After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY


Vl. Joseph Homily 21st Sunday After Pentecost


As we heard in today’s Gospel reading, the Word of God is often likened to a seed. Some seeds grow and bear fruit, while others die and remain fruitless. It is good when seeds produce fruit, but detrimental when they wither away. Today’s parable about the sower points out that out of those listening to the Word of God (and there are so many who do not even want to listen) only one-fourth of them keep it with a good and pure heart and produce fruit with patience.

Almost 2000 years have passed since this parable was told, and we can testify sadly that there are hardly even a quarter of such people out of all Christians. Isn’t it painful to think of this? It is difficult to accept the fact that the Kingdom of God will be established not on this earth that we know and are used to, through the efforts of all Christians, but in a new world, after this earth and everything on it will be destroyed and perish in fire. It is extremely difficult for a person who is seeking God, since it is indeed a lonely task! He is like a very small island in the midst of a boundless ocean of lukewarm Christians and outright atheists. All this is difficult and tormenting to bear.

Why is it like this? Why does not Christ’s work spread freely? If we are able to understand the reason for this, then we would understand why the Lord allowed the first people to fall into sin and why He, with His Almighty power, did not force them to stay away from sin.

We should always remember that God’s work in the world is a work of love and freedom. He could have made man a robot who would have fulfilled the will of God unquestioningly, but if that were so, man would become lower than animals!

And so, man can indeed use his will and freedom in accepting or rejecting the Word of God which gives purpose to life. Using his free will, man can either uproot the tares which choke the seeds of the Word of God, or allow them to grow. We are to understand that the thorns and thistles choking the words of Divine truth refer to all the various false teachings prevalent today. There are many such false teachings, and they act like carbon monoxide. They enter the mind undetected and darken it so that we lose a clear perception of our surroundings. This carbon monoxide gas not only stifles the truth in a man, but also any striving for the truth.

What should we do when we unwittingly hear or read something that acts like carbon monoxide in our spiritual life? It will jeopardize our spiritual discernment unless we expel it from our minds, calling on our Savior for help, and then it will disappear like smoke. Discernment in our Christian spiritual life is that good moisture that helps the seeds to sprout.

So, the Lord has placed our fate into our own hands: the choice is salvation or perdition. The Word of salvation is sown in every soul. Let us receive it joyfully and keep it carefully, taking it with us through all the adversities of life, knowing that without it we are blind and pitiful. Amen.

+Bp. Joseph

Спасо-Вознесенский Православный Храм
Holy Ascension Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
3921 University Drive
Fairfax, Virginia  22030

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