Sunday, June 26, 2016 Orthodox All Saints

Luke, Chapter 23, Verse 40
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?

This refers to the story of the good thief.

Theophilus of Alexandria: 'Crucifixion and the Good Thief'.[1]

The sun of righteousness appeared in the east and gave light to those who were in the darkness and in the shadow of death (Lk. 1:79)...The powerful lion sprang up out of the wood; all the wild beasts hid in their dens…This, if you like, is the way of Our Lord Jesus Christ, when he saw the real enemy of the whole human race, who is the devil. For the devil invaded the whole earth, and afflicted everyone with many kinds of sins, which he spreads with these great scourges, namely, idolatry, robbery, vanity, fornication, theft, murder, slander, licentiousness, envy, hatred, contempt, anger, sorcery, pollution, fraud, arrogance, perjury, falsehood, corruption, prostitution, deceit and whatever is similar in them. These are the traps which the devil set for humanity, until he brought it to perdition and dispersed it. Well now. Let us consider in what way Christ the king made war against the devil until he released our souls from him and set them free. Let us begin, then, to penetrate the great treasure house full of the fruits of life. This is the great holy mystery of the wood of the cross, on which the True God, Jesus Christ, mounted out of love. When he descended into this world, he came to the people of Israel and preached to them saying: 'Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.' (Mt. 4:17) But they paid no heed to his holy counsels. After this he performed all the signs of his divinity in their presence, miracles without number. He made the blind see, the lame walk and the deaf hear. He healed lepers. He brought the dead back to life. He drove out demons. He made paralytics stand on their feet and forgave their sins. He made tax gatherers repent. He straightened vainglorious hands. He evangelized the poor. He remitted the sins of adulteresses and purified them with his divinity, restoring them to a virginal state. It was because an adulterous woman was made worthy of this great grace that her hands anointed the feet of him who had created her. (Lk. 7 37-8 ) From the moment she participated in the purity of his divinity, the voice of God came to her. 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.' (Lk. 7:50) In spite of all these things accomplished by him in their presence, they did not give him credence, but seized him and delivered him to be crucified. Having brought him into the court of the High Priest, they treated him with contempt rather than honor. Then the word of scripture was fulfilled. They brought evils upon me instead of blessings, and hatred instead of my love.' (Ps. 108:5) What then are the evils which the people he created, the people who killed him, did to him? They are terrible to describe or to hear. My tongue trembles, my eye weeps, my spirit groans, my soul is distressed to utter them. It is God that they have seized, the Lord that they have bound. They have pierced with nails the hands of them who created them. They slapped the face of their Lord. They beat his head with their fists. They placed a crown of thorns on his head. They dressed him in a purple cloak. They gave him vinegar and gall. On this day they did all these things to him. They crucified him with two thieves. One of them, who was unworthy of the division of his divinity, said to the Lord, deriding him: 'If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.' (Lk 23:39). The other replied rebuking him with indignation: 'Do you not fear God? We are receiving the reward of our sins which we have committed, but this man has done nothing wrong.' And he said, 'Jesus. remember me when you come into your kingdom.' And Jesus said to him with great joy: 'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.' The gate of Paradise has been closed since the time when Adam transgressed, but I will open it today, and receive you in it. Because you have recognized the nobility of my head on the cross, you who have shared with me in the suffering of the cross will be my companion in the joy of my kingdom. You have glorified me in the presence of carnal men, in the presence of sinners. I will therefore glorify you in the presence of the angels. You were fixed with me on the cross, and you united yourself with me of your own free will. I will therefore love you, and my Father will love you, and the angels will serve you with my holy food. If you used once to be a companion of murderers, behold, I who am the life of all have now made you a companion with me. You used once to walk in the night with the sons of darkness; behold I who am the light of the whole world have now made you walk with me. You used once to take counsel with murderers; behold, I who am the Creator have made you a companion with me. 'All these things I will pardon you because you have confessed my divinity in the presence of those who have denied me. For they saw all the signs which I performed, but did not believe in me. You, then, a rapacious robber, a murderer, a brigand, a swindler, a plunderer have confessed that I am God. That is why I have pardoned your many sins, because you have loved much (Lk. 7:47). I will make you a citizen of Paradise. I will wash your body so that it will not see corruption before I resurrect it with me on the third day and take you up with me. The other who has denied me will see you enveloped in glory, but he will be enveloped in pain and same. He will see you surrounded by light, but he will be surrounded by darkness. He will see you in a state of joy and happiness, but he will be in a state of weeping and groaning. He will see you enjoying ease and benediction, but he will be suffering oppression and malediction. He will see you refreshed by the angels, but he will be troubled by the powers of darkness. And in the midst of intense cold the worm that never rests will consume him. Not only did he not confess me, but after having denied me he reviled me. 'For this reason all will receive according to their works. For as I have already said to them explicitly and in public: Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.' (Mt. 10:32-3).
So now, brethren, what torment the man who denied the Lord brought upon himself? We should therefore watch over ourselves that we should not be led astray, that for the sake of things of this life, we should not be made strangers to him who has created us. Perhaps there is someone today who is denying God for the sake of riches because the love of money closes the eyes of those who are given to it. Such a person takes the part of Judas, He has sold the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. It is therefore good for us to direct our concerns towards the Lord since it is he who takes care of us. Let us now turn to the goal proposed to us by the cross. For the ladder which Jacob contemplated that was fixed to the ground and reached up to heaven on which the angel of the Lord ascended and descended (Gen. 28:12), is Our Lord Jesus Christ raised up on the wood of the cross.

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking History[2]

The International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking serves to draw awareness to the need for action and cooperation in order to achieve a drug-free world.  Illicit drugs and their trafficking pose a large health threat to humanity. Drug problems and dependencies put a great deal of pressure on health care systems and constitute a threat to the safety and well-being of humans all around the globe. Long-term drug abuse has been linked to poor general health, contraction of diseases through needle sharing, trouble with the law, poor self-hygiene and alienation from loved ones, psychological illnesses and death from overdose. In December 1987, the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was designated by the United Nations. It is celebrated annually on June 26, a symbolic day that commemorates the dismantling of the opium trade in Guangdong. The day also serves as an opportunity for Member Nations to reaffirm their support for UN Conventions that attempt to control the world's drug supply. 

Facts about International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
  • 40% of all violent crimes occur under the influence of alcohol.
  • No one is immune from addiction; it afflicts people of all ages, races, classes, and professions. – Patrick J. Kennedy, American democratic politician and former US representative for Rhode Island.
Instruction on Intemperance[3]

“Be sober and watch.” I. Peter v. 8.
 St. Peter prescribes sobriety and watchfulness as necessary means for resisting the attacks of the devil, who by day and night goes about seeking whom he may devour. Woe to those who, by reason of their drunkenness, (The term drunkard applies to any person who is caught up in the addiction cycle, whether it is drink, gambling, drugs or sex.) live in a continual night, and lie in the perpetual sleep of sin! How will it be with them if, suddenly awakened from this sleep by death, they find themselves standing, burdened with innumerable and unknown sins, before the judgment-seat of God? For who can number the sins, committed in and by reason of drunkenness, which the drunkard either accounts as trifles, easily pardoned, or else, not knowing what he has thought, said, and done in his fit of intoxication, considers to be no sins at all? Will the divine Judge, at the last day, thus reckon? Will He also find no sin in them? Will He let go unpunished the infamous deeds and the scandals of their drunkenness? He Who demands strict account of every word spoken in vain, will He make no inquiry of so many shameful, scandalous, and blasphemous sayings, of so much time wasted, of so much money squandered, of so many neglects of the divine service, of the education of children, of the affairs of home, and of innumerable other sins? Will they be able to excuse themselves before this Judge by saying that they did not know what they were doing? Or that what they did was for want of reflection, or in jest? Or that they were not strong, and could not bear much? Will not such excuses rather witness against them that they are the more worthy of punishment for having taken more than their strength could bear, thereby depriving themselves of the use of reason, making themselves like brutes, and, of their own free will, taking on themselves the responsibility for all the sins of which their drunkenness was the occasion? What, then, awaits them? What else than the fate of the rich glutton who, for his gluttony, was buried in hell? (Luke xvi. 22.) Yes, that shall be the place and the portion of the drunkard! There shall they in vain sigh for a drop of water. There, for all the pleasures and satisfactions which they had in the world, as many pains and torments shall now lay hold of them (Apoc. xviii. 7); there shall they be compelled to drain the cup of God s anger to the dregs, as they, in life, forced others into drunkenness. This is what they have to hope for, for St. Paul says expressly that drunkards shall not possess the kingdom of God (i. Cor. vi. 10). What then remains for them but to renounce either their intemperance or heaven? But how rare and difficult is the true conversion of a drunkard! This is the teaching of experience. Will not such a one, therefore, go to ruin?



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