We Chrisitians are collectively united in Christ
The Church Fathers saw Orthodoxy as a Way of Life, rather than a religion. Although the Church has many of the same attributes as religion, this does not mean she is herself a religious institution. Rather, she is a Hospital for the Soul, wherein we can receive the healing that makes it possible to commune with our Creator. It is within this hospital, the Church, that we are made holy (whole), making this communion possible. The Eucharist, which is the chief vehicle by which we can receive the grace that opens the doors for communion with God, brings about spiritual transformation, and is the chief sign of our unity in Christ.
Although there is uniformity in doctrine and practice within the Orthodox Church, the unity within the Church does in no way exclude those who are outside the Church, for all are God’s children, and the doors of the Church are open wide, even to those who are blind to this truth. The Church does not judge those who remain outside her walls, but loves them, and prays for them. She is not an exclusive institution, but rather the living embodiment of Christ. Her claim to divine origin, and absolute truth, in no way suggests a denial of the basic dignity of all humanity as being the children of God.
The Church’s claim to divine origin is nowhere more clearly seen, than her celebration of the Eucharist, for this is the moment when heaven comes down to earth, and her faithful are united one to another, in the Christ Who gives Himself so freely and completely. In this way the Eucharist is the vehicle to unity in Christ, and a sign of a unity that transforms time and space. Yet without unity of faith, where each believer has received as their own, the teachings of the Church in all her integrity and authenticity, communion would simply be a common participation in a symbolic act, rather than the participation in the Divine. Our reception of the very Body and Blood of Christ, is that point in eternity that brings about transformation and holiness.
These teachings are in direct opposition to the theories and philosophies of today, for they would deny the existence of Absolute Truth. The Church’s strict adherence to the beliefs, teachings, and practices that have been handed down from Apostolic times are the basis for our unity, for we have bound ourselves to the unchanging Apostolic Church, and forever united ourselves to Christ.
With love in Christ,
Wednesday January 20, 2021 / January 7, 2021
33rd Week after Pentecost. Tone seven.
Fast. Fish Allowed
Synaxis of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John.
Martyr Paphnutius (1938).
New Hieromartyr Basil, priest (1939).
Martyr John (1940).
Martyr John (1942).
New Martyr Athanasius of Attalia and Smyrna (1700) (Greek).
St. Cedd, bishop of Lastingham (664) (Celtic & British).
St. Brannock (Brynach) of Braunton (6th c.) (Celtic & British).
St. Kentigerna, hermitess of Loch Lomond.
The Scripture Readings
1 Peter 4:1-11
Christ’s Example to Be Followed
4 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
Serving for God’s Glory
7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the [c]oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the [d]dominion forever and ever. Amen.
The Scribes: Which Is the First Commandment of All?
28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”
29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lordour God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
But after that no one dared question Him.
Jesus: How Can David Call His Descendant Lord?
35 Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Spirit:
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’
37 Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?”
And the common people heard Him gladly.
Paul at Ephesus
19 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.
8 And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.
The Lamb of God
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ 31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”
32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”