. Great Lent is a definitive structure for improving the believer’s relationship with God. The choice to honor Great Lent rests with the believer.

Philip had to make a decision whether to follow Jesus. When decisions are made to follow Jesus, they preclude taking other paths leading to different destinations. We need to decide where we want to go and then make the decision.

If the goal is the Kingdom of God, then following the road pleasing to God makes sense. During a given day, a believer may receive many different invitations. Jesus offers a standing invitation every minute of every day.

Jesus’ invitation is direct: “Follow Me.! Following Jesus for an extended period of time can lead a person to places unimaginable at the outset of the journey.

How many of the initial apostles following Jesus knew in advance what they would face and how they would end their earthly lives? St. Nikolai describes the horrific deaths experienced by initial followers of Christ.

Joy exists in following Christ. Joy is experienced in Holy Baptism. Joy is experienced in Holy Confession and in Holy Communion. Joy is experienced in marriage and in ordination. Joy is experienced in the healing of Holy Unction.

Following Christ devotedly over an extended period of time is an enriching experience. A believer may be stationary or far-traveling, but always with Christ. Faithfulness to Christ is a constant expectation.

Philip is identified by name and by location. He is identified with references to Andrew and Peter. Philip is known specifically through the Gospel of St. John. His identity has remained through the centuries.

Bible scholars study extensively the Biblical texts to ensure the accuracy of translations. When people want to learn about God, they want to be certain about the sources used. Philip is known through his Biblical reference.

Through the centuries many believers have departed this life. They completed their earthly existence having lived faithfully to God. The Church today is linked to Philip and to known followers of Christ through the centuries.

The Church today is linked also to countless faithful individuals whose identities are known only to God. Faithful individuals are in large and small parishes, on the battlefields, and working quietly in hospitals and nursing homes..

Mothers and fathers raising their children in the faith and church school teachers taking time to come to church each Sunday have a part in the history of the Church. Their names are known to God.

Individuals today face the same choice Philip faced. Individuals always are faced with the choice of following Christ or saying “no” to Christ. Believers say “yes” to Christ at Holy Baptism.

Centuries of evidence make it easier for individuals to say “yes” to Christ. Unfortunately, between their experiences at baptism and the grave, many initial believers in Christ depart from Christ.

Worldly temptations and the abandonment of morality seem to be on the increase daily. Each day the news reports bizarre accounts of immorality, violence and uncanny behavior.

We know from the Holy Scriptures that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) The immediacy of Jesus’ invitation to follow Him is strong and compelling today as it was when proclaimed to Philip.

Every person benefits from examining their decisions. Each person benefits from constantly determining if they are drawing near to Christ or are distancing themselves from Him. Let us be as the faithful apostles and follow Christ.

February 12 / 25, 2018.
No. 16. The Sunday of Orthodoxy.
First Sunday of Great Lent.
St. Miletius, Archbishop of Antioch.

Fr. Rodney Torbic
Hidden Valley, Pennsylvania

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