8 February 2015

posted 6 Feb 2015, 04:13 by C S Paul

8 February 2015

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Aneede Sunday - All the Departed Faithful

Scripture Reading for this Sunday

Luke 12:32-48King James Version (KJV)

32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;

36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.

37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.

39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.

40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

41 Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?

42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?

43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.

45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;

46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

47 And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Sermon / Homily on The Sunday of the Departed

by Fr. Varghese M Daniel, PhD, Yale University

"Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice [Job l:5), why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them"
(St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on First Corinthians 41:5 [A.D. 392]).

Before entering into the Great Lent, it is germane to remember our departed, those who feed the spiritual sustenance to our life. (Heb. 13:7) They nurtured and demonstrated the eminence of our spiritual lives. The readings (including St. Luke 12:32-48) of this Sunday transmit the following thoughts to our minds:

First, The visualization beyond horizon

Christian life mainly endeavors to obtain the life beyond death, which is one of the key teachings of the Bible and Jesus. (St. Jn.6, 1 Cor. 15) This visualization of eternal life inspires us to lead a life of virtue in this world. Jesus assured us that each of our human virtues is the manifestation of God's love. When we stretch out our hands to the needy in apposite time we will lay the bricks for our eternal home in the kingdom of God (St. Mt. 25:31-46). Jesus affirms this is the real treasure, which will remain forever. (This visualization of eternal life also will remind us constantly of the necessity to control the words (St. James. 3:1-12). Hence the words and deeds of our present life determine the ownership of our place beyond the horizon. A prayer for our departed in the Anaphora of Mar Osthathios and Mar Isaac embraces the beauty of the eternal home. This visualization has fueled the life of a believer.

Second, Eternal Readiness for Eternal life

"Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning." (Luke 12:35) This is a call for a persistent and a consistent way of earthly life.

Last week we heard that a car accident had taken 4 young lives in Chicago, all of them were in their early twenties. Just like any other youngsters in America, they expected a life span of 80-90 years. Nevertheless their lives were completed within a minute's time. Their car caught fire and all 4 youngsters of Indian origin died on the spot. They didn't get a chance even to think about the life after death at that particular moment. We all are continuing our journey in the shadow of death. There is no specific time for the preparation of eternal life. So the eternal readiness is a specific criterion for eternal life. (Luke 12:45-47)

Third, the departed are part of the non-departed Church

The Orthodox ecclesiology affirms the Biblical teachings unambiguously that the Church is the bride of our Lord Jesus (Eph. 5:22-33) and she is eternal as her bridegroom. Church includes the living and the departed (Eph. 2:20-22, Hebrew 12:22-24). Every believer who completes his / her life joins with a large community of believers. (Numbers.20:24, Heb. 12:1) In this departed state, the believers are not silent rather they are in communion with our Lord (Phil. 1:21, 23). This faith consoles and encourages us to pray for them and seek their prayers. They are continuing the same Church life even beyond the horizon. That's why St. Paul asks "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" and he affirms "thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (I Cor. 15:55-57)

Let us pray for our beloved departed, who have given blood and sweat to form our identity in this world before we enter into the Great Lent and remember the passion and glorious resurrection of our Lord.


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