Sunday Articles

Meeting of Our Lord In The Temple
Meeting of Our Lord In The Temple

The Law of Moses was fulfilled when the Ever-Virgin Mary and Joseph presented our Lord in the Temple. Let us reflect on what St. Sophronius wrote about this event:

​“The true light has come, the light that enlightens everyone who is born into this world. Let all of us, my brethren, be enlightened and made radiant by this light. Let all of us share in its splendor and be so filled with it that no one remains in the darkness. Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet an to receive with the aged Simeon the light whose brilliance is eternal. Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God, the Father of the light, who sent the true light to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in His splendor.

​Through Simeon’s eyes we too have seen the salvation of God which He prepared for all the nations and revealed as the glory of the new Israel, which is ourselves. As Simeon was released from the bonds of this life when he had seen Christ, so we too were at once freed from our old state of sinfulness.

​By faith we too embraced Christ, the salvation of God the Father, as He came to us from Bethlehem. Gentiles before, we have now become the people of God. Our eyes have seen God incarnate, and because we have seen Him present among us and have mentally received Him into our arms, we are called the new Israel.”

​The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

Saint Gregory the Theologian
Saint Gregory the Theologian

This great saint and teacher of the Church was born about the year 330 in Cappadocia, Asia Minor. His father, Gregory, was a follower of a strange sect but was converted by his Christian wife, Nonna. The father was later ordained a priest and consecrated as bishop of Nazianzus.

The child Gregory was consecrated to God even at birth. Nonna took her newborn to the Christian temple of the father and consecrated his tiny hands by laying them on the Gospel. He was given a thorough education in the finest schools of the time, and it was here that he became close a close friend of St. Basil the Great.

Gregory became a presbyter, and then, urged by Basil, he accepted consecration as a bishop. He took up residence with his father. But it wasn’t long before he was called to be Patriarch of Constantinople. The Church in the imperial city had been devastated by heresies and difficulties, and Bishop Gregory was to restore the faith. At its start, his congregation was so small they they could comfortably gather in a house. Through his saintly example, his sermons and his leadership, Gregory built the Church into a great place of prominence. Here he delivered his discourses on the Nicene faith which earned for him the title of “Theologian.”

At a Church Council in 381, Patriarch Gregory delivered his celebrated farewell to the Church. He retired, but never ceased to struggle for the Church. He fell asleep in the Lord at the age of 60 about the year 390. He is honored as one of the “Three Great Hierarchs.”

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

St. Peter Freed From Prison
St. Peter Freed From Prison

The Acts of the Apostles tell the amazing story of the growth of the Church in its earliest years. The Christian Faith spread from country to country, and from people to people. But in those years, there was persecution, suffering and death, too. The rulers of the Roman Empire, along with the enemies of Christ, made life difficult for those involved in the spread of the Gospel.

Wicked King Herod had the Apostle James, brother of St. John, killed by the sword. And then he had St. Peter arrested and put into prison. However, the Christian faithful did not abandon those who were persecuted. They gathered, even at night, at the home of Mary, mother of John Mark, to pray to the Lord for aid. As for Peter, he was guarded by four squads of Roman Soldiers. In fact, he slept at night between two of them, bound with chains, and with sentries at the doors.

It was then that a brilliant light pierced the prison cell, and an Angel of the Lord appeared, woke Peter up and the chains fell of his hands. They hurried out past the guards, out of the prison and into freedom. At first Peter thought it was all a dream, but soon came to realize that the miraculous event was real. He went to the home where Christians met for prayer, and there amazed them with his presence. It is this event that is commemorated by the “Chains of Peter” in the Church Calendar.

The icon vividly depicts the scene as the Angel of God takes St. Peter by the hand and leads him out of the prison, even as the chains fall to the ground and the guards slumber on. Of course, Peter went on spreading the Gospel and the Faith until his death for Christ.

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

St. Paul of Thebes
St. Paul of Thebes (left)

We have all heard the saying that “money can’t buy happiness.” The life of ST. PAUL OF THEBES is a testimony to the truthfulness of that adage. St. Paul lived in Egypt during the reign of Emperor Decius in the 3rd century. His parents were wealthy landowners, and when they died, Paul inherited a small fortune. Somehow, however, he became increasingly uncomfortable with the social surroundings he had been thrust into by virtue of his inheritance. Finally, at a tender age of 22, Paul forsook his entire estate and withdrew into the desolate region outside of Egypt to devote his life to God. He found a cave, where he lived his life in constant prayer and meditation. It is said that he sustained himself totally from the fruit of a tree and water from a small spring that existed near the entrance of his cave! Like the Prophet Elijah of the Old Testament, Paul was also provided by bread from ravens from time to time.

Paul lived this life of extreme asceticism for over 90 years! One of his few known visitors was St. Anthony the Great, who is commonly called the “Father of Eastern Monasticism.” After seeing this saintly man in his humble surroundings, St. Anthony returned to his monastery and proclaimed to his fellow monks: “I HAVE SEEN ELIJAH. I HAVE SEEN JOHN IN THE DESERT. I HAVE SEEN PAUL IN PARADISE!”

​The sacred tradition of the Church tells us that when St. Anthony returned to visit his friend, he found that Paul had passed away in his familiar posture of prayer. He died as he lived: on his knees! He fell asleep on the Lord in the year 352 A.D. at the advanced age of 114.

​The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

Christ the Merciful
Christ the Merciful

Throughout our Lord’s earthly ministry, He showed us many examples of how WE should act. One such directive was to SHOW PITY TO SINNERS. Jesus instructed us that this is the way to help and reform them.

Let us consider the case of Zaccheus, the despised tax collector whose riches were acquired in a sinful manner. After speaking to Jesus, he was truly penitent and charitable towards the people he had wronged.

There is the encounter between Christ and the woman accused of adultery. She was about to be stoned for her transgressions, when our Lord stepped in. He imparted this message to us all: “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) Jesus continually forgives the repentant sinner. Let us recall the thief on the Cross or the Samaritan Woman at the well. Our Lord showed that His forgiveness is unending.

Just as a doctor does not visit the healthy but the sick, so our Lord approaches those with the sickness of sin, not those with the health of righteousness. Doesn’t every sensible doctor behave this way when entering a hospital? Our world can be viewed as a giant hospital, overflowing with sick people infected by sin. Our heavenly Physician came to earth for their urgent healing and salvation.

Jesus came to find those sinners whom no-one seeks and all reject. He came to save those who are lost. Christ worked to restore their spiritual health and human dignity. May we try to fulfill His instructions and do the same.

​The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

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