5th Sunday of Lent, St Mary of Egypt, Mark 10: 32-45
Human beings have an amazing capacity to miss the point, to become blind to truths that should be obvious. We often do that because we become so preoccupied and distracted with our own agendas and desires that we ignore everything else. That is especially the case when the truth goes strongly against our inclinations by telling us what we do not want to hear.
On the Saturday before Holy Week, the Orthodox Church commemorates a major feast of the year, the miracle of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ when he raised Lazarus from the dead after he had lain in the grave four days. Here, at the end of Great Lent and the forty days of fasting and penitence, the Church combines this celebration with that of Palm Sunday. In triumph and joy the Church bears witness to the power of Christ over death and exalts Him as King before entering the most solemn week of the year, one that leads the faithful in remembrance of His suffering and death and concludes with the great and glorious Feast of Pascha.
According to an ancient tradition, it is said that Lazarus was thirty years old when the Lord raised him; then he lived another thirty years on Cyprus and there reposed in the Lord. It is furthermore related that after he was raised from the dead, he never laughed till the end of his life, but that once only, when he saw someone stealing a clay vessel, he smiled and said, “Clay stealing clay.” His grave is situated in the city of Kition, having the inscription: “Lazarus the four days dead and friend of Christ.” In 890 his sacred relics were transferred to Constantinople by Emperor Leo the Wise, at which time undoubtedly the Emperor composed his stichera for Vespers, “Wishing to behold the tomb of Lazarus . . .”
One day, I woke early in the morning to watch the sunrise. Ah the beauty of God’s creation is beyond description. As I watched, I praised God for His beautiful work. As I sat there, I felt the Lord’s presence with me. He asked me, “Do you love me?”
I answered, “Of course, God! You are my Lord and Saviour!”
4th Sunday of Lent, St John Climacus, Mark 9: 17-31
As Christians, thoughtfully done prayers and fasts can help us realize our impact on the salvation of the world; Jesus has made it clear that believers can achieve anything they want. In these times when the certainties and great world theories have all failed, it just may be time to try the answer provided by Jesus. “Lord, help my unbelief,” the cry of the father in the gospel below, serves as a lesson for us all.
~ Words of the Church Fathers ~
Man seeks joy and happiness in heaven. He seeks what is eternal far from everyone and everything. He seeks to find joy in God. God is a mystery. He is silence. He is infinite. He is everything. Everyone possesses this inclination of the soul for heaven. All people seek something heavenly. All beings turn towards Him, albeit unconsciously.
Turn your mind towards Him continually. Learn to love prayer, familiar converse with the Lord. What counts above all is love, passionate love for the Lord, for Christ the Bridegroom. Become worthy of Christ’s love. In order not to live in darkness, turn on the switch of prayer so that divine light may flood your soul. Christ will appear in the depths of your being. There, in the deepest and most inward part, is the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21)….He who has my commandments and keeps them, he is the one who loves me; and he who loves me shall be loved by my Father and I will love him and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:31).
Effort is required. For we have to wrestle against the rulers of the darkness of this age (Eph. 6:12). We have to wrestle with the roaring lion [1 Pet. 5:8]. We cannot allow the devious enemy to prevail in the struggle.