Do we think ourselves wiser than the Church?
In an age of unbelief it can be a struggle to submit to the laws of the Church. When the society around us regards the Church’s laws and traditions unfavorably, we can easily give in to thinking the same thing, and disregard the canons and statutes of the Church of Christ. If our work associates and friends, or even family members, think our adherence to the periods of fasting is extreme, we can find ourselves giving in to peer pressure, just as children are known to do. If our taking time out from work to attend special feast day services is criticized by co-workers as being excessive, do we decline to ask for the day off for the next feast day?
If we allow ourselves to choose the traditions and societal structures of those around us, in preference to the Church’s traditions, canons and laws, we will soon find ourselves betraying our Christian faith. Christianity was not meant to be easy, but is by nature compared to doing battle. If we desire the easy comforts and pleasures of this world, we will eventually lose the battle, and we will perish. If we prefer the laws of this world over the laws of the Church, in the end we will have lost that which is most essential and eternal in value.
In times of turmoil and earthly hardship will find we have not built up the spiritual strength and fortitude to stand strong against the winds of destruction that have laid hold our lives, and we will have lost the battle. Submitting to mere human traditions and authority, we will find that a thief will have taken the very treasure that is the Kingdom of God, and we will be left by the wayside, the Gates of Heaven having been closed to us.
If we revile the laws of the Church we will have reviled Christ Himself, Who is the Head of the Church. This is true because the laws of the Church were given by the Holy Spirit through the Apostles, and are therefore not simply the traditions of man. Let us not think we are great teachers of our own souls, but let us humbly call out together with the wise thief, Remember me, O Lord, in Thy kingdom!
With love in Christ,
Wednesday March 6, 2019 / February 21, 2019
Week of the Last Judgment. Tone seven.
Maslenitsa. Meat is excluded
Venerable Timothy of Symbola in Bithynia (795).
St. Eustathius (Eustace), archbishop of Antioch (337).
New Hieromartyrs Alexander, Daniel and Gregory priests (1930).
New Hieromartyr Constantine priest, Paul deacon (1938).
Virgin-Martyr Olga (1938).
St. George, bishop of Amastris on the Black Sea (805).
“Kozelshchanskaya” (1881) Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
St. John the Scholastic, patriarch of Constantinople (577).
St. Zachariah, patriarch of Jerusalem (633).
Hieromartyr Severian, bishop of Scythopolis (452).
The Scripture Readings
A Call to Repentance
12 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
13 So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.
14 Who knows if He will turn and relent,
And leave a blessing behind Him—
A grain offering and a drink offering
For the Lord your God?
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
16 Gather the people,
Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes;
Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber,
And the bride from her dressing room.
17 Let the priests, who minister to the Lord,
Weep between the porch and the altar;
Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord,
And do not give Your heritage to reproach,
That the nations should rule over them.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’ ”
The Land Refreshed
18 Then the Lord will be zealous for His land,
And pity His people.
19 The Lord will answer and say to His people,
“Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil,
And you will be satisfied by them;
I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations.
20 “But I will remove far from you the northern army,
And will drive him away into a barren and desolate land,
With his face toward the eastern sea
And his back toward the western sea;
His stench will come up,
And his foul odor will rise,
Because he has done monstrous things.”
21 Fear not, O land;
Be glad and rejoice,
For the Lord has done marvelous things!
22 Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field;
For the open pastures are springing up,
And the tree bears its fruit;
The fig tree and the vine yield their strength.
23 Be glad then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the Lord your God;
For He has given you the former rain faithfully,
And He will cause the rain to come down for you—
The former rain,
And the latter rain in the first month.
24 The threshing floors shall be full of wheat,
And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.
25 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.
12 “Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.
13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
Come, go down;
For the winepress is full,
The vats overflow—
For their wickedness is great.”
14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
15 The sun and moon will grow dark,
And the stars will diminish their brightness.
16 The Lord also will roar from Zion,
And utter His voice from Jerusalem;
The heavens and earth will shake;
But the Lord will be a shelter for His people,
And the strength of the children of Israel.
17 “So you shall know that I am the Lord your God,
Dwelling in Zion My holy mountain.
Then Jerusalem shall be holy,
And no aliens shall ever pass through her again.”
God Blesses His People
18 And it will come to pass in that day
That the mountains shall drip with new wine,
The hills shall flow with milk,
And all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water;
A fountain shall flow from the house of the Lord
And water the Valley of Acacias.
19 “Egypt shall be a desolation,
And Edom a desolate wilderness,
Because of violence against the people of Judah,
For they have shed innocent blood in their land.
20 But Judah shall abide forever,
And Jerusalem from generation to generation.
21 For I will acquit them of the guilt of bloodshed, whom I had not acquitted;
For the Lord dwells in Zion.”