July 29, 2008

2nd Sunday in MatthewFrgeorge

After the Lord had fasted for 40 days in the desert, He was now ready to commence His earthly ministry. From the Gospels we learn that Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Gennesaret, with a definite purpose in mind. He was to recruit Disciples, who would follow Him for three years, and prepare them for their establishing the new Faith in the then known world.

The Lord's simple invitation, without any sugar coated promises, was extended firstly to the two brothers, Andrew and Peter. Then, the same invitation was extended to the two sons of Zebedee, James and John. They all were busy cleaning their nets after their daily fishing chore, when they hear from a total Stranger. follow Me and from fishermen men of LISIL, I shall make you fishers of men!" There is no question, that they must have been completely awed, and attracted by the Lord's magnetic personality.

How else could anyone think, when it is known, that they dropped their nets immediately, giving up even a modest income, to follow a Stranger, who had offered them no personal guarantees. This in itself, I think, constitutes the first "miracle" of the new Faith. The new Disciples were literally entranced by the spirit of their new Teacher and Master.

Speaking of the Lord's magnetic personality, we bring to mind the incident, shortly before He was to be condemned to death.

The ruling Authorities tried many times to apprehend Jesus and put him to death. Thinking that finally they had sufficient evidence, they sent soldiers to arrest Jesus, but they returned empty- handed, to announce, "that they never heard a man speak, as did this Man!" Of course the Lord had to be different, in that He was a God-Man!
The Lord's simple invitation to the illiterate Fishermen, without Him making any promises is unique, in that invitations, as we experience them, are usually coupled with promises and compensations.

Thus, the simple invitation, "Come, follow Me, and I shall make you Fishers of men," constitutes the historic beginning of Christianity, which wasn't spread by force, but by the supreme of all virtues, --- love.

The Lord, did not entrust His mission to the intelligentsia of the day; --- nor to any professionals, --- nor to the wealthy,--- nor to the politicians; but He chose the poor, illiterate Fishermen. Thus, there wasn't the future danger, on behalf of the enemies of Christianity, who would have supported that Christianity was disseminated by the wise and the powerful, who had the full power of materialism.

One marvels at the self-sacrifice of the first Disciples. They left everything behind and followed Jesus, who had said to them, that He had no place to rest His head! Where would the first-called live? How would they subsist? How were they to provide for their latter years?

None of these thoughts meant anything, because they had surely felt, that God was calling them, and that the Messiah foretold by the Prophets many centuries ago, was in their midst.

What would their compensation be for their selflessness? The Gospels inform us, that when St. Peter asked Jesus, what their compensation would be, the Lord answered: "when I come in glory to judge the living and the dead, you my Disciples will sit on 12 thrones next to me, to judge the 12 Tribes of Israel!"

What greater reward could there have been, even though it alludes to the Eternal Life and not the present. But, even in this world, the Disciples were greatly rewarded, because from illiterates, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they became fountains of wisdom. They were formerly unknown, uneducated, often weak Fishermen, but their life was completely transformed, and their names have been extolled down through the centuries, and will always be extolled and revered, until the end of the time.

Down through the ages, there have always been, and always will be the extending of a similar invitation, "come follow me." Many times offered by individuals, who do want to contribute to society, and other times by selfish, egocentric and maniacal individuals, who lead so many to devastation, and complete catastrophe.

"Come follow me" says the opportunist, making all types of sugar-coated promises, without delivering, but often fleecing especially the aged for their personal gain.

The selfish politician again, will make all types of promises, hoping that he or she will gain the prospective office. And when their goal is achieved, they conveniently forget the promises, and often shun the people, who put them in office. These opportunists are ever present, whether it be in groups, in unions, in organizations, and the like, always with selfish and ulterior motives.

"Come follow me" was the invitation of all the known infamous Dictators, making all kinds of promises, and the result was the loss of millions of lives, and devastation to their countries. We see with much grief, what is happening globe-wise, when mentally sick people seek to wield their power from their self-made throne, disregarding the plight of the masses, who are the victims, and who suffer irreparably.

Communism, still prevalent in some Countries, keeps the world on the alert. The billions spent on armaments, in reality deprive their citizens of the basic staples, to keep body and soul together. Russia held fast to communism for over 70 years. Millions perished There were concentrated efforts to annihilate the Orthodox Church. But,--­Communism crumbled, and the Church once again is flourishing in all her Glory.

I am reminded of a phrase in one of our Hymns during the Holidays. It states: "When God wills, the forces of nature are vanquished!"

As we know, there will always be numerous invitations extended, and it is up to the individual to distinguish the good from the bad. There is so much advertising today, whether in newspapers, radio or TV. So many of these ads are subliminal, and it is easy to get hooked. We can't be too careful. We submit many times to the material, thinking, that it will bring happiness and fulfillment.

Christians must come to firmly believe, that we all have a living soul, which is the breath of God in us. That is why, it is ultra important, to subject all the material to our spiritual counterpart. We all have a destiny, and it centers around the eternal truths of the Lord.

I can't help in closing, not to omit the great invitation that was offered to us all, to formulate this blessed group of our Mission where we are all veritable Brothers and Sisters in Christ. We are so proud of our accomplishments to date. Things are commencing to happen, which do not show. As we mentioned, 2008 is the year for our blessed Mission. Most have done, and are continuing to do their part, but we ask those, who as yet have not subscribed to the plan, to volunteer and come forth. It hurts, when during the last 2 years we paid $35,000 in interest for our property.

Had everyone responded, we would have saved the $35,000 and our property would have been free and clear. We still owe about $150,.000, but we haven't done too badly, when we realize that our property cost us $425,000. Remember, no one ever became poor giving to a Church, or any Charity. Conversely he or she who contributes becomes wealthier.

+ Fr. George Papadeas

“Therefore brethren stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught whether by word or our epistle.” - Thessalonians 2:15

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