July 12, 2018
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
To live is Christ, and to die is gain;In their lives these Apostles did to Jesus attain.
The Apostle Paul, who is unsurpassed in his reasons for pride, now admits, “in me, no good doth lie.” The Apostle Peter, faithful in his family’s trade and employment, abandoned all to receive a hundredfold and heaven’s enjoyment.
Born a Jew and then set apart, is circumcised in flesh, and now also in heart. Toiling all night, Peter’s nets are all bare, ‘til he obeys Christ’s bidding; now, no room to spare.
A Hebrew of Hebrews with a pedigree to boast, now born from above to labor the most. A man of the earth with his hands in the waters, now netting for Heaven new sons and daughters.
Of the tribe of Benjamin on which Israel’s priesthood fell, now preaching the Good News to the Gentiles he’d tell. A fisherman and mender of nets now called, to safeguard Heaven’s doors with keys giv’n by God.
Righteous in all things pertaining to Law, now realizing there is nothing unclean which God calls. A merchant of fish, an expert at sea, now exchanges his tackle for the redemption story.
At Gamaliel’s feet fine learning he acquired, but exchanged for Christ Crucified, a knowledge that’s higher. Over the murky depths was Peter taught life, but soon the Heavenly Father would teach him of Christ.
Carried by fervor to uphold the law, the persecutor is confronted by Him who fulfilled it all. Faithful in his toil for those things which do die, after being confounded he seeks the Kingdom on high.
On the road to Damascus all blazing with fury, Saul is thrown to the ground amidst shining glory. The nets start to break and more help is sought; undone is Peter, with all that he thought.
All he has known has now come to naught; the light from Heav’n shone, and now he is taught. The fish are hauled in, the ship starts to sink; all starts to capsize, with all that he thinks.
The voice of the Lord now heard in broad daylight, echoes of the world now losing their might. Weary in life’s labors and failures and trials, Simon obeys Christ and returns from exile.
Jesus as Lord and the Law fulfilled; the fullest disclosure giv’n by God’s goodwill. Astonished at the laws of nature o’erturned, his previous life upended and spurned.
He now submits to the Lord he persecuted, joining the ranks of those he executed. In fear, the fisherman approaches this Man, only fearing before the untameable seas at hand.
Blinded eyes were ope’d, the world he couldn’t see; knowledge came through vision, once Christ he perceived. He who had wife and family and craft, forsook all for Christ and did not look back.
The first martyr Stephen is stoned with Saul close, who is the last Apostle but strives for Christ most. The fisherman by trade and man of the sea, becomes the disciple of Christ in great humility.
Taken to Paradise where theology was given, to replace knowledge so-called which he found below Heaven. The unlearned fisherman knowing only his craft, is now taught by the Logos, his life now recast.
Not knowing the location where he is taught, to describe the third Heaven and Paradise he cannot. The unlettered becomes lettered on the Galilean hills; enigmas are unraveled, despite his lack of skill.
Born as a man in the flesh he did not know, if he was in the body or not when the light shone below. The unlearned heard myst’ries which angels desire, to look into more fully, but it was not for that heav’nly choir.
Taught by unspeakable words not heard by human ears, unknown to all man’s reason, he learned theology here. What from the beginning is hidden in God, now made manifest as he traveled with Christ abroad.
The Messiah ascended yet Paul said he saw Christ, revealed to all Apostles, the Lamb sacrificed. The mystery hidden from the ages is now manifest, to this untaught fisherman the divine alphabet.
Having met Christ and received a new name, his sight was restored when to Ananias’ he came. He who ‘mid doubting had sunk in the sea, witnessed Christ’s power o’er all things earthly.
He who was given all myst’ries from above, considered it dross if he did not have love. Jesus, the Christ of God, to him was revealed, its truth on Mount Thabor He did not conceal.
A raging beast and Christians he murders, yet becomes a mild sheep preaching the Gospel with fervor. The fisher of fish with a boat as a vessel, now angler of souls, which from the devil does wrestle.
The consenter of death for Protomartyr Stephen now risks his life for the same Christ he believes in. A timid man he, before the crowds did cower, now emboldened to preach on Pentecost with great power.
Complying with Jews at the stoning of Stephen, he is now stoned for the same reason. He who plunged his nets in the sea, now preaches baptism for the soul’s liberty.
The hands of him who subjected many to prison, are now used for the Holy Ghost to be given. He who once ensnared many fishes in nets, now pricks the heart with the hook of Christ’s Gospel address.
The writer of accusations and compiler of faults, now authors epistles to all whom Christ bought. Having fallen down at the feet of Jesus and confessing his sins, he now gives health to the legs of one who lives by begging.
He who was bound by zeal to this age, now preaches freedom from sin and the price of sins’ wage. He who was unlearned and ignorant now confounds the High Priest in Jerusalem with the Gospel he expounds.
He whose lineage is from the priestly tribe, now preaches the world over; God’s salvation he describes. He who was dead in trespasses and sins, raises Dorcas to life from her bed of sickness.
Having previously sacrificed the lives of others, every day he dies for his sisters and brothers. Though from fear of death the Lord he abandoned, with love he now makes ready before Him to stand.
He who had no regard for men’s lives, now wishes to be anathema for those with no guide. He, following his triple denial, did cower away; in his thrice affirmation, is by humility stayed.
Knowing no love and lacking in charity; awestruck by Divine love, now lives in all scarcity. He who in youth freely roamed as he pleased, is girded by others for death on a tree.
Once full of the vigor and vivacity of life, becoming now the offscouring of all things, beaten frequently and in strife. He who fled from the crucifixion of his Master, will choose the inverse because of his love for that Pastor.
Whipped and beaten, and pelted with rocks, and preaching “to live is Christ”; therefore, brothers, adhere to all that is orthodox. Forsaking wife and family to follow Christ, persecution embraced with the reward of eternal life.
In prisons and chains and shipwrecks and perils, become crucified with Christ and fear not demons or Devil. Having left all for Christ, Peter inherits a throne, may we always remember: this world’s not our home.
“To die is gain,” says Paul who feared not death; brothers, may we struggle with all our blood to obtain that Sabbath’s rest. “You have the words of eternal life,” Peter to Christ does reply; beloved, love the Lord your God until the day you die.
“Their sound has gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world,” is thestichos of the feast; May we be attentive and listen so that from these shackles of sin we will be released.
Through the prayers of the All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us. Amen.
August 20, 2018
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May 12, 2019
April 14, 2019
We have now reached the end of the most eventful week of the Forty Day Fast, as we celebrate the life of our venerable Mother, Mary of Egypt.
The details of this life are well-known to any faithful Orthodox Christian. They are not very complicated: the chief of sinners becomes the greatest of saints. This story has repeated itself many times throughout the life of the Church. But St. Mary’s life is without doubt one of the clearest and most striking examples, rivalling even the wonderful and unlooked for conversion of the Apostle Paul. As with the great Apostle, so with St. Mary, we see our Lord Jesus Christ show[ing] forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting (1 Tim. 1:16).
March 31, 2019