Today we hear in our churches the Parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard. The image of the vineyard is one of the most endeared backdrop in the lands of the Gospels and surrounding areas. According to the Old Testament prophets, Israel is referred to as the vineyard of God. In the New Testament, the Church is often referred to as the Lord’s vineyard. You see there is great joy and fulfillment in working in and belonging to the vineyard, for the Lord Himself is the owner and provider of all things. There is great satisfaction in watching its rich fruit growing, maturing and then being shared with others for the glory of God’s Holy Church.
This Sunday August 30, 2020 is unique in that it commemorates the 12th Sunday of St. Matthew Chapter 19:16-24, which is the story of the Rich Man and Eternal life. In this story, the rich young man asks his momentous question, “What must I do to receive eternal life?” To which Jesus answers you must keep the commandments if you wish to receive eternal life. Then Jesus proceeds to recite the commandments, but adds to be perfect you must sell your possessions and give to the poor, then you will have treasures in heaven, then come follow me!
In today’s gospel reading for the eleventh Sunday following Pentecost Matthew 18:23-35, Jesus speaks of the importance of forgiving others by telling the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. The Parable provides a very interesting contrast between the teachings of the Old and New Testaments concerning forgiveness.
Beginning August 1 thru August 14, we in the Orthodox Church observe the great penitentiary fast before the Great Feast of the Falling Asleep of the Most Holy Theotokos, (Dormition),the Mother of God. This great feast honors the Virgin Mary, The Prototype of Womanhood, through whom the mystery of the incarnation took place.
Today is the ninth Sunday after Pentecost in which is read the Gospel if St. Matthew Chapter 14 verses 22-33 concerning Jesus walking on water. The miracle of the walking on the water shows Jesus’s divine powers as Lord over creation. As the lesson tells us he came to rescue his disciples from the raging winds and waves which in the Holy Scripture symbolize chaos, sin and death.
Today we in the Orthodox Church remember the Translation of the Holy Relics of Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen as well as the memory of St. Basil, Fool for Christ, whose relics lie beneath the famed Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow. The actual name of the Cathedral is dedicated to the Feast of the Intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God (Pokrov).
Today we commemorate St. Jacob Netsvetov, a mixed Russian and Native American Aleut, who endeavored for many years to be the Enlightener of the Yupik People in Alaska. It was through his missionary efforts that thousands of Yupik Eskimos of the three river basins were brought to the Orthodox Christian faith. Holy Father Jacob pray unto God for Us!
Today we also celebrate the Holy Relics of St. Seraphim of Sarov, one of the most famous monastic saints of the Orthodox Church of Russia. Let us pray before his Holy Relics at our Church for the forgiveness of our sins!
This Sunday we hear the gospel lesson from St. Matthew 8:28-9:1 concerning demons and possession. Jesus himself did not reject the popular notion of his time that Satan and his demons had power over the fallen world, causing physical and spiritual sicknesses and bringing about a distortion of the divine likeness of human beings.
Today we hear the story of the Roman officer who came to Jesus to ask him to heal his servant, saying, “but only say the word and my servant will be healed”. Upon hearing his request Jesus said, “not even in Israel have I found such faith…be it done for you as you have believed.” The centurion’s servant was healed at that very moment!