Christ Is Risen!
Everyone shall be saved he says, whether a priest or a slave or free. For there is no male or female in Christ Jesus, neither slave nor free… but each appears according to his deeds!
Let us work towards our Salvation through the use of our Time, Talents and Treasures as Stewardship.
Do you not know that in the day of death how sins make the soul shrink? How they stir up the heart from beneath? At that time therefore, when such things are happening, the remembrance of good works stand by us, like a calm in the storm, and comforts the perturbed soul. St. John Chrysostom
Today is the third Sunday of Great Lent and the Orthodox Church commemorates the Precious and Life-Giving Cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Divine Liturgy includes a special veneration of the Cross, which prepares the faithful for the commemoration of the Crucifixion during Holy Week.
Let’s reflect for a moment on the Crucifixion and its meaning. Jesus Christ died for our sins which was done because “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16. God’s love for us – our opportunity for eternal life – our Salvation and the hope of living in God’s kingdom are all because Jesus died on the Cross. As we venerate the Cross this Sunday, let us especially think about the meaning of the Cross and ask …how much do we love God? …how much do we love our Church which represents Christ? …how much do we love God for all that he provides for us? Do we love him enough to sacrifice of our Time, Talents and Treasures?
Kontakion from the third Sunday of Great Lent
No longer does the flaming sword guard the gate of Eden, for a marvelous quenching is come upon it, even the Tree of the Cross. The sting has been taken from death, and the victory from Hades. And, You, my Savior, has appeared unto those in Hades saying: Enter again into Paradise.
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
I have recklessly forgotten Your glory, O Father; and among sinners I have scattered the riches which You had given me. Therefore, I cry to You like the Prodigal: “I have sinned before You, O compassionate Father;
receive me a penitent and make me as one of Your hired servants.”
Kontakion from the Sunday of the Prodigal Son
This Sunday, the Gospel reading focuses on the Prodigal Son’s return to his father. The Holy Fathers have said that if this were the only Scripture to survive, it would fully represent the love that God, as our Father, has for us. The question we must reflect upon is are we good and faithful Stewards with what God has given us? Do we squander all that He provides or do we take responsibility for how we use our Time, Talents and Treasures?
As we contemplate our personal return to God through Great Lent, will we take the time to reflect on our Stewardship? God loves us and will continue to take care of us, however, we have to be responsible in all that we do. As our Church represents the love that God has for us and through the death of His Son, the forgiveness for our sins, what explanation would we ever need when asked to support our Church? Through Stewardship, we can return our love to God, and be thankful for all that He continues to do.
The approach of Jesus to Zaccheus and to all such persons in the New Testament gives birth to a distinctively Eastern Orthodox understanding of the relationship between God and humanity. Peter Berger, the eminent Lutheran theologian and sociologist, puts it beautifully as he reflects on comments by Paul Evdokimov.
“Evdokimov suggests that Western Christianity sees the relationship between God and man as taking place in a courtroom – God is the judge, man is guilty, sentence must be pronounced, Christ takes the sentence upon himself, which allows God to forgive man. The entire transaction is judicial and penitential. By contrast, Eastern Christianity sees the relationship as taking place in a hospital – man is sick, sin is just part of the sickness, Christ is the victor over every part of this sickness (including death, which is the culmination of the sickness). The transaction between God and man is not judicial but therapeutic. It seems to me that this is a much more compassionate view of the human condition and its redemption.”