On Hearing the Twelve Gospels This Evening (Thurs. April 21)

The word of the day is “open.”  Among our readings today is Isaiah 50:4-11.  The prophet writes, “The Lord God has opened My ear, and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away” (NKJV Isaiah vs. 5).  This statement is especially appropriate for tonight’s reading of the Twelve  Gospels of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

These passages are both meaningful and challenging.  Throughout the service, our natural human nature makes it difficult for us to stand and concentrate on the readings.  Thus, we might ask with what spirit will we hear and pay attention to them?

With what Spirit Will We Listen?

With what spirit will we hear the story of our salvation?  Will our reading and hearing be no more than a tradition to uphold?  No more than a duty to perform?  No more than an arduous task to be endured?

Worthy to Hear the Holy Gospel

Note that before the first reading, the priest will pray, “May we be made worthy to hear the Holy Gospel.”  In some traditions, this petition is repeated before each Gospel excerpt.  What will be read is the story of the Passion of the Lord from His Farewell Discourse and Betrayal in the Garden to His Burial and the Posting of the Guard at the Tomb.  There is no reading, no story, no series of events greater than this.  To hear these Gospels, we must “Be attentive,” unplug our ears, open our hearts and minds.  The prophet Isaiah says, “Who among you fears the Lord?  Let him listen to the voice of His servant” (OSB Isaiah 50:10).

For Reflection

What “counts us worthy” of hearing the Gospel?  It is fear, love, and a heart open to the Spirit. The Scriptures can only be rightly understood by the same Spirit that inspired them.  Those who do not listen to them in that Spirit will not comprehend them.  The Lord said in the Gospel of Mark, “The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those on the outside, everything is in parables, so that they may be ever hearing but never understanding…” (Mark 4:11-12).  Accordingly, to be made “worthy” to hear the Holy Gospel is given by the grace of the Spirit of God.  Thus, we respond to the priest, “Lord have mercy!”  So may the Lord hear and answer our prayer that we may be made worthy to open our ears to hear the Gospel of our redemption this evening.

About Fr. Basil

Now retired, the Very Rev. Archpriest Basil Ross Aden has served as a parish priest, parish pastor, diocesan mission director, writer, and college teacher of New Testament and Religious Studies. He has a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago and has published daily devotional and stewardship materials as well as a college textbook on Religious Studies. He also has published papers and/or lectured on the Orthodox perspective on Luther and the Reformation. religious freedom, current issues of religion and society, and St. John Chrysostom. He is married to Sandra and has two sons and three grandchildren. He is still active as a priest as well as a writer of articles and materials on Orthodoxy and topics of faith and life today.

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  1. I never realized that that was the purpose of the parables. Gee thanks for opening my mind, eyes and heart to that Father Basil.

  2. Glory to Jesus Christ and His Resurrection! Yes, in this reading we get a sense of the “mystery of the Kingdom of God.” God bless, Fr. Basil

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