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A servant cannot be greater than his Master
The Sovereign Lord of the Universe came down to earth as a humble servant. He Who sits upon the seraphim, was born to us in a stable. The King of kings came as the Good Shepherd Who laid down His life for His sheep. We who serve as His priests and bishops can be true to our vocation, only if we serve in all humility, love, and gentleness. The bishop or priest who would set himself up as lord over his people, betrays the Lord Whom he serves. Any priest or bishop who lords over his people as though he were their superior, rather than their servant, betrays the standard of the office, as set in the earliest of times. The bishop is to be both servant to his people and father to his flock. He represents Christ in the midst of his diocese and must be compassionate, sweet, longsuffering, humble, and kindhearted. He must be available to his people. The bishop must be humble, lest he fall into the trap of seeing this sacred office as his divine right to lord over those under him.
Orthodoxy does not have lord bishops [prince prelates as bishops], but monks who are consecrated to serve as archpastors and fathers to their people. The western medieval imagery of lord bishops has never had a place in Orthodoxy, and our best bishops have been men of holiness, humility and simplicity. The love and respect shown to these bishops is the same as the love shown to fathers by their children. As Christ in their midst, the bishops rule not by tyranny and fear but by love and holiness of life. They serve as archetypes of the Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for his flock.
The honor we show our bishops is honor that is shown to Christ Himself, just as when we kiss icons, our love and honor are passed on to the archetype. We call our bishops Lord in the Liturgy, not because they are princely overlords, but because they are Christ in our midst. We love and honor them, because they, like Christ, first loved us. And the love and honor we show them (as icons of Christ) are passed on to the prototype, Christ Himself.
Just as bishops serve as Christ among us, so too the priests serve as the presence of the bishop among his people. They must also be humble and holy servants of their people. They must be loving fathers in the midst of their congregations, knowing that they represent the bishop and therefore Christ Himself. The love of Christ must be visible in the fatherly humility of the priest for his people, and he must lead his people in showing love and respect for their bishop. Priests must support their bishops, realizing the heavy burden that rests upon their shoulders. The priest must pray for his bishop, support his bishop, and love his bishop, even as his own father.
Keeping these biblical images of priest and bishop, the Church is able to keep Her focus on Christ and is protected from becoming like the worldly governments and institutions that surround Her. The Church, in Her wisdom, knows that the world does not need another worldly institution but rather the saving power of a hospital for the soul. The world is in terrible decline and desperate for the example of the selfless service and sacrificial love that only the Church can offer.
The world needs Christ, not simply another institution, and the Church can not be Her intended self without her bishops and priests becoming simple, humble, holy servants. The Church's clergy must serve in imitation of the Lord, in all humility and love. If we priests and bishops are to be true to our vocation, we must remember, "a servant cannot be greater than his Master (John 13:16)".
Love in Christ,
Monday January 23, 2012 / January 10, 2012
33rd Week after Pentecost. Tone seven.Afterfeast of the Theophany.
St. Gregory of Nyssa (395).
Venerable Dometian, bishop of Melitene (601).
St. Theophan the Recluse, bishop of Tambov (1894).
Venerable Marcian, presbyter of Constantinople (471).
Venerable Paul, abbot of Obnora (Vologda) (1429), and his disciple St. Macarius, abbot of Pisma Monastery.
Venerable Antipas of Valaam (1882).
New Hieromartyr Zenobius priest (1920).
New Hieromartyr Peter priest (1930).
New Hieromartyr Anatolius metropolite of Odessa (1938).
Woman Hieromartyr Arsenia abbes (1939).
Venerable Macarius of Pisemsk and Kostroma (14c).
Blessed Theosebia the Deaconess (385), sister of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa.
Venerable Ammon of Nitria, monk (5th c.).
Venerable Antipas of Galapodeshti, Romania and Valaam Monastery (1882) (Romania).
Martyred Elder Ephraim and six incorrupt monks of Obnora (1538).
I wish to thank those of you who have been contributing towards the principle of our mortgage ($250,000.00). For those of you who can't donate due to the depressed economy, please remember to pray for the monastery. It would be such a great blessing if we were able to retire the mortgage debt altogether.
Donations can be made directly to the monastery through PayPal, or you may send donations to:
All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
PO Box 2420
Vashon Island, WA 98070-2420 USA
Faith Without Works Is Dead
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus
46 Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48 Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.
Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.”
50 And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.
51 So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”
52 Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.
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