Faith without works is dead
The very moment faith enters the soul is that moment when we turn toward God in repentance and recognize we can not live without Him. As we grow in our faith we come to realize we must remain in a continual state of repentance, for grace abounds in the heart of the man who is repenting. We come to see the truth that the saints were those who never ceased to call upon the Lord in repentance. Never did they think themselves worthy of anything but God’s wrath, and their continued plea was for mercy.
This humility spawned God’s love in the hearts of these saints, and works of love and mercy grew out of God’s indwelling love within their hearts. Their works showed forth that their love and good works came out of that deep state of repentance, and their love was the proof of God’s indwelling Spirit in their hearts. Saint Gregory the Great said, “The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.”
If we do not do good works, love does not dwell in our heart, and we have no faith. “Yea, a man may say, You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works (James 2:18).” The Liturgy reminds us, only those with faith and love may draw near to receive the Holy Mysteries. Our participation in the Body and Blood of the Lord provides each of us with the opportunity to be Christ-bearers in the world in which we live, and others will know we belong to Christ, “by our love” (John 13:35).
With love in Christ,
Photo: The Patronal Icon of the Monastery, painted by a monk of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York.
Friday July 7, 2017 / June 24, 2017
5th Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Fast. Fish Allowed
Nativity of St. John the Baptist.
Venerable Anthony, abbot of Dymsk (Novgorod) (1224).
Righteous Youths John (1566) and James (1569) of Meniugi (Novgorod).
Martyrs Orentius, Pharnacius, Eros, Firmus, Firminus, Cyriacus, and Longinus, in Georgia (3rd c.).
St. Nicetas, bishop of Remesiana (414) (Neth.).
Venerable John, monk, of Yaransk (Solovki) (1561).
St. Michael, great prince of Tver (1319).
New Martyr Panagiotes of Caesarea in Cappadocia (1765) (Greek).
Translation of the relics (1492) of Martyr John the New (1332) to Suceava, Romania (Romania).
Synaxis of the Righteous Zacharias and Elizabeth (Greek).
St. John the Hermit of Bohemia (904).
St. Athanasius of Paros (1813).
St. Gerasim (Dobroserdov), bishop of Astrakhan and Enotaeva (1880).
The Scripture Readings
24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”
Birth of John the Baptist
57 Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. 58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.
Circumcision of John the Baptist
59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. 60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.”
61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” 62 So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called.
63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God. 65 Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. 66 And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.
76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
80 So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.
Put on Christ
11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we firstbelieved. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
The Law of Liberty
14 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
Dedication to Theophilus
1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.
John’s Birth Announced to Zacharias
5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.
8 So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”
19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”
21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple. 22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless.
23 So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. 24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me,to take away my reproach among people.”