Weekly Bulletin

St. Cyril of Jerusalem
Orthodox Church
www.stcyril.us  (281) 298-3232

November 18,2018

25thSunday after Pentecost. Tone 8.

THE NATIVITY FAST

Martyr Plato of Ancyra (ca. 306)

 

FEAST OF THE ENTRANCE OF THE THEOTOKOS, NOV. 21 – This is one of the 12 Great Feasts of the Church year, and commemorates the presentation of the three-year old child Mary in the temple in Jerusalem. We will celebrate the Divine Liturgy Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

PARISH WORK WEEKEND– Your help is needed! We will be painting the interior of both our buildings on Friday and Saturday of this week from 8 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or until whenever we complete the job. Please RSVP to Gail McLain at stcyrilparishsec@gmail.com or on the parish Facebook page.

SEE FLOATING ICON ON THIS PAGE 

 

St. Gabriel the New Confessor of Georgia:

When you judge others you judge God

I am a great sinner and greatly infirm. If you see a person sinning even at the hour of his death, do not judge him. Judging and mockery are great wounds on the soul. The Lord says, “Man, who are you that you should judge for Me?” For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again(Matt. 7:2). Judging is a manifestation of human stupidity; it shows that he who judges does not yet know God or himself as he should.

Judging is a great sin, when we exalt ourselves above others. All who exalt themselves are abominable before the Lord. Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted(Matt. 23:12). When you judge others you are judging God. Whether you’ve seen a thief, a loose woman, or a drunkard sprawled on the street, do not judge, because the Lord allowed their passions. Through these they should find the path to God — they should be humbled, see their own powerlessness, come to know the Lord, and repent.

And are you pleasing to God? That means that the Lord in His grace and mercy is restraining your passions. Know that if He lets them go you will fall into worse sins, and perhaps you won’t manage to climb out of those sins and you’ll perish. Therefore be humble and cautious. You saw that a person sinned, but did you see how he later repented? Then don’t judge! Like a thread passing through the eye of a needle, so man experiences the same sin that he judged in another.

Be humble and loving before all people, and if you cannot love everyone, at least treat everyone with good will. Kindness will open to you the gates of Paradise, humility will lead you there, and love will reveal God to you. God is seen only in truth and divine love, for “God is love.” Remember and understand me well: Without Christ, all is nothing! Man is created in the image of Christ, and if we who are His likeness do not come to Him, we will perish! If you do not believe not that I am He, you shall die in your sins (John 8:24).

 

Fr. Thomas Hopko on the Orthodox Christian

Understanding of the Bible

 

Is the Bible human or divine? Is it accurate?

The Bible is called the written Word of God. This does not mean that the Bible fell from heaven ready made. Neither does this mean that God dictated the Bible word for word to men who were merely His passive instruments. It means that God has revealed Himself as the true and living God to His People, and that as one aspect of His divine self-revelation God inspired His People to produce scriptures, i.e., writings which constitute the true and genuine expressions of His Truth and His Will for His People and for the whole world.

The words of the Bible are human words, for indeed, all words are human. They are human words, however, which God Himself inspired to be written in order to remain as the scriptural witness to Himself.As human words, the words of the Bible contain all of the marks of the men who wrote them, and of the time and the culture in which they were written. Nevertheless, in the full integrity of their human condition and form, the words of the Bible are truly the very Word of God.

The Bible is truly the Word of God in human form because its origin is not in man but in God, Who willed and inspired its creation. In this sense, the Bible is not like any other book. In the Bible, in and through the words of men, one finds the self-revelation of God and can come to a true and genuine knowledge of Him and His will and purpose for man and the world. In and through the Bible, human persons can enter into communion with God.

All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work(2 Tim 3.16–17).

It is the faith of the Orthodox Church that the Bible, as the divinely-inspired Word of God in the words of men, contains no formal errors or inner contradictions concerning the relationship between God and the world.There may be incidental inaccuracies of a non-essential character in the Bible. But the eternal spiritual and doctrinal message of God, presented in the Bible in many different ways, remains perfectly consistent, authentic, and true.

So who wrote the Bible? 

The Bible has many different human authors. Some books of the Bible do not indicate in any way who wrote them. Other books bear the names of persons to whom authorship is ascribed. In some cases it is perfectly clear that the indicated author is in fact the person who actually wrote the book with his own hands. In other cases it is as clear that the author of the book had another person do the actual writing of his work in the manner of a secretary. In still other cases it is the Tradition of the Church, and not seldom the opinion of biblical scholars, that the indicated author of a given book of the Bible is not the person (or persons) who wrote it, but the person who originally inspired its writing, whose name is then attached to it as its author.

In a number of instances the Tradition of the Church is not clear about the authorship of certain books of the Bible, and in many cases biblical scholars present innumerable theories about authorship which they then debate among themselves. It is impossible to establish the authorship of any book of the Bible by scholarship, however, since historical and literary studies are relative by nature.

Because the Orthodox Church teaches that the entire Bible is inspired by God Who in this sense is its one original author, the Church Tradition considers the identity of the human authors as incidental to the correct interpretation and proper significance of the books of the Bible for the believing community. In no case would the Church admit that the identity of the author determines the authenticity or validity of a book which is viewed as part of the Bible, and under no circumstances would it be admitted that the value or the proper understanding and use of any book of the Bible in the Church depends on the human writer alone.

Who can interpret the Bible?

The Bible is the book of sacred writings for God’s People, the Church. It was produced in the Church, by and for the Church, under divine inspiration as an essential part of the total reality of God’s covenant relationship with His People. It is the authentic Word of God for those who belong to God’s chosen assembly of believers, to the Israel of old and to the Church of Christ today and forever.

The Bible lives in the Church. It comes alive in the Church and has the most profound divine meaning for those who are members of the community which God has established, in which He dwells, and to which, through His Word and His Spirit, He has given Himself for participation, communion and life everlasting. Outside of the total life and experience of the community of faith, which is the Church of Christ, “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3.15) no one can truly understand and correctly interpret the Bible.

First of all you must understand that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God(2 Pet 1.20).

Scholars of the Bible can help men to understand its divine contents and meaning. Through their archeological, historical, and literary studies they can offer much light to the words of the scriptures. But by themselves and by their academic work alone, no men can produce the proper interpretation of the Bible.Only Christ, the living and personal Word of God, Who comes from the Father and lives in His Church through the Holy Spirit, can make God known and can give the right understanding of the scriptural Word of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth . . . For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known(Jn 1.1–18).

Jesus Christ, the Word of God in human flesh, alone makes God known. And Jesus, besides being Himself the living incarnation of God, the living fulfillment of the law and the prophets (Mt 5.17), is also the One by whom the Bible is rightly interpreted.

And[being risen from the dead]He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself(Luke 24.25–27).

And He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures . . . (Luke  24.44–45; also John 5.45–47).

Jesus Christ remains forever in His Church by the Holy Spirit to open men’s minds to understand the Bible (Jn 14.26, 16.13). Only within Christ’s Church, in the community of faith, of grace, and of truth, can men filled with the Holy Spirit understand the meaning and purpose of the Bible’s holy words. Thus, speaking about those who do not believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the apostle Paul contends that when they read the Bible a “veil” hides its true meaning from them “because only through Christ is it taken away” (2 Cor 3.14).

Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; but when a man turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all [i.e. believers in Christ] with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. Therefore, . . .  we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God (2 Cor 3.15–4.4).

In the New Testament,Christ not only provides the correct interpretation of the Bible, He also allows the believers themselves to be directly enlightened by the Holy Spiritand to be themselves “the letter from Christ. … written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3.3). Thus is fulfilled the prediction of the old covenant that in the time of the Messiah “they all shall be taught of God” by direct divine inspiration and instruction (Jn 6.45, Is 54.13, Ezek 36.26, Jer 31.31, Joel 2.28, Mic 4.2, et al.). It is only within the living Tradition of the Church under the direct inspiration of Christ’s Spirit that the proper interpretation of the Bible can be made.

Facebook