My Beloved the Benevolent
Grace and peace wishing you every goodness and blessings
I am pleased to congratulate you on the beginning of the Advent Fast which starts on Thursday, November 25th and concludes with our celebration of the Nativity Feast on Friday, January 7, 2022. The Advent Fast is a period of preparation to receive the Newborn in Bethlehem into our hearts, to enlighten our lives and lead us in a life of holiness, purity and righteousness.
The church arranged the readings of the Sundays of the Advent Fast, which are six Sundays – four of which are in the month of Kiahk. These four readings of Kiahk are from the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke the Evangelist. The first Sunday of Kiahk is about the Annunciation of the birth of St. John the Baptist; the second Sunday is about the Annunciation of the birth of Christ; the third Sunday is about the visit of St. Mary to Elizabeth and the filling of John the Baptist with the Holy Spirit while he was in his mother’s womb; the fourth Sunday is about the birth of John the Baptist.
As for the first and second Sundays of the Advent Fast, which fall in the month of Hatour, they have special readings. The first Sunday of the fast is the third Sunday of the month of Hatour, and the reading is about the conditions and cost of following Christ which is the subject of our contemplation in this message. The reading of the second Sunday of the fast, which is the fourth Sunday of Hatour, is about the rich young man who did not follow Christ and went away sorrowful for he had great possessions. Mar. 10:17-31
Let’s contemplate together on the readings of the first Sunday of the Advent Fast on the cost of discipleship to Christ (Lu.14:25-35)
“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,…” Lu.14:25 The Lord Christ wanted to reveal to the multitudes that walking with Him in and of itself is not enough, but a person must examine himself lest his pursuit be in vain. Many are invited, few are selected. In the parable of the king who gave a wedding feast for his son, the Lord Christ made it clear that the invitation is not enough. Some rejected the invitation and others accepted it and attended, but some were not wearing the wedding attire, so they were cast outside. Therefore, Christ concluded the parable by saying, “For many are called, but few chosen.” Matt. 22:14 In the parable of the master of the house who went out to hire laborers for his vineyard, the Lord Jesus ended the parable by saying, “So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matt. 20:16 At the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus our Lord said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Matt. 7:21-23 How can people who taught in the name of Christ, performed miracles and cast out demons in the name of Christ, not have a share in the kingdom of heaven? The Lord the Judge says to them on the day of judgement that I do not know you, depart from me you who practice lawlessness! It is a mysterious and scary matter that should lead us all to examine ourselves.
St. Paul explains it to us by saying this about himself in order to help us examine ourselves, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” 1Cor. 13:1–2
The main condition to follow Christ is love:
- God’s love is first, and all love for others is through God’s love, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Lu. 14:26
- Carrying the cross and enduring all suffering for the sake of Christ, who was crucified for us and suffered for our salvation, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Lu.14:27
- Forsaking all ties with the world for the sake of Christ “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Lu. 14:33
- Whoever follows Christ without love, sacrifice, and forsakenness is like the salt that lost its flavor, “Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Lu. 14:34-35
May the Lord grant us the ears that hear and to act so that our love for the Lord is from the bottom of our hearts, and that we carry the cross and follow Him so that we will have a share in the eternal inheritance. May the Lord bless your offerings to support Santa Verena Charity Programs.