20130523_apostlesimon_sqIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, Christ is Risen, Truly He is Risen! We remember Holy Apostle Simon the Zealot today, may the holy apostle and martyr pray for us!

The Holy Apostle Simon the Zealot, was one of the 12 Apostles. At his own house, Apostle Simon saw the transforming miracle of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who transformed water into wine at the prompting of our Most Holy Mother of God. The Apostle left everything behind and followed our Lord. The Holy Apostle preached the Gospel at Judea, Egypt, Libya, Cyrenia and Britain, and was martyred on a cross at Abkhazia.

Like the Holy Apostle Simon, who was called a Zealot, for his undying faith even when he was crucified, he showed us as many of the holy fathers before us, and many saints before us, that they placed their love and faith in God first, above all things else. When our Lord spoke the Gospel, whether in words or deeds, saints like the Apostle Simon, had tender hearts and open senses, that allowed the illumination of the Light and Truth of God to permeate through them, and to fulfill their lives completely above all things of the world, above all seductions of the world, above all changes of the world. As we read in St Matthew 11:15, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

As we reflect upon 1 Corinthians 4:9-16, these saints showed us, their faith was unchanging, not because of their own will, but because they opened their entire selves unto God, and laid bare their everything to God with complete abandon, because they trusted God completely. They are saints of God, men and women who carried the Grace of God into the world, on chariots of compassion and torches of Truth of God. We, you and I, look upon saints like the Holy Apostles and many after them, as our elder brethren who through the Grace of God, allow us to attempt to find our own way in the same manner, back to God.

The Glory of God is a continuing Light that illumines and nurtures us, every moment of our lives. He is never faraway or absent. God is always with us, every moment of our lives.

Most of the time, many of us may, in our weak moments, question why God seemed to be absent in those trying times. And yet, God was right there with us, right beside us, His arm around us, His holy hosts protecting us, His holy saints praying for us, our Panagia, Holy Mother of God, praying for us. We in our own dark depths, may not have perceived all these mighty miracles around us, but they surround us.

As we read from Genesis 15:1-6, God promised Abraham, “I am your protector”, just as God is our protector till the end of time, as long as we look to Him as our Father, our Arbiter, our Protector, our Shield and Armor, and our Healer. In every dark moment, pray for finding illumination in His Gospel. In every joyous moment, pray for humility. Throughout our lives, remember one of the greatest needs for us Christians, is to repent our terrible falls that occupy and devour us daily.

St Seraphim of Sarov, one of our beloved Russian saints, lovingly said, “There is no salvation without sorrows. The Kingdom of God, where all the glory of the world pales in comparison, awaits those who have patiently endured.”

As the Holy Apostle Simon and others showed us, and especially as our Lord taught us, what we hang on to decides our journey, whether we will walk closer to God, or farther and farther away from God. As we read from Ecclesiastes 1:12-18, the king wisely taught us that all things of the world is vanity and derails our journey towards God, and that even worldly and mortal wisdom can be destructive to us, as the evil one tempts us to take our will above that of the Will of God. We learn, daily, to remember that humility and repentance become our weapons against our own continuing missteps and the seduction of the evil one, and the more we learn, the more we need God. As the saying goes, a little learning is a dangerous thing. We must never underestimate what the evil one knows as he was once a great creation until his pride took over. In the same light, the more we learn, the more humble and lower we must put ourselves.

Our Lord does not hope that we become fervent debaters or rebels with Him, but to reconcile with Him, as children whom He loves dearly. Whenever we rebel against God, His whole court of angels and saints are saddened, whiile the evil one would rejoice with his minions. Let us always think like little innocent children.

St John of Kronstadt encouraged us with this, “Endeavor to attain the simplicity of a child in your relation to people and in prayer to God. Simplicity is the greatest good and dignity of a person. God is completely simple, because He is perfectly spiritual and completely good. And let not your soul be divided into good and evil.”

Whenever an evil thought arises in us, or when we commit something that puts us to tears inside, ask for the protection of our Lord, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Readings
Genesis 15:1-6
Ecclesiastes 1:12-18
St Matthew 13:54-58
1 Corinthians 4:9-16