Sunday of the Feast of Saint Athanasius (Byzantine Rite) – 05 July 2020

Kontikion Third Tone

The Angels’ ranks were awed by thy life in the flesh, how, though corporeal, and clad with earthly clay, thou didst set forth with courage to invisible wars and wrestling’s and didst boldly smite the hordes of the demons with mortal wounds. Wherefore, Christ rewarded thee with abundant gifts in return. Entreat Him that our souls find salvation, O most renowned Father Athanasius.

Reading from the Wisdom of Solomon

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.

In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be affliction,

and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace.

For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality.

Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;

like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.

In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble.

They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them for ever.

Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.

~Chapter: 3 Verses: 1-9 

Reading from the Book of Galatians

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

~Chapter: 5 Verse: 22 to Chapter: 6 Verse: 2 

The Gospel of Matthew

Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”

And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.

For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!

And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that day.

~Chapter: 8 Verses: 5-13


   Trials and tribulations, saints are no stranger to such things, it’s a job requirement, one the early church fathers knew too well. Life was varied from noble to humble servant, monk to emperor, child martyr to wizened sage: examples of all of these can be found in early doctrines chronicling the early church. Saint Antanasius was more than one of these in his lifetime he walked the road as a simple monk, collected and wrote scripture in what would become some of the first attempts at a written gospel, founded monasteries, had witnessed a visitation from the Virgin Mary, served in the Court of Alexander, was Bishop of Alexandria, and yet stayed humble and obedient enough that he was granted a vision of his own death to know how long he had to finish his work. Upon knowing so he worked until the last seconds of his life when a dome being built by his own hands, at the Larve collapsed and ended his life of service.

  It is his time with as bishop of Alexandria, in Egypt in the year 325 when he accompanied Alexander to the Council of Nicaea,  first ecumenical council of the Eastern and Western churches that we focus on today. While there to observe and advise the wise Alexander and men gathered from around the Christian world of the time the Bishop chose to remain silent during a debate that was in a specific area of his expertise, in a text he himself had written. His only reply was that Christ did not require him to author such a text, only to obey the words contained in it and no council could require more of him than Christ. He could have easily have penned and claimed the recognition doing so, a majority of what would become the accepted Coptic versions of the words of Christ and the apostles. Political agendas and strife between eastern and western churches were not ready for such a thing, and it although his work would become all that was hoped for at that first council, it wasn’t accepted as so until over a century after his passing.

   In the first two readings today we are taught exactly what the rewards and consequences of faithful service are, and how the old and new testament suggests God is to be served and obeyed. These are indeed wise and useful lessons for a life close to God and rich in righteousness. In the Gospel today is something a bit different, a lesson to a person who is usually in a position to teach one, not receive it. A centurion asks Jesus to heal one of his soldiers, Jesus gives a simple reply, the centurion believes him instantly without question and immediately takes the steps necessary for such a healing to take place. Jesus says never has he found a follower with such instant faith and immediate action. The centurion tells him he is used to giving orders and expecting them followed so he is following the orders of his faith in the words of Jesus to heal his man with no less obedience.  From one of the highest ranking Bishops, standing next to one of the most powerful men in the world, to this centurion in the gospel, we see that position of power is nothing in the call to serve Christ, that all of these things fall away in a moment when simple faith is all that is required. We can and should build the earthly things required to serve but never lose sight that those earthly things are just that, and faith requires only belief and obedience.


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