Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, April 2, 2017

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 Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church
THE IMPORTANCE OF FASTING AND ITS OBSERVANCE TODAY

WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN 

Sunday, April 2, 2017
Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great

FIFTH SUNDAY OF GREAT LENT: SAINT MARY OF EGYPT; THE VENERABLE FATHERS OF THE MONASTERY OF SAINT SABBAS

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE EIGHT:
Thou didst descend from on high, O Merciful One! Thou didst accept the three-day burial to free us from our sufferings! O Lord, our Life and Resurrection: Glory to Thee!

TROPARION TO SAINT MARY OF EGYPT - TONE EIGHT: The image of God was truly preserved in you, O mother, for you took up the Cross and followed Christ.  By so doing you taught us to disregard the flesh, for it passes away; but to care instead for the soul, since it is immortal.  Therefore your spirit, O holy mother Mary, rejoices with the angels.

TROPARION TO THE VENERABLE FATHERS OF THE MONASTERY OF SAINT SABBAS – TONE FOUR:
As chosen and holy lambs of the Savior, you were gathered together in wise Sabbas’ flock from many lands.  You were put to death by the cruelty of the barbarians and you departed joyfully to the heavenly fold.  As righteous athletes, you now pray for our souls.

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE EIGHT:
By rising from the tomb Thou didst raise the dead and resurrected Adam.  Eve exults in Thy Resurrection, and the world celebrates Thy rising from the dead, O greatly Merciful One!

KONTAKION TO SAINT MARY OF EGYPT - TONE THREE: Once you were filled with every impurity, but today you have become a bride of Christ through repentance.  Desiring the angelic life, you defeated the demons with the weapon of the Cross!  Therefore, O most glorious Mary, you were made a bride of the Kingdom!

KONTAKION TO THE VENERABLE FATHERS OF THE MONASTERY OF SAINT SABBAS – TONE FOUR:
You openly disdained the pleasure of earthly and corruptible things, choosing instead a life in the desert.  You despised the beautiful things of this world together with the food that passes away.  Therefore, all-blessed ones, you were counted worthy of the Kingdom of heaven, where you rejoice with the choirs of martyrs and ascetics.  As we honor your memory, we earnestly cry out to you: ‘Deliver us, O Fathers, from tribulations!’

KONTAKION OF THE FIVE SUNDAYS OF GREAT LENT:
To thee, the Champion Leader, do I offer thanks of victory, O Theotokos, thou who hast delivered me from terror; but as thou that hast that power invincible, O Theotokos, thou alone can set me free: from all forms of danger free me and deliver me, that I may cry unto thee: ‘Rejoice, O Bride without Bridegroom!’

HYMN TO THE THEOTOKOS (INSTEAD OF “IT IS TRULY MEET”):  All of creation rejoices in you, O full of grace; the assembly of angels and the race of men.  O sanctified temple and spiritual paradise, the glory of virgins, from whom God was incarnate and became a Child, our God before the ages.  He made your body into a throne, and your womb He made more spacious than the heavens.  All of creation rejoices in you, O full of grace.  Glory to you!

EPISTLE READINGS

PROKIMENON IN THE 8TH TONE:
Pray and make your vows before the Lord our God. 

FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT: HEBREWS 9: 11-14
Brethren, Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.  Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

SAINT MARY OF EGYPT: GALATIANS 3: 23-29
Brethren, before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.  Therefore, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

THE ALLELUIA VERSES:
Come let us rejoice in the Lord!  Let us make a joyful noise to God our Savior!  Let us come before His face with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with psalms!

GOSPEL READINGS

FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT: MARK 10: 32-45
At that time, they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them, and they were amazed.  And as they followed they were afraid.  Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him.  And the third day He will rise again.”  Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”  And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other one on Your left, in Your glory.”  But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask.  Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  They said to Him, “We are able.”  So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”  And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John.  But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great one’s exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

SAINT MARY OF EGYPT: LUKE 7: 36-50
At that time, one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him.  And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat.  And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.  Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”  And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”  So he said, “Teacher, say it.”  “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors.  One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both.  Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”  And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.”  Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?  I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head.  You gave me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in.  You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.  Therefore, I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.  But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”  Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”  Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you.  Go in peace.”

FROM THE PROLOGUE:
MARCH 20/APRIL 2, BY SAINT NIKOLAI VELIMIROVIC:

The Venerable Martyr John and those with him from the Monastery of Saint Sava the Sanctified near Jerusalem

This glorious monastery, which still exists today, was visited by St. Sava of Serbia and endowed by several Serbian rulers. Many times, it was attacked, pillaged and laid waste by ruthless Arabs. But, by the providence of God, it was always restored and is preserved to this day. During the reign of Constantine and Irene, it was attacked and pillaged by the Arabs. The monks did not want to flee, but taking counsel with their abbot Thomas they said: “We have fled from the world into this wilderness for the sake of our love for Christ, and it would be shameful if we fled from the wilderness out of fear of men. If we are slain here, we will be slain because of our love for Christ, for Whose sake we came here to live.” Having decided this, they awaited the armed Arabs, unarmed like lambs before wolves. The Arabs slew some of the monks with arrows and some they sealed off in the cave of St. Sava. Then the Arabs lit a fire at the entrance of the cave, and the monks were suffocated by the smoke. Thus, many of them died as martyrs for the sake of Christ and went to the Kingdom of Him Whom they loved and for Whose love they perished. They suffered honorably before Pascha in 796, during the time of Constantine and Irene, and the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Elias. A just punishment quickly befell the savage marauders. Returning to their tents, they began to quarrel among themselves and, fighting with one another, slew one another.

The Holy Martyr Photina
This was the Samaritan woman who had the rare fortune to converse with the Lord Christ Himself at the Well of Jacob, near Sychar (John 4:4–31). Believing in the Lord, Photina afterward went to preach His Gospel with her two sons Victor and Josiah, and with her five sisters, Anatolia, Phota, Photida, Parasceva and Cyriaca. They went to Carthage in Africa. There they were arrested, taken to Rome and thrown into prison during the reign of Emperor Nero. By God’s providence, Domnina, the daughter of Nero, came into contact with St. Photina, who converted her to the Christian Faith. After imprisonment they all suffered for the sake of Christ. Photina, who was first enlightened with the light of truth at the well of Sychar, was now thrown into a well where she died and entered the Eternal Kingdom of Christ.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Photina, the Samaritan Woman

The Samaritan Woman met Christ at the well,
And was enlightened with the light of Christ Himself.

Under Nero she ended her life in another well,
And she gave her spirit to Christ God, her Lord.

Her glorious sons were Victor and Josiah:
The saintly mother enlightened both of them with holiness.

Five sisters suffered for the name of Christ,
And with her were translated to heaven, to receive their reward.

O penitent Photina, wonderful sufferer,
How your countenance now shines with eternal light!

Once, you did not even give water to the Savior;
Finally, even your blood you shed for Him.

Your soul had once been darkened, as you were a Samaritan;
When you became a Christian, you shone more brightly than the sun’s rays.

In Sychar you proclaimed Christ with fear;
In the center of Rome you witnessed to Him by your death.

Love destroys every fear and makes one a hero—
O Photina, love forever glorifies you.

Two or three Romes can Nero burn down,
But the soul of Christians cannot burn.

Vessels of clay can Nero smash,
But he had no power over the spirit of Photina.

O immortal saint, help us now,
By your prayers, before the throne of Christ the Savior.

REFLECTION
God punishes a sinner not because it gives Him gratification to destroy men. If that gave Him gratification, He would not have created man from nothing. He punishes a sinner for more important and constructive reasons, two of which are most apparent to us. First, by punishment, He corrects him and leads him on the true path of salvation, and second, He frightens others from sinning. St. Isaac also thinks this when he says: “A righteous wise man is like unto God—for he punishes a man not to reproach him for his sin but either to correct him or to instill fear in others.” One recalcitrant young man, who ridiculed God and his parents, suddenly went insane. The whole city in which this young man lived saw in this the punishment of God and was filled with the fear of God. The young man was held bound in isolation for three years. His mother wept bitterly and prayed to God for her son. One year, on the Feast of Pentecost, the mother brought him to the Monastery of St. Basil of Ostrog. Following prayers, the insane youth was cured and came to himself. After that he repented and became an exemplary person and a true Christian.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the Lord Jesus crucified on the Cross:

1. How blood flowed from His hands and dripped to the ground;
2. How blood flowed from His feet and dripped to the ground;
3. How blood flowed from beneath His ribs and dripped to the ground.

HOMILY
on the battle of the Lamb with the beasts

“These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14).

Who speaks these marvelous words? John, who saw God. Who is this Lamb? Christ the Lord. Who is this Lord of lords and King of kings? Christ the Lord. With whom will He wage war and whom will He defeat? He will defeat the beast which has seven heads and all those who received authority, honor and riches from the unclean beast.

The Lamb among the beasts! St. John also saw the Lamb as the Victor over all the beasts. Christ among the demons! One would say: “They will devour Him!” Nevertheless, the terrified demons cry out to Him for mercy and flee from Him without turning back. Christ among His tormentors! One would say: “They will destroy Him forever.” Nevertheless, He resurrects and conquers, and they flee from Him in terror and perish. The Church among the heathens! One would say: “They will flood her like a wave covering a small island.” Nevertheless, the pagan kingdoms sank and fell apart, while the Church still exists, flourishes and advances. The Christian Faith among dry philosophers and theoreticians! One would say: “They will outwit it and drive it from the world.” Nevertheless, they steer one another into lies and persecutions, but the Christian Faith saves men. Piety in the midst of blasphemers and apostates! One would say: “They will soil it!” Nevertheless, they are smothered in their own filth, and reverence preserves itself in unsoiled purity. Christian meekness and tears surrounded by tyrants and abductors! One would say: “It will die of hunger!” Nevertheless, they live and are satiated, while the tyrants and abductors suffer from starvation. The Lamb among the beasts! Nevertheless, the Lamb is the Victor.

O Lord, meek and good, Lamb of God all-gentle, imbue us with Thy meekness and goodness, so that even we may share in Thy victory.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, March 26, 2017

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 Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church
THE IMPORTANCE OF FASTING AND ITS OBSERVANCE TODAY

WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN 

Sunday, March 26, 2017
Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great

Fourth Sunday of Great Lent: Saint John Climacus; Transfer of the Relics of Saint Nicephorus the
Patriarch of Constantinople


RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE SEVEN:
By Thy Cross, Thou didst destroy death!  To the thief, Thou didst open Paradise!  For the myrrh bearers, Thou didst change weeping into joy!  And Thou didst command Thy disciples, O Christ God, to proclaim that Thou art risen, granting the world great mercy!

TROPARION TO ST. JOHN CLIMACUS - TONE ONE:
O dweller of the desert and angel in the body, you were shown to be a wonder-worker, our God-bearing father John.  You received heavenly gifts through fasting, vigil and prayer: healing the sick and the souls of those drawn to you by faith.  Glory to Him who gave you strength!  Glory to Him who granted you a crown!  Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all! 

TROPARION TO SAINT NICEPHORUS - TONE THREE:
Your fragrant relics have been revealed as godly treasure filled with life for the Church.  On their august translation we receive the gifts of the Spirit.  Righteous Father Nicephorus, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.


RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE SEVEN:
The dominion of death can no longer hold man captive, for Christ descended, shattering and destroying its powers!  Hell is bound, while the prophets rejoice and cry:  The Savior has come to those in faith!  Enter you faithful into the Resurrection.

KONTAKION TO ST. JOHN CLIMACUS - TONE FOUR:
The Lord truly set you on the heights of abstinence, to be a guiding star, showing the way to the universe, O our father and teacher John.

KONTAKON TO SAINT NICEPHORUS - TONE ONE: 
The choir of patriarchs honors your holy memory with praises and hymns, O Nicephorus, for it received your spirit at your translation, O glorious one.  Therefore, today the Church magnifies Christ the King, glorifying Him as the only Lover of mankind.

KONTAKION OF THE FIVE SUNDAYS OF GREAT LENT
To thee, the Champion Leader, do I offer thanks of victory, O Theotokos, thou who hast delivered me from terror; but as thou that hast that power invincible, O Theotokos, thou alone can set me free: from all forms of danger free me and deliver me, that I may cry unto thee: ‘Rejoice, O Bride without Bridegroom!’

HYMN TO THE THEOTOKOS (INSTEAD OF  “IT IS TRULY MEET”): All of creation rejoices in you, O full of grace; the assembly of angels and the race of men.  O sanctified temple and spiritual paradise, the glory of virgins, from whom God was incarnate and became a Child, our God before the ages.  He made your body into a throne, and your womb He made more spacious than the heavens.  All of creation rejoices in you, O full of grace.  Glory to you!

EPISTLE READINGS

The Prokimenon in the 7th Tone: 
The Lord shall give strength to His people!  The Lord shall bless His people with peace!

Fourth Sunday of Lent: Hebrews 6: 13-20
Brethren, for when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.”  And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.  For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute.  Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

St. John Climacus: Ephesians 5: 8-19
Brethren, you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.  For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.  But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.  Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”  See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.   

The Alleluia Verses:
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to Your name, O Most High!  To declare Your mercy in the morning and Your truth by night!

GOSPEL READINGS

Fourth Sunday of Lent: Mark 9: 17-31
At that time, one of the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit.  And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid.  So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”  He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?  Bring him to Me.”  Then they brought him to Him.  And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.  So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?”  And he said, “From childhood.  And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him.  But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord I believe; help my unbelief!”  When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!”  Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him.  And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.”  But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.  And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”  So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”  Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it.  For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him.  And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.”

St. John Climacus: Matthew 4: 25 – 5: 12
At that time, great multitudes followed Jesus – from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.  And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.  Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

From The Prologue
March 13/26 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

Saint Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople
Nicephorus governed the Holy Church wisely and zealously as one of the greatest archpastors of Constantinople. When Leo the Armenian rose up against icons, Nicephorus alone defied the emperor. He first counseled the emperor and then later denounced him. That is why the depraved emperor banished him to the island of Prokonis. On this island there was a monastery which Nicephorus had built in honor of St. Theodore. This confessor of the Orthodox Faith remained in this monastery for thirteen years and afterward presented himself to the Lord in the year 827. Since all the iconoclastic emperors had perished, and Michael, with his mother Theodora, sat on the imperial throne, Patriarch Methodius was restored to the patriarchal throne. The relics of St. Nicephorus were translated from Prokonis to Constantinople in 846. There they rested first in the Church of Hagia Sophia, from which he had been banished during his life, and later in the Church of the Twelve Apostles. The principal feast of this great hierarch is on June 2, and on March 13 the discovery and translation of his incorrupt relics is commemorated. On March 13, St. Nicephorus was banished from Constantinople and then, again, on March 13, thirty-two years later, his relics were returned to the capital.

Saint Christina the Persian
For her unwavering confession of faith in Christ, she was cruelly tortured in Persia in the fourth century. So much did they torture her, flogging her with a whip, that she became exhausted and died. Her soul then departed from her tortured body and entered into the joy of Christ the King and Lord.

The Hieromartyr Publius
This hieromartyr was successor to the glorious Dionysius the Areopagite on the episcopal throne in Athens. As a bishop, he was tortured by the pagans and beheaded in the second century. After a brief period of torture, he inherited life eternal.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The City of Constantinople

Constantinople, wondrous city near the blue Bosphorus,
Whose glory can be measured against your glory?

You were an awesome battleground of spiritual warriors,
Blasphemous heretics and saints of God.

As through a sieve you sifted them throughout the long centuries
Making known both apostates and servants of God.

By many sins you are soiled, and by the filth of sinners,
But you are consecrated with the abundance of the blood of martyrs.

Who could enumerate the spiritual heroes
And all the heavenly visions and all your mysteries?

The angels of God often flew down to you,
And men, like angels, were raised up to heaven.

The Mother of God appeared within you many times
To deliver those in danger, to heal the sick.

The flock of wondrous saints hovers over you,
And the prayers of your children are borne to the Most High.

Oh, how many saints were your children!

As many as there are lilies upon lilies, there are saints upon saints!

You wrote history and the calendar in red;
By your efforts even the great Symbol of Faith was written.

Thus, about you this could be said:
Among the many cities, you are a red letter.

With Holy Faith you enlightened the universe.

You healed the world of paganism and heresies.

Tortured much, but not slain, you have not yet passed away.

That is why we all celebrate you, Confessor that you are!

Throughout the earth and in the heavens your glory echoes;
Everyone who is baptized owes a great debt of gratitude to you.

REFLECTION
Great are those Christians who have a great love for Christ. Oh, in truth, how great were those Christians, those God-bearing fathers and martyrs! For so many in our time, this is impossible even to imagine. This is what one of them, St. Simeon the New Theologian, confessed before all the monks in his monastery. Speaking from his own personal experience about how the words of the Lord, For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light (Matthew 11:30), were realized in him, Simeon said: “Believe me, when I fled to God my Savior, I did not encounter anything sorrowful, difficult or unbearable. The only great and unbearable sorrow I had was that I could not find sufficient means to die for the love of Christ.” Are not such souls like burning flames enclosed in earthen vessels? Burning flames are always upright, directed toward heaven. Only remove the covering and the flame will shoot upward.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the Lord Jesus at the judgment before Herod:
1. How Herod at first was very glad to see Jesus—not out of any spiritual need, but out of curiosity;
2. How Herod had hoped to see a miracle from Jesus, but was mistaken in that, for the Lord remained silent to all of his questions;
3. How Herod ridiculed the Lord and clothed Him in a beautiful garment.

HOMILY on the reconciliation of the wicked for the sake of evil

And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves (Luke 23:12).

In His shame and humiliation, the Just One does good to His enemies. He reconciles them. It is true, in this case, that their reconciliation did not create mutual cooperation for some good deed but mutual persecution of the Just One. At least the flame of hatred between them was extinguished and died out. That was due to the Just One. Pilate and Herod had been enemies. On the day when the Savior was brought for judgment before both of them, they were reconciled. The Prince of Peace brought peace between the quarreling parties: peace which helped to hew out a cross for Him. But He also came to be a willing sacrifice for the sins of many.

Even today common enemies make peace among themselves when they find it necessary to attack and condemn the Lord. There are many who kill one another until you mention the name of the Lord to them. As soon as they hear that name, they gradually make peace among themselves for the sake of attacking that holy name. It is easier for the unjust to tolerate the unjust than it is for them to tolerate the just. It is easier for the unjust to come to an understanding and reconcile with the unjust than with the just.

In some countries, even the most quarrelsome parties seek reconciliation among themselves when it is deemed necessary to decide what place should be given to the Lord Jesus Christ in the state—the first place, which is befitting to Him, or the last place? Over these questions sworn enemies reconcile themselves, so that our Lord will be given the last place. So also it was with the quarreling parties of Pharisees and Sadducees, who were reconciled and entered into a partnership against Christ.

Why is it that the Most-pure and the Most-needed had to be awarded the last place? Because, according to their thinking, the first place would then be reserved for them. The same incentive was there between sworn enemies, the Pharisees and Sadducees, when it was deemed necessary to seek Christ’s death. The same incentive was the occasion that caused the reconciliation between Pilate and Herod when it was deemed necessary to judge that Christ had to be put to death.

O my brethren, let us never seek peace with the unjust against justice. Rather, let us always seek peace with God, and that with a clear conscience.

O God, help us so that we may always possess such a peace.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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