Sunday, February 28: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you!”

THE FOURTH EOTHINON GOSPEL

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 24:12-35

At that time, Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he departed, wondering at what had happened. That very day, two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. And He said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk and are sad?” Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered Him, “Are you only a stranger in Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find His body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see.” And Jesus said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. Jesus appeared to be going further but they constrained Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So He went in to stay with them. When He was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

THE EPISTLE

The Reading from the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians 6:12-20

Brethren, all things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything. Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food; but God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two shall become one flesh.” But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him. Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

THE GOSPEL

The reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 15:11-32

The Lord spoke this parable: “There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry. Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fated calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

ORTHROS

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

Let us believers praise and worship the Word; coeternal with the Father and the Spirit, born of the Virgin for our salvation. For, He took pleasure in ascending the Cross in the flesh to suffer death; and to raise the dead by His glorious Resurrection.

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

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

Let us believers praise and worship the Word; coeternal with the Father and the Spirit, born of the Virgin for our salvation. For, He took pleasure in ascending the Cross in the flesh to suffer death; and to raise the dead by His glorious Resurrection.

RESURRECTIONAL THEOTOKION

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

Rejoice, O uncrossed gate; rejoice, O wall and protection of those who hasten unto thee; rejoice, O quiet haven, who hast not known wedlock, O thou who hast given birth in the flesh to thy Creator and God. Thou shalt continue to intercede for the sake of those who praise and worship thy birthgiving.

DIVINE LITURGY

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

Let us believers praise and worship the Word; coeternal with the Father and the Spirit, born of the Virgin for our salvation. For, He took pleasure in ascending the Cross in the flesh to suffer death; and to raise the dead by His glorious Resurrection.

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 THE PRODIGAL SON

Foolishly I sprang away from Thy great fatherly glory, and dispersed in wicked deeds the riches that Thou didst give me. With the Prodigal I therefore cry unto Thee now: I have sinned against Thee, O compassionate Father. * But receive me in repentance; * make me as one of * Thy hired servants, O Lord.

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.