Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November 16, 2011 - 23rd Wednesday After Pentecost (9th of Luke)

FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:

Matthew the Apostle & Evangelist

Τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἀποστόλου καί Εὐαγγελιστοῦ Ματθαίου.

READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:

The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans 10:11-21; 11:1-2
BRETHREN, the scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved." But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, "I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry." Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me." But of Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people." I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.

Πρὸς ῾Ρωμαίους 10:11-21; 11:1-2
Ἀδελφοί, λέγει γὰρ ἡ γραφή, Πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐπʼ αὐτῷ οὐ καταισχυνθήσεται. Οὐ γάρ ἐστιν διαστολὴ Ἰουδαίου τε καὶ Ἕλληνος· ὁ γὰρ αὐτὸς κύριος πάντων, πλουτῶν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἐπικαλουμένους αὐτόν. Πᾶς γὰρ ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται. Πῶς οὖν ἐπικαλέσονται εἰς ὃν οὐκ ἐπίστευσαν; Πῶς δὲ πιστεύσουσιν οὗ οὐκ ἤκουσαν; Πῶς δὲ ἀκούσουσιν χωρὶς κηρύσσοντος; Πῶς δὲ κηρύξουσιν ἐὰν μὴ ἀποσταλῶσιν; Καθὼς γέγραπται, Ὡς ὡραῖοι οἱ πόδες τῶν εὐαγγελιζομένων εἰρήνην, τῶν εὐαγγελιζομένων τὰ ἀγαθά. Ἀλλʼ οὐ πάντες ὑπήκουσαν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ. Ἠσαΐας γὰρ λέγει, Κύριε, τίς ἐπίστευσεν τῇ ἀκοῇ ἡμῶν; Ἄρα ἡ πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς, ἡ δὲ ἀκοὴ διὰ ῥήματος θεοῦ. Ἀλλὰ λέγω, μὴ οὐκ ἤκουσαν; Μενοῦνγε· Εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν ἐξῆλθεν ὁ φθόγγος αὐτῶν, καὶ εἰς τὰ πέρατα τῆς οἰκουμένης τὰ ῥήματα αὐτῶν. Ἀλλὰ λέγω, μὴ οὐκ ἔγνω Ἰσραήλ; Πρῶτος Μωϋσῆς λέγει, Ἐγὼ παραζηλώσω ὑμᾶς ἐπʼ οὐκ ἔθνει, ἐπὶ ἔθνει ἀσυνέτῳ παροργιῶ ὑμᾶς. Ἠσαΐας δὲ ἀποτολμᾷ καὶ λέγει, Εὑρέθην τοῖς ἐμὲ μὴ ζητοῦσιν, ἐμφανὴς ἐγενόμην τοῖς ἐμὲ μὴ ἐπερωτῶσιν. Πρὸς δὲ τὸν Ἰσραὴλ λέγει, Ὅλην τὴν ἡμέραν ἐξεπέτασα τὰς χεῖράς μου πρὸς λαὸν ἀπειθοῦντα καὶ ἀντιλέγοντα. Λέγω οὖν, μὴ ἀπώσατο ὁ θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ; Μὴ γένοιτο. Καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ Ἰσραηλίτης εἰμί, ἐκ σπέρματος Ἀβραάμ, φυλῆς Βενϊαμίν. Οὐκ ἀπώσατο ὁ θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ὃν προέγνω.

The Reading is from Matthew 9:9-13
At that time, as Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him.
And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 9.9-13
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, παράγων ὁ ῾Ιησοῦς ἐκεῖθεν εἶδεν ἄνθρωπον καθήμενον ἐπὶ τὸ τελώνιον, Ματθαῖον λεγόμενον, καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· ἀκολούθει μοι. καὶ ἀναστὰς ἠκολούθησεν αὐτῷ. Καὶ ἐγένετο αὐτοῦ ἀνακειμένου ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ, καὶ ἰδοὺ πολλοὶ τελῶναι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἐλθόντες συνανέκειντο τῷ ᾿Ιησοῦ καὶ τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ. καὶ ἰδόντες οἱ Φαρισαῖοι εἶπον τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ· διατί μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐσθίει ὁ διδάσκαλος ὑμῶν; ὁ δὲ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἀκούσας εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· οὐ χρείαν ἔχουσιν οἱ ἰσχύοντες ἰατροῦ, ἀλλ᾿ οἱ κακῶς ἔχοντες. πορευθέντες δὲ μάθετε τί ἐστιν ἔλεον θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν. οὐ γὰρ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους, ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλοὺς εἰς μετάνοιαν.

READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:

Τῇ ΙΣΤ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἀποστόλου καὶ Εὐαγγελιστοῦ Ματθαίου.
«Σῴζεις, Ἰησοῦ καὶ τελώνας· σοὶ χάρις».
Οὕτω βοᾷ Ματθαῖος ἐκ πυρὸς μέσου.
Ἀκάματον Ματθαῖον πῦρ δεκάτῃ κτάνεν ἕκτῃ.
Ταῖς αὐτοῦ ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.

This Apostle, who was also called Levi, was the son of Alphaeus and had Galilee as his homeland. A publican before being called by Christ, he became one of the Twelve Apostles, and an Evangelist. While still in Palestine, he wrote his Gospel first in Hebrew, being also the first of all to write the Gospel. When he is depicted in icons, there is portrayed next to him the likeness of a man, one of the symbolic living creatures mentioned by Ezekiel (1.10), which, as Saint Irenaeus writes, is a symbol of our Saviour's Incarnation.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Απόστολε Άγιε, καί Ευαγγελιστά Ματθαίε, πρέσβευε τώ ελεήμονι Θεώ, ίνα πταισμάτων άφεσιν, παράσχη ταίς ψυχαίς ημών.
O Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Τού τελωνείου τόν ζυγόν απορρίψας, δικαιοσύνης τώ ζυγώ προσηρμόσθης, καί ανεδείχθης έμπορος πανάριστος, πλούτον κομισάμενος, τήν εξ ύψους σοφίαν, όθεν ανεκήρυξας, αληθείας τόν λόγον, καί τών ρα θύμων ήγειρας ψυχάς, καθυπογράψας, τήν ώραν τής κρίσεως.
When thou didst cast away the publican's balance and wast united to the yoke of uprightness, then didst thou prove a merchant of great excellence, one that gathered in the wealth of the wisdom of Heaven; for this cause, the word of truth thou didst herald, O Matthew, and didst arouse the souls of sluggish men by signifying the dread day of reckoning.

Τού τελωνείου τόν ζυγόν απορρίψας, δικαιοσύνης τώ ζυγώ προσηρμόσθης, καί ανεδείχθης έμπορος πανάριστος, πλούτον κομισάμενος, τήν εξ ύψους σοφίαν, όθεν ανεκήρυξας, αληθείας τόν λόγον, καί τών ρα θύμων ήγειρας ψυχάς, καθυπογράψας, τήν ώραν τής κρίσεως.

Σήμερα η Εκκλησία γιορτάζει την μνήμη του αγίου Αποστόλου και Ευαγγελιστού Ματθαίου. Ο Ματθαίος είναι ο συγγραφέας του πρώτου Ευαγγελίου, στο οποίον ως εξής ο ίδιος μας διηγείται πώς εκλήθη στο αποστολικό αξίωμα από τον Ιησού Χριστό. "...παράγων ο Ιησούς είδεν άνθρωπον καθήμενον επί το τελώνιον, Ματθαίον λεγόμενον, και λέγει αυτώ ακολούθει μοι. Και αναστάς ηκολούθησεν αυτώ". Ο τελώνης έγινε Απόστολος και Ευαγγελιστής! Τόση είναι η ανακαινιστική και αναμορφωτική δύναμη του Αγίου Πνεύματος, στην οποία οφείλεται η συγκρότηση όλου του θεσμού της Εκκλησίας. Πώς βέβαια προγνωρίζει ο Θεός τους εκλεκτούς και πώς ανακαλύπτει μέσα στον τελώνη τον Ευαγγελιστή, αυτό δεν φτάνει και δεν μπορεί να το καταλάβη ο άνθρωπος. Είν' ένα πρόβλημα άλυτο για τη λογική του ανθρώπου. "Ω βάθος πλούτου και σοφίας και γνώσεως Θεού! Ως ανεξερεύνητα τα κρίματα αυτού...", γράφει ο Απόστολος.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀπόστολος καὶ εὐαγγελιστής Ματθαῖος
Ὁ Ἀπόστολος καὶ Εὐαγγελιστής Ματθαῖος, πρὶν γίνει μαθητὴς τοῦ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὀνομαζόταν Λευίς. Ὁ πατέρας του λεγόταν Ἀλφαίος καὶ ἦταν ἀπὸ τὴν Γαλιλαία. Ὁ Ματθαῖος ἔκανε τὸ ἐπάγγελμα τοῦ τελώνη, καὶ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὸν βρῆκε νὰ κάθεται στὸ τελωνεῖο ἔξω ἀπὸ τὴν Καπερναούμ. Καὶ εἶπε πρὸς αὐτόν: «Ἀκολούθει μοι». Ὁ Ματθαῖος, χωρὶς καμιὰ καθυστέρηση, ἀμέσως τὸν ἀκολούθησε. Καὶ ὄχι μόνο ἐγκατέλειψε τὸ ἁμαρτωλὸ - γιὰ τὴν ἐποχὴ ἐκείνη - ἐπάγγελμα τοῦ τελώνη, ἀλλὰ καὶ μὲ χαρὰ φιλοξένησε τὸν Κύριο στὸ σπίτι του. Ἐκεῖ, μάλιστα, ἦλθαν καὶ πολλοὶ τελῶνες καὶ ἄλλοι ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἄνθρωποι, μὲ τοὺς ὁποίους ὁ Ἰησοῦς συνέφαγε καὶ συζήτησε. Οἱ φαρισαῖοι, ὅμως, ποὺ εἶχαν πωρωμένη συνείδηση, ὅταν εἶδαν αὐτὴ τὴν ἐνέργεια τοῦ Κυρίου, ἀμέσως τὸν κατηγόρησαν ὅτι συντρώγει μὲ τελῶνες καὶ ἁμαρτωλούς. Ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὸ ἄκουσε καὶ εἶπε ἐκεῖνα τὰ θαυμάσια λόγια: «Οὐ γὰρ ἦλθον καλέσαι δικαίους, ἀλλὰ ἁμαρτωλοὺς εἰς μετάνοιαν». Δηλαδή, λέει ὁ Κύριος, δὲν ἦλθα γιὰ νὰ καλέσω ἐκείνους ποὺ νομίζουν τοὺς ἑαυτοὺς τοὺς δίκαιους, ἀλλὰ ἦλθα νὰ καλέσω τοὺς ἁμαρτωλούς, γιὰ νὰ μετανοήσουν καὶ νὰ σωθοῦν. Στὸ Ματθαῖο ὀφείλει ἡ Ἐκκλησία μας τὸ πρῶτο κατὰ σειρὰ στὴν Καινὴ Διαθήκη Εὐαγγέλιο, ποὺ γράφτηκε τὸ 64 μ.Χ. Ὁ Ματθαῖος κατὰ τὴν παράδοση κήρυξε τὸ Εὐαγγέλιο στὴν Αἰθιοπία, ὅπου καὶ πέθανε μαρτυρικά.

November 16
† Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew
He was a Galilean, the son of Alphaeus, and was originally named Levi. He was a tax-collector (an occupation despised by the Jews of Palestine) until he met the Lord, who said to him, "Follow me." From that day he was one of the disciples.
After the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Apostle was appointed to bring the Gospel to his fellow Jews, for whom, according to the Church's tradition, he wrote down the Gospel for the first time, in the Aramaic language, eight years after the Ascension. Some years later, this book was translated into Greek by St James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem. No copy in the original language has survived.
Later, St Matthew traveled to Parthia and the city of Hierapolis (on the Euphrates river) to proclaim the Gospel to the pagans there. One tradition holds that he reposed in peace in that region at a great age. Another tradition holds that he was martyred by a king of that region, who later repented and was baptized, taking the name Matthew. The king then cast down the idols and established the Christian faith in his realm.
When St Matthew is portrayed in icons, the likeness of a man is shown with him, one of the four living creatures spoken of in the first chapter of Ezekiel. St Irenaeus writes that the man symbolizes Christ's Incarnation.

November 16
† Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew
He was a Galilean, the son of Alphaeus, and was originally named Levi. He was a tax-collector (an occupation despised by the Jews of Palestine) until he met the Lord, who said to him, "Follow me." From that day he was one of the disciples.
After the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Apostle was appointed to bring the Gospel to his fellow Jews, for whom, according to the Church's tradition, he wrote down the Gospel for the first time, in the Aramaic language, eight years after the Ascension. Some years later, this book was translated into Greek by St James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem. No copy in the original language has survived.
Later, St Matthew traveled to Parthia and the city of Hierapolis (on the Euphrates river) to proclaim the Gospel to the pagans there. One tradition holds that he reposed in peace in that region at a great age. Another tradition holds that he was martyred by a king of that region, who later repented and was baptized, taking the name Matthew. The king then cast down the idols and established the Christian faith in his realm.
When St Matthew is portrayed in icons, the likeness of a man is shown with him, one of the four living creatures spoken of in the first chapter of Ezekiel. St Irenaeus writes that the man symbolizes Christ's Incarnation.

THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:

1. The Holy Apostle Matthew the Evangelist
Matthew, son of Alphaeus, was a tax collector when the Lord saw him in Capernaum and said: Follow Me. And he arose, and followed Him (Matthew 9:9). After that, Matthew prepared a reception for the Lord in his home and thus provided the occasion for the Lord to express several great truths about His coming to earth. After receiving the Holy Spirit, Matthew preached the Gospel to the Parthians, Medes and Ethiopians. In Ethiopia he appointed his follower Plato as bishop, and withdrew to prayerful solitude on a mountain, where the Lord appeared to him. Matthew baptized the wife and the son of the prince of Ethiopia, at which the prince became greatly enraged and dispatched a guard to bring Matthew to him for trial. The soldiers returned to the prince saying that they had heard Matthew's voice, but could not see him with their eyes. The prince then sent a second guard. When this guard approached the apostle, he shone with a heavenly light so powerful that the soldiers could not look at him; filled with fear, they threw down their weapons and returned. The prince then went himself. Matthew radiated such light that the prince was instantly blinded. However, the holy apostle had a compassionate heart; he prayed to God, and the prince was given back his sight. Unfortunately, he saw only with physical eyes and not spiritual eyes. He arrested Matthew and subjected him to cruel tortures. Twice, a large fire was lighted on his chest, but the power of God preserved him alive and unharmed. Then the apostle prayed to God and gave up his spirit. The prince commanded that the martyr's body be placed in a lead coffin and thrown into the sea. The saint appeared to Bishop Plato and told him where the coffin bearing his body could be found. The bishop retrieved the coffin with Matthew's body from the sea. Witnessing this new miracle, the prince was baptized and received the name Matthew. After that, the prince left all the vanity of the world and became a presbyter and served the Church in a God-pleasing way. When Plato died, the Apostle Matthew appeared to the presbyter Matthew and counseled him to accept the episcopacy. He accepted the bishopric and, for many years, was a good shepherd until the Lord called him to His Immortal Kingdom. St. Matthew the Apostle wrote his Gospel in the Aramaic language. It was soon after translated into Greek and the Greek text has come down to us, while the Aramaic text has been lost. It is said of this evangelist that he never ate meat, but only vegetables and fruit.

2. The Venerable Sergius of Malopinega
Sergius was a Russian parish priest who lived a God-pleasing life and served for sixty-two years in the province of Vologda. He peacefully entered into rest in the Lord on November 16, 1585, at the age of ninety-two.

HYMN OF PRAISE
The Holy Apostle Matthew the Evangelist
To His Holy Apostle Matthew,
The Lord appeared in the land of the blacks,
Giving great comfort to the tortured warrior,
And great strength to his heroic soul.
The Lord gave him a staff from His hand,
And told Matthew to plant it in front of the church.
He told him that it would grow green with life and blossom with various colors,
And bear sweet fruit for everyone to enjoy.
A spring would flow from beneath its roots-
A spring of cool water for those who thirst.
The face of whomever would partake of it with thanksgiving
Would shine with a wondrous light.
The apostle did as the Lord said,
And the wood budded forth, and was adorned with blossoms,
And living water flowed from its roots,
And the church was filled with a multitude of people.
Whoever was sick, was healed;
Whoever was healthy, became healthier still.
The blacks were blessed, their faces radiant,
And this fierce people became God's vineyard.
O wondrous tree, would that we could have it!
But we do have it, brethren; all of us have it!
It is Christ the Lord, the Lord of Hosts-
He is the Tree of Life; by Him we are saved.

REFLECTION
Does the Lord's command about ceaseless prayer that men ought always to pray (Luke 18:1), apply only to monks or to all Christians in general? If it applied only to monks, the Apostle Paul would not have written to the Christians in Thessalonica to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17). The Apostle repeats the Lord's command, word for word, and issues it to all Christians without distinction, whether monks or laymen. St. Gregory Palamas lived a life of asceticism for some time as a young hieromonk in a monastery in Beroea. The elder Job, a well-known ascetic whom everyone respected, lived in that monastery. It happened that, in elder Job's presence, St. Gregory quoted the Apostle's words, asserting that ceaseless prayer is the obligation of every Christian and not just for monks. However, elder Job replied that ceaseless prayer is the obligation of the monk only, and not for every Christian. Gregory, as the younger of the two, yielded and withdrew in silence. When Job returned to his cell and stood at prayer, an angel in great heavenly glory appeared to him and said: ``O Elder, do not doubt the truthfulness of Gregory's words; he spoke correctly and you should think likewise and pass it on to others.'' Thus, both the Apostle and the angel confirmed the commandment that all Christians must pray to God without ceasing. Not only without ceasing in church, but also without ceasing in every place and at all times, and especially in your heart. For if God does not for a moment tire of giving us good things, how can we tire of thanking Him for these good things? When He thinks of us without ceasing, why do we not think of Him without ceasing?

HOMILY
on Christ's dwelling in the hearts of the faithful
… that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye [may be] rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17).
With faith, Christ comes into the heart, and with Christ comes love. Thus man is rooted and grounded in love. First then, there is faith; then with faith comes Christ's presence in the heart; then with Christ's presence, the presence of love; and with love, all ineffable goodness. In a few words, the Apostle delineates the whole ladder of perfection. The beginning is faith and the end is love; and faith and love are joined in a living, undivided unity by the Living Lord Jesus Christ's presence in the heart. By strengthening faith, we further abolish the distance between ourselves and the Lord Jesus Christ. The stronger one's faith, the closer one is to Christ. Ultimately, one's heart is filled with Christ and cannot be separated from Christ, just as one's lung cannot be separated from the air. Then a man may, with tears of joy, communicate with Christ by the prayer of the heart-``Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner''-and the heart is imperceptibly filled with light and ardent love. In this way, love is united with faith and hope; and when they are united, the boundaries between them are lost, so that man cannot even think of determining of how far faith goes, and where hope and love begin. When the living Christ dwells in a man, then he no longer perceives faith, hope or love in himself, nor does he name them. Instead, he sees only Christ and names only Him. This is just like a fruit-grower in autumn who considers the ripe fruit on the tree, and speaks no more of blossoms and leaves but of fruit, ripe fruit.
O Lord Jesus Christ, supreme height of all our endeavors and the destination of all our travels, draw near to us and save us.
 To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.