THE SUNDAY MESSENGER
June 28, 2020
Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
Swept and Furnished
Fortunately, a far greater preacher than Jonah, and wisdom far greater than Solomon’s is available to us in the person of Jesus Christ. There is no need to seek further evidence, only to repent and live out who we are created to be, a people in communion with God. Jesus gives a warning to his listeners, the same warning for us today – anything less than faithfulness will result in our judgment, and it’s not enough that our house has already been swept clean.
We may think we have cleaned out the junk from our lives. We have been baptized; we are basically good, law-abiding people, right? But unless we furnish our lives with the divine life of Christ that he came to share with us, we are vulnerable to evil moving back in to occupy our hearts, and our last state will become worse than the first (see Psalm 106:34-39, II Peter 2:20). St. Cyril of Alexandria writes about the Jewish generation that Jesus is addressing:
Since they did not believe in Christ but rejected the Savior, the impure spirit again attacked them. He found their heart empty and devoid of all fear of God, swept and took up his dwelling in them.
Like that generation, we also must guard our hearts which are sealed with the Holy Spirit at baptism, and where the Spirit of God dwells (Romans 8:11, I Corinthians 3:16, 6:19).
Through baptism, our house, or temple, has been cleansed, received into the Body of Christ, but even those who devoutly live out their baptism are not immune to sin or turning from the vows of their baptism. Daily, we should consider with what we furnish our temple, our heart. Is it with the sacraments and teachings of the Church, Scripture, works of mercy, and forgiveness? Or do we furnish it with distractions, various idols, false gods, addictions, busy-ness, or unforgiveness? Due to sinful habits and confused priorities, idols will make themselves at home to the point of not being noticed anymore, similar to becoming accustomed to a piece of furniture or decor in our home that just becomes part of the landscape, no longer noticeable as we walk past it every day.
Is our parish community neglectful, prey to a greater evil? Do we take the time and effort to closely examine our own space, the heart of our community in order to remove idols or anything that doesn’t belong? How do we keep our sacred space clean? By living as though God dwells within us. Which means getting baptized, where we ask the Holy Spirit to seal us and live within us, where we become a temple for God to dwell. But that is just the beginning of our faith journey. Living as though God dwells within us means obeying God’s law of love – which is not just being nice to one another. That’s not enough. Rather, love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength! Also, to love our neighbor, including our enemies! It means facing the pain and suffering of others with God’s mercy and healing. It means forgiving others, even when they don’t ask for it. It means sacrificial giving. It means evaluating what we allow to entertain our minds – visually, audibly – to identify with what we have become desensitized. It means living in a constant state of confession and repentance, like breathing, always aware of what is distracting us from God and what causes us to turn our back to him. And it means to meaningfully participate in Badarak by coming forward to share Holy Communion so that we are changed and transformed into the Body of Christ.
From the Epistle reading for the day, St. Paul reminds the Church at Rome (and also us) about the distinction between a life without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and a life endowed with the Holy Spirit:
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6)
What furniture needs to be purged from our global Church, our parish community, and in our personal lives? How should we live and pray to rearrange and furnish our temples in order to keep out evil influence and live not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit?
By Dn. Eric Vozzy
TODAY’S BIBLE READINGS:
Romans 7: 25-8:11 (page 143) New Testament
Matthew 12: 38-45 (page 12) New Testament – (Please follow the Armenian Reading in your Bible)
Isaiah 1:21-31 (page 683) Old Testament
REQUIEM SERVICES: Karasoonk (40th Day memorial Service) today will be for:
– VARTOUHI HACIKIAN on the 40th Day of Her eternal life requested by Garo Garibian.
– HELEN MIRIJANIAN on the 40th Day of Her eternal life requested by Laurie & Thomas and Elaine & Eric.
Hokehankist today will be for:
– RAYMOND MIRIJANIAN (26th Anniversary of His eternal life) requested by Laurie & Thomas and Elaine & Eric.
“LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night….” (Nehemiah 1:5-6).
Prayers are requested for Ethel Terzian, Taron Poghosyan, Alice Charles, Armen & Theodora Mirakian and Genevieve Miller.
CALLING ALL GRADUATES
The next issue of the LOOYS will feature information about our graduates and we are hoping that you will submit your own details so that you can be included. Write-up should include: full name, parents’ names, name of institution, grade level or degree achieved, activity involvement, and future plans (further education/ work). Please include a picture (in high resolution color), if possible. Everything should be sent to email@example.com by an ABSOLUTE deadline of July 20, 2020.