Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our transgressions, As we forgive those who transgress against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from the Evil One.
For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, Of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
On January 3rd Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Prophet Malcachi; Saint Genevieve of Paris; Saint Peter of Atroa; Saint Gordius at Caesarea; Saint Efthymius, the Man of God of Tbilisi; Saint Abelard of Belgius; Saint Titus, Bishop of Tomis; Saint Thomais of Lesvos; Finding of the holy relics of New Monk-Martyr Ephraim of Nea Makri (1950); Three Holy Martyrs, a mother and her two children slain by fire; St. Findlugan of Islay.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Ascetics, Holy Bishops, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
HOLY MARTYR GORDIUS AT CAESAREA IN CAPPADOCIA. Saint Basil the Great wrote the biography of Saint Gordius who lived in the 4th century. He was from Caesarea and became a Roman officer. Disenchanted by the persecutions and lack of morality, he left the army to live alone and pray in the desert on Mount Horeb. The wild animals coexisted peacefully with him. He clearly saw the vanity and worthlessness of all that people strived for. He returned to the city, denounced idol worship, and declared himself a Christian before the governor at the pagan games. St. Gordeus was enticed with properties and a promotion to a high rank, but then he was threatened. He responded that it would be folly to trade this brief life for eternal torment, and so he was beheaded.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 10:44-48, 11:1-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 1:18-28
SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY FATHERS AND HOLY ASCETICS OF THE CHURCH:
"Communion with God means that God has made His abode in us and that His energy is working in us. Our spirit puts on God and He governs all our feelings, our will, and our nous. We are then like a tool in His hands. He moves our thoughts, desires and feelings and directs our words and the work of our hands". (+ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)
CHRIST WHO IS THE BREAD OF LIFE
by Dr. George Cronk (source: The Message of the Bible, An Orthodox Christian Perspective)
The Theology of the Gospel of Saint John
The climax of John 6 is Jesus' discourse on "the bread of life," in which the Lord speaks prophetically of the significance of his death and Resurrection and of the Sacrament (Mysterion) of Holy Communion, which was to replace the Passover meal as the central feast of the people of God. Jesus delivered this discourse in response to the masses of people who continued to pursue Him in the hope that He might miraculously solve all of their earthly problems. Jesus tried to turn the minds of the people from worldly to spiritual concerns, telling them not to "labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to Eternal life," which is available in the Son of Man (6:22-27). Speaking in the synagogue at Capernaum, the Lord reminded His audience that, during their wilderness wanderings, the hungry people of ancient Israel were fed by God with manna, a "bread from heaven." And now, through Christ, the new Moses, God has once again offered bread from heaven to His people. And in this bread, which is Jesus Himself, God has given "life to the world" (6:22-34). "I am the Bread of Life," the Lord proclaimed to the people, and "he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" (6:35).
To those who accused Him of blasphemy because of His claims to a heavenly origin (6:41-42), Jesus replied:
"No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, "And they shall all be taught by God"...Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has Eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh." (6:44-45, 47-51)
Many who heard Him were perplexed and wondered what meaning the Lord's words might have. So Jesus said to them, becoming even more explicit:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks My blood has Eternal Life, and I will raise him up at the Last Day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me will live because of Me. This is the Bread which came down from Heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this Bread will live forever." (6:52-58)
Even His disciples took this teaching on the body and blood of Christ as "a hard saying," and many of them "drew back and no longer went about with...[the Lord]" (6:60-66). But the Twelve Apostles remained in His service. Peter spoke for the others when he said, "Lord...You have the words of Eternal Life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God". (6:67-71)
The Eucharistic significance of Jesus' discourse on the Bread of Life is obvious. Christ's Body was broken and His Blood shed on the Cross. And through His death and Resurrection we have been liberated from the forces of sin and death. But to realize the salvation offered to us in the "lifting up" of the Son of Man, we must eat His flesh and drink His blood. It is through the Mysterion (Sacrament) of Holy Communion, instituted by Jesus Himself at the Mystical Supper, that we may partake of the Body and Blood of our crucified, risen and exalted Lord. As in Baptism, so in the Eucharist: through the sacramental agency of the Church, we enter into the Paschal mystery of redemption, and we ascend with Christ into the eternal life and being of the Holy Trinity. For Communion is the Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is communion with God. And communion with God is the key to life eternal, the fulfillment of the human quest for perfect happiness.
For your information: Mr. George Francis Cronk holds a Ph.D. degree in philosophy from Southern Illinois University, and is currently Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religion at Bergen Community College in Paramus, N.J.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God