Monday, December 16, 2013

Asking for Miracles
Novice Nicholas and Monk Moses awaiting Communion

Asking for Miracles in our Smugness and Pride

Asking for miracles in order to believe betrays a sort of smugness on our part, sort of like asking for an expensive gift from a perspective friend, before considering their overture for friendship. It could hardly become a true friendship if it had a beginning like that.

God could easily create miracles that would make all people believers, but He respects our free will, and does not wish to interfere with our freedom. As God awaits our decision, are we to respond to His love, or are we not. God has the power to show forth miracles that would make us all believers, but to do so would hardly leave us with freedom, for He desires that we choose to commune with Him, not because of His power, but because of His love.

When I was a young man, in about the eighth grade, I decided that the Roman Catholic Church might possibly be the True Church. I started taking catechetical lessons from the local Roman Catholic priest. Struggling, as I was, to find the True Church, I asked my Lutheran pastor to meet together with the Catholic priest and me, so that I could have them debate. My plan was to choose the winner, and go with that church.

The Pastor declined, saying he wasn't going to reduce truth to whomever could win a debate challenge. I'd just joined the high school debate team, and had thought it a good idea to have them debate, thus taking the pressure off myself, making my decision easier. That was a real example of copping out, and relieving myself of having to make the decision.

This is not unlike the person who would demand a miracle, asking God to prove Himself worthy of being worshiped. This is would be no different than saying, "give me a car for my birthday, dad, and I'll consider loving you as my father". We must approach God in all humbleness of mind and heart, leaving the rest up to Him.

It is also quite possible that when miracles do come our way, our smugness and pride prevent us from seeing the miracle that is right in front of us. I once asked a young Egyptian Christian about the appearance of the Holy Virgin before crowds of people on the dome of Saint Mary Coptic Orthodox Church
in Cairo. Everyone, whether they were Christians, Muslims, Jews, or atheists, were able to witnessed the appearance, and I wondered why such miracles happened in Egypt, but not in the West. The young man said that Christians in the Middle East live their lives in expectation of miracles, so when they come they are not surprised, but received with joy. Westerners, he said, in their collective pride, are skeptics, and ignore miracles sent by God.

If we are awaiting the day God will prove Himself to us, we fail to notice that He has been doing just that from the very beginning, but our smugness and pride have blinded us to that which has always been there.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Abbot Tryphon Greeting Hieromonk Paul at conclusion of Liturgy
Monday December 16, 2013 / December 3, 2013
26th Week after Pentecost. Tone eight.
Nativity (St. Philip's Fast). By Monastic Charter: Food without Oil

Prophet Zephaniah (Sophonias) (635 B.C.).
Venerable Sabbas, abbot of Zvenigorod, disciple of St. Sergius of Radonezh (1406).
New Hieromartyr Andrew priest (1920).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1930).
St. Gregory confessor (1960).
Venerable Theodulus, eparch of Constantinople (440).
Venerable John the Silent of St. Sabbas' monastery (558).
Hieromartyr Theodore, archbishop of Alexandria (606).
Venarable Gregory of Cherniksk (Romania).
New Hieromartyr Gabriel, bishop of Ganos (1659) (Greek).
St. Birinus, bishop of Dorchester (649-650) (Celtic & British).
New Martyr Angelos of Chios (1813) (Greek).
Venerable Cosmas of St. Anne's Skete, Mt. Athos.
St. Sola, Anglo-Saxon missionary priest under St. Bobiface (790-794) (Germany).
St. Nicetius, bishop of Lyons (Gaul).
St. Lucius, king of Britain who requested missionaries for his people in A.D. 187.
Martyrs Agapius, Seleucus and Mamas (Greek).

You can read the life of the saint by clicking on the highlighted name.

THANKS to all of you who have been able to contribute towards the support of the monastery. These difficult times of economic hardship have impacted the monastery, and those of you who have been able to donate, have been our lifeline. May God bless you for your generosity, and kindness.
With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

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

The Scripture Readings for the Day

1 Timothy 1:1-7


1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,
To Timothy, a true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

No Other Doctrine

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.

Luke 20:27-44

The Sadducees: What About the Resurrection?

27 Then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, 28 saying: “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second took her as wife, and he died childless. 31 Then the third took her, and in like manner the seven also; and they left no children, and died. 32 Last of all the woman died also. 33 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as wife.”
34 Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.”
39 Then some of the scribes answered and said, “Teacher, You have spoken well.” 40 But after that they dared not question Him anymore.

Jesus: How Can David Call His Descendant Lord?

41 And He said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is the Son of David? 42 Now David himself said in the Book of Psalms:
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
43 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’
44 Therefore David calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?”

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