The Gospel lesson for this the 15th Sunday Of Matthew (Matthew 22:35-46) calls our attention to the most important teaching of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ which is love.
Jesus is confronted by a lawyer who asked what is the greatest commandment, to which Jesus responds to love your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. That is the greatest commandment and the second is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. So both commandments are about love, which crowns and holds together all Christian attitudes, virtues and deeds.
You may ask yourself, “What is Christian love?” Christian love is God’s grace in action, forgiving, healing and uniting people in faith and love. People, philosophers, religious leaders have talked about love throughout the ages, but not one made it so central as did Jesus Christ, who not only talked about it but fully lived it. He himself is the incarnate love of God sacrificed on the Cross for our salvation. Thus the central and eternal message of our faith, the glowing core of its existence, is love. Our faith is a movement of love, for when Christ lives in us as Orthodox Christians, and truly reigns in our parish, He lives and reigns as holy love.
The Church Fathers and the Saints frequently speak of the supreme value of Christian love which is none other than the Holy Love of Christ in our hearts. As Christ enters our lives and we experience His presence, we glow with his love. Jesus said, “the kingdom is in you!” Our hearts become the spiritual banquet room where we feast on the love of Christ, for as we grow in His Grace and experience, we receive the power to love others with Christ’s love. This is the joyous message of the Gospel of St. Matthew.
Today also has a second gospel lesson prescribed for the Sunday after the Elevation of the Cross from Matthew 8: 34-9:1, in which Jesus says if anyone wants to be my disciple they must deny themselves take up their cross and follow me. This is the message of Christ’s Holy Cross, for it proclaims the victory of Christ over the powers of sin, death and Satan, and his granting of new life to us!
This week on September 24, we commemorate the 226 Anniversary of the arrival of the Valaam Mission to America among whom was our own Father Herman of Alaska. This week we also celebrate the arrival of our new iconostas which we have been blessed to receive by the Grace of God from the former parish of the Holy Trinity in McAdoo, Pa. May the memory of those faithful people and pioneers, who toiled and worked over many long years at Holy Trinity Church be forever eternal! Vechnaya Pamyat!
On behalf of a grateful parish, St. Herman of Alaska in Glen Mills. Pa., we thank them for their kindness and generosity but most of all love, as we continue to proclaim the joyous message of Christ’s Holy Church in Pennsylvania!