Δευτέρα, 26 Φεβρουαρίου 2018

Sunday of the Orthodoxy (first Sunday of Great Lent): Who Christ is for us and how we worship Him?

Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia & Malawi


Photo from here
We have come to the end of the first week of the holy salvific, and great Lent. We heard the prayerful canon of St. Andrew of Crete, in which we recalled people and events from the history of the Church, the history of humanity. But it is not for the sake of a history lesson that we gathered in church each evening. While hearing about the sinners of old who lived thousands of years ago in far-away places, we sorrowfully recognized our own sins. But it turns out that from the righteous ones we are truly separated by thousands of years and kilometers. Today, on the first Sunday of Great Lent, we recall one more event from Church history. In memory of the defeat of the iconoclast heresy, the Holy Church established in the 9th century the feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. This heresy, which tormented the Body of Christ for over a century, was condemned at the seventh Ecumenical Council[1] and again by the Synod of Constantinople, the period of Christological debates within the Church came to an end, and the Orthodox teaching was re-established.
The iconoclast heresy rejected not only the icon as a window through which a ray of light may shine into the darkened human soul, but also the Orthodox teaching about Christ as fully God and fully human in the hypostasis of God the Son.
But, like everything in the Church, this feast is established not merely for historiographic reasons, and it is not by accident that the Fathers of the Church established this feast on the first Sunday of Great Lent. The Triumph of Orthodoxy in the soul of each one of us is the goal of Great Lent; triumph over falsehood, heresy, and the snares of the devil, and achieving Orthodoxy in our souls is the goal of our whole life. And one of the central issues of the Orthodox state of our soul and our life is the question of Who Christ is for us and how we worship Him. It is precisely this question that Christ posed to His disciples (Matt. 16:15), and upon the rock of Peter’s answer established His Church (Matt. 16:18).
In the end, it is an incorrect answer to this question that defines every heresy. “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15) Only God, Who appeared in human form as a ghost, a mirage? Only human—a great prophet who knows the mysteries of God—but only human? Whom did the Most Holy Virgin bear—a human, who was destined to become the chosen vessel of the Holy Spirit, or pre-eternal God Himself?

Photo from here (Nairobi, Kenya)

Finally, which prototype does the Church venerate of the icon- undescribable and unimaginable God, Whom no one has ever seen (John 1:18), a created Body, which can be depicted but is a creature like all others, or the incarnate hypostasis of God the Son? How do we relate to Christ? As a hireling, expecting to receive our reward according to a contract, as an accused man who is sure of his acquittal because someone else took the blame for his crime, or as a person dying from a fatal illness who entrusts his life to the hands of a merciful Physician, begging for healing? Each heresy found its own answers to these questions, and each time the Church Fathers rose up to defend the Orthodox teaching.
This is why our Church is holy, apostolic, and patristic. It is holy, because it is created by the Holy Spirit Who sanctifies, enlightens, cleanses, and makes the Church whiter than snow. The Spirit of God prepares the Church, the bride of Christ, to stand before the Divine Groom blameless, untarnished by sin, falsehood, and heresy.
We call the Church Apostolic, because the apostles, the pillars of the Church, having received God’s grace on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) and authority from Christ to bind and loose for the salvation of human souls (Matt. 16:19), freely gave this Grace through bishops to the entire Church. As grapes do not grow other than on a grapevine, in the same way there cannot be a Church without a bishop. Without apostolic succession there can only be a club of amateur gardeners who get together to read gardening manuals, but there cannot be a Church.

"Death has robbed a student of Social work department - Elijah Ngigi he was a humble and hardworking student that I knew for a period of time. As to his death he landed in the hands of cruel men who shortened his dreams. may his sour rest in peace" (Orthodox College of Africa).

We call the Church patristic because the holy fathers brought the fruits of righteous life and true theology on Christ’s vine, from which we eat, being strengthened in our life and faith.
The Holy Orthodox Church, our loving mother, protects us, her children, from all evil. And gives us only the healthiest and most nutritious fruits, and shields us from harmful and poisonous things. We, in turn, often do not listen to the mother’s advice and run from good. Even worse, we begin to puff up with pride, imagining that we are more educated, wiser, and more spiritual than the holy fathers, and that the path that led them to salvation is not acceptable for us, that it is archaic, that we know better which rules and rubrics to follow and which ones to ignore. To borrow a description from the Protodeacon Andrei Kuraev, we act like a person who enters the cockpit of a modern jetliner and, not comprehending the purpose behind the controls, declares that half of them are unnecessary; or as a person who has not even passed Biology 101, but enters a neurosurgeon’s office and declares that half of the surgical instruments are useless because he does not understand their purpose.

It is just as unintelligent to come to the tree of the Church, not knowing how to grow and ripen fruit, and to declare that the roots are unnecessary, the trunk can be cut down, the branches broken off. It is not for us to create the Church; “I will create”, says Christ. Ours is either to be in it and bear fruit or to be cut off from the Church and to entertain ourselves by reading gardening manuals.
Let us then, brothers and sisters, follow the spirit of the holy fathers and apostles, emulating their lives. Let us follow the Church rubrics and keep the fast. Let us live our lives in such a way that the Triumph of Orthodoxy, defeat of heresy, may become the state of our souls and not merely a historic event.
The Seventh Ecumenical Council convened on September 24, 787 in Nicaea.

A symbol of freedom of worship

"We carry icons this day around the church as a symbol of freedom of worship. It's indeed a great blessing to all Orthodox Christians. During this festive season of great Lent, we fast and pray for the needy persons. May God bless you abundantly."

In the Orthodox Vineyard of Africa

Fr Makarios Rop

All Saints of Africa, orthodox icon from South Africa (here)

 The Gospel of the Day in English, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic & Deutsch

Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia & Malawi

John 1:43-51

43 The day following, Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and found Philip and said unto him, “Follow Me.”
44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
45 Philip found Nathanael and said unto him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets wrote: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 And Nathanael said unto him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said unto him, “Come and see.”
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”
48 Nathanael said unto Him, “How knowest Thou me?” Jesus answered and said unto him, “Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.”
49 Nathanael answered and said unto Him, “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel.”
50 Jesus answered and said unto him, “Because I said unto thee, ‘I saw thee under the fig tree,’ believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these.”
51 And He said unto him, “Verily, verily I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

От Иоанна 1:43-51
Иисус призывает Филиппа и Нафанаила
43 На следующий день Иисус решил идти в Галилею. Он нашел Филиппа и сказал ему:
– Следуй за Мной!
44 Филипп был из Вифсаиды, из того же города, что и Андрей с Петром. 45 Он нашел Нафанаила и сказал ему:
– Мы встретили Того, о Ком написано в Законе Моисея и о Ком писали пророки. Это Иисус, сын Иосифа[a] из Назарета.
46 Нафанаил ответил:
– Разве из Назарета может быть что-нибудь доброе?
– Пойди и посмотри, – сказал Филипп.
47 Когда Иисус увидел идущего к Нему Нафанаила, Он сказал:
– Вот истинный израильтянин, в котором нет ни тени притворства.
48 – Откуда Ты меня знаешь? – удивился Нафанаил.
Иисус ответил:
– Еще до того, как Филипп позвал тебя, Я видел тебя под инжиром.
49 Тогда Нафанаил сказал:
– Рабби, Ты действительно Сын Бога, Ты Царь Израиля!
50 Иисус сказал:
– Ты говоришь это потому, что Я сказал, что видел тебя под инжиром. Ты увидишь еще больше этого.
51 И добавил:
– Говорю вам истину, вы увидите открытые небеса и ангелов Божьих, спускающихся и поднимающихся к Сыну Человеческому

Sundau of Orthodoxy, Burundi (from here)

João 1:43-51
43 No dia seguinte, quis Jesus ir à Galileia, e achou a Filipe, e disse-lhe: Segue-me. 44 E Filipe era de Betsaida, cidade de André e de Pedro. 45 Filipe achou Natanael e disse-lhe: Havemos achado aquele de quem Moisés escreveu na Lei e de quem escreveram os Profetas: Jesus de Nazaré, filho de José. 46 Disse-lhe Natanael: Pode vir alguma coisa boa de Nazaré? Disse-lhe Filipe: Vem e vê. 47 Jesus viu Natanael vir ter com ele e disse dele: Eis aqui um verdadeiro israelita, em quem não há dolo. 48 Disse-lhe Natanael: De onde me conheces tu? Jesus respondeu e disse-lhe: Antes que Filipe te chamasse, te vi eu estando tu debaixo da figueira. 49 Natanael respondeu e disse-lhe: Rabi, tu és o Filho de Deus, tu és o Rei de Israel. 50 Jesus respondeu e disse-lhe: Porque te disse: vi-te debaixo da figueira, crês? Coisas maiores do que estas verás. 51 E disse-lhe: Na verdade, na verdade vos digo que, daqui em diante, vereis o céu aberto e os anjos de Deus subirem e descerem sobre o Filho do Homem.


Johannes 1:43-51
Jesus beruft Philippus und überzeugt Nathanael
43 Als Jesus am nächsten Tag nach Galiläa gehen wollte, traf er unterwegs Philippus. Auch ihn forderte er auf: »Komm, folge mir nach!« 44 Philippus stammte wie Andreas und Petrus aus Betsaida. 45 Später begegnete Philippus Nathanael und erzählte ihm: »Wir haben den gefunden, von dem Mose im Gesetz geschrieben hat und den die Propheten angekündigt haben. Es ist Jesus aus Nazareth, der Sohn von Josef.« 46 »Nazareth?«, entgegnete Nathanael. »Was kann von da schon Gutes kommen!« Doch Philippus antwortete ihm: »Komm mit und überzeuge dich selbst!«

47 Als Jesus Nathanael erblickte, sagte er: »Hier kommt ein wahrer Israelit, ein ganz und gar aufrichtiger Mensch!« 48 Nathanael staunte: »Woher kennst du mich?« Jesus erwiderte: »Noch bevor Philippus dich rief, habe ich dich unter dem Feigenbaum gesehen.« 49 »Rabbi, du bist wirklich Gottes Sohn!«, rief Nathanael. »Du bist der König von Israel!« 50 Jesus sagte: »Das glaubst du, weil ich dir gesagt habe, dass ich dich unter dem Feigenbaum sah. Aber du wirst noch viel größere Dinge zu sehen bekommen.« 51 Und er fuhr fort: »Ich sage euch die Wahrheit: Ihr werdet den Himmel offen und die Engel Gottes hinauf- und herabsteigen sehen zwischen Gott und dem Menschensohn!«


ﻳﻮﺣﻨﺎ 1:43-51
43 وَفِي اليَوْمِ التّالِي قَرَّرَ يَسُوعُ الذَّهابَ إلَى إقلِيْمِ الجَلِيلِ. فَوَجَدَ رَجُلاً اسْمُهُ فِيلِبُّسُ وَقالَ لَهُ: «اتبَعْنِي.» 44 وَكانَ فِيلِبُّسُ مِنْ بَلْدَةِ بَيْتَ صَيْدا، بَلْدَةِ أنْدَراوُسَ وَبُطْرُسَ. 45 وَوَجَدَ فِيلِبُّسُ نَثَنائِيلَ وَقالَ لَهُ: «لَقَدْ وَجَدْنا الرَّجُلَ الَّذِي كَتَبَ عَنْهُ مُوسَى فِي كُتُبِ الشَّرِيْعَةِ، وَالَّذِي كَتَبَ عَنْهُ الأنبِياءُ! هُوَ يَسُوعُ بْنُ يُوسُفَ مِنْ مَدِيْنَةِ النّاصِرَةِ.» 46 فَقالَ لَهُ نَثَنائِيلُ: «أيُمْكِنُ أنْ يَخرُجَ شَيْءٌ صالِحٌ مِنَ النّاصِرَةِ؟» فَقالَ فِيلِبُّسُ: «تَعالَ وَانظُرْ بِنَفْسِكَ.»

47 وَرَأى يَسُوعُ نَثَنائِيلَ آتِياً نَحْوَهُ، فَقالَ عَنْهُ: «هَذا إسْرائِيلِيٌّ أصِيلٌ لا خِداعَ فِيْهِ!» 48 فَقالَ لَهُ نَثَنائِيلُ: «كَيْفَ عَرَفْتَنِي؟» فَأجابَ يَسُوعُ: «رَأيْتُكَ عِندَما كُنْتَ تَحتَ شَجَرَةِ التِّيْنِ، قَبلَ أنْ يَدْعُوكَ فِيلِبُّسُ.» 49 فَقالَ نَثَنائِيلُ: «يا مُعَلِّمُ، أنتَ ابْنُ اللهِ! أنْتَ مَلِكُ إسْرائِيلَ!» 50 فَأجابَهُ يَسُوعُ: «أتُؤْمِنُ بِي لِأنِّي قُلْتُ إنِّي رَأيْتُكَ تَحتَ شَجَرَةِ التِّيْنِ؟ سَتَرَى أعظَمَ مِنْ هَذا.» 51 ثُمَّ قالَ لَهُ: «أقُولُ الحَقَّ لَكُمْ، سَتَرَوْنَ السَّماءَ تَنفَتِحُ وَ‹مَلائِكَةُ اللهِ يَصْعَدُونَ وَيْنزِلُونَ› [a] عَلَى ابْنِ الإنسانِ.»

See also

Archbishop Seraphim of Zimbabwe: “Come and See” - The feast day of Orthodoxy (& the mistake of today’s atheists)...
Holy Icons (tag)
To See Him Face to Face

Sunday of Orthodoxy, Orthodox Cathedral of Agia Triada in Harare
Sunday of Orthodoxy at the St George's Cathedral of Cape Town, South Africa  
Sunday of Orthodoxy at Sts. Anargyroi, in Nairobi, Kenya

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