My beloved spiritual children 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.
PRIEST: Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
READER: Amen. Come, let us worship God our King and bow down before Him. Come, let us worship Christ God our King and bow down before Him. Come, let us worship Christ, our King and our God, and bow down before Him.
Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord, my God, You are Great indeed! Clothed in pomp and brilliance, arrayed with Light as with a cloak, stretching out the sky as a tent-cloth, establishing Your lofty halls on water. You make the clouds Your conveyance, You surge on the wings of the wind. You make the winds Your messengers, and flaming fires Your attendants. You settled the earth on its foundation: it shall stand unmoved from age to age. The abyss covered it like a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At Your rebuke, they take to flight, at the peal of Your thunder, they flee. They hurdle the hills and run down the dales to the place You have chosen for them. You have set up a boundary not to be passed: they shall never return to cover the earth. Down in the gullies, You make springs to rise; waters shall flow between the mountains. They shall give drink to the beasts of the field; wild asses will seek them to quench their thirst. The birds of the sky shall abide by them; from among the rocks, they will raise their song. From Your lofty halls You stretch the hills; the earth shall be fed with the fruit of Your works. You make green pastures for the cattle and food-plants for the service of man, so that bread may be drawn from the earth, and wine that gladdens the heart of man; so that oil may put a gleam on his face, and that bread may strengthen the heart of man. The trees of the plain shall be satisfied, the cedars of Lebanon that He planted. Sparrows shall build their nests in them, herons shall call them their home. To the deer belong the high mountains; to rodents, the shelter of the rock. You have the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows the time of its setting. You establish darkness, and it is night, wherein the forest creatures prowl. Young lions roar for their prey, and call out to God for their meat. As the sun rises, they will come together, and lay themselves down in their dens. Man will go out to his labor, and work until eventide. How great are Your works, O Lord! In wisdom You have wrought them all. The earth is filled with Your creatures, even the wide and open sea. Within it are countless creeping things, living beings small and large. Upon it there are ships a-sailing, and the great beast You made to have fun. And of them look to You to give them their food in due season. You provide and they gather up; You open Your hands, and they are full. You hide Your face, and they cringe; You suspend their breath, and they die and return to their dust. You send forth Your breath, and they live; You renew the face of the earth. May the Lord's glory endure forever, may the Lord rejoice in His works. He looks upon the earth, and makes it quake; He touches the mountains, and they smoke. I will sing to the Lord as long as I live, I will praise my God as long as I last. Would that my thoughts be pleasing to Him, and I will rejoice in the Lord. May the sinners vanish from the earth, and the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul! The sun knows the time of its setting. You establish darkness and it is night. How great are Your works, O Lord! In wisdom You have wrought them all. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, glory to You, O God (2) Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, glory to You. O God. O Lord our hope, glory to You. (From the Office of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts)
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS): On March 4th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: our Righteous Father Gerasimus of the Jordan; Holy Martyrs Paul and Juliana his sister of Ptolemais in Palestine; Holy Martyrs Quadratus, Acacius, and Stratonicus, executioners who believed in Christ through Saints Paul and Juliana, were perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Saint Gregory, Bishop of Constantia in Cyprus; Saint Gregory, Bishop of Assos in Anatolia; our Righteous Father Gerasimus of Volodga; Saint Basil, Prince of Rostov; Saints of Pskov martyred by the Latins in the year 1299; Our Righteous Fathers Joasaph of Snetogorye and Basil of Mirozh, the priests Joseph and Constantine, and those with them; Saint Daniel, Prince of Moscow.
+By the holy intercessions, O God, have mercy on us. Amen.
OUR RIGHTEOUS FATHER GERASIMUS OF THE JORDAN. Saint Gerasimus was from Lycia in Asia Minor, lived there for many years as a hermit, and then went to Palestine. There he built the great Lavra by the Jordan River, where a lion served him with great obedience and devotion. One day the lion came looking for St. Gerasimus that he might feed him, but his disciples took the lion to the place where they had buried the Saint shortly before. The lion fell as the Saint's grave, after roaring with grief, died at that very place. Saint Gerasimus reposed in 475 A.D.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. First Tone
Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Gerasimus, our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer thou didst obtain heavenly gifts, and thou healest the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to thee with faith. Glory to Him that hath given thee strength. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.
Kontakion Hymn. Fourth Tone
As a star resplendent with the light of virtue, thou didst make the wilderness of Jordan radiantly shine with beams of sacred celestial Light, O righteous Father, God-bearing Gerasimus.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Orthros (Matins) Old Testament: Isaiah 5:16-25
Esperinos (Vespers) Old Testament 1: Genesis 4:16-26
Esperinos (Vespers) Old Testament: Proverbs 5:15-16:3
TO JERUSALEM FOR PASSOVER
By Veselin Kesich [Source: The Church in History: Formation and Struggles]
During His public ministry Jesus avoided two large cities in Galilee: Tiberias and Sepphoris. Tiberias and the Sea of Tiberias are mentioned only in John (St. John 6:1, 21:1, 23). Built on the Sea of Galilee by Herod Antipas around AD 13, it was dedicated, as we have already mentioned, to the Roman emperor Tiberius. Although Jesus proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God to the people in cities and villages around the sea, He avoided Tiberias. Pious Galilean Jews in the time of Jesus shunned Herod Antipas' place of residence, for they believed that in building the city he had desecrated ancient tombs. Also, Herod Antipas had threatened to arrest Him.
The threat of arrest never stopped Jesus from going to Jerusalem, however, John records that He visited Jerusalem more than once (St. John 2:13, 5:1, 7:10, 12:12). The evangelist Mark concentrates on His last visit to the holy city and emphasizes His determination to reach it in time for the Passover feast. On the road to Jerusalem, Jesus is followed by His chosen twelve disciples, who had left their homes and possessions, as well as their professions, to be with Him. By choosing the Twelve (Matt 10; Mark 3; Luke 6; Acts 1), Jesus' aim was to renew Israel (Matt 19:28; Luke 22:30) which would include Gentiles (Isa 2:49; Matt 8:11). The Twelve represented the twelve patriarchs of Israel, the number of which could be neither decreased nor increased (Acts 1:22f, 12:1). With His chosen Messianic Community, Jesus entered Jerusalem.
Jerusalem at that time of Jesus' final Passover was charged with hope and fear. The population swelled from about 25,000 to 125,000 due to the influx of pilgrims from the surrounding provinces and the Diaspora. Filled with fear of disturbances, the Roman authorities responsible for peace and order were sensitive to any move of the great mass of people gathered in a limited space. They were quick to respond to the provocations of Jewish revolutionaries, who saw opposition to cruel Roman rule as their sacred duty. The religious leaders of the Jews, particularly the Sadducees, were afraid of any prophet, as they regarded all prophets as false prophets who would appear in Jerusalem at times when may expected God to intervene on behalf of his people. Jesus was aware of the consequences for Himself that His preaching could produce. Although His detailed predictions of His suffering were colored by post-Resurrection events, we cannot dismiss their core as non-historical. Aware that His opponents might unite against Him, Jesus regarded His death as an inevitable outcome of His last visit to Jerusalem. His disciples, the new recreated Israel, would share in His destiny (Mark 10:35ff).
Soon after He entered Jerusalem, Jesus visited the temple and overturned the tables of the moneychangers (Matt 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48; John 2:13-15). The Synoptics put this at the end of Jesus' ministry, as the event that would lead directly to His death on the Cross. John places it at the beginning, suggesting that the shadow of the Cross lies over Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom of God from His first appearance. The cleansing of the temple belongs to the final week of Jesus' ministry in Jerusalem. Attempts to posit two cleansings, one at the beginning and the other at the end of his Public proclamation of the Kingdom, lack scholarly support.
By interweaving the story of the fig tree and its "withering away to its roots" with the cleansing of the Temple (mark 11:12-25), Mark interpreted Jesus' driving out of the merchants and overturning the tables as a prophecy that the Temple would be destroyed in the near future. When Jesus predicted that a new temple would arise after the destruction, "He spoke of the temple of His body" (John 2:21; Mark 13:1-2). At His trial He was accused of speaking of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple (Matt 26:6of; Mark 14:57f). Commentators have argued convincingly that if He had wanted to reform or purity this temple, He could have symbolized purification by pouring out water, but instead He "carried out an action symbolic of its destruction," pointing to the present temple as neither adequate nor final. Jesus' symbolic action provoked the temple authorities to seek a way to destroy Him (mark 11:18).
If the temple is not final, then neither is the law, the basis of temple worship. Far from abrogating the law, Jesus fulfilled it. By doing so, He asserted His own higher Authority (Matt 5:21-47). His disciples are asked to follow Him, to be totally committed to Him. In Matthew's record of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7), the law is seen in the light of Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom of God. The evangelist does not relate Jesus to the law, but the Law to Jesus. For him "Christ is the center of the faith" and not the law. This would be a source of bitter conflict between Jewish Christians and the leaders of Rabbinic Judaism after the destruction of the Temple (AD 70).
(To be continued: From the Last Supper to the Crucifixion)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God