FISHERS OF MEN.

 

 

“The virtues build a new person radiating love to the world.”

(Metropolitan Paul (Yazigi) of Aleppo who consecrated our temple.)

 

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

(Hebrews 4:15 – 16)

 

SUNDAY 26TH JUNE. All Saints of Russia. All Saints of Romania. All Saints of America. All Saints of Mt. Athos. All Saints of Palestine. All Saints of Patmos. St. David of Thessaloniki (c 540). St. John, Bishop of the Goths in the Crimea (8th). St. Dionysy, Archbishop of Suzdal (1385). Appearance of the Tikhvin Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God (1388).   

 

The Saints of the World.

      Today and next week we celebrate the saints of various countries and regions with a diversity of cultures and languages. In the world the countries and regions are mapped out by human beings not by physical or geographic boundaries. These artificial borders are always in danger of becoming what is dearest to us. This is often mapped out at birth, not forgetting that is were God has put us. We take pride in the saints of our native land but they are now in their true Homeland that is heaven. Do we not say in prayers for the dead “.....where the saints repose”?. The saints were born where they were but were truly born into God’s eternal kingdom that has no boundaries, borders or the need for translators but where indeed all the children of God will find their true home.

 

“My God!

Your name is Love: do not abandon me, the erring.

Your name is Strength: strengthen me, the stumbling and falling.

Your name is Light: enlighten my soul, darkened by worldly passions.

Your name is Peace: console my restless soul.”

(From the Diaries of St. John of Kronstadt.)

 

TODAY’S GOSPEL READING: Matthew 4:18 – 23. “ And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.”

 

      The Gospel for today tells us of the calling of Simon called Peter, Andrew his brother and the sons of Zebedee, James and John. Christ asks them to follow Him and they leave everything IMMEDIATELY and follow Him. We do not know if they had met Jesus before or had been influenced by the preaching of St. John the Forerunner. What we know is that they were fishermen, not scholars, lawyers or men of power. They may have been semi – literate perhaps being able to read the Torah Scrolls in the synagogue when required. Why is it that in these “enlightened” days the Church expects those who would lead the churches to be scholars and highly educated people? There is nothing wrong with education and scholarship but a loving heart and following Him when called is of far greater importance and knowledge can lead to disputes and division when ego driven ideas are at odds with someone else’s point of view. Church Tradition tells us that, of the four fishermen called by Jesus, three were martyred and only St. John, the Beloved Disciple, died of natural causes in advanced old age.

      We, who dare to say that we are His followers, are we able to leave everything and follow Him? These men were not beautifully painted icons but flesh and blood people, Simon Peter and his  brother Andrew being noted for their fiery tempers. Now we can gaze on their icons and see what they have been transformed into in the Heavenly Kingdom. We are told that St. John was a witness to the Crucifixion and in our icons he is on one side of the cross and the Most Holy Mother of God is on the other side. It is assumed that St. John was he to whom the Lord consigned the care of His mother. These men became those who would bear witness to Christ in a very hostile world, without them the scholars and experts would have no Christianity to discuss or dispute or wrangle over. Let us remember the words on the Feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy “THIS IS THE FAITH OF THE ORTHODOX.”  Do we know what the faith of the Orthodox is or do we merely accept what we know and love in our churches without looking at Him who walked by the sea and putting our footsteps into His imprints in the sand? That is what the fishermen did when He said “Follow Me.”

 

                                                                         Much Love,

 

                                                                        Fr. George.

 

Please continue to pray for the sick and needy. Especially I ask for your prayers for Fr. Michael who is to have an operation next Wednesday 29th June and for his recovery and his speedy return to us. Fr. G.