Sermons & Homilies

Sermon for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost (2015)

St. Ignati Brianchaninov, in his exceedingly wonderful spiritual book, The Arena, begins his advice to monastics by saying: “We shall be judged according to the commandments of the Gospel” (p. 6). Then, St. Ignati begins his next chapter by saying, “The holy monks of old called the monastic life a life according to the commandments of the Gospel. St. John of the Ladder defines a monk thus: ‘A monk is one who is guided only by the commandments of God and the word of God in every time and place and matter’” (p. 7). Then, turn the page, and the next chapter begins: “He who has based his life on the study of the Gospel and the practice of the commandments of the Gospel has based it on solid rock” (p. 8). He continues: “True Christianity and true monasticism consists in the practice of the commandments of the Gospel. Where this practice is absent, there is neither Christianity nor monasticism, whatever the outward appearance may be” (p. 10). And in page after page, St. Ignati drives the point home: the Christian life is a living of the Gospel Commandments. In fact, in the first ten chapters of The Arena, St. Ignati uses this expression nearly 50 times in 25 pages: commandments of the gospel, or gospel commandments, or evangelical commandments. And in the Gospel reading for today, Christ plainly tells us what these are: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind… Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

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