2nd Week of Great Lent – Thursday. The Sixth Hour

The Holy Eucharist and hearing the voice of God - Isaiah 6:1-12

 

And it came to pass in the year in which king Ozias died, [that] I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, and the house was full of his glory. 2. And seraphs stood round about him: each one had six wings: and with two they covered [their] face, and with two they covered [their] feet, and with two they flew. 3. And one cried to the other, and they said, Holy, holy, holy [is the] Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4. And the lintel shook at the voice they uttered, and the house was filled with smoke.5. And I said, Woe is me, for I am pricked to the heart; for being a man, and having unclean lips, and I have seen with mine eyes the King, the Lord of hosts. 6. And there was sent to me one of the seraphs, and he had in his hand, a coal, which he had taken off the altar with the tongs: 7. and he touched my mouth, and said, Behold, this has touched thy lips, and will take away thine iniquities, and will purge off thy sins. Isaiah 6:1-7

 


Most people have heard or read this passage from Isaiah and understand that it refers to the Holy Mysteries. It is a prophesy of what was to come – after the incarnation of the God-man Jesus Christ, we would be fed with the bread which came down from heaven – the holy Eucharist.

 

The priest repeats some of these words when he communes every person:

 

“Behold this hath touched thy lips, and taketh away all thine iniquities and purgeth all thy sins”

 

As in all of Holy Scripture, true understanding is in the details. Those who have “ears to hear” listen closely, and perceive all shades of meaning. Those who do not have such ears are those whom the Lord orders Isaiah to give the message:

 

"Go, and say to this people. 9. Ye shall hear indeed, but ye shall not understand; and ye shall see indeed, but ye shall not perceive. 10. For the heart of this people has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” Isaiah 6:9-10

 

There is a stark contrast presented here. Isaiah is healed by the holy coal which touches his lips because of his faith. See how he thinks of himself:

 

“And I said, Woe is me, for I am pricked to the heart; for being a man, and having unclean lips, and I have seen with mine eyes the King, the Lord of hosts.”

 

Such a man God will heal. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”, and the greatest grace is given by the Holy Eucharist.

 

How can we know the holy prophet was truly humble? After all, words are easy to say.

 

We must not receive the grace of God in vain. The partaking of communion must initiate ACTION in us. The voice of God will also be present for us. Isaiah not only has words, he has actions. Will we hear God as Isaiah did?

 

“And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go to this people? And I said, behold, I am [here], send me.” Isaiah 6:8


Why do we live such mediocre lives? Why do we confess the same sins over and over? Why is there so little change in our lives? Let us look at ourselves carefully: are we hearing the voice of God? Are we saying to God as Isaiah: “I am here, send me?”

 

There are two ways of living – one leads to life and one leads to death. There are two ways of communing the Holy Mysteries. Isaiah shows us one, and the people he preaches to shows us the other. May we live in such a way that every time we commune, not just the priest, but the Lord says to us:

 

Behold, this has touched thy lips, and will take away thine iniquities, and will purge off thy sins.

 

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Is 6:1-12 And it came to pass in the year in which king Ozias died, [that] I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, and the house was full of his glory. 2. And seraphs stood round about him: each one had six wings: and with two they covered [their] face, and with two they covered [their] feet, and with two they flew. 3. And one cried to the other, and they said, Holy, holy, holy [is the] Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4. And the lintel shook at the voice they uttered, and the house was filled with smoke. 5. And I said, Woe is me, for I am pricked to the heart; for being a man, and having unclean lips, and I have seen with mine eyes the King, the Lord of hosts. 6. And there was sent to me one of the seraphs, and he had in his hand, a coal, which he had taken off the altar with the tongs: 7. and he touched my mouth, and said, Behold, this has touched thy lips, and will take away thine iniquities, and will purge off thy sins. 8. And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go to this people? And I said, behold, I am [here], send me. And he said, Go, and say to this people. 9. Ye shall hear indeed, but ye shall not understand; and ye shall see indeed, but ye shall not perceive. 10. For the heart of this people has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 11. And I said, How long O Lord? And he said, Until cities be deserted by reason of their not being inhabited, and the houses by reason of there being no men, and the land shall be left desolate. 12. And after this God shall remove the men far off, and they that are left upon the land shall be multiplied. (Great Lent, the Second week, Thursday, At the Sixth Hour)

 

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas