Holy Ascension of Christ
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Sermon from Fr. Nicholas
Sermon for November 13th, 2010
25th Sunday After Pentecost
Sts. Cosmas and Damian
Gospel: Luke 8:26-39 (§38)
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
In the seventeenth chapter of the St. John’s Gospel, Christ prays to His Father and the prayer centers on how Christ and His Gospel are not of this world, and His Apostles therefore are also not of this world, though they are in it. The world hates those who follow Christ just as it hates Christ Himself. Instead, we are encouraged to worship a host of different gods that the world sets before us, perhaps chief among them being mammon, that is, materialism and wealth. As Orthodox Christians, we are also called to be not of this world, yet the pull of the world is very strong.
Today’ s Gospel where Jesus casts demons out of a possessed man, illustrates the chasm that exists between God and the world.
When Jesus comes into the country of the Gadarenes, the possessed man meets Him, and we are told that he is fierce - so much so that men cannot pass. And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many demons were entered into him. Then the demons ask that, if He is going to cast them out, may He let them go into the swine. Christ answers, “Go” and they enter the swine immediately and violently drive the herd into the waters and die. Torment and death is their entire existence, so here too, torment and death is what they choose.
Seeing this, those who kept the herd of swine went into the city, and told everyone what had happened. The Gospel writer relates that the entire city came out to meet Jesus, but what they did is the real lesson for us here brothers and sisters. The entire city came out only to ask Jesus to leave, and Jesus left.
Notice, that the men who kept the swine were impious violators of the Old Testament law. Notice also, that of all those people who came out of the city, the Evangelists do not record anybody marveling, worshiping, or thanking the Lord that he saved this man who was being tortured by the demons possessing him. No, the chief concern was that Jesus is bad for business, and He needs to go.
What we need to be thinking about is how many times we drive Christ out of our hearts because He is bad for business. This doesn’t just refer to jobs or careers, but the materialism that we as a society have come to worship. Not unlike the Gadarenes, many today are willing to put up with demons, as long as they don’t affect the modern lifestyle, which of course, is a complete illusion.
In the book of Revelation, the Church of Laodicea says, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” God answers and says, “Knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked?” Could not the western world say the same thing as Laodicea, and could not God pose the same question?
What we have to be careful about, my brothers and sisters in Christ, is not what we possess, but what possess us. But the ending of this Gospel reading should give us hope. The Gadarenes are shown to be shallow, blind, and materialistic and yet the Lord has mercy on them. Even though they asked Him to, Christ does not leave them completely in that when the man out of whom He cast out the devils asked to be with Him, Jesus tells him no and says, “Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee.” And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.
It is in this same way that Christ does not leave us in our fallen spiritual state though by our thoughts and actions we often try to push Him out. Rather Christ in His love for us, calls us back not only through the Gospels but also by the writings and the lives of the saints. What can be more powerful than seeing what God had done for those who followed Him? For this reason, when we pray to the Lord, we should not only ask for mercy but we should also thank Him for not abandoning us even when we lose our way and give priority to worldly trivialities in our hearts.
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us. Amen.
'Tis the Season!
Christ is born give ye glory.
Christ cometh from the heavens.
Meet ye Him.
Christ is on earth, be ye exalted!
Hymn the Lord all the earth,
And chant with gladness, O ye people,
For He is glorified!
Katavasia from the Canon of Nativity
Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos
Troparion - Tone 4
Today is the prelude of God’s good will /
and the heralding of the salvation of mankind. /
In the temple of God, the Virgin is presented openly, /
and she proclaimeth Christ unto all. /
To her, then, with a great voice let us cry aloud: /
Rejoice, O thou fulfillment //
of the Creator’s dispensation.
From the Parish Council
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we wish to thank all those who serve and have served to help our parish grow and prosper through prayers, labors, and contributions. May the Lord bless you and our parish for many years!
If you are interested in helping with projects and chores (large or small), please reach out to our church warden, Sasha Soubotin (firstname.lastname@example.org), or our head sisters, Christina Roller (email@example.com), Vicky Selznick (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Stephanie Rindell (email@example.com).
December 4 - Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos
December 9 - Vespers at 6:30pm, Catechetical Class to follow (All are welcome!)
December 11 - Martyr Stephen, the New
December 16 - Vespers at 6:30pm, Catechetical Class to follow (All are welcome!)
December 18 - St. Sabbas the Sanctified
December 23 - No services or Class
December 25 - Holy Forefathers / St. Spyridon & St. Herman of Alaska (No Services)
- Services at St. Nicholas Convent - 24 Tynan Rd, Cleveland, NY
Please note the following service schedule:
- Vigil is served at 6:30pm each Saturday and before each Feast.
- Hours and Divine Liturgy are served at 9:00am unless otherwise noted.
CONNECT WITH US
Check out our monastery, St. John of San Francisco Monastery, and our seminary, St. Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary.