Sunday After Theophany 2012

January 23, 2012

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Bog se javi!

God is revealed!

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

In today’s Gospel we hear that Christ is leaving for Galilee upon hearing that Saint John the Baptist had been imprisoned. He then begins His public ministry in Galilee with the message “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Why does our Lord retreat to Galilee upon hearing of John’s imprisonment? Why does he not confront those that would persecute Him from the start? Saint John Chrysostom and the Blessed Theophylact provide the same answer to these questions. Our Lord withdraws to Galilee to teach us to protect ourselves by not going out to meet with temptations or to put ourselves into danger.

The Gospel says that Christ departed to Galilee, which means rolled down. It says that He dwelt in Capernaum that translates to house of comfort and consolation. The Gospel then states that this is in the region of Zebulon, meaning nocturnal, and Naphtali, meaning broadening. This shows that Christ not only came into the world for the Jews but, also for the Gentiles. Thus, Christ went to the Gentiles who were rolled down in sin by dark and broad ways of life that lead to destruction as a comfort and consolation to them.

Christ did the same for us. We need to ask ourselves do we want to walk on the narrow path to salivation by following God’s Law or walk on the broad path that will lead to our own destruction.

Saint Matthew says that Christ’s coming to this region was to fulfill the Prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 9:1) showing that Christ is the fulfillment of prophecies. This prophecy says that the people of Zebulon and Naphtali that were sitting in darkness saw a great light. The most oblivious understanding of this is that they see Christ coming to them. The deeper meaning of the great light is that the Law of God has been brought to them by Christ. This is a great challenge for us. We who have accepted Christ into our lives are also responsible for sharing that Great Light with others. At times we do not realize the darkness that exists in the lives of the people that are close to us. When we share our faith by the examples of our lives we help bring the Light of Christ to those around us.

It was not until Saint John the Baptist was arrested that Christ began his public ministry. This was because John was a prophet who prepared the way of the Lord by bearing witness to Him. Blessed Theophylact says that this is in the same manner as servants make preparations for their masters.

Christ’s preaching was that of a simple message “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repentance or the changing of one’s mind and being to God; is to change and live a life of virtue. Living a life of virtue is to live an angelic life. In living an angelic life the kingdom of heaven is made manifest within each of us. When the kingdom is made manifest within us and is made manifest to the world around us.

Repentance is probably the most joyous thing that we can do in our lives. This is because we become free. We are no longer enslaved to our own self-seeking, selfish will. Selfishness and self-seeking is at the heart of each and every one of our sins.

What we do through repentance is to return to our created image and likeness which is to be in the image and likeness of God. That means that we are in harmony with God and His Law. All that we do is in Harmony with God. We live in obedience to Him.

We no longer make choices based on ourselves because we know what the right thing is to do. There is no question in our minds to do anything else but that right thing; to act in harmony with God. It is through this obedience to God that we obtain joy, peace and serenity in our lives.

This simple message of repentance is given to us now by the Church to remind us that we are about to start the Great and Holy Fast, Veliki Post. It is hard to believe that in a few short weeks we will be preparing for Christ’s Resurrection. The first message that we receive to prepare for the Great and Holy Lent is repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

So my dear brothers in sisters in Christ-
Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Repent for Christ came into the world for the salvation of all men as a little child.

Repent for Christ was baptized by John in the Jordan that the Trinity was made manifest.

Repent for Christ came to those that sat in darkness that they might see a great light.

Repent for Christ is going to his voluntary Life Saving Passion.

Repent for Christ is crucified for us men and our salvation.

Repent for Christ is Risen to grant us eternal life.

Repent to end a selfish self-seeking life.

Repent to live in harmony with God.

Repent to bring joy, peace and serenity into your life.

Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Bog se javi!
God is revealed!

Delivered on Sunday after Theophany 2012 by Protodeacon Fr. Milan Medakovic at St. Stephen’s Serbian Orthodox Church, Lackawanna NY