Reflection on the Good Samaritan, Gospel of Luke, Chapter 10, Verses 30-37

The words of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke:

As a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, robbers attacked him and grabbed everything he had. They beat him up and ran off, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road. But when he saw the man, he walked by on the other side. Later a temple helper [a Levite] came to the same place. But when he saw the man who had been beaten up, he also went by on the other side.

A man from Samaria then came traveling along that road. When he saw the man, he felt sorry for him and went over to him. He treated his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next morning he gave the innkeeper two silver coins and said, “Please take care of the man. If you spend more than this on him, I will pay you when I return.”

Then Jesus asked, “Which one of these three people was a real neighbor to the man who was beaten up by robbers?” The teacher answered, “The one who showed pity.” Jesus said, “Go and do the same!” (Luke 10:30-37 CEV)

The prayer of a servant:

My Lord God, I confess that I am the priest and the Levite. Not only did I walk past, I walked away. I was too busy, too frightened, my heart was too cold. In my own abundance, I was too poor in spirit to bear the cost. In my own comfort, I was too complacent to suffer any inconvenience. It was the Samaritan, a man despised and without pride of position or parentage, who was faithful and loving and who gave of himself sacrificially.

The Good SamaritanFather God, in your mercy, say that it is not too late for me. Another may have borne the burden, but I can go to the inn and sit with the traveler while he heals. I can bathe his wounds and feed him and lighten his spirit until the Good One returns.

Grant me the grace to do that little service with a grateful heart; please stand with me so that I will not walk away and shun the greater service the next time.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner. Amen.

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Paul, writing to the Church in Ephesus: 

Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers, so that his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong. This will continue until we are united by our faith and by our understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him. We must stop acting like children. We must not let deceitful people trick us by their false teachings, which are like winds that toss us around from place to place.  Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head of the body. Christ holds it together and makes all of its parts work perfectly, as it grows and becomes strong because of love. (Eph 4:11-16, CEV)

Ambrosiaster, from his fourth century commentary on Ephesians:

Considering the love of Christ by which he loved us and gave himself up for us, we should make everything subject to him as members of the body are to the head. Others, either through error or through malice, may not confess that Christ is the head of everything or that everything is created from him by the Father’s will. But we who adhere to the wholeness of faith ought nonetheless to take pains with all care and devotion that we bring no harm to this faith but rather to uphold it. We do this by remaining steadfast in this affirmation, so as to constrain the talk of depraved minds armed against the truth.

The prayer of a servant:

My Lord God, I confess that I often do not follow the teachings of the Church and I dispute my Bishop over matters that I claim to be conscience. I overlook the foundation of the Church’s teaching in Christ, in Peter and the Apostles, and in the blood of faithful martyrs and confessors. I do not live as I am taught and know in my heart to be right; I compromise so that I can pursue the things I want and avoid the sacrifice and suffering that Jesus lived with as he remained faithful to you.

Father God, grant me strength and wisdom in humility. In the light of your Spirit, help me to cooperate with your grace in rooting out the willfulness that is displeasing to you and ruinous for me.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner. Amen.

A Calendar of Saints Revered Throughout Christendom

 

The hope included in these posts is that through our prayer and interior reflection, a true spirit of unity might manifest itself in our lives and therefore in the life of the Church. 

 The Saints of the Church pray along with us as the “great cloud of witnesses” that we read of in the book of Hebrews. An excellent calendar is available for a small charge through the Fellowship of St. James that identifies the blessed ones that are shared among all Christians. Many, if not most, are from the First Thousand Years of the undivided Church. You can find more information on the calendar at http://www.fsj.org/pages/fsjcalendar.php

 It is my hope that you will remember these mutually revered saints them in your daily prayers with a special request for the unity of the faith and the reconciliation of our churches. St. James Ecumenical Calendar of the Christian Year 

Other on-line sources to find the common saints of the day is to compare such databases as on the website http://www.ecatholichub.net/study/saints,whichis a database taken from the most recent Roman Martyrology of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican’s official list of saints and blesseds; and as a secondary source, http://www.catholic.org/saints On the Eastern Orthodox side, I have found “The Lives of the Saints” complied by the Orthodox Church of America at  http://www.oca.org/FSIndex.asp?SID=4  to be fairly comprehensive.

 This blog is not connected with the Fellowship of St. James and in no way benefits from calendar sales.

 

Part II, Reflections on Matthew, Chapters 13 and 6: The Lord’s Prayer

In the post of 12 March, we heard Jesus warn us about becoming people whose “heart has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing…” The post suggested that one way to open more fully to the Word of God was to try to hear it in a fresh version and with fresh ears. 

 The English version of the Lord’s prayer that we are all familiar with favors the preferences of translators from Latin and does not fully reflect the understanding of the apostolic Churches regarding the place of the Eucharist in relation to the prayer. Nor does it make clear that it is not our God that is the maker of the temptations that we face, but rather that they arise from the evil one and due to our own failings before God and man.

In the spirit of freshening, we offer you another translation of the Lord’s Prayer, an English version that better reflects the nuances of the original Greek that the Eastern Orthodox Churches recites on a daily basis (as well as the Slavonic.) This version does not originate with me; in fact, it is used in Lenten services in an Orthodox parish precisely for the opporThe Good Shepherdtunity to hear it fresh and embrace it more fully. I hope you will share in that blessing.

OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as in Heaven. Our bread for the Morrow give us today. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the power, and the glory, unto the ages. Amen.

St. Sabinus & the Dangers of the Third Century A.D.

St. Sabinus

St. Sabinus

 

To call the third century A.D. merely dangerous is an incomplete statement. It was chaotic, violent, and contentious.  Imperial Rome was in chaos. The rule of law was spotty throughout the empire. Even where there was law, Christians regularly faced threats to life, limb, and reputation.

 

One such martyr was St. Sabinus, an official within the Egyptian city of Hermopolis. In 287, a persecution of Christians was launched there. (Although it happened early in the reign of the emperor Diocletian- 284-305- it is unlikely Diocletian initiated the campaign. His bile was fully released on Christians early in the fourth century.)  St Sabinus and his companions hid in a remote village. An ungrateful beggar, previously helped by the saint, revealed his hiding place for a few gold coins. Sabinus and six other Christians were captured, tortured, and then drowned in the Nile for their failure to renounce their faith.

St. Sabinus is remembered this day in the Roman Catholic Church and on Monday the 16th in the Orthodox and Melkite Greek-Catholic calendars.

Kontakion – Tone 2 

O God-bearing Sabinas, you are an unfading flower and bloom of divinity. Branch heavy-laden with fruit, fill with your gladness those who in faith honor your memory, and pray for us all unceasingly.

First of Two Reflections on the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 13, Verses 14-16

Our Lord said:

 “And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which said, “By hearing you shall hear and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see and shall not perceive;  for this people’s heart has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and they have closed their eyes, lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.”

Matthew recorded these sayings in Greek. They recount the words of a man whose native tongue was Aramaic and who himself was quoting a writer who used Hebrew. This Babel of language complicates things, but also enriches.

Lent is the time to renew our vigilance over our hearts, to sharpen our sight, and reinvigorate our hearing. One way to do this is to depart for a while from the translation of the Bible that our hand most often falls to. English has developed to the point that most words have the singular beauty of an individual red rose, clear and crisp. Other languages, as do the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament, more often resemble a single branch of an ancient azalea. While the impression of the branch may be white or pink, a closer look reveals shadings in tint, streaks of color, and a richness in vibrancy that defies easy description.

Translations of the Bible into English use the precision of a single stem to describe the swirls of color within the original words. Ask your priest or a trusted elder to recommend a translation unfamiliar to you. Read it through Lent and beyond if you wish, comparing it with your old favorite. Hear the words fresh, as if for the first time, and pray to God for the grace to ever be more fully converted.

From a prayer of St. Antioch:

O Lord, enlighten my mind with the understanding of Your Holy Gospel. Enlighten my heart with the purity of Your Word. Enlighten my body with Your passionless Passion. Keep my thoughts in Your humility. Amen.Christ the True Vine

On Ephesians Chapter 5, Verses 25-27

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,  that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word,  that He might present it to Himself as the glorious church, without spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that it should be holy and without blemish. ”

A commentary from St. John Chrysostom:

“And not simply has He [Christ] adorned her [the Church], but has made her glorious, ‘without spot or wrinkle or any such things.’ Let us too seek that sort of beauty, and grace will make us able to refract it.”