Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bishops and Priests
Metropolitan Laurus of Blessed Memory
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 Wings of 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 religion, 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,
Abbot Tryphon

Sunday December 22, 2013 / December 9, 2013
26th Sunday after Pentecost. Tone one.
Nativity (St. Philip's Fast). Fish Allowed

The Conception by St. Anna of the Most Holy Theotokos.
New Hieromartyr Vladimir priest (1919).
New Hieromartyr Vladimir priest and Virgin-martyr Ephrosia (1920).
New Hieromartyrs Basil and Alexander priests (1937).
New Martyr Priest Sergius Mechev of Moscow (1941).
Prophetess Anna (Hannah) (1100 B.C.), mother of the Prophet Samuel.
Saint Sophronios, Archbishop of Cyprus (6th C).
Venerable Stephen the "New Light" of Constantinople (912).
Icon of the Mother of God, named "Unexpected Joy".
Martyr Narses of Persia (Greek).
St. Valeria of Aquitaine (2nd c.).
Martyr Sositheus of Persia (553).
Martyr Isaak (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

Ephesians 5:8-19

Walk in Light

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:

“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”

Walk in Wisdom

15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,

Luke 17:12-19

12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.
17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

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