As we follow the daily readings, today we read from Joel Chapters 2 and 3. And while today's reading begins with Verse 12 of Chapter 2, we really need to go back to the beginning of the chapter to find our compass.
"Blow the trumpet in Zion, sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord is coming, for it is at hand."
This is not the only warning of our Lord's return that we have been given. Jesus Himself spoke of it in Matthew 25 (in our Gospel reading from just this past Sunday), and again in 2Peter 3, where the Apostle tells us,
"Beloved, I now write to you... that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.'"
This is what the world would have us accept (or rather, force down our throats). But look at the world around you. Is it really the same as since the "beginning of creation"? Haven't we moved so very far away from the path that the Lord calls us to walk? And as we come to this new, next Great Fast, where are we to direct our feet so that we choose the right path, and not that of a world (and the ruler of this world) that would lead us to destruction?
One set of answers comes from the opening verse of today's reading from Joel Chapter 2.
"'Now, therefore,' says the Lord, 'turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.' So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness."
Another comes from the same Chapter of 2Peter from above, at Verse 17-18:
"Therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, now and forever. Amen!"
Turn to the Lord how? With fasting? You may say, "OK, I planned on that." With weeping? You may think, "OK, I know that I've had those confessions in which I wept like a child, and I did leave feeling cleaner, so I guess I understand."
With mourning? Now you're probably thinking, "Father, why do you always need to go to such morbid extremes?"
But my beloved children in Christ, the Lord clearly teaches, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted," does He not? How often have you prayed this verse from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapter 5) during Divine Liturgy and not understood that Jesus is not sending a blessing on those who have lost a loved one, but rather on all of us who see our separation from Him and truly mourn for that distance, desiring with all our hearts that it might be closed?
Yes, mourn for our sins that separate us from the Lord! Mourn for the fact that in our sins we know we fall short of His commandments for us, and in that knowledge in fear we remove ourselves from Him even before awaiting to see if He has abandoned us (which He never has, which He never will - remember the Father of the Prodigal!!!).
Elder Ephraim of Mount Athos teaches, "The first divine fruit of silence is mourning - grief according to God - joy-grief. Afterward come luminous thoughts, which bring the holy flow of tears streaming with life, from which also comes the second baptism, and the soul is purified and shines and becomes like the angels."
Joy-grief? Yes, let's learn of that one, as well. Not by words. Let us learn about it together as we walk the path of the Great Fast, laboring beside one another, praying for one another, covering for one another's faults, forgiving one another unconditionally, seeking what is good for the other as we pray for what is good for us.
May it be so for all of us as we move toward the Passion of our Lord.
Welcome to Saint Herman's, Hudson, Ohio
This blog is a partial compilation of the messages, texts, readings, and prayers from our small community. We pray that it will be used by our own people, to their edification. And if you happen by and are inclined to read, give the glory to God!
The blog title, "Will He Find Faith on the Earth?" is from Luke 18:8, the "Parable of the Persistent Widow." It overlays the icon of the Last Judgment, an historical event detailed in Matthew Chapter 25, for which we wait as we pray in the Nicean Creed.
We serve the Holy Orthodox cycle of services in contemporary English. Under the omophorion of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Bulgarian Patriarchal Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia, we worship at 5107 Darrow Road in Hudson, Ohio (44236). If you are in the area, please join us for worship!
Regular services include:
Sunday Divine Liturgy 10AM (Sept 1 - May 31)
930AM (June 1 - Aug 31)
Vespers each Saturday 6PM
We pray that you might join us for as many of these services as possible! We are open, and we welcome inside the Church all visitors. See our Parish web page: