SUNDAY OF THE PRODIGAL SON — Tone 2. St. Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch (381).
Tone 2 Troparion (Resurrection)
When the stone had been sealed by the Jews, while the soldiers were guarding Your most pure body, You rose on the third day, O Savior, granting life to the world. The powers of heaven therefore cried to You, O Giver of Life: “Glory to Your Resurrection, O Christ! Glory to Your Kingdom!// Glory to Your dispensation, O Lover of mankind!”
Tone 4 (St. Nicholas)
The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of meekness and a teacher of self-control; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you.// O Father Bishop Nicholas, pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved.
Tone 3 Kontakion (St. Nicholas)
You proved yourself to be be a holy priest, O Nicholas. You served God in Myra and lived the gospel of Christ. You offered your life for your people, And rescued the innocent from death. Therefore God has glorified you as a trustworthy guide of things divine.
Tone 3 Kontakion (from the Lenten Triodion)
I have recklessly forgotten Your glory, O Father; and among sinners I have scattered the riches which You gave me. And now I cry to You as the Prodigal: “I have sinned before You, O merciful Father; receive me as a penitent, // and make me as one of Your hired servants!”
Tone 2 Prokeimenon (Resurrection)
The Lord is my strength and my song; / He has become my salvation. (Ps. 117:14)
V. The Lord has chastened me sorely, but He has not given me over to death. (Ps. 117:18)
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (Epistle)
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. May the Lord hear you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! (Ps. 19:1)
V. Save the King, O Lord, and hear us on the day we call! (Ps. 19:9)
Luke 15:11-32 (Gospel)
Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”
The Theology of the Body
Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou
1 Cor. 6:12-20
We can do no good thing on earth unless our mind cleaves to heaven. Our steps will continually wander on foreign paths unless we set our affection on things above and seek ‘first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness’, according to the Lord’s commandment. The words of Holy Scripture define our life. Depending on our attitude towards them, we can either render our life bountiful and everlasting, or condemn it to a shallow existence that will end in the tomb. In the Church, we do not tell stories for our leisure, nor compile an ethical code, but, as spirits, we receive teachings of the Spirit. These instructions demand extreme tension if we are to hearken to them without failing to apprehend their meaning. As Great Lent draws nigh, the Church misses no opportunity to provide us with thoughts that will render the struggle which we are preparing to undertake fruitful, so that our expectation of meeting the Lord Jesus ‘risen from the dead’ may not be in vain. Contemporary man cannot find satisfaction in anything. The present life fences him all around like a tight, suffocating ring. To the agonizing cry of the man who desperately seeks freedom, the Apostle Paul answers: ‘All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.’ To the lack of all restraint and the leveling of all things that we witness in our times, he opposes the true meaning of freedom, incomprehensible to the earthy mind: ‘Christ hath made us free’ from the yoke of slavery to the enemy. Furthermore, in the last century, the passions of the flesh have been so exalted that they developed into an art. In a paroxysm of madness, people behave as if they were the first to suddenly discover the ephemeral pleasures of the flesh, as if we did not all come into being from that passion, as if our mothers did not conceive us in sin. In a few lines, today’s epistle reading presents the theology of the body and its role in resisting the temptation of the world in our life so that even our flesh may long for God and turn in an uprush towards Heaven. ‘All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.’ As the ‘image’ of God, man has the gift of free will, the gift of freedom. However, in the state we inherited from the Fall, this freedom has been distorted, because in every choice set out before us, the devil mingles his will with ours. However, seeing our desire and self-determination, God grants grace in the Church so that we may discern His will through Holy Scripture, and above all through our spiritual fathers. Depending on our choice, we become either servants of God guided by the light of the love of Christ, or slaves to the enemy with our mind held captive by an alien spirit. We are free to do whatever we wish, but it is expedient for us to choose that which is in harmony with the will of God: ‘For His anger endureth but a moment and in His favour is life.’ Salvation consists in finding the will of God in our life and embracing it as the sole law of our being. There is only one will in the Kingdom of Heaven, the will of God, and the citizens of Paradise, angels and saints, serve that one will. All things may be lawful unto us, but today’s Parable of the Prodigal Son vividly depicts before our eyes the place to which ‘the wide gate and the broad way’ leads. We can do all things, but in some acts and thoughts there is life and life eternal, while in others eternal death. The choice is ours.
The Lord is called Jesus, Saviour. He is also called Christ, which means ‘anointed with myrrh’. The Fathers state that in the Person of His Son and Word, God anointed the human nature with the divine.
The Name ‘Christ’ marks the man who is deified through union with God. In the resurrection that we expect, those who are saved will receive the anointing of divinity. They will no longer need food and drink to gain energy. The energy and the life of God, will be their life…Through fasting we prove that we are persons and images of God. In contrast to animals, we can dominate our nature and rise above the flesh. We fast so as to develop spiritually as hypostases in the image of God. Animals cannot fast, because they are not endowed with reason… In his simple words, but so rich in wisdom, Saint Silouan gives us the right measure of fasting, saying that we must eat only so much as not to hinder prayer, yet also enough not to become temporarily weak and unable to work for our salvation. Grace becomes our teacher; and through experience, we gradually begin to discern that eating more than we need decreases the power of prayer and the joy and peace of the spirit evaporate. At the same time, the mind is darkened and becomes prone to thoughts that come from the enemy. Whenever we act in a way that opposes, even if imperceptibly, the commandments of Christ, the fire of divine love burning in our chest is smothered. This is why the Apostle Paul admonishes us with the words: ‘Grieve not the holy Spirit of God,’ that gentle Person Who cannot tolerate even the slightest shadow of sin and withdraws…Certainly, everything begins with the disposition of the heart, with the thoughts that we accept and cultivate…If the mind is correctly oriented, being turned entirely towards God, a healthy body can aid man in his effort to approach God. However, if someone has no rule over his own nature, his bodily energy will be channelled into harmful pathways, cutting him off from God, the source of life. Therefore, fasting bears in itself the seed of Resurrection… Although we may sin, when we are united with Christ, the grace of the Head of the Body cleanses us from our sin and grants us holiness, so that we rise again with the power of God. The grace which the Lord imparted to us in His goodness is Divinity in its energetic form. For this reason, when it takes its abode in us, it will not leave us to see corruption in the tomb. Everything begins already from this life, both Paradise and hell, as well as eternity. ‘Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?’ Christians do not denigrate the body; on the contrary, they ascribe to it a great honor, difficult to put into words… ‘Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot?’ If we come to realize the glory given to the body of man, how can we soil this glory in the mud of the passions? We know that we will stand before the awesome judgment seat of God with our risen body, either purified by repentance or defiled by sin.
We avoid sin not because it will distress our parents, or tarnish our family’s reputation, or because we will be pursued by the police, but because we do not want to lose the honor of bearing the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit…
If we fight alongside Christ, Who has overcome death, we will be unassailable by any temptation, even if the armies of the enemy chase after us. Ever since Christ overcame death, ‘all power is given unto Him in heaven and in earth,’ and His victory is shared with all those who seek Him with earnest desire. ‘Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’
Excerpts from At the Doors of Holy Lent by Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou