Our Stewardship takes many forms

john-chrysostom-01Let us listen, as many as are to receive Christ: for it is possible to receive Him even now. Let us hearken, and emulate and receive Him with as great a zeal, for indeed, when you receive a man who is hungry and naked, you have received and cherished Him.

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How serious are you?

Offering "Thine own of Thine own..."

The Eucharist

St. John Chrysostom…

I observe many partaking of Christ’s Body lightly and yet it is not the Epiphany or Lent that makes it a fit time for approaching but it is the sincerity and purity of the soul. For as often as you do this, you proclaim the Lord’s death.

You proclaim the Lord’s death – with our Stewardship comes responsibility for this. Partaking in the Eucharist every week confirms our faith and prepares us for the Heavenly Kingdom. Through His Crucifixion, our sins were nailed to the Cross! As St. John reflects, partaking of His Body and Blood should not be done once or twice a year, but as often as possible with preparation and guidance from your parish Priest. Our entire Orthodox faith focuses on the Eucharist and from a Stewardship perspective, Christ provides His Body and His Blood while we approach Him asking for forgiveness and providing ourselves to Him. The Divine Liturgy and Holy Eucharist is necessary for our personal Salvation!

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Material possessions – tools to attain the final goal!

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St. Jerome:

As I have been led to touch to the subject— it shall have a treatise to itself if Christ permit— I will relate what took place not very many years ago at Nitria. A brother, more thrifty than covetous, and ignorant that the Lord had been sold for thirty pieces of silver, Matthew 26:15 left behind him at his death a hundred pieces of money which he had earned by weaving linen. As there were about five thousand monks in the neighborhood, living in as many separate cells, a council was held as to what should be done. Some said that the coins should be distributed among the poor; others that they should be given to the church, while others were for sending them back to the relatives of the deceased. However, Macarius, Pambo, Isidore and the rest of those called fathers, speaking by the Spirit, decided that they should be interred with their owner, with the words: “Your money perish with you.” Acts 8:20 Nor was this too harsh a decision; for so great fear has fallen upon all throughout Egypt, that it is now a crime to leave after one a single shilling.

 

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A reflection on today’s Gospel…

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St. John Chrysostom:

“For it is not because one is a Jew and the other a Gentile, that one is honored and the other disgraced, but it is from the works that either treatment comes.”

Protopresbyter Milorad Loncar:

“The Lord, Who knows the human heart, called His creatures to this important mission, knowing their zeal and piety. God gives many different talents to His people. Some re gifted to be teachers, others to be builders; others have a talent for preaching and so forth. If everyone were to multiply his own talents, doing what he knows best, then we would find the world to be a better place.”

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Fishers of men!

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In today’s Gospel (Matthew 4:18-23), we reflect upon the following verses and St. John Chrysostom’s homily:
18 “And walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brethren, Simon that was surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers. 19 And He saith unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they left their nets, and followed Him.”

And yet John saith that they were called in another manner. Whence it is evident that this was a second call; and from many things one may perceive this. For there it is said, that they came to Him when “John was not yet cast into prison;” but here, after he was in confinement. And there Andrew calls Peter, but here Jesus calls both. And John saith, Jesus seeing Simon coming, saith, “Thou art Simon, the Son of Jona, thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone.” But Matthew saith that he was already called by that name; for his words are, “Seeing Simon that was called Peter.” And from the place whence they were called, and from many other things, one may perceive this; and from their ready obedience, and abandonment of all. For now they were well instructed beforehand. But mark both their faith, and their obedience. For though they were in the midst of their work (and ye know how greedy a thing fishing is), when they heard His command, they delayed not, they procrastinated not, they said not, “let us return home, and converse with our kinsfolk,” but “they forsook all and followed,” even as Elisha did to Elijah.”Because such is the obedience which Christ seeks of us, as that we delay not even a moment of time, though something absolutely most needful should vehemently press on us. Wherefore also when some other had come unto Him, and was asking leave to bury his own father, not even this did He permit him to do; to signify that before all we ought to esteem the following of Himself.

As we consider today’s Gospel, reflect upon the urgency and obedience that we are called to when following Christ. The same urgency and obedience that is necessary as Stewards of our parish. We must become Stewards immediately, not next month, not when Church school starts, not at Christmas but as soon as possible as our Church needs our support. We must also be obedient with our Stewardship of Time, Talents and Treasures – not, when we have a surplus of money or time, not when we have extra funds available but as soon as possible as the Church needs support for all of the ministries it provides.

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St. Cyprian of Carthage – The Lord’s Prayer

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Reflecting on the writings of St. Cyprian of Carthage, think in terms of prayer as our Stewardship in the Orthodox faith.

We also say in addition: ‘Thy will be done in heaven as it is on earth,’ not that God may do what He wishes, but that we may be able to do what God wishes. For who stands in the way of God’s doing what He wishes? But since the devil stands in the way of our mind and action obeying God in all things, we pray and petition that God’s will be done in us. That it may be done in us, there is need of God’s will, that is, of His help and protection, because no one is strong in his own strength, but is safe by the indulgence and mercy of God. Finally also the Lord, showing the infirmity of man which He was bearing, says: ‘Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me,’ and giving forth to His disciples an example not to do their own will but God’s, He added: ‘Yet not as I will, but as thou willest.’ And in another place He says: ‘For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.’ But if the Son obeyed to do His Father’s will, how much more should the servant obey to do his Lord’s will, just as John also in his epistle urges and instructs us to do the will of God, saying: ‘Do not love the world, nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him, because all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life which is not from the Father, but from the lust of the world. And the world with its lust will pass away, but he who does the will of God abides forever, as God also abides forever.’ We who wish to abide forever should do the will of God who is eternal.

Moreover, the will of God is what Christ both did and taught. Humility in conversation, steadfastness in faith, modesty in words, justice in deeds, mercy in works, discipline in morals, not to know how to do an injury and to be able to bear one done, to keep peace with the brethren, to love the Lord with a whole heart, to love Him in that He is Father, to fear Him in that He is God, to place nothing at all before Christ, because He placed nothing before us, to cling inseparably to His love, to stand bravely and faithfully at His cross; when there is a struggle over His name and honor to exhibit the constancy in speech with which we confess, under investigation the confidence with which we enter combat, in death the patience for which we are crowned; this is to wish to be co-heir with Christ; this is to do the commandment of God; this is to fulfill the will of the Father.

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The Saints set a great example for us – will we follow it?

All Saints
This past Sunday, we commemorated all of the Saints. Many of these men and women were individuals, who through finding Christ, were baptized and lived a very focused life. This life was challenging, difficult, came with burdens, and tested them with temptations. As they prayed, labored, taught and lived their lives each day – their existence focused on God and works.
These works took many forms but all were comparable to the terms we use today – Time, Talents and Treasures. Many of the Saints have written that God will judge us based on our works – what we do with all that He has provided for us.
As you arise each morning and before you go to sleep at night, think about all of the ways in which you work, or can work, to give of your Time, Talents and Treasures. Pray and ask God for guidance as to how you can focus your efforts to ensure you are doing all that you can.
Your personal salvation depends on it!
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