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Re: Sermons

Postby maz » May 3rd, 2011, 8:48 am

amen [to previous post]
‎"I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live."
Ezekiel 33:11

Luke 9:54 When His disciples James and John* saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; 56 for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”]
*the sons of [children of] thunder

from Wesley's Notes
9:55 Ye know not what manner of spirit -
The spirit of Christianity is. It is not a spirit of wrath and vengeance, but of peace, and gentleness, and love.

Ephesians 5:8
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light

‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that"
- Martin Luther King, Jr
I don’t want to be known for the things I’m against, but for the things I am for... but....A person who loves flowers will hate weeds
http://gracewalkministries.blogspot.com ... trong.html
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Re: Sermons

Postby Theophilus » May 14th, 2011, 6:38 pm

Unbelieving Servants As "Whips of God" Against Believers
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

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        "Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant" (Jeremiah 25:9)

Is not this a difficult saying? Who can be fed by it? The pagan king, the idolatrous king, the Lord calls him His servant? If the servant of God is one who knows the True God and who adheres to the law of God, how then can one be a servant of God who does not know the True God and who does not adhere to the law of God? Truly, the true servant of God is he who knows the True God and who keeps the law of God but when he, to whom God has given the knowledge about Himself and His law, perverts knowing into unknowing and law into lawlessness, then God takes as His servant that ignorant one so as to punish the apostates. For, an apostate from god is worse than a pagan and an apostate from the law of God is lower than an idolater by birth.

Therefore, when Israel, as the ancient Church of God, alienated itself from God and the law of God, God chose Nebuchadnezzar for His servant to punish Israel, the Apostate.

Therefore, when the Christian peoples in Asia and Africa through numerous heresies alienated themselves from God, God took as His servant the Arabs to punish Christians in order to bring them to their senses.

And when the Christian peoples in the Balkans alienated themselves from God and God's law, God invited the Turks as His servants to punish the apostates that by punishment to bring them to their senses.

Whenever the faithful alienate themselves from God, God weaves a whip from the unbelievers to bring the believers to their senses. And, as the faithful consciously and willingly turn away from God, so the unbelievers unconsciously and unwillingly become servants of God; the whip of God.

But God takes the unbelievers only temporarily in His service against the believers. For the land of Nebuchadnezzar, the same Lord says, He will visit it for its lawlessness and "make it perpetual desolations" (Jeremiah 25:12), then will a servant against a servant be found? For God did not take the Babylonians for a servant because of their goodness and faith, rather because of Israel's wickedness and unbelief.

O Righteous Lord, help us by Your Most-High Spirit to always adhere to You, the One True God, and Your saving law.
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Re: Sermons

Postby Theophilus » August 6th, 2011, 8:18 pm

St Gregory Palamas’s Homily on the Transfiguration
St Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica (1296 – 1359)

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For an explanation of the present Feast and understanding of its truth, it is necessary for us to turn to the very start of today's reading from the Gospel: ”Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, and led them up onto a high mountain by themselves” (Mt 17:1).

First of all we must ask, from whence does the Evangelist Matthew begin to reckon with six days? From what sort of day be it? What does the preceding turn of speech indicate, where the Savior, in teaching His disciples, said to them: ”For the Son of Man shall come with his angels in the glory of His Father,” and further: ”Amen I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death, until they have seen the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Mt 16:27-28)? That is to say, it is the Light of His own forthcoming Transfiguration which He terms the Glory of His Father and of His Kingdom.

The Evangelist Luke points this out and reveals this more clearly saying: ”Now it came to pass about eight days after these words, that He took Peter and John and James, and went up the mountain to pray. And as He prayed, His countenance was altered, and His raiment became a radiant white” (Lk 9:28-29). But how can the two be reconciled, when one of them speaks definitively about the interval of time as being eight days between the sayings and the manifestation, whereas the other (says): ”after six days?”

There were eight on the mountain, but only six were visible. Three, Peter, James and John, had come up with Jesus, and they saw Moses and Elias standing there and conversing with Him, so altogether there were six of them. However, the Father and the Holy Spirit were invisibly with the Lord: the Father, with His Voice testifying that this was His Beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit shining forth with Him in the radiant cloud. Thus, the six are actually eight, and there is no contradiction regarding the eight. Similarly, there is no contradiction with the Evangelists when one says ”after six days,” and the other says ”eight days after these words.”

But these twofold sayings as it were present us a certain format set in mystery, and together with it that of those actually present upon the Mount. It stands to reason, and everyone rationally studying in accordance with Scripture knows that the Evangelists are in agreement one with another. Luke spoke of eight days without contradicting Matthew, who declared ”after six days.” There is not another day added on to represent the day on which these sayings were uttered, nor is the day on which the Lord was transfigured added on (which a rational person might reasonably imagine to be added to the days of Matthew).

The Evangelist Luke does not say ”after eight days” (like the Evangelist Matthew says ”after six days”), but rather ”it came to pass eight days after these words.” But where the Evangelists seem to contradict one another, they actually point out to us something great and mysterious. In actual fact, why did the one say ”after six days,” but the other, in ignoring the seventh day, have in mind the eighth day? It is because the great vision of the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is the mystery of the Eighth Day, i.e., of the future age, coming to be revealed after the passing away of the world created in six days.

About the power of the Divine Spirit, through Whom the Kingdom of God is to be revealed, the Lord predicted: ”There are some standing here who shall not taste death, until they have seen the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Mt 16:28). Everywhere and in every way the King will be present, and everywhere will be His Kingdom, since the advent of His Kingdom does not signify the passing over from one place to another, but rather the revelation of its power of the Divine Spirit. That is why it is said: ”come in power.” And this power is not manifest to simply ordinary people, but to those standing with the Lord, that is to say, those who have affirmed their faith in Him like Peter, James and John, and especially those who are free of our natural abasement. Therefore, and precisely because of this, God manifests Himself upon the Mount, on the one hand coming down from His heights, and on the other, raising us up from the depths of abasement, since the Transcendent One takes on mortal nature. Certainly, such a manifest appearance by far transcends the utmost limits of the mind's grasp, as effectualized by the power of the Divine Spirit.

Thus, the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is not something that comes to be and then vanishes, nor is it subject to the sensory faculties, although it was contemplated by corporeal eyes for a short while upon an inconsequential mountaintop. But the initiates of the Mystery, (the disciples) of the Lord at this time passed beyond mere flesh into spirit through a transformation of their senses, effectualized within them by the Spirit, and in such a way that they beheld what, and to what extent, the Divine Spirit had wrought blessedness in them to behold the Ineffable Light.

Those not grasping this point have conjectured that the chosen from among the Apostles beheld the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord by a sensual and creaturely faculty, and through this they attempt to reduce to a creaturely level (i.e., as something ”created”) not only this Light, the Kingdom and the Glory of God, but also the Power of the Divine Spirit, through Whom it is meet for Divine Mysteries to be revealed. In all likelihood, such persons have not heeded the words of the Apostle Paul: ”Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love Him. But to us God has revealed them through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor 2:9-10).

So, with the onset of the Eighth Day, the Lord, taking Peter, James and John, went up on the Mount to pray. He always prayed alone, withdrawing from everyone, even from the Apostles themselves, as for example when with five loaves and two fish He fed the five thousand men, besides women and children (Mt 14:19-23). Or, taking with Him those who excelled others, as at the approach of His Saving Passion, when He said to the other disciples: ”Sit here while I go over there and pray” (Mt 26:36). Then He took with Him Peter, James and John. But in our instance right here and now, having taken only these same three, the Lord led them up onto a high mountain by themselves and was transfigured before them, that is to say, before their very eyes.

”What does it mean to say: He was transfigured?” asks the Golden-Mouthed Theologian (Chrysostomos). He answers this by saying: ”It revealed something of His Divinity to them, as much and insofar as they were able to apprehend it, and it showed the indwelling of God within Him.” The Evangelist Luke says: ”And as He prayed, His countenance was altered” (Lk 9:29); and from the Evangelist Matthew we read: ”And His face shone as the sun” (Mt 17:2). But the Evangelist said this, not in the context that this Light be thought of as subsistent for the senses (let us put aside the blindness of mind of those who can conceive of nothing higher than what is known through the senses). Rather, it is to show that Christ God, for those living and contemplating by the Spirit, is the same as the sun is for those living in the flesh and contemplating by the senses. Therefore, some other Light for the knowing the Divinity is not necessary for those who are enriched by Divine gifts.

That same Inscrutable Light shone and was mysteriously manifest to the Apostles and the foremost of the Prophets at that moment, when (the Lord) was praying. This shows that what brought forth this blessed sight was prayer, and that the radiance occured and was manifest by uniting the mind with God, and that it is granted to all who, with constant exercise in efforts of virtue and prayer, strive with their mind towards God. True beauty, essentially, can be contemplated only with a purified mind. To gaze upon its luminance assumes a sort of participation in it, as though some bright ray etches itself upon the face.

Even the face of Moses was illumined by his association with God. Do you not know that Moses was transfigured when he went up the mountain, and there beheld the Glory of God? But he (Moses) did not effect this, but rather he underwent a transfiguration. However, our Lord Jesus Christ possessed that Light Himself. In this regard, actually, He did not need prayer for His flesh to radiate with the Divine Light; it was but to show from whence that Light descends upon the saints of God, and how to contemplate it. For it is written that even the saints ”will shine forth like the sun” (Mt 13:43), which is to say, entirely permeated by Divine Light as they gaze upon Christ, divinely and inexpressibly shining forth His Radiance, issuing from His Divine Nature. On Mount Tabor it was manifest also in His Flesh, by reason of the Hypostatic Union (i.e., the union of the two perfect natures, divine and human, within the divine Person [Hypostasis] of Christ, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity). The Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon defined this Hypostatic union of Christ's two natures, divine and human, as ”without mingling, without change, without division, without separation.”

We believe that at the Transfiguration He manifested not some other sort of light, but only that which was concealed beneath His fleshly exterior. This Light was the Light of the Divine Nature, and as such, it was Uncreated and Divine. So also, in the teachings of the Fathers, Jesus Christ was transfigured on the Mount, not taking upon Himself something new nor being changed into something new, nor something which formerly He did not possess. Rather, it was to show His disciples that which He already was, opening their eyes and bringing them from blindness to sight. For do you not see that eyes that can perceive natural things would be blind to this Light?

Thus, this Light is not a light of the senses, and those contemplating it do not simply see with sensual eyes, but rather they are changed by the power of the Divine Spirit. They were transformed, and only in this way did they see the transformation taking place amidst the very assumption of our perishability, with the deification through union with the Word of God in place of this.

So also she who miraculously conceived and gave birth recognized that the One born of her is God Incarnate. So it was also for Simeon, who only received this Infant into his arms, and the aged Anna, coming out [from the Jerusalem Temple] for the Meeting, since the Divine Power illumined, as through a glass windowpane, giving light for those having pure eyes of heart.

And why did the Lord, before the beginning of the Transfiguration, choose the foremost of the Apostles and lead them up onto the Mount with Him? Certainly, it was to show them something great and mysterious. What is particularly great or mysterious in showing a sensory light, which not only the foremost, but all the other Apostles already abundantly possessed? Why would they need a transforming of their eyes by the power of the Holy Spirit for a contemplation of this Light, if it were merely sensory and created? How could the Glory and the Kingdom of the Father and the Holy Spirit project forth in some sort of sensory light? Indeed, in what sort of Glory and Kingdom would Christ the Lord come at the end of the ages, when there would not be necessary anything in the air, nor in expanse, nor anything similar, but when, in the words of the Apostle, ”God will be all in all” (1 Cor 15: 28)? That is to say, will He alter everything for all? If so, then it follows that light is included.

Hence it is clear that the Light of Tabor was a Divine Light. And the Evangelist John, inspired by Divine Revelation, says clearly that the future eternal and enduring city ”has no need of the sun or moon to shine upon it. For the Glory of God lights it up, and the Lamb will be its lamp” (Rev 21:23). Is it not clear, that he points out here that this [Lamb] is Jesus, Who is divinely transfigured now upon Tabor, and the flesh of Whom shines, is the lamp manifesting the Glory of divinity for those ascending the mountain with Him?

John the Theologian also says about the inhabitants of this city: ”they will not need light from lamps, nor the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shed light upon them, and night shall be no more” (Rev 22:5). But how, we might ask, is there this other light, in which ”there is no change, nor shadow of alteration” (Jas 1:17)? What light is there that is constant and unsetting, unless it be the Light of God? Moreover, could Moses and Elias (and particularly the former, who clearly was present only in spirit, and not in flesh [Elias having ascended bodily to Heaven on the fiery chariot]) be shining with any sort of sensory light, and be seen and known? Especially since it was written of them: ”they appeared in glory, and spoke of his death, which he was about to fulfill at Jerusalem” (Lk 9:30-31). And how otherwise could the Apostles recognize those whom they had never seen before, unless through the mysterious power of the Divine Light, opening their mental eyes?

But let us not tire our attention with the furthermost interpretations of the words of the Gospel. We shall believe thus, as those same ones have taught us, who themselves were enlightened by the Lord Himself, insofar as they alone know this well: the Mysteries of God, in the words of a prophet, are known to God alone and His perpetual proximity. Let us, considering the Mystery of the Transfiguration of the Lord in accord with their teaching, strive to be illumined by this Light ourselves and encourage in ourselves love and striving towards the Unfading Glory and Beauty, purifying our spiritual eyes of worldly thoughts and refraining from perishable and quickly passing delights and beauty which darken the garb of the soul and lead to the fire of Gehenna and everlasting darkness. Let us be freed from these by the illumination and knowledge of the incorporeal and ever-existing Light of our Savior transfigured on Tabor, in His Glory, and of His Father from all eternity, and His Life-Creating Spirit, Whom are One Radiance, One Godhead, and Glory, and Kingdom, and Power now and ever and unto ages of ages.

Amen.
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Re: Sermons

Postby Theophilus » August 29th, 2011, 6:36 pm

The Feast of the Beheading of St John, the Glorious Prophet , Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord
by St Justin Popovich


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Today is a little "Good Friday," a second "Good Friday." For today the greatest man among those born of women, John, the Holy Forerunner and Baptiser of the Lord, is murdered. On Good Friday, people murdered God, crucified God. On today’s holy great feast, people murdered the greatest of all men. It is not I who chose to use the expression “the greatest.” What are my praises of the great and glorious Forerunner of the Lord, whom the Lord praised more than anyone among men, more than any of the apostles, the Angels, the Prophets, the Righteous Ones, the Sages? For the Lord declared of him: “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist…” (Мatthew 11: 11). In all Creation, there exists no greater praise.

This is why today is a little Good Friday. Consider: senseless people murder the greatest of the righteous. Is he getting in their way? Yes, he gets between the perverse King Herod and the dissolute Herodias. God’s Truth, God’s immutable Truth gets in the way of the lawless, gets in the way of poor sinners, gets in the way of everyone stupefied by the various passions. Consider: do not Christ’s opponents even today still shout “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!?” Even today, do not those who oppose Christ still demand the head of Jesus of Nazareth? They call for His head, not to mention calling for the head of John the Baptist.

What is this? Could it be that this world has become a madhouse? People do not want God, they do not want the greatest Righteous One in the whole world. Whom do you want? Whom would you prefer? Whom would you set in Christ’s stead? With whom would you replace St. John the Baptist? With yourselves?! О moth! О, tiny mortal insects! Yes, when people become maddened by pride, when out of egotistical pride they lose their reason, they have no need of God, they have no need of God’s Truth. They declare themselves to be gods. They present their petty, shallow, false likeness of truth as the great and salvific Truth. They declare their shallow, earthly, perishable images of truth to be the greatest of truths: they posit that we do not need Christ’s Truth, that we do not want God’s Truth. Yes, people blind in intellect and spirit do not see, and do not want to see, that man, true man, cannot manage without God. Why? Because this world is full of Herods, full of Pharisees. Herods demand the head of John the Baptist, Herods demand the heads of all of the righteous of the world, and Pharisees, the lying scribes, lying sophists of this world, demand the death of Christ, the Incarnate God.

Yes, today’s Feast is a second Good Friday. Why? Because there is no greater transgression than that committed on Good Friday and that committed now, when Herod destroys the greatest among those born of women. Why did the Savior exalt the great Saint John the Baptist, as He did no one else? Why? Because, brethren, the Holy Forerunner encompassed within himself, within his person, all of the virtues of Heaven, all of the virtues in all of the Prophets, all of the Apostles, all of the Martyrs, all of the Angels of Heaven, all of the Confessors. Regard: today we glorify the destruction, the beheading of the first Apostle among the Holy Apostles, for the Forerunner of the Lord was the first sent by God to see and to herald to the world the Savior of the world. Long before the Apostle Peter, before the Apostle Nathaniel, before anyone else, he bore witness to and announced God to the world, God Incarnate in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first Apostle to see the Holy Spirit descending from Heaven onto the Lord Jesus, when he baptized Him in the Jordan, announces Him to be the Son of God, the Savior of the world. [John] is also the first Evangelist among the Evangelists. He first announced to the world, and pointed out, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bearer of all Good News for mankind.

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Good News of Heaven and earth, God’s Gospel for men in this world. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” In those few words, the Holy Forerunner expressed the fullness of the Gospels.

Looking toward the East, he said to the entire human race, from Adam to our days, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” The Kingdom of Heaven? Here it is: the Lord Jesus [come] from Heaven. In Him is the Kingdom of Heaven. Looking toward the West, and seeing people drowning in sins and death, he called to them as well, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” He looked to the North and to the South [and saw] – the same people, all slaves to sin, slaves to death, slaves to the devil. To all he announced the glorious, holy and salvific Gospel, “People, repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” He was such an Evangelist, someone possessed of great power!

When the Lord set out to preach His Gospel, to preach with power, He took those words as the beginning and end of His Gospel. From that moment, Jesus began to preach and to declare, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17). This is why the Holy Forerunner is the first Evangelist among Christ’s Evangelists.

Today, people have come into contact with an Angel in the flesh, an earthly Angel, and a Heavenly person, St. John the Baptist. It was not only the Old Testament prophet who called the Forerunner the Angel of the Lord, but the Lord Himself said this was an Angel sent to go before Him to prepare the way for Him. (Isaiah 40: 3; Matthew 11: 10). Not only a prophet, said the Lord regarding the Baptist, but greater than a prophet – the Angel of the Lord. And people do not want him, and people drive him from this world! Thus, the Holy Forerunner is truly the first Angel in the flesh, the first among those who became the multitude of Angels in the flesh, lamps bringing God’s Light, who lived on earth like Angels of Heaven, and were Angels on earth, and in Heaven remained God’s people, holy people.

Today we glorify the great feast of the first among the Prophets of the New Testament. He announced to men that the Lord Jesus Christ had appeared to the world not only as the Savior, but as the Enlightener and as the Judge of the world. In his hands were both the hatchet and the spade: on the day of the Dread Judgement, the Lord would clean off the earth’s threshing-floor, and would separate the wheat from the chaff, the righteous from the sinners. All of this the great and glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptizer of the Lord had foreseen. Therefore, today we also praise him as the holy New Testament Prophet, killed by the impious, criminal, King Herod.

The Holy Forerunner also received the Lord’s witness to the fact that he was the greatest of those born of woman, because he had become the first of all of the Holy Martyrs of the New Testament. See how he suffered for God’s truth in this world! He suffered joyously! In today’s principal hymn and prayer to him it is said that he went to his death rejoicing, and that he suffered rejoicing. Thus, he became the first example and inspiration to all of the Holy Martyrs of the New Testament, beginning with St. Stephen the Protomartyr and through today. All of the Holy Martyrs go to their death rejoicing in the Lord Jesus Christ, go to their deaths, knowing that death cannot hold them in its bonds, knowing that death is merely a gate, an open gate through which their holy souls enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. How else, brothers and sisters, can we explain the joy of Holy Great Martyr George’s joy while having his body broken: his bones were being broken on the wheel, and he shouted with joy in the Lord, for he could see Him, could see the Angels of God, standing around Him, and the Angels stopping the wheel. See what joy [he experienced] during those awful tortures! And the Holy Great Martyr stands up whole and unharmed before the godless Emperor Diocletian. The first one to reveal that holy joy of martyrdom had been St. John, the Holy Forerunner and Baptizer of the Lord.

Today we also specifically glorify the first Evangelist and Christian Confessor, the first to Confess God in this New Testament world. Consider how fearlessly, openly and directly he confessed God's Truth: O King, it is not right for you to have your brother’s wife, your living brother’s wife. You have taken your brother’s wife away from him. All of the laws of Heaven and earth are against you, and I, I recite these laws of Heaven and earth to you, for it was to do so that I was sent. O King, you cannot have your brother’s wife. Fearless and uncowable, like an immortal lion, like one of the Cherubim in the flesh, he was the first Confessor of Christ’s Faith, and he has been followed by multitudes of faces – the world’s glorious Confessors of Christ’s Faith, Confessors who bear witness and confess before the entire world, before East and West, before North and South, that the Lord Christ is the Sole True God in Heaven and on earth. And this they, countless multitudes of fearless and uncowable all-conquerors, beginning with the Holy Forerunner and continuing through the present day, do despite all of the persecution, despite all of the lies of those who strive to rise up against Christ in this world, despite all the heresies and all of the persecutors of Christ. They bear witness to, and announce to all the world, this Truth: Christ is before all and above all! He is the Sole True God. You, false gods, masks, vile and repulsive masks of false gods, begone! True God is essential to the human soul in this earthly realm. Who are you self-proclaimed ones? Who? In the graves, in thousands of nets you cast yourselves, and you want to supplant the Lord Christ? How lowly, how impoverished you are! Alas, all of Hell laughs at nothing more than it laughs at you. The demons laugh out loud at you, and you do not hear them; yet we Christians – we hear them.

Yes, the Holy Baptist, was the first Christian Confessor, and there streamed after him, following as after a helmsman, thousands and thousands of glorious Confessors of Christ in this world.

My brethren, a great Mystery is taking place through this Feast, a Mystery like unto threads stretching through and making up a piece of cloth. In today’s Gospel reading, you heard the disciples announce to the Savior that the Forerunner has been beheaded. The mouth that announced You to the world has fallen silent, O Lord! What now? Who are we in comparison to Your great Baptist? The Savior is silent. Then something unusual happens. He calls His disciples together, and with them, He goes out to a place in the desert. What is this? Can it be that the Lord is running away, can it be that he is fleeing from Herod? Consider: He, the All-merciful Miracle Worker, looks upon the unfortunate widowed mother, and resurrects her son, someone unknown to anyone but the mother and Himself. Yet here, Lord, Your Forerunner lies dead, destroyed. Why don’t You resurrect him? You resurrected the daughter of Jairus, head of the synagogue. Yet here is the one whom You called the greatest among those born of women, beheaded by the malefactor- king. Lord, guard Your Truth, defend Your first Apostle, Your first Martyr, Your first Evangelist, Your first Angel in the flesh, Your first Prophet, Your first Confessor. Resurrect him! Yet the Savior remains silent, and retreats to a desert place to pray to God. Why, O Lord?

Because the Holy Forerunner must also become the first Apostle to Hades, to death’s kingdom - to which had departed the souls of all people from Adam to the time of the coming of the Savior into this world. In that kingdom of death called Hades, i.e. the impenetrable place, where no one can see anything, in that kingdom was to be found everyone: the righteous and the sinners, all of the people of the Old Testament, up to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sin had brought death into the earthly realm, into the world of men, and the kingdom of death became the sole abode for human souls in this world. The Forerunner had to become the Forerunner in Hades as well, in death’s kingdom, so that he might preach there as well to the souls of all human beings: Lo, the One whom you have been awaiting, Whom all you Righteous Ones: Moses, Abraham, David, all of the Holy Prophets and Righteous Ones, have been thirsting to see, has come to earth. Lo, He has come to earth as a man, as the Savior, and he is working such signs and wonders as you, all of you taken together, have never seen. His glance heals people of all diseases, His word resurrects everyone from death, His voice drives demons out of those possessed. Truly the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ has come to earth. And lo, I go before Him to preach to you as well this best of news: He will come down here to us as well. In a little while He will come down, and you will see Him. You will be able to see what kind of human soul He has, One filled with God and shining with infinite light.

The Holy Forerunner appeared in death’s kingdom as the first Evangelist, in order to preach the Good News of Christ to all of the souls in the kingdom of death. He appeared as well to all of them as the first Martyr, to show that people will joyously go to their deaths for True God, the Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, until death is defeated and destroyed. They will not fear death, for they will be more powerful than death. Through his bodily Resurrection, the Lord grants the body victory over death. The glorious Forerunner also entered into the kingdom of death as the Forerunner of all of the true Confessors of Christ in the world, all of the true Prophets in the world, to announce to all of the souls in the kingdom of death: Lo, death is defeated, the demons destroyed, the kingdom of death will be destroyed when, in a little while, the Lord appears here, and you will be led out of this horror and into heavenly joy, into the Kingdom On High.

This was why the Lord remained silent, why he did not resurrect the greatest man among those born of women, for that man was to complete his apostolic, evangelistic, martyric, confessor’s spiritual struggle in Hades, in the kingdom of death.

And so, today for us Christians is like unto Good Friday. Just as, for the Savior, after Good Friday, the Resurrection approaches, so the Forerunner joyously dies and enters into death, for he sees the victory over death and knows that the Lord has prepared for him as well eternal life and resurrection from the dead on the day of the Great Judgment.

When the Lord was crucified, He descended into the nether regions, into Hades, into the kingdom of death, with His human Soul. His Body lay in the tomb, but His Soul, the fullness of his Divinity, descended into death’s kingdom. And how astonished must have been all of the human souls in Hades, on seeing God in a human soul, shining with ineffable light, light impossible for a human being to imagine. Who would not come to believe in Him? Who? When He appears in the kingdom of death so filled with Eternal Truth, Eternal Life, Eternal Justice. He appears as conqueror over death. And as death’s kingdom could not hold God, Who was in Jesus’ soul, could not hold God in its hands, it fell apart because of Christ’s Divinity, because of His Most-holy Soul, in which was the fullness of God. And the Lord led out of death’s kingdom all those who had earlier come to believe the Forerunner, and those who had come to believe in Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, to believe that in truth, He was True God in Heaven and on earth.

The Lord led them out, and led them into the Kingdom of Heaven. This is why the Lord Jesus Christ did not resurrect St. John the Forerunner and Baptizer of Jesus.

Today, in glorifying that great and glorious first Apostle, first Martyr, first Evangelist, Precursor to all true Christians of all time, we bow down before his joyous suffering for Christ’s Truth and His Holy Gospel, before him as Apostle and Martyr. Consider, already for 2,000 years, the One who allowed the lawless king to behead him, has been working countless miracles in the earthly realm, living in it alongside the Lord Jesus Christ. For 2000 years, he has been ceaselessly working miracles for all those who turn to him in prayer.

Brothers and sisters, whenever you are in great sorrow, turn to that first Apostle of Christ, and he will help you with all of your burdens. And should some kind of misfortune happen, turn to that first Evangelist. No matter what bitterness might fill your soul, he will sweeten it with Christ’s grace, which he will mystically send down to your tortured soul from the World on High. And when you find yourself in temptations and horrors of this earthly life, run to him, to the Holy Confessor; tell him what is in your heart, pour out your sorrows and spiritual needs and rest assured that in a mystical, divine manner, he will come down into your soul and will save you, and will deliver you from all temptations and woes. But should need to suffer for the Lord Jesus Christ in this world: should others attack you on all sides, should atheists and those who oppose Christ want to swallow you up, to destroy you for belonging to Christ, want to silence your voice, to stop it from speaking of Christ, then remember that first Martyr, and call out to him: O Holy Martyr, first Martyr of Christ in the Gospels, hurry to my aid! Grant that may I die for the Lord Jesus Christ, leave my body like temporary clothing, and by the path of the Holy Martyrs move to Christ’s Kingdom! He will enteat the Lord that you might also join the host of Luminaries. Thus, today’s little Great Friday becomes for us the great joy of the Resurrection. Friday is small, but Sunday, the Resurrection, is great – resurrection for all Christians of all time. And for us today: for me, for you, for every Christian living today, today’s Great Friday is at the same time the Resurrection, for today we glorify the St. John the Baptist who is eternally alive in the Heavens; [we glorify] his victory over the death appointed to him by Herod, his soaring up into the Heavenly Realm, to be the first after the Mother of God, to stand beside the Lord Jesus Christ. You have seen the icon known as the “Deisis” i.e. “Prayer” Icon. In it, the Lord sits on the Throne of Glory, as King of Heaven. On His right is the Most-holy Mother of God, and on His left, the Holy Forerunner. They pray to Him for the human race.

Оh, may his holy prayers be raised up today and tomorrow, and always, and may they be raised up for us Christians, and for all the people on this earth, that the Lord lead all to repentance, that He have mercy upon all, that He save all, that all people, brought [to Him] by the glorious Forerunner, might forever glorify the One True God in Heaven and on earth, the Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom is due all honor and glory, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.

Amen.
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Re: Sermons

Postby Pondero » November 14th, 2013, 10:35 pm

On the 27tlh October 2013, the bishop of Cairns said,regarding sin, that there were "different shades of grey", which is true, and can be seen if you read Dante's Inferno. And all the sins in the Inferno are mortal and not venial, and all the people who committed them, and died unrepentant are in Hell.
Even in Dante's Inferno, the people had varying degrees of permanent suffering, some worse than others.So, it is in life.
Our parish priest spoke this morning about the Kingdom of Heaven, which he said is now on earth and not in the future as the Pharisees would have it.

These are points for me to reflect on.
According to one study, the average adult has a shorter attention span (eight seconds) than a goldfish (nine seconds).
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Re: Sermons

Postby GregB » November 16th, 2013, 11:27 am

Pondero wrote:Our parish priest spoke this morning about the Kingdom of Heaven, which he said is now on earth and not in the future as the Pharisees would have it.

"The Kingdom of heaven" is another way of saying "the Kingdom of God", often used to avoid using the word 'God' directly (St. Matthew employs it a lot in this sense.) In Luke 17:20, 21, it says:
Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, "The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There it is!' For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you."

It's generally held (by Catholic interpreters too) that Jesus meant that the Kingdom of God was now present on earth in his own person, among people, and his gospel would be transmitted through his teachings, the preaching of the disciples and the subsequent work of the church. The Kingdom would not be established in its fullness, though, until the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the age and, to use Christ's own phrase, the restoration of all things.
"The wiles of dissembling fate afford us the illusion of freedom, yet in the end always lead us into the same trap."
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Re: Sermons

Postby Pondero » November 18th, 2013, 11:26 am

I still prefer the word Heaven as in the Kingdom of Heaven, Greg. It is more of an emotional thing than a theological one.
There is a now retired priest who used to call us, the congregation, "Children of God" and it used to annoy me to be called thus. Again, I can't explain it.
According to one study, the average adult has a shorter attention span (eight seconds) than a goldfish (nine seconds).
This is not surprising in today's wired , or wified world.
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