Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
The Benefits of Being a Disciple—Rewards You Can Reap Today—Part Eight
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again to the temple; all the people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them. The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do You say about her?” This they said to test Him, that they might have some charge to bring against Him. Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more, He bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him. Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said “Neither do I condemn you; go and do not sin again.” John 8:1-11
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
Just about everyone in society (save for sociopaths and extreme narcissists) carries around a certain amount of guilt. The antidote to our guilty feelings is God’s mercies.
Guilt is not an entirely bad thing. It is not good to be consumed by guilt, but some guilt is good. Here is why. Guilt brings about pain in the soul. When we have pain in our bodies, we go to the doctor so that our pain can be fixed. The pain lets us and the doctor know what needs fixing. Can you imagine if we never felt any pain in our bodies? We would never go to the doctor. We would never know that anything is wrong. There are many instances when a person has no pain and no symptoms while their body is on the verge of a very serious medical crisis. And by the time the pain appears, the disease has spread so much, there is nothing that can be done.
If the purpose of life and the work of the soul is to repent, then a little bit of guilt can actually be good for the soul. Guilt is the pain of the soul, and you need some pain in order to repent. Once we repent, there is no more guilt. Through the sacrament of confession, when we confess and repent of our sins, we receive absolution, a blotting out of the guilt of sin, and a purging of our record of sin. Absolution essentially wipes away the record of our sins.
In today’s Scripture passage, we read the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery from the Gospel of John. The penalty for adultery was to be stoned to death. So the woman caught in the act of adultery is not surprised at what is happening to her. She is guilty. She knows she is guilty. She knows the penalty is stoning. She knows she is contemned and rightfully so.
Jesus turns the tables on the scribes and Pharisees, telling them “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7) One by one, all of the accusers go away, so that the woman was left alone, just her and Jesus. Jesus said to the woman, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and do not sin again.” (8:10-11)
Jesus has saved the woman. She runs away from the experience elated, still alive. This is how we are supposed to feel after confession. This is how it feels to receive God’s mercies. This is something we can experience in this life. For as often as we fall, we can get up again and be forgiven. We can receive Christ’s mercies anytime we are asking for them.
Mercy is something we don’t deserve but yet Christ freely offers it to us. We are also supposed to offer mercy to one another. If we expect the Lord to overlook our innumerable faults, we should be willing to overlook the few faults of others.
And our reaction to God’s mercies should be the reaction of the woman caught in adultery. We should be elated. We shouldn’t accept God’s mercies while planning to sin again. Certainly, we will receive mercy in confession for sins that we will inevitably commit again. But at the moment we are accepting Christ’s mercies, it should be with a plan to go and sin no more and our elation should serve as motivation. There is one phrase in the 6th Prayer of the Sacrament of Holy Unction that says, about God, “For as is Your Majesty, so also is Your mercy. This is a beautiful thought—His majesty is infinite. So also is His mercy. And this mercy is available in our life, today!
O gracious, loving compassionate and ever-merciful Lord, plentiful in mercy, and rich in beneficence, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who through Your holy Apostles have empowered us to heal the infirmities of Your people by oil and prayer, confirm this oil unto the healing of those who shall be anointed with it, for relief from every ailment and every malady; for deliverance from evils of those who in firm hope await salvation from You. Yes, O Master, Lord our God, we pray to You the Almighty, that You will save us all. O only Physician of souls and bodies, sanctify us all; as Healer of every malady, heal also these Your servants. Raise them up from their bed of pain, through the mercies of Your goodness. Visit them in Your mercy and compassion. Cast out from them every sickness and malady; so that being healed by Your mighty hand they may serve You with all thanksgiving; that even now, sharing in Your ineffable love, we may sing praises and glorify You, Who do great and wondrous things, both glorious and transcendent. For Yours it is to show mercy and to save us, O our God, and to You we give glory, to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to ages of ages. Amen.
Ask for God’s mercies. Accept God’s mercies. Be merciful to others as God is merciful to us!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Photo Credit: OrthodoxyToday
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