When looking at the gospel reading for the Sunday of Zacchaeus this past Sunday, and how it shows his repentance to be the “baptism”, the cleansing, that brings about the statement from Christ: salvation has come to this house and that Zacchaeus is revealed as a son of Abraham. Not only is this a look back at Theophany, but it is revelatory of passing into the next “stage” of our liturgical-spiritual journey…that is, into Great Lent.
This is much like the stages of the spiritual life that Father Zacharias, in Essex, talks about. He was taught by his spiritual father, St. Sophrony, who was taught by his spiritual father, St. Silouan. At the beginning of our journey toward God, we are given whatever grace is necessary to bring us into relationship with him and to set our path right, enough grace to make a start.
Continue reading “Zacchaeus Is Our Transition into Lenten Repentance”
We just had Zacchaeus Sunday, so-called because the gospel reading is about Christ’s interaction with Zacchaeus. The testimony of Zacchaeus is being used as a link between Theophany and Pascha. In giving us this reading, the Church is giving us a little hint, a hint to look toward Zacchaeus, so that we can know how to step out of Theophany and into Great Lent.
Since this Gospel reading is set at the end of this season, we should look briefly at what has happened in this season. What do we celebrate at Theophany? Christ was baptized. And baptism, at its root, is a cleansing. Christ came to be baptized, but being God, was in no need of cleansing, and indeed, it was he that sanctified the waters. And just as we see Christ enter into the waters of the Jordan, now we see Christ enter the house of Zacchaeus.
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At the center of the gospel passage in Luke 17, about the ten lepers is the idea of thanksgiving. In the Old Testament Law, we see different kinds of sacrifices brought to the Tabernacle, and one of those is a thank-offering. The word “eucharist” means ‘thanksgiving’, and the connection between our thanksgiving/eucharist and the thank-offerings of the Old Testament is no mere coincidence. There is a direct connection.
Under the Law, there were also sin offerings: in a sense these are offerings that need to be given for the sin of the people. But a thank-offering is a free will offering, an offering to God out of our gratitude. And that is what we offer in the liturgy, as well.
But this extends beyond the Liturgy. Christ dwells among us, indeed he dwells in us, and our heart is his altar. The priest in the church offers sacrifices on behalf of all the people, but each of us are priests of the altar of our hearts.
Continue reading “The Ten Lepers and a Life of Thanksgiving”
For the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, the Church both prepares us for the feast with a special reading the Sunday before, and also, today, sends us off from the feast with a special reading the Sunday after. This past Sunday’s gospel reading, for the Sunday after the feast of the Cross, is what our holy Fathers want us to take away from the feast.
And actually, there was a reading the day before, too, for the Saturday after the feast, with the same theme. The theme of both of these passages is the practical application of the Cross of Christ to our lives. In Saturday’s gospel reading, Jesus says: When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father taught me, I speak these things.
Continue reading “Losing Our Lives for Christ in Our Hardships”
The Gospel passage mentioned in the last post said, …if you do not forgive your brother from your heart. But, going the “extra mile” in forgiveness, in his first epistle, St. Peter says:
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. And James echoes this same idea of “covering” the sins of others: …whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
This covering others’ sins is something we don’t think about much, though it has been around a while…in Proverbs, love covers all offenses, and elsewhere in Proverbs,
Whoever covers an offense seeks love,…
We not only are called to forgive, but to actively use love to cover sins.
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