In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember St Aquila and St Priscilla. May Apostle Aquila and St Pricilla pray for us!

Saint Aquila and Saint Priscilla were mentioned in Scripture by Apostle Paul. As a family, the couple went about their evangelism. St Aquila was consecrated a bishop by Apostle Paul. The saint diligently preached the Gospel and converted many pagans and ordained clergy. His wife St Priscilla assisted him throughout all his life and work (1 Corinthians 10:28-11:7). The couple were martyred by pagans eventually.

We read Matthew 16:24-28 frequently, especially to remind us of following the straight and narrow that is Orthodoxy. In today’s world where false teachers abound, in the form of false ecumenism and prosperity, we need to be extremely guarded in our spiritual journeys, lest we think, out of arrogance, that we are being loving to others, and be dragged into spiritual oblivion with those who do not prescribe to the True Gospel. In Matthew 16:24-28, remember that we are to deny ourselves of our worldliness, and take up all our crosses which are sufferings, and then follow Christ in this order. We cannot follow Christ if we do not forsake our worldly obsessions and belongings. And we cannot follow Christ if we do not have the courage to shoulder our pains, sufferings, and responsibilities. We are reminded not to lose our soul when we indulge in gaining things from the world, for the evil one lurks in every corner to snare us into oblivion.

We are families. We are also a family of believers. In this time and age, the Church is under assault. Yet we are assured that the Church of our Lord and Christ will prevail till the end of time. This is what we believe in. The Orthodox Church is not without challenges. But we know she will prevail till the end of time. This is why we need to be united as families and believers of Christ. Unity in Truth, is strength. Not just any false unity under various guises, but true unity in the Orthodox Truth.

Take heart, despite the troubles the world sees, and increasingly more so, as we reflect on Isaiah 25:8-9 and Psalm 139:7-13. Our God will wipe away our tears, and save us from the evil of the world. Our Lord does not change, His Love is constant yesterday, today, and tomorrow, till eternity. Even if we try to hide from our Lord and attempt to deny Him, our Lord’s Love and Light will pierce through everything to reach us. Our Lord is relentless and mighty in His Love for us. He will never give up on us. This is the assurance we read from Psalm 139:7-13, so pray with thankfulness always.

Let us pray, “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:
Isaiah 25:8-9
Psalm 139:7-13
Matthew 16:24-28
1 Corinthians 10:28-11:7