In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, we remember Venerable Peter the Patrician, and monk, of Constantinople, in the 9th century.

Venerable Peter was born into an aristocratic family (patrician). He was made a commander in the Greek army by the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus and went to war against Bulgaria. During a battle, the Emperor was fatally injured and Saint Peter was taken captive. During a night of prayer, the Holy Apostle John the Theologian, came to Saint Peter in a vision and miraculously released him from the prison. Thereafter, Saint Peter joined a monastery on Mount Olympos in Asia Minor as a monk. He was disciplined with strict fasts and prayer, and wore a prickly hair shirt and went around barefeet. He died when he was 70 years old and was buried in the monastery. Saint Peter the Patrician, pray for us.

Let us now consider the many tools of the evil one. The devil works many tools and weapons against our struggling and nascent faith. When we move forward an inch in faith towards God, the devil would desire to knock our feeble faith back 2 inches or more. He uses our pride, our hatred, our desolation, our desires, to work against us and our faith towards God.

What better way for the devil to tear communities of faith apart, then to sow discord among brothers and sisters? We have already seen the fragmentation of the faithful, even within the same ecclesial communities which purport to profess the same faith for God, the same Holy Scriptures, and the same Holy Traditions.

When the men of Ephraim confronted Saint Gideon, a judge of the Hebrews, as we read from Judges 8, the saint did not become angry, but reasoned gently with the men, and they were appeased.

We also reflect upon Proverbs 15, which reminds us that when we face angry people, we are to reply mildly, for angry retorts end in mutual fury. The Scripture also reminds us that a peaceful tongue is akin to a tree of life, which means that not only is it strong in faith unto God, like a strong tree, but one which can lend shelter, nourishment, knowledge and life to others.

Let us reflect on a passage from the Scriptures:

“Detract not one another, my brethren. He that detracteth his brother, or he that judgeth his brother, detracteth the law, and judgeth the law. But if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, and judge, that is able to destroy and to deliver. But who art thou that judgest thy neighbour? Behold, now you that say: To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and there we will spend a year, and will traffic, and make our gain. Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow.” (St James 4:11-14).

If we expect mercy from our God, what then, do we need to fulfill that which He desires from us? Kindness to others.

Let me now reflect from the Scriptures, which said:

“Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good. Loving one another with the charity of brotherhood, with honor preventing one another… Pursuing hospitality. Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep. Being of one mind one towards another. Not minding high things, but consenting to the humble. Be not wise in your own conceits. To no man rendering evil for evil… If it be possible, as much as is in you, have peace with all men. Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.” (Romans 12:9-21)

One of the beloved saints I often reflect on, is the Russian saint of peace, Saint Seraphim of Sarov. This was attributed to him, of blessed memory:

“We cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of one who gives and kindles joy in the heart of one who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other, not even those whom you catch committing an evil deed. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a morass of filth that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others. Keep away from the spilling of speech. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgement. This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult, outrage, and will shield your glowing hearts against the evil that creeps around.”

When we are confronted with rising anger within ourselves, let us remember that it is us who has failed God, and certainly not the other. In such moments of rising anger, douse our fires by praying the Holy Name 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:
Judges 8:1-3
Proverbs 15:1-7
St Matthew 12:46-13:3
Romans 15:17-29