28 April 2007

Staying the Course

Each Saturday evening the faithful at Holy Incarnation Orthodox Church gather to pray First Vespers of Sunday. Using the Monastic Diurnal according to the Solemn form, the entire service is chanted with four appointed Psalms, the appointed propers are sung, the altar and faithful are incensed during the Magnificat, and the appropriate Marian Antiphon is sung by all. After the last Pater Noster and Ave Maria have been said silently, I preach on the chapter which, from Advent until Pentecost, is the first few verses of the Sunday epistle.

Below is the essence of the homily that I preached at the conclusion of this evening's Vespers. I post is with the prayer that it may edify those who read as well as those who heard it.

Even though we are now three weeks past the end of the fast of Great Lent, tonight’s chapter reminds us that we must not lose the benefits we gained during our 40 day fast. We gained the godly benefit of exercising and strengthening our body and soul against the temptations of the devil, against our disordered passions, and against ungodliness. Even though the year’s Great Lent has passed, we should not forget these lessons or let down our guard or grow weary in doing good. For then the devil will make greater inroads than he did before we started. And then the victory we gained in Christ will be for naught.

That victory that we gained in Christ is the victory He won for us by His overcoming temptation and resurrection from the dead. This He did in our flesh, for our flesh. Into this we were baptized, and in this we actively participate whenever we strive against evil, against our sinful flesh, and against temptation.

So during our Easter joy, let us stay the course by continuing to “forsake those things that are contrary to our profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to it.” In doing so, we shall be strengthened tomorrow as we hear the same words again in the Epistle, as we rejoice in the comfort Our Lord gives in the midst of sorrow, and most especially as we partake of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ which, by the invocation of His Spirit, strengthens and preserves us in the true faith and in our life in God.

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