Holy Ascension of Christ
Sermon from Fr. Nicholas
The Sunday of Orthodoxy
Gospel: John 1:43-51
Epistle: Heb. 11:24-26, 32-12:2a
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord calling Philip and Nathaniel in the Gospel reading and the Apostle Paul describing the burden of living for Christ in a world that does not know Christ in today’s epistle reading show us the beginning and the continuation of what it means to live one’s life in Christ.
In the Gospel, Christ comes upon Philip and says to him simply, “Follow me.” The Lord uses these words many times in the Gospels, and Philip immediately follows without question. As the Fathers point out, this could either be due to his having heard of Jesus already, or because he beholds the Divine Presence in Him. However, we should not conclude that Philip acted on impulse and did this without thought. This is made clear when he goes to Nathaniel.
St. John Chrysostom writes:
“Philip ran to Nathaniel and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses and the Law and the Prophets did write.” Do you see what a thoughtful mind he had, how assiduously he meditated on the writings of Moses, and expected the Advent? For the expression, “we have found,” belongs always to those who are in some way seeking.”
So we have established that Philip followed Jesus quickly, yet not without having considered the matter. Nathaniel, on the other hand shows us a more careful approach. He gives us an example of how we should test the spirits, as St. John the Theologian tells us, (1 John 4:1) by doing this to the Lord Himself. First, Nathaniel questions the fact that Jesus is from Nazareth, for he apparently knew that the Messiah was to be from Bethlehem. And after the Lord praises him as an Israelite in whom there is no deceit, Nathaniel continues, by asking how Jesus knows him. When Christ explains that he saw Nathaniel under the fig tree, before He ever laid eyes on him, only then does Nathaniel confess Him to be the Son of God and the King of Israel.
Notice that Christ saw into Nathaniel’s heart that there was no guile. His intentions were pure when he posed these questions, for he wanted to know that this was the Truth, unlike the cynical questions of the scribes and the Pharisees.
That Truth, however, brings with it a great deal of toil in this life as the Apostle Paul describes to the Hebrews. Moses, he says, chose God rather than the pleasures of this world, for he looked to the reward. And then the Apostle lists other Old Testament figures, as well as torments endured for the sake of God, before finishing by exhorting the Hebrews to look to the suffering that Christ willingly took upon Himself for inspiration.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, both readings today point to a mindset, rather than a specific action that we must take or sin that we must avoid. In the Gospel reading, we are reminded of the supreme importance of studying the Holy Scriptures. St. John Chrysostom writes: “I also always entreat you, and do not cease entreating you, not only to pay attention [in church] to what I say, but also when you are at home, to persevere continually in reading the divine Scriptures.” As Orthodox Christians, it is indispensable that we read the fathers, who while in different centuries, and in different parts of the world, lead us to the same Truth by the same Spirit. Notice, that Nathaniel, left to his own devices, would have erroneously believed that nothing good can come out of Nazareth. So, we too, brothers and sisters, maintain our unity in Christ, with those that lived, suffered, died and continue to live, not by trying to figure everything out for ourselves, but by being guided by the Spirit working through the writings and teachings of the Church throughout the ages.
Finally, let us not be under any illusions of what life in this world can be for a true follower of Christ. As St. Paul shows, the path to holiness was never the easy one, and was always fraught with pain and suffering. But those that have tread this path, did so for a reason. When you encounter the pain and suffering of this life, even if it is less severe and than that of the martyrs, look up and see the Lord who suffered and died out of love for us. Let your heart be filled with joy, for death has been vanquished and Life reigns forever in Christ our Lord.
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us. Amen.
Triumph of Orthodoxy
From the Parish Council
During this season of Great Lent, please consider how you can help maintain our church on a weekly and monthly basis. Look over the Church Operations and Maintenance Checklist (below). If you can help, please complete a task and initial under the week you completed it. This checklist will be posted in the hall for weekly use.
- Save the Date: General Parish Meeting will be April 30th - Sunday of the Myrrh Bearers
- Next Parish Council Meeting will be on Sunday, April 23rd
We need your continued prayers and support. Please consider donating and keep an eye out for special project appeals.
If you are interested in helping with projects and chores (large or small), please reach out to our church warden, Sasha Soubotin (email@example.com), or our head sisters, Christina Roller (firstname.lastname@example.org), Vicky Selznick (email@example.com), and Stephanie Rindell (firstname.lastname@example.org).
FOR A DETAILED CALENDAR, visit our website: https://www.holyascensionofchrist.org/calendar
March 5 - Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy
March 10 - Akathist, 2nd Salutation at 6:30 pm, Catechetical Class to follow
March 11 - Pannikhida at 5:00 pm (before Vigil)
March 12 - Sunday of Saint Gregory Palamas (start daylight savings time)
March 17 - Akathist, 3rd Salutation at 6:30 pm, Catechetical Class to follow
March 18 - Pannikhida at 5:00 pm (before Vigil)
March 19 - Sunday of the Veneration of the Precious Cross
- Matins and Hours for Presanctified Liturgy at 6:30 pm
March 20 - Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts at 6:30 pm
March 21 - Matins, Hours, and Commemoration of the Departed at 6:30 pm
March 22 - Holy 40 Martyrs of Sebaste - Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts at 6:30 pm
March 24 - Akathist, 4th Salutation at 6:30 pm, Catechetical Class to follow
March 25 - Pannikhida at 5:00 pm (before Vigil)
March 26 - Sunday of St. John of the Ladder
- Please note, we are not having our General Parish Meeting on this date. The printed calendar contains an error. The General Meeting will take place on April 30th.
March 29 - Great Canon of St. Andrew with the Life of St. Mary of Egypt at 6:30 pm
March 31 - Akathist, 5th Salutation at 6:30 pm, Catechetical Class to follow
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.