Theology

The Sunday of the Prodigal Son

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

On this Sunday the Church tells the parable of the Father who had two sons. Like all parables, it has a symbolic meaning. Who is the Father and who are the two sons?

The Father represents God the Father, the Father of all mankind.

The elder son represents the Jewish people. The elder son represents the Jews, for alone of all people the Jewish people had kept the memory of God, accurately, faithfully conserving the stories of Creation, the story of the Fall of Mankind and the prophecies of the Coming of a Saviour, the Messiah. The Jews, the elder son, had remained with the Father.

Three Guiding Lights of True Faith

As the month of January draws to a close, the Church calls us on the 30th to celebrate the Feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs: St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom.

In celebrating these three great teachers of the Church, the Church in its hymnody refers to them as “harps of the Spirit,” “rays of light,” “scented flowers of Paradise,” “instruments of grace.” The Gospel read at Divine Liturgy is that of the Good Shepherd (John 10:9-16). This gospel, always appointed to be read on feast days of canonized bishops, speaks to us of the God-given role of the episcopacy to watch over our souls.

In these three great shepherds of the Church, we see both a commonality and differences that can enlighten us in how we lead our lives as Christians. Honored as supreme representatives of both the Church’s doctrinal and pastoral ministries, these men give us true examples of what it means to be Orthodox.

Translation of the Relics of St. John Chrysostom

Commemorated January 27/February 9

More than thirty years after John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, reposed in the town of Comana, the Most Holy Proclus (the saint's disciple and successor as archbishop) was presiding over the annual service in honor of the great universal teacher. In his homily, delivered in the cathedral of the Imperial City, Proclus extolled the Lord's favorite, saying, "Only if another John were to appear could John fittingly be praised! When the faithful recall his labors, struggles, and discourses, their thirst is slaked, as though by a mighty river overflowing its banks. From John shine rays of God's grace in which one man clearly discerns the sun of the Godhead, another beholds the cleansing of Orthodoxy from heresy, another perceives the deceptiveness of idolatry, another distinguishes truth from error, another is confirmed in faith and virtue, and another observes gleaming heavenly crowns. Oh, hierarch whose memory is like a fragrant breeze! Oh, namesake of grace, whose deeds were truly divine! Oh, golden mouth declaring the word of God! Oh, tongue which spoke of mysteries loftier than the heavens! Oh, teacher proclaiming the gospel more loudly than thunder! Verily like unto John the Forerunner, the preacher of repentance, was this John. One was a herald, the other a trumpet. One was unshakeable, the other invincible. One was a virgin, the other a champion of purity. One baptized in the wilderness, the other lowered his nets in cities. One denounced adultery, the other reproved the avaricious. One was cast into prison, the other was exiled. One was beheaded, the other desired beheading for the truth. Many were John Chrysostom's struggles on earth, many are his crowns in heaven. He now cries out with the Apostle Paul, 'I am a sweet savour of Christ, having cleansed the whole world of the stench of error. In Ephesus I expunged the delusion of Midas, in Phrygia I rendered childless the mother of false gods, in Caesarea I did away with the houses of ill fame, in Syria I abolished the assemblies of the godless, and in Persia I sowed the seed of the word of God. Everywhere I have planted the Orthodox faith. By my teaching I have disseminated the knowledge of God throughout the earth; by my books I have spread the nets of salvation far and wide. With John the Theologian I theologized concerning the Word of the Father; with Peter I laid the foundation of an Orthodox confession; with the fishermen I cast the net of piety into the world.' O John, your life was truly sorrowful, but your death is precious, your sepulcher glorious, and your reward great!"

Metropolitan Amfilohije gets an honorary doctorate (honoris causa) of the Saint Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris

The Saint Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris announced that a formal session, at which the Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral would be awarded with an honorary doctorate, to be held on February 12 of this year, commencing at 3 p.m. hours.

The session will be presided by His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Koman.

The announced agenda of the solemn session:

The award of the honorary doctorate honoris causa to His Eminence Archbishop of Cetinje and Metropolitan of Montenegro Amfilohije,

  • A suitable commending speech (laudatio) of protopresbyter-staurophor Zivko Panev,
  • A report on the academic year 2010/11 by protopresbyter Nikola Crnokrak, dean of the Institute,
  • Academic lectures of  professor Ivan Konig on the subject Uncreated Divine Light in the Teaching and Tradition of the Church: the Experience of the Early Centuries.

The Baptism of the Lord

John did restrain Him, saying: "I must needs be baptized of Thee, and dost Thou, then, come to me?"
But Jesus said unto him in reply: "Let it be, for now, for thus doth it behoove us to fulfill all righteousness."
(Mt. 3, 14-15)

Today the entire Orthodox Church universal celebrates the festive remembrance and glorification of the Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. The holy Evangelist reports that when the Lord came to the Jordan to be baptized, John attempted to restrain Him, saying: "I must needs be baptized of Thee, and dost Thou, then, come to me?"

Would not we say the like, knowing Who this is Who has come: Lord, what doth it signify, this extreme humility of Thine, that Thou, the Lord Who is without sin, comest to be baptized of a man, even if he be one who is righteous through Thine own grace and righteousness?

Spiritual Instruction on the Feast of the Theophany

This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Mt 3:17; 17:5

Thus did the voice of the pre-eternal God the Father speak to people about the pre-eternal God the Son, when the Son, at the behest of the Father, through the action of the Spirit, became incarnate of the Virgin and wrought the salvation of perishing mankind. Brothers! Let us show obedience to the Son of God, as God desires of us, that Divine good will might abide with us.

Perhaps someone might say, "I would like to obey the Son of God; but how can this be done, when two thousand years have passed since our Lord Jesus Christ dwelt on earth in the flesh and preached His all-holy teaching?"