Posted by: Fr Chris | February 21, 2018

Second Week of Great Lent

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Glory to Jesus Christ. For the rest of Lent, I will be posting some of my Lenten sermons here. Feel free to share: this is for the second Thursday

The lectionary, the cycle of readings, used in the Byzantine rite, both Orthodox and Catholic,  is ancient, and has not been changed in centuries – the Church set these readings up for the the evening Lenten services. There is a reason therefore that these readings fall on these nights: to speak to the congregation about very important messages from Scripture! This is from Thursday’s readings.

Adam and Eve have a 3rd child, Seth, since Abel was killed and Cain has gone elsewhere. Seth in Hebrew means to replace – he is more than that though. The gift God gave to humanity in Genesis 1:26-28 of being fruitful and multiplying, and also remaining the peak of God’s creative work, and being made in the image of God, is passed down through the line of Seth.

The numbers of years for people’s lives in the genealogy are not meant to be exact. In the ancient Near East, kings were said to have lived 36,000 years – obviously not true. They loved exaggeration, something common in Jesus’ time centuries later, and the point of those exaggerations was to say that the kings were awesome rulers. It was a common belief that the very ancient world was a time of giants, a time when life was on a larger scale than now, so the years were greater. But for the Jews, there is a limit – 1,000 years is divine perfection, and none of the descendants live that long. They come close, but never make it.

21: When Enoch had lived sixty-five years, he became the father of Methu′selah. 22: Enoch walked with God after the birth of Methu′selah three hundred years, and had other sons and daughters.  24: Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

Enoch: he lived righteously – despite the alienation of original sin, it is still possible to live according to God’s commandments. He does this so well that God “took” him – the same verb used for Elijah when he is taken away by God in Kings. The word is deliberately mysterious. If it was possible then to live in full righteousness, so well that God would want to have the soul live with Him, all the more so for us who have been given the fullness of revelation of Christ Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Glory, Whose passion and resurrection we are preparing for. If Enoch could live well in a time of increasing alienation from God’s ways, how can I do so now? Part of the answer comes in the 2nd reading, from Proverbs, chapter 6: 3-20, in verses 16-19.

There are six things which the Lord hates,  seven which are an abomination to him:      1 haughty eyes,  2 a lying tongue, 3  hands that shed innocent blood, 4  a heart that devises wicked plans, 5     feet that make haste to run to evil, 6  a false witness who breathes out lies, 7  and a man who sows discord among brothers.

Presuming none of us are killers of innocent blood – the other six unfortunately we can do, and do often: pride, lies, making up bad things to do, hurrying to commit sins, lying to the point of excluding any truth, and causing trouble. God HATES covering the truth with falsehoods and making trouble. That last one can be anything from children fighting over toys to Russian trolls creating fake news and other such folks who spread falsehoods.

I cannot tell you the number of times I get some message in email or on Facebook and I think “hmm, that can’t be true” and within five minutes of research I find out it is not true. Then when I post the truth, I get attacked. What is it with our modern society that it exults in spouting such nonsense? I read on the BBC website today that there are Americans already denouncing the teenagers who survived the massacre in Parkland, Florida, saying they are paid actors who travel from massacre to massacre and are paid by some secret government fund. Seriously? Who attacks children who just survived seeing their teachers and friends shot down in cold blood by a masked gunman? That is being someone who sows discord, and the bible clearly states that this is something that the Lord HATES.

Enoch walked with God, as Adam and Eve did in the cool of the evening in Paradise: that means that they lived in perfect harmony with God. Human beings are made for that: to walk with God in peace and unity NOW, on Earth. And the God Who HATES lies, evil, doing wicked things, working to create evil, is not going to want to walk with someone who does. This is the fierce warning given to us tonight as we now shift into the second part of the liturgy and prepare to receive the Sacred Body of Christ. It is meant to be a night of self-examination, and an opportunity to dedicate ourselves to truth, and to work so as to be a person who can walk with God, here and now.  Christ is among us.

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  1. Awesome sermon Father, really hit home. Thank you for posting this.

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