Holy Ascension of Christ
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Sermon from Fr. Nicholas
Sermon for September 24th, 2023
16th Sunday After Pentecost
St. Theodora of Alexandria
Gospel: Matt. 25:14-30 (§105)
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord said in the book of Revelation, “Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out. (Rev 3:16) Spiritual idleness, whether it be from lack of courage or lack of conviction, is what Christ so thoroughly condemns in the gospel reading today.
Jesus tells a parable about three servants whose master goes on a journey but before leaving, gives them talents: to one five, to another two, and to the third one, each according to his ability.
Already, there is something very important here that ought to catch our eye, that is, that God always takes our abilities into account. How many times in the Scriptures do we encounter men who are most certainly not lukewarm, but stumble when it comes to trusting in God that he gave them the ability to do something? God tells Moses, “Say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm […] Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the children of Israel go out of his land.” But Moses answers and says, “Behold, the sons of Israel have not listened to me; how then will Pharaoh listen to me, for I am unskilled in speech?” When God sends us something challenging, we must learn to doubt our doubt.
After the master sets off for his journey, the servant who had received five talents and the one who received two both doubled what they had been given through trading. The servant with the one talent, however, buried it. After a long time the master returns and the servants who had increased their talents present them to him and he answers to each, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Brothers and sisters, there are several things that we need to be very clear on when we hear this parable. One misinterpretation of the Lord’s words would have us believe that He is speaking of earthly talents. This is not so. The Fathers unanimous interpretation is that when the Lord speaks of using or burying our talents this has a spiritual rather than a worldly meaning. So, for example, if someone is given a gift for finance burying that talent does not mean not using it, it means using it for worldly gain and not for the glory of God. St. Gregory the Great writes, “Hiding a talent in the earth means employing one’s abilities in earthly affairs, failing to seek spiritual profit, never raising one’s heart from earthly thoughts. There are some who have received the gift of understanding but have a taste only for things that pertain to the body. The prophet says of them, ‘They are wise in doing evil, but they do not know how to do good.’”
Another important aspect of this parable is that even if we have only one talent, this is what the Lord has given to us, and we should use it. St. John Chrysostom writes, “Let no one say, ‘I have but one talent and can do nothing with it.’ […] For this end God gave us speech, and hands, and feet, and strength of body and mind and understanding, that we might use all these things both for our own salvation and for our neighbor’s…”
The focus of this parable, however, is certainly that a rejection of Christ does not necessarily mean actively doing evil. St. John Chrysostom writes, “Do you see how sins of omission are met with extreme rejection? It is not only the covetous, the active doer of evil things and the adulterer, but also the one who fails to do good.”
Brothers and sisters, we need to make a real effort to do good not just to repent of our evil. As St. John Chrysostom says, even if we have one talent may we direct it toward loving God and neighbor for we worship Christ who praises the widow’s mites and chooses poor fishermen to spread His Gospel to all the corners of the earth. Let us make using our talents for salvation a priority so that we may hear our Lord say to us, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us. Amen.
Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross
A Special Announcement!
Elizabeth (Ella) Chernjavsky and Vassily Dudkin are engaged to be married. At the end of this summer, our parish celebrated their engagement with a wonderful evening of fellowship!
May the Lord bless them.
A Special Birthday
May God grant her many years and salvation!
From the Parish Council
Glory to God for all things!
We have a few accomplishments to share, including the balance on our loan, which is now under $45,000! Thank you to all who donate and support our parish. Thank you also to those who replaced the lock on the hall-side door and have made copies of the new key.
We are currently planning to have the parking lot receive a topcoat and seal. Stay tuned for details. Also, we will soon have separate, dedicated phone lines for the church and elevator, and we will have WIFI in the church building for presentations, remote meetings, and streaming services.
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,, Vicky Selznick (email@example.com), and Stephanie Rindell (firstname.lastname@example.org).
FOR A DETAILED CALENDAR, visit our website: https://www.holyascensionofchrist.org/calendar
October 1 - Everyone is invited to attend the Feast of St. Maximus in Owego for Divine Liturgy
October 8 - St. Sergius of Radonezh; Venerable Euphrosyne of Alexandria
- GOC Youth and Family Conference in Chicago
- We will have services at Holy Ascension with Fr. Dmitry
October 13 - Paraklesis at 6:30 pm, Catechetical Class to follow
October 15- Hieromartyr Cyprian & Virgin-martyr Justina
October 20 - Vespers at 6:30 pm, Catechetical Class to follow
October 22 - Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council
October 25 - Parish Council meeting - 7:00pm
October 29 - Venerable Longinus the Centurion who stood at the Cross of the Lord
- Clergy Conference weekend
- We will have services at Holy Ascension with Fr. Dmitry
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.