Sunday, August 19: “What good deed must I do, to have eternal life?”

THE FIRSTH EOTHINON GOSPEL

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 28:16-20

At that time, the eleven Disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Amen.

THE EPISTLE

The Reading from the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians 15:1-11

Brethren, I would remind you in what terms I preached to you the Gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He rose on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the Apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me. For I am the least of the Apostles, unfit to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God, which is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

THE GOSPEL

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 19:16-26

At that time, a young man came up to Jesus, kneeling and saying, “Good Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which?” And Jesus said, “You shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these I have observed; what do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

ORTHROS

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad, for the Lord hath done a mighty act with His own arm. He hath trampled down death by death, and become the first-born from the dead. He hath delivered us from the depths of Hades, granting the world the Great Mercy.

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad, for the Lord hath done a mighty act with His own arm. He hath trampled down death by death, and become the first-born from the dead. He hath delivered us from the depths of Hades, granting the world the Great Mercy.

APOLYTIKION OF THE DORMITION

Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen. In thy birth-giving, O Theotokos, thou didst keep and preserve virginity; and in thy falling-asleep thou hast not forsaken the world; for thou wast translated into life, being the Mother of Life. Wherefore, by thine intercessions, deliver our souls from death.

AT THE DIVINE LITURGY

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad, for the Lord hath done a mighty act with His own arm. He hath trampled down death by death, and become the first-born from the dead. He hath delivered us from the depths of Hades, granting the world the Great Mercy.

APOLYTIKION OF THE DORMITION

In thy birth-giving, O Theotokos, thou didst keep and preserve virginity; and in thy falling-asleep thou hast not forsaken the world; for thou wast translated into life, being the Mother of Life. Wherefore, by thine intercessions, deliver our souls from death.

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 OF THE DORMITION

Verily, the Theotokos, who is ever watchful in intercessions, and whose prayers are never rejected, neither tomb nor death could control. But since she is the Mother of Life, He Who dwelt in her ever-virgin womb did translate her to life.

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

If Thou Wilt Be Perfect

Matthew 19: 16-26

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

16. And, behold, one came and said unto Him, Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but One, that is, God. The man did not come testing Christ, but desiring to learn and thirsting for eternal life. He approached Christ as if Christ were a mere man. That is why the Lord says, Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but One, that is, God. This means, “If you call Me good thinking I am one of the teachers, you speak wrongly, for no man is essentially good; both because we are changeable and easily turned away from good, and because, by comparison with God’s goodness, human goodness is counted as wickedness.”

17-19. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto Him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother, and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The Lord directs the enquirer to the commandments of the law, so that the Jews could not say that He despised the law. What happened then?

20. The young man saith unto Him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Some accuse him of boasting and arrogance. How could he have achieved love for neighbor if he were rich? For no one who loves his neighbor as himself is wealthier than his neighbor. Others understand it thus: suppose, he says, that I have kept all these thing ”what do I still lack”?

21-22. Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect go and sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me. But when the man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Everything, He says, which you say you have accomplished, you have done by fulfilling only the letter of the law, as do the Jews. But if thou wilt be perfect, that is, if you wish to be My disciple and a Christian, then go and sell all that you have, and give everything all at once, keeping nothing back with which to give alms continuously. He did not say, “give repeatedly to the poor,” but give once and for all and be stripped of your wealth. Since there are some who give alms but lead a life full of every kind of filth, He adds, and come and follow Me, that is, possess every other virtue as well. The young man, however, was sorrowful, for though he desired eternal life and the soil of his heart was deep and fertile, the thorns of wealth were choking him. For it says, he had great possessions. He who has few possessions is not similarly restrained by them, for the bond of many possessions is more tyrannical. Because the Lord was conversing with a rich man, He said, “Do you love wealth? Know that you will have treasure in heaven.”

23-24. Then said Jesus unto His disciples, Verily I say unto you, That it is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. As long as a man is rich and he has in excess while others do not have even the necessities, he can in no way enter the kingdom of heaven. But when all riches have been shed, then he is not rich and so he can enter. For it is just as impossible for a man with wealth to enter the kingdom of heaven as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. See how Christ first said it was difficult to enter, but here that it is completely impossible. Some say that camel is not the animal, but the thick cable used by sailors to cast their anchors.

25-26. When His disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible. The disciples, being compassionate, did not ask this question for their own sake, for they were poor, but for all men. The Lord therefore teaches us not to gauge salvation by human weakness, but by God’s power. If one only begins to cease from greed, he will advance to reducing his excess, and from there he will proceed to eliminating even his necessities, and thus he will be prospered along the way by God acting in collaboration with him.