Transformation through the Lenten Jouney
The Byzantine Court was filled with sycophants, busying themselves with building alliances that would help them rise in status and influence. During the thousand years of the empire, a few emperors were tricked into believing these sycophants were truly their friends, and could be trusted, when in actuality they were being played, and these flatterers were not their friends. These sycophants were quick to change allegiances should a better opportunity arise, and many an emperor was, in the end, betrayed by those whom they’d thought could be trusted.
These flatterers lacked courage, and in their dishonesty faked loyalty to the Emperor, and in the end, the whole of the Empire would suffer. Had these people been true citizens of the Empire, and not focused on their own advancement, the Emperor would have enjoyed the loyalty of a citizen who put the Empire before self. In the end, the Emperor would be betrayed, and the Empire would have suffered yet another round of intrigue.
As we prepare to enter into the Lenten journey, let us reexamine our own relationships. Are we sycophants, or do we speak from the heart, without thought for self promotion? Are we true friends to those with whom we share our lives, or are we always thinking only of ourselves? Do we really desire to serve those who are over us, or do we think only of our own advancement? Do we really desire to grow in the Faith, or are we only focused on the here and now? Are we like the emperor, only surrounding ourselves with flatterers, people who tell us what we want to hear, or are we ready to receive the feedback that would actually help us grown spiritually?
Let us in all humility beseech the Lord, during this Great and Holy Fast, seeking the transformation that is ours through His grace, offering ourselves as a living sacrifice, expecting, because of His loving kindness, to be made whole. Finally, let us not be flatters and betrayers of others, but true friends, always putting ourselves last. Let us love God above all else, and let us love others as ourselves. With God’s help, this Lenten journey will be the most spiritually profitable of them all.
With love in Christ,
Thursday February 27, 2020 / February 14, 2020
Week of the Last Judgment. Tone three.
Maslenitsa. Meat is excluded
Venerable Shio Mgvime (6th c.) (Georgia) (movable holiday on Thursday of the Cheese-fare Week).
Venerable Auxentius, monk of Bithynia (470).
St. Cyril, Equal-to-the-Apostles, teacher of the Slavs (869).
St. Raphael, bishop of Brooklyn (1915).
New Hieromartyr Onisimus bishop of Tula (1937).
New Hieromartyr Tryphon deacon (1938).
Venerable Isaac, recluse of the Kiev Caves (1090).
12 Greek Master-Builders of the Dormition Cathedral in the Lavra of the Kievan Caves (11th C).
Translation of the relics of Prince-martyr Michael and his counselor, St. Theodore of Chernigov (1578).
Venerable Maron, hermit of Syria (423).
St. Abraham, bishop of Charres in Mesopotamia (ca. 423).
St. Ilarion the Georgian of Imeretia and Mt. Athos (1854) (Georgia).
Hieromartyr Philemon, bishop of Gaza.
New Martyr George the Tailor of Mitylene, at Constantinople (1693) (Greek).
New Martyr Nicholas of Corinth (1554) (Greek).
St. Peter, patriarch of Alexandria (380).
New Monk-martyr Damian the New of Philotheou, who suffered at Larissa (1568).
The Scripture Readings
11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
Apostates Depraved and Doomed
12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. 17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
Maintain Your Life with God
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
Glory to God
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
25 To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Jesus Handed Over to Pontius Pilate
23 Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”
3 Then Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
He answered him and said, “It is as you say.”
4 So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no fault in this Man.”
5 But they were the more fierce, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.”
Jesus Faces Herod
6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean. 7 And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. 8 Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. 9 Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. 11 Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other.
Taking the Place of Barabbas
13 Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, 14 said to them, “You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; 15 no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. 16 I will therefore chastise Him and release Him” 17 (for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast).
18 And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder.
20 Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. 21 But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”
22 Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.”
23 But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed. 24 So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested. 25 And he released to them the one they requested, who for rebellion and murder had been thrown into prison; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
The King on a Cross
26 Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.
27 And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. 28 But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.29 For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ’ 31 For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”
32 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
And they divided His garments and cast lots.