Sunday, April 4: “O Lord save Thy People!”

THE TENTH EOTHINON GOSPEL

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint John 21:1- 14

At that time, Jesus revealed Himself again to the Disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and He revealed Himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His Disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the Disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any fish?” They answered Him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. That Disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea. But the other Disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the Disciples dared ask Him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the Disciples after He was raised from the dead.

THE EPISTLE

The Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews 4:14-5:6

Brethren, since we have a High Priest, Who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One Who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt Himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by Him Who said to Him, “Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee”; as He says also in another place, “Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

THE GOSPEL

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark 8:34-9:1

The Lord said, “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” And He said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God come with power.”

ORTHROS

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

When Thou didst submit Thyself unto death, O Thou deathless and immortal One, then Thou didst destroy hell with Thy Godly power. And when Thou didst raise the dead from beneath the earth, all the powers of Heaven did cry aloud unto Thee: O Christ, Thou giver of life, glory to Thee.

APOLYTIKION FOR THE HOLY CROSS

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance, granting to Thy people victory over all their enemies, and by the power of Thy Cross preserving Thy commonwealth.

RESURRECTIONAL THEOTOKION

Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

As Gabriel cried aloud unto thee, “Hail, O Virgin,” with that cry did the Lord of all become incarnate in thee, O holy ark, as spake the righteous David; and Thou wast revealed as more spacious than the heavens, in that thou bore thy Creator. Wherefore, glory to Him Who abode in thee; glory to Him Who came from thee; glory to Him, Who through thy birth-giving hath set us free.

DIVINE LITURGY

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

When Thou didst submit Thyself unto death, O Thou deathless and immortal One, then Thou didst destroy hell with Thy Godly power. And when Thou didst raise the dead from beneath the earth, all the powers of Heaven did cry aloud unto Thee: O Christ, Thou giver of life, glory to Thee.

APOLYTIKION FOR THE HOLY CROSS

O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance, granting to Thy people victory over all their enemies, and by the power of Thy Cross preserving Thy commonwealth.

THE APOLYTIKON OF THE PROTECTION OF THE MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS

Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church, and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us. Angels and Bishops venerate Her, Apostles and prophets rejoice together, since for our sake she prays to the Eternal God!

KONTAKION FOR SUNDAYS IN GREAT LENT

To thee, the Champion Leader, do I offer thanks of victory, O Theotokos, thou who hast delivered me from terror; but as thou that hast that power invincible, O Theotokos, thou alone can set me free: from all forms of danger free me and deliver me, that I may cry unto thee: Hail, O Bride without Bridegroom.

HOMILY on evil as the fruit of the thoughts of men

“Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened to My words, nor to My law, but rejected it” (Jeremiah 6:19).

Brethren, do you see where evil grows and ripens? Not in the bosom of God, but in the thoughts of men. Evil is sown in the thoughts of men by demonic powers or by the passions of the flesh. Evil grows in the thoughts of men, spreads and multiplies itself, blossoms and bears leaves, and finally shows fruit. God is prompt to warn men to break from their evil thoughts so that evil will not ripen in their souls and bring forth its bitter and deadly fruit. God was prompt to warn Cain, but he did not want to heed the warning and permitted evil thoughts against his brother to bring forth evil fruit; fratricide. What are evil thoughts? All those thoughts that are contrary to the Law of God and the word of God. Evil thoughts are the selfwilled law of man, which man prescribes for himself in spite of and contrary to the Law of God. Therefore, if a man has resolutely decided to adhere to the Law of God, then evil thoughts are as weak as shadows, which quickly appear but quickly disappear in the same way. Then a man is lord over his thoughts, for he feels God as the Lord over himself. Then his law is the Law of God, and the evil thoughts of men are nothing. Behold, I will bring evil upon this people, said the Lord. What kind of evil? The fruit of their thoughts. That is: I will permit them only to reap that which they sowed and nurtured, for evil is neither My seed nor My harvest. The evil that I will permit upon lawless men is the fruit of their own thoughts. According to their thoughts, they should have estimated what kind of evil would befall them, as a sower estimates, according to his seeds, what he will harvest. O Lord, meek and guileless, save us from our own evil, which we alone have nurtured in ourselves. We pray to Thee: remove the evil fruit of evil crops, and help us to pluck out the evil seed from our souls. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Third Sunday of Lent

Veneration of the Holy Cross

Mark 8:34B – 9:1

From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Mark by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

34-37. And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, Whosoever desireth to follow after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever desireth to save his life, shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospels, the same shall save it. For what shall it profita man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? [In this passage of St. Mark, and in the following commentary, the single Greek word, psyche, has been translated as either “life” or “soul” as it has both these meanings. Since Peter had rebuked Him for wanting to be crucified, the Lord called the people unto Him, and said in the hearing of all, but directing His words mostly towards Peter, “Do you find fault with Me, Peter, because I take up the cross? I say to you, that neither you, nor anyone else, will be saved unless you die for the sake of goodness and truth.” See that Christ does not compel a man to die on a cross against his own will. Instead He said, Whosoever desireth. The Lord is saying: “I compel no one. I invite him to something good, not to something bad to which he must be forced. Whoever does not want these things is not worthy of them.” We can learn what it means to deny oneself if we understand what it means to deny another. He who denies another is he who, when he sees his brother, or servant, or father, being flogged or even murdered, does not turn towards him and pity him in his suffering, but acts as if he were a stranger to him. In this same manner the Lord wants us to show no pity towards our own bodies, so that even if we are flogged, or worse, let it make no difference to us. Let him take up his cross, that is, accept a most shameful death, for at that time to die on a cross was considered the most shameful of deaths. But since many were crucified for being bandits, the Lord added to the crucifixion something else: that one ought to have virtue. This is what it means to follow Me. Although His command that one give oneself over to death seemed hard and cruel, the Lord straightway shows this commandment is given out of love for mankind. For whosoever shall lose his life for My sake shall find life. (But the death of a condemned man, or of one who hangs himself, is not for Christs sake and brings no such reward.) And, on the contrary, he who appears to have saved his life, far from finding life, shall lose it by not remaining steadfast during his time of martyrdom. Do not say to Me, “But he has saved his life” it means nothing. Even if you say that he has gained the whole world as well, it is of no benefit. No one can exchange money for his salvation, for if that were so, a man who had gained the world but lost his soul, could, while burning in the flames of hell, use his money to buy innocence. But at that time and in that place no such trade can be made. Here let us shut the mouths of those who say, following Origen, that all the souls in hell will be restored [and reunited with those in heaven] after they have been punished in accordance with their sins. (1) Let them hear that there is no exchange that can be made there for ones soul. No one is kept in hell as a punishment. Rather, it is the weight of his own sins which holds him there.

38-9:1. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. And He said unto. them, Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. Intellectual faith does not suffice, but confession of faith with ones mouth is required as well. Since man himself is two-fold, let his sanctification be two-fold as well. The soul is sanctified by faith, but the body is sanctified by confessing. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed to confess that the Crucified One is his God, of him also shall the Crucified One be ashamed. For the Lord shall judge that man to be an unworthy servant, when He comes with glory, escorted by the angels, and no longer in lowly form. At the second coming He will not appear, as He did before, to be of base origin and circumstance, and an object of scorn. Since He speaks of His own glory, He desires to show that He is not vainly boasting, and says, There be some of them that stand here, namely, Peter, James, and John, who shall not die until I have shown them at the Transfiguration the glory with which I shall appear at the second coming. For the Transfiguration was nothing less than a foreshadowing of the second coming, and as He appeared in radiance then, so will He shine at the second coming, as will also all the righteous.

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