THE SECOND SUNDAY OF THE TRIODION (Sunday of the Prodigal)

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE

The Second Sunday of the Triodion (Sunday of the Prodigal)
[Part III)


   Saint Theophylact writes:  "The ring is the Seal of Christianity given at Chrismation… You may also think of the ring as 'the earnest of the Spirit' (Corinthians 1:22).

   Saint Gregory Palamas says: "The 'Father of mercies' (2 Corinthians 1:3) came down to meet him.  He embraced him and ordered His servants, namely the priests, to put on him the best robe, sonship, in which he had been clothed before through holy Baptism, and to place a ring on his hand, putting the Seal of contemplative virtue on the active part of the soul, as symbolized by the hand, as an earnest of the inheritance to come.  He also ordered them to put shoes on his feet as holy protection and assurance to empower him to tread on snakes and scorpions and all the power of the enemy.

   "And bring the young bullock, the wheat-fed one, and slay it; and let us eat and be merry [Luke 15:23]; for this my son was dead and is alive again, and he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry [Luke 15:24].

Saint Ambrose stated: "The calf, the fatted one, is killed so that restored by participation in the Mysteries through the Sacrament, he may feast on the flesh of the Lord, rich in spiritual virtue."

Saint Theophylact comments: "This is none other than the very Son of God… That He is fattened (fed with wheat), accordingly means that He was set apart for this mystery from the foundation of the world… Now the bread which we break in the Eucharist appears to our eyes to be made of wheat, and thus may be called wheat-fed; but…is flesh, and would be called a young Bullock. For Christ Himself is both the young Bullock and Wheat."

Saint Gregory Palamas adds: "The father orders the young bullock, the wheat-fed one, to be brought, slain, and offered at table. This bullock IS THE LORD Himself Who is led out from the hidden place of Divinity, from the Heavenly Throne set above all things. Having appeared on earth as a man. He is slain like a young wheat-fed bullock for us sinners, that is, He is offered to us as bread to eat… God shares His joy and celebration over these events with His saints, making our ways His own. And, in His extreme love for mankind, He says, ‘Let us eat and be merry (Luke 15:23).

"And he said to him, ‘Thy brother is come, and thy father slew the young bullock, the wheat-fed one, because he received him back safe and sound [Luke 15:27]. But he was angry and not willing to go in. Then his father went out and besought him (Luke 15:28). And he answered and said to his father, ‘Behold, so many years I am serving thee, and never did I transgressed thy commandment, and never didst thou give a kid to me, in order that I might make merry with my friends [Luke 15:29]; but when this thy son came, the one who devoured thy means of living with harlots, thou didst slay for him the young bullock, the wheat-fed one" [Luke15:30).

The elder brother, according to Saint Romanos, says such thing as these: "The indignant son spoke to his father, ‘For so long a time I have been a slave to Thy will. I have always served Thy Commandments. Not a single Commandment of Thine have I transgressed. And for these toils, Thou has not allowed me even a kid. I am oppressed unceasingly in desert places and deprive myself . I, am tormented by the fierce temperatures of summer and winter. Yet, to the prodigal on his return, Thou hast given far greater honor."

"Saint Romanos describes the elder brother returning from the field who refused to go in. "Christ teaches us, through this, an example of His own compassion and measureless pity, which rouses even the just to indignation. Come then, let us learn how He stood and entreated him, He Who begot them both, He Who is Governor and Creator of all things, the God Who WISHES ALL TO BE SAVED. Offering His right hand, the compassionate One raised the fallen son, likewise, He supported the other who was standing. The one who laid low He raised up in His compassion, while He would in no way allow the one who stood to fall. The one in poverty He enriched. The one in wealth He would not allow to become poor, but saved them both.

"And he said to him, ‘Child, thou art always with me, and all that is mine is thine" (Luke 15:31).

Saint Romanos comments: "No sooner had the Father heard these words from His child than He answered him with meekness. ‘Incline thine ears and hearken to thy Father. Thou art with Me, for Thou never didst leave Me. Thou has not been separated from the Church. Thy place is always with Me, with all My Angels. But he has come who ahs been covered with shame, naked and ugly, crying out for mercy.’ Saint Romanos then has the Father say, ‘How shall I not have mercy on the one I FASHIONED OF OLD AND TAKE PITY ON HIM WHEN HE REPENTS? IT WAS MY ENRTAILS THAT BEGOT MY CHILD ON WHOM I HAVE HAD MERCY. I the Master and Lord of the ages. So, "My son, understand what I say. All that is Mine is thine, and to him, I wanted to grant some of My goods. The property which thou hast is not any less, for I did not take from it to give to thy brother. I provided for him from Mine own treasures. Of you both, I am Creator and Loving Father. Lover of mankind and compassionate. I honor thee, My child, for BY CHOICE HAST ALWAYS LOVED ME AND SERVED ME, AND TO HIM I SHOW COMPASSION BECAUSE OF HIS EAGERNESS AND PERSISTENCE IN REPENTANCE. THOU OUGHTEST TO BE CELEBRATING WITH ALL WHOM I INVITED, I THE MASTER AND LORD OF THE AGES."

"But to make merry, and TO REJOICE WAS FITTING, BECAUSE THIS THY BROTHER WAS DEAD AND IS ALIVE AGAIN, AND WAS LOST AND IS FOUND" (Luke 15:32).

Saint Kyril of Alexandria writes: "We sometimes experience something of this sort. For there are some who live a perfectly honorable and consistent life, practicing every kind of virtuous action, abstaining from everything disapproved by the law of God, and crowning themselves with perfect praises in the sight of God and of men; while another is perhaps weak and trodden down, and humbled unto every kind of wickedness, guilty of base deeds, loving impurity, given to covetousness, and stained with all evil. And yet such a one often in old age turns to God and asks forgiveness of his former offenses. He prays for mercy, and putting away from him his readiness to fall into sin, sets his affection on virtuous deeds. Or perhaps when about to close this mortal life, he is admitted to divine Baptism, and puts away his offenses, God being merciful to him. And perhaps, sometimes, persons are indignant at this, saying that such a one did not pay to the judge the retributions of his conduct, but has been vouchsafed grace, and has been inscribed among the sons of God. Such complaints given by these persons are from an empty narrowness of mind, not confronting to the purpose of the Universal Father. For He greatly rejoices when He sees those who were lost obtaining salvation.

Epilogue

"Let us," urges Saint Gregory Palamas, "take hold of repentance by our actions. Let us abandon the evil one and his herds. Let us keep away from pigs and the husks they eat, that is to say, the disgusting passions and their devotees. Let us withdraw from evil pastures, namely, habitual sins. Let us flee from the land of the passions, wherein dwells unbelief, insatiate desire, and intemperance. It is a land where there is a terrible famine of good things. It is a place where there are passions worse than any famine. Let us HASTEN TO THE IMMORTAL FATHER. HE HAS COME OUT TO MEET US, GRANTING US FORGIVENESS OF SINS, THE TOKEN OF IMMORTALITY, THE EARNEST OF OUR INHERITANCE TO COME. As we are taught by the Savior, as long as the prodigal son was IN THE LAND OF PASSIONS, even though he thought and spoke words of repentance, he still gained no benefit at all. ONLY WHEN HE LEFT ALL HIS SINFUL DEEDS AND RAN TO HIS FATHER DID HE AGAIN ATTAINED WHAT WAS BEYOND HOPE. From then on he stayed near him IN HUMILITY, LIVING CHASTLY AND HONESTLY AND PRESERVING UNHARMED THE GRACE RENEWED IN HIM BY GOD. May all of us attain this grace and keep it undiminished, that in the age to come we may rejoice with the prodigal son who was saved, in the heavenly Jerusalem, the mother of the living, the Church of the firstborn, in Christ Himself our Lord, in Whom be glory forever. Amen. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)

____________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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