This Sunday we hear the words of the Gospel of the Last Judgement from the Evangelist Matthew 25:31-36. This Sunday is also known as Meatfare Sunday because it is the last day before the Feast of Feasts, on which the eating of meat is allowed. Next week is Cheesefare Sunday, when in addition to refraining from meat, we begin our fasting, according to the Church, from dairy products etc, thus ushering us into the more stricter discipline of Great and Holy Lent.
On this the last Sunday and day of the month of February 2021, we again hear the Gospel of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). This gospel lesson is about a son who runs away from his home and his father, squalors away his inheritance and eventually down and out from high living returns home to his welcoming father.
With this Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, we Orthodox Christians begin the Lenten Triodion which is the ten-week period of Pre Lent and Great Lenten days ending on the Saturday of Holy Week. Thus, this book the Triodion prescribes the order for the four Pre-Lenten Sundays, the six weeks of Great Lent (40) and Holy Week.
Today we read the Gospel from the 17th Sunday of Matthew Chapter 15: verses 21-28, concerning the woman of Canaan who approached Jesus as he came to the region of Tyre and Sidon. She had not been brought up by pious Jewish parents to practice the customs of the Jews and to believe in the living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. She was a Gentile of Canaanite stock, who were old enemies of the Jews.
Today we hear the Gospel for the 34th Sunday After Pentecost which is taken from Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the Talents. The reason for the Readings to now switch to Matthew instead of Luke as we have been hearing for so many weeks, is because Pascha is late this year. We also celebrate today, January 30, 2021, the Holy Feast of the Three Hierarchs: St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom – the great Doctors of the Church, who played a pivotal role as influential bishops of the early Church in the shaping and development of Christian theology.
The gospel for this Sunday is prescribed for the 14th Sunday of Luke chapter 18:35-43, which tells of the blind beggar Bartimaeus, who laying by the road near Jericho hears a commotion of people as they were passing bye. Bartimaeus asks what is happening to which the people say, Jesus of Nazareth is passing bye. He then cries out, “Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me!”, after which the people tell him to be quiet. He then cries out even louder: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Today is a very special day in the hagiography of the Orthodox Church for this day, January 17, is dedicated to the memory of St. Anthony the Great, the founder of Egyptian monasticism. St. Anthony viewed monastic life as a life centered on Christ and on such evangelical virtues as prayer, poverty, simplicity, chastity, humility, vigilant warfare against demons, fasting and love.
This Sunday, the Sunday following the Great Feast of Theophany, speaks to us in the gospel of St. Matthew Chapter 4 Verses 12-17 about the beginning of Jesus’ work and ministry in Galilee, that it was like a great light that began to shine on all. After all this, Theophany is the Feast of Lights. This is the fulfillment of the prophecy when Jesus went to the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali to begin his earthly ministry to the people who lived in darkness, but saw a great light! “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
This Sunday January 3, 2021 is called the Sunday Before the Feast of Theophany. The main theme of this Sunday is taken from the Gospel of St. Mark Chapter 1 verses 1 thru 8, which speaks to us in anticipation of the call (preparation) for a new beginning. The Evangelist Mark relates the adult life of Jesus, beginning with His Baptism in the River Jordan, as the gospel of good news of the salvation of mankind through Jesus Christ.