In the Name of the Father and of the Son of the Holy Spirit, brothers and sisters in Christ Sunday. It’s the Sunday of Gregory Palamas, a great, great teacher, one who was enlightened by God to defend the faith in many ways. He’s a key figure in protecting the Christian story to go from the mystery of the Resurrection of Christ and our communion with him in Baptism and the divine holy Eucharist, into some sort of academic principles and some rules that we have to follow.

John Chrysostom says, the law points out our sin; the grace of God nurtures us along the way in holiness and develops the reality of our communion with him, which is our salvation. Our salvation in our baptism, in a way, we become a child again. And just as little children grow, we have to grow in our faith. We have to learn along the way. We have to just as we do, when we grow up, we learn. There are certain things we shouldn’t do. There are certain places we shouldn’t go and there are certain things we shouldn’t say. And there are certain things here and there.

I hope you’re reading the proverbs, which are, you know, prescribed for the season. They’re very, very rich and the reality of what it means to keep watch over our soul. There are a number of particularly interesting things.

The Proverbs talks about bees and ants in one place, talks about getting too busy to feed our souls. Lent is not about fasting as much as, as much as it is about eating and eating the word of God, so to speak. Sometimes you see those references, they devoured the scriptures. But you’ve got to listen to them to become aware of what I’m saying and when that’s what we read them over and over. Every year, God reveals something about the same scriptures to us that we never saw before. And that happens to us. Why? Because we get here and we share the reality of that. But the idea that the ants are always working, they’re working to gain nourishment for themselves and everybody else and the clan I guess, and also the bees who are working. We can get so busy with other things that were not laboring to feed our souls. We’re not attending to the food that God has given us, the scriptures. It even says in the epistle today a beautiful line: that we must pay closer attention to what we have heard. The idea that we hear the scriptures is important. We have to pay attention. There are times when I’m not overtly listening to things I should be listening to, but when we begin to listen to the scriptures and right now, I’m kind of in the habit of playing in the scriptures and listening to them actually, and it’s like, oh wow, I never really heard that before. There’s something about hearing them.

There’s something about the Apostles speaking. There’s something about Christ speaking. That mystery is kept alive when we read the scriptures or hear them or come to the service and hear the Gospel. And so we should pick that up when the epistle was read today lest, we drift away from it, which is what, you know, Proverbs talks about that over and over again, how we get seduced and literally they use that language to draw us away from our salvation. And that’s why I encourage you to go home and, and basically feed yourself. I means some things people come and tell me during the fast like, well, one day I ate an egg, right? But the other four days you did well, let’s look at the four days you did well, but did you feed yourself with the scriptures? Did you listen to them? I mean, we have a hundred ways to look at what the scripture is prescribed for each day or to read a Lenten book or go online to the Archdiocese websites, and you have different things about the services or about the saints. Right now you can read about Saint Gregory Palamas. It’s frightening to hear that our children can know more about some sports figure than they can about Gregory Palamas. And somehow I think they should learn about Gregory Palamas more. You know, we need to know those heroes. We need to know those people that have fought for us and protected us. I mean there are veterans of the fight. And we do rightly on our veterans who fought for our country. These are also our veterans.

Honoring the veterans, honoring those who had fought for the faith. I mean they surround us here. We have their icons and there’s many, many more and Gregory Palamas has this whole day prescribed to them because it’s significant in Christian history. He protected us from the essence of the Gospel, slipping away into a whole different philosophy. And this is why he’s incredibly important. And so I encourage you to be attentive this week and feed your soul. I want to go through something that we do in Orthros, which is called the Anabathmoi. It’s a fancy word. But, and here I’ll just read it as though it was being spoken to us. “Behold the Savior! Toward heave I raise my eye. I raised my eyes to you, saved me by your illumination.” I mean, that would be something we could say during the week.

“Oh Christ have mercy upon us. We have made mistakes. We’re guilty of things.” Not that we’re bad, but we do stumble. “Who transgressed against you and often and every hour, we stumble, give us before the end, the means of repentance, acceptable unto Thee.” And there is an end. There is an end to all this. And even in the Proverbs and Chrysosotom’s commentary. It’s like when you leave the house, you’re leaving to go someplace. We’re always leaving to go someplace. And then we try to come back to where we were. You know, we’d left her mother’s womb, we tried to go back to the womb, the temple. So we leave when we’re really searching for the Kingdom of God, which is at hand. And in many ways coming through this door is where we’re going to. It’s the end of where we’re leaving for.

Ultimately it’s for our final days, and then we or the doors of paradise are fully open to us. That’s the end. That’s what we’re leaving everything behind for it. And that’s really the essence of Lent. “Truly, sovereignty over creation, its sanctification, and its motion are of the Holy Spirit; for He is God consubstantial with the Father and with the Word.” You know, we always go back to remember that God created everything and He created us and we’re the pinnacle of his creation, made in His image and likeness and everything else about creation is there to teach us about Jim and about us. When we talk about the Holy Spirit, we’re also talking about the Father and the Son because they’re all united. The Holy Spirit leads us to the Son and the Son of the Father.

These are things that you might go, well we say Father, Son, Holy Spirit all the time. Whoa, slow down and say it slower. Slow down and say, “Why are we doing that? Who is the Father? How does it work? How does the Holy Trinity work?” “Except that the Lord was with us, who could have been kept safe from the man-destorying enemy.” See, that’s the mystery. No one’s kept safe from death. That’s what evil does. No one is kept safe from all the tragedies, all the diseases. And yet even in the midst of all that, there is great joy and there’s life itself. God does enough to show us in how to we’re redeemed from many sicknesses and illnesses and stuff like that. And ultimately he redeems is from the grave. And we call that the fountain of immortality.

But remember that without him, nothing can happen like that. It’s Jesus the Christ who did this along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Our enemies, roar like lions, scripture says, and we can get overwhelmed because we hear trotting up against us and we hear him plotting on us and we can begin to be aware of it. “Deliver not Thy Servant to their teeth. They who put their trust in You in the Lord are like the Holy Mountain.” You are like the Holy Mountain, when you put your trust in the Lord. “For they are never shaken by the attacks of the Bel’ial.” See, the more we hold onto Christ, the more we feed on the scriptures, the more we feed on what He’s asked us to do, the more we’ll be able to withstand the attacks that come against us.

You know, in war or we set up all kinds of defenses, and the attacks come day after day after day, night after night or day or what have you. You’re always on guard. In a certain sense, we are like that, but we also know that we have the Holy Spirit on guard for us and we have the Saints. We’re not alone in this battle and God is here to help us. So we spend time training with them almost and letting them train us. We join them in the Fast. We’ve join them in listening to Christ. “They put not forth their hands to evil, who live in the divine life.”

What are we going to grab on to know? What do we want to hold on to? We set things aside. We can get so distracted by wanting more and more or desires are so easily captivated. I want to hold onto the words of Christ. I want to hold onto what He’s asked us to do. “You who live the divine life for Christ God will not deliver his inheritance to evil ones.” That’s amazing line. God doesn’t deliver as inheritance to evil people who delivers it to those who love Him with their whole body, mind, body, and soul. And by loving Him, they begin to do what he’s asked them to do. And they began to experience that love. And we do have to learn to trust. “The Holy Spirit is the fount of all wisdom; for from Him cometh grace to the Apostles; the Martyrs by Him are crowned in their struggles; and the Prophets in foreknowledge look to Him.”

So when you read it, you have this information, you’ve heard this. This is part of our repertoire to remind ourselves when things are difficult. Just as we read the scriptures every day, we eat every day. We know quite quickly if we don’t eat what it’s like. It’s one of the reasons for the physical fast, but we’re don’t see clearly that we’re not feeding our soul because that comes with the eyes of our soul. And with a different way to look at life and creation and who god is in the fall and the redemption. We need to read this stuff. And this is nourishment for the soul. As I mentioned last week, so I’m encouraging you again to go look at the thing and just read the section for the Proverbs. You know, it’s in there every year and all of great luck, basically 40 days or more are attributed just to the Proverbs. And yet, hardly ever a class on them, you hardly ever anything like that. I don’t talk about them that much. And I’m sure this year was my plan to read them and to look at the commentaries and next year we’ll be have little classes along the way. And so, I encourage you to do this and you can get a book, like Chrysostom’s commentary on it. It’s, it’s like, oh my gosh, I never would have thought of that. And that’s the point. Saints are people that got close enough to God so they could express the reality of what God meant in the scriptures because then they can get it, their eyes are open. And our eyes aren’t that open. And so we need to be attentive to this so that we can want it.

So when you read it, you have this information, you’ve heard this. This is part of our repertoire to remind ourselves when things are difficult. Just as we read the scriptures every day, we eat every day. We know quite quickly if we don’t eat what it’s like. It’s one of the reasons for the physical fast, but we’re don’t see clearly that we’re not feeding our soul because that comes with the eyes of our soul. And with a different way to look at life and creation and who god is in the fall and the redemption. We need to read this stuff. And this is nourishment for the soul. As I mentioned last week, so I’m encouraging you again to go look at the thing and just read the section for the Proverbs. You know, it’s in there every year and all of great luck, basically 40 days or more are attributed just to the Proverbs. And yet, hardly ever a class on them, you hardly ever anything like that. I don’t talk about them that much. And I’m sure this year was my plan to read them and to look at the commentaries and next year we’ll be have little classes along the way. And so, I encourage you to do this and you can get a book, like Chrysostom’s commentary on it. It’s, it’s like, oh my gosh, I never would have thought of that. And that’s the point. Saints are people that got close enough to God so they could express the reality of what God meant in the scriptures because then they can get it, their eyes are open. And our eyes aren’t that open. And so we need to be attentive to this so that we can want it.

And so they want to set a trap for you on the way home. Soon you’ll yell at somebody in the car and you go home or something like that. They’ll cut in front of you or whatever. Or you’ll start thinking about so and so, and that’s where you begin to fight and say, no, I’m not going to do that. And call upon the words, call upon the Holy Spirit “help me.” We must spend as much time caring for our soul and feeding our soul as we do, helping others and caring for ourselves and just the general needs and day. And the general needs of the day begin to teach us. God gives us the food so that we could what? Spend time looking for Him and spend time listening to the scriptures. So may God bless you as you continue your journey. And as I say, look to Gregory Palamas for his insight and his guidance as we go through the next few Sundays that approach. If you stumbled in the fast, look at the things you’ve done and look at the things that you’ve learned already from the fast. May God bless you on your journey may the angels and the saints accompany you as we traveled together along this path to our salvation. May God bless you.

“O Star of Orthodoxy, support of the Church and its teacher, O comeliness of ascetics, and incontestable champion of those who speak in theology, Gregory the wonder-worker, the pride of Thessalonica and preacher of grace, implore thou constantly for the salvation of our souls.”

Troparion of St. Greogry Palamas

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