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. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
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
Again, Jesus spoke to them saying, “I AM the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Good morning Prayer Team!
There were “messianic” signs that were given in the Old Testament, so that there would be no mistake when the Christ appeared, that this would indeed be the promised Messiah. Isaiah foretold of the coming of the Messiah when he wrote
“In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.” (Isaiah 29:18)
Later he wrote:
“Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, fear not! Behold your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.’ Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy.” (Isaiah 35:3-6)
When Jesus began His ministry, He began to do the things that were foretold about the Messiah in the prophecies of the Old Testament. Today’s “I AM” is sandwiched in between an encounter Jesus had with a woman caught in adultery and the healing of a blind man (John 9). In the instance of the woman caught in adultery, the Jewish leaders brought the woman to Jesus to see if He would condemn her to death by stoning, as was prescribed in the Law of Moses. His response was to say “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7) He also wrote on the ground with His finger. No one knows what He was writing but scholars postulate that perhaps He was writing down the names and transgressions of the Jewish leaders, which is why they all left.
This encounter left the Pharisees perplexed and so Jesus continued the dialogue, that He is the Light of the world, that He has come to bring light where there is darkness, such as with the woman caught in adultery. Her life was already dark. Through the Light of Christ, her, and others, come to repent of sin and come closer to God. The Pharisees became contemptuous with Jesus and wanted to stone Him, but He left the temple.
Immediately, going into John 9, Jesus encounters a blind man and He heals him. The Pharisees are again perplexed that Jesus would heal the man on the Sabbath. And so there is a division, could a man open the eyes of a blind man, something that had never been done, but not respect the Sabbath? In the end, they conclude that Jesus is not from God, even though He fulfills one of the Messianic signs.
Jesus uses the phrase “I AM the light of the world” again in John 9:5, immediately before healing the blind man. This is because as the Lord, He has the power to bring light to those who suffer physical blindness, in this case, the blind man, and He also has the power to give light to those who suffer spiritual blindness, which is all of us at some time or another.
We’ve all had the experience of not seeing. We’ve all stumbled around in a dark room. We’ve all experienced the power going out. And it’s not a great feeling when there is no light. Because ninety percent of what we take in is through our sense of sight. When Jesus said “He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,”(John 8:12) He doesn’t mean that following Him will make life super easy. He doesn’t mean that we will be rich and famous. He doesn’t even mean that one day we won’t lose our physical sight, or need glasses. Rather, when we follow Him, our souls become filled with light. We don’t have sadness or confusion in our consciences. Rather we have a humble confidence and a reassurance that even though we may not know where we are going (think moving to a new town, or starting a new job, or any unforeseen challenge we don’t know the end of), walking in His light will make wherever we are headed turn out alright in His eyes, and the journey will be blessed with a peace for our souls.
The Lord is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me, uttering slanders against me, my adversaries and foes, they shall stumble and fall. Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent, He will set me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies round about me; and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy, I will sing and make melody to the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me! Thou hast said “Seek ye My face.” My heart says to Thee, “Thy face, Lord, do I seek.” Hide not Thy face form me. Turn not Thy servant away in anger, Thou who has been my help. Cast me not off, forsake me not, O God of my salvation! For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up. Teach me Thy way, O Lord; and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the Lord! Psalm 27
Walk with Christ wherever your life takes you today.
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.
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