Redeeming the Time
An Orthodox Christian
Journal
St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Home Page St Nicholas the Wonderworker Go to the bottom of the page
Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
Phone:972 529-2754
nicholas@orthodox.net
Redeeming the Time
July 26/ Aug 8, 1999
Vol. 03.12

Tenth Sunday After Pentecost
The Exorcism of the Lunatic Son
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
redeeming the time, because the days are evil.


Spiritual Things

*Redeeming the Time

*Questions and Answers about Orthodox Doctrine

*Thoughts on the Sunday Gospels

*Articles on various things

*Confession

*An Exact Exposition of The Orthodox Faith

*Services

*Prayers

*Trebnic Prayers

*The Orthodox Typicon

*A Recent Miracle of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker

With a WONDERFUL icon!

Reference

*Calendar for the Current Month

ROCOR Directories
*Worldwide Parishes
*Clergy E-mail
*All Clergy

*Many Orthodox Links

*FAQS

*Fasting Typicon


About Us

*Contact Information

*Directions to our church

*Regular Services Schedule

*St Nicholas Family Album

*Who may receive the Holy Mysteries at St. Nicholas?

*New Valaam Trading Company

News and Announcements *

Many Years! *

Building Fund *

Daily Bible Study *

New Material on the Web Site *

Wednesday Services at Church are Cancelled for the Month of August *

First Divine Liturgy at St John Chrysostom Mission, Belton, TX *

A Suggestion to Consider *

Questions about the Gospel on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost *

The Exorcism of the Lunatic Son *

Answers to Questions about the Gospel on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost *

ANSWER 1 *

ANSWER 2 *

ANSWER 3 *

ANSWER 4 *

ANSWER 5 *

ANSWER 6 *

ANSWER 7 *

ANSWER 8 *

ANSWER 9 *

ANSWER 10 *

News and Announcements

Many Years!

Many years to Mary Wilder and Magdalena, who celebrated their namesdays last Wednesday. Many years to Christina, who celebrated her namesday last Friday.

Building Fund

Our building fund balance is $22,601.02, as of last weekend. Our goal is to raise two hundred thousand dollars as soon as possible, then begin to build, or purchase a building. To this end, our church budget stipulates that one thousand dollars a month be taken from the monthly income, and put in the building fund. This is only twelve thousand dollars, and we will not get anywhere soon if this is the only source of funds for the building fund. Please give to the building fund as often as you can, but abide by THIS ONE CONDITION. DO NOT decrease your tithe to the general fund of the church in order to give to the building fund. This would be, as they say, "robbing Peter to pay Paul". Those who do not tithe already SHOULD, because they are neglecting not the church only, but themselves.

Our money truly IS where our heart is, as the Lord said: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matt 6:21)

Please remember that your tithe is given to God, and should not be "used" to garner support for any opinion, influence people, or "make a statement". It should not be given, nor taken away because we agree or disagree with some event or community direction or opinion, or anything else in the community. To do these things is to follow the way of the world. We must be able to give to God because it is the right thing to do, and not for any other reason.

Daily Bible Study

We now have a vehicle to study the daily scripture readings. A mailing list has been created, which is open to anyone. The list is designed to encourage you to read the daily readings with understanding. Here is the description of the list, and information on subscribing.

The St Nicholas Orthodox Bible Study list facilitates daily Bible reading and study by members of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas, Texas, or anyone else who is interested.

Anyone who desires may join this moderated list. There are 1-2 postings a day, with questions about the biblical text usually posted in the morning, and questions with answers in the evening or the following morning.

PARTICIPATION IN THE LIST!

All Orthodox Christians should be reading scripture each day. Please read the daily readings. They may be found in many places, including our monthly calendar, at http://www.orthodox.net/

calendar

Parishioners and other interested parties are asked to try to formulate 5 questions with answers which elucidate the text, similar to the questions and answers used in the Sunday catechetical lectures at St Nicholas. They should send their questions and answers to Fr Seraphim (seraphim@orthodox.net) when they are finished. The questions need not be complex or long, and the answers can be simple. If you do not understand a passage, just ask a question without providing the answer!

Fr Seraphim will collate results and integrate them with his own questions and answers, which will be sent to the list.

Scripture cannot be learned passively. The request to formulate questions is intended to help us think about the holy words. Even if you do not formulate questions, it is hoped you will read the questions and answers submitted to the list by others.

See http://www.orthodox.net/questions for over 40 sets of questions and answers about many, mostly scriptural, subjects. Some of the questions and answers may be edited and posted in the web at this address. All list members implicitly give permission for their ideas to be used in this way.

Join the list by sending email from the place you want to receive the message, to saint-nicholas-study-subscribe@egroups.com

New Material on the Web Site

All of the Questions and Answers about the daily scripture readings, which are distributed to all parishioners with email and other interested parties, are on-line. See:

  • Monday: http://www.orthodox.net/questions/10monape.htm
  • Tuesday: http://www.orthodox.net/questions/10tueape.htm
  • Wednesday: http://www.orthodox.net/questions/10wedape.htm
  • Thursday: http://www.orthodox.net/questions/10thuape.htm
  • Friday: http://www.orthodox.net/questions/10friape.htm

Wednesday Services at Church are Cancelled for the Month of August

Because of Fr Seraphim's health problems, there will be no Wednesday Moleban at the church during August. We will be serving the small Paraclesis to the Theotokos on most weekdays during the Dormition Fast (the last 2 weeks of August) AT THE RECTORY. Everyone is welcome. See the August calendar for details.

First Divine Liturgy at St John Chrysostom Mission, Belton, TX

Aug 14/27 - Strict Fast

Forefeast of Dormition

2 Cor 11:5-21 Mark 4:1-9

Services in Belton at St John Chrysostom Mission

Vigil for Dormition- 7:00 PM

Aug 15/28

Dormition of the Theotokos

Phil2:5-11 Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28

Services in Belton at St John Chrysostom Mission

Divine Liturgy- 10:00 AM

6:00 PM Vigil at St Nicholas AS USUAL

God willing, we will serve Vigil and Divine Liturgy for the Holy Dormition at St John Chrysostom Mission in Belton. Belton is near Waco, Texas.

A Suggestion to Consider

Fr Seraphim is serving the Mission of St John Maximovitch (Austin) and St john Chrysostom (Belton) on a monthly basis. The idea was to serve each mission every month, on a rotating basis (each mission is served every other month). Vigil was to be served on Friday evening, rather late, and Divine Liturgy on Saturday morning, then we would high tail is back to Dallas for Saturday Vigil and Sunday services. A parishioner has suggested that this schedule is too grueling, and that Father Seraphim should consider serving every other month on a regular weekend schedule at the mission (Saturday and Sunday, not Friday and Saturday). On those weekends, there would be reader's services art St Nicholas.

This change cannot be made without Bishop Gabriel's blessing, but before it gets to this, we need to decide if this is the right thing to do. This may or may not be good for our parish. I have said often that the priest prays with and for the people, but not instead of the people, and services should continue whether a priest is present or not, because after all, we are all Christians. The sad reality is that too many of our family are lax about church attendance, and monthly reader's services may be poorly attended, and therefor harmful to the souls of those who stay home. I am unsure about making a change, even though it wold be better for my health. I need some feedback about this from all of you.

Fr Seraphim

Questions about the Gospel on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost

QUESTION 1

"And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, {15} Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is a lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water." (Matthew 17:14)

What was the belief at the time about lunatics? What was the real cause of their affliction?

QUESTION 2

"And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, {15} Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is a lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water." (Matthew 17:14)

What is the spiritual meaning of the fire?

QUESTION 3

"And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, {15} Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is a lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water." (Matthew 17:14)

What is the spiritual meaning of the water?

QUESTION 4

"And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him."

To which disciples did he bring his boy for a cure? Where were the other disciples?

QUESTION 5

"Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?" (Matthew 17:17)

Whom is Jesus calling "faithless and perverse", and why?

QUESTION 6

"Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?" (Matthew 17:17)

Jesus is making a prophecy here. What?

QUESTION 7

"Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? " (Matthew 17:19)

Why were the disciples unable to cast out the demon?

QUESTION 8

"And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. " (Matthew 17:21)

What does the "mountain" signify spiritually?

QUESTION 9

"... Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." (Matthew 17:20)

Describe how faith should be as a mustard seed. This has to do with the properties of the mustard see, and the size of the tree it becomes.

QUESTION 10

"Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." (Matthew 17:21)

What is "this kind"? Jesus is referring to more than just the demon in the boy, and is presenting us with a method for dealing with our passions, which the church has always understood and valued. Explain.

The Exorcism of the Lunatic Son

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Today is the 10th Sunday after Pentecost. On this day we read about the exorcism of the son who is a lunatic. This story has many applications and meanings. The external meaning is simply that Jesus heals a boy who is grievously afflicted by a demon by casting it out. Let us see why the boy was afflicted.

This story is related in all 3 of the synoptic gospels, so we will have a fuller picture if we take all these into account.

A man comes to Jesus, and begs him to help his son, his only child. The man calls his son a lunatic. In that day, there was the superstition that when the moon came out, it made some people crazy, and they called such people lunatics. Actually, it was a demon that afflicted these people, not the moon. Demons commonly use folklore and superstition to entrap the unwary, and remove suspicion from themselves. This demon obeyed the cycles of the moon because it suited his purpose, but he could actually afflict the boy at any time. The father blamed the moon, when actually there was someone else to blame, and not only the Devil, mind you, but himself also.

The man says, "Lord have mercy on my son," and he kneels down. He says that the boy is "sore vexed" - "ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water." What is the meaning of this? Fire is anger, and lust, jealousy and the rest of those hot passions, by which we are so afflicted and which are so tasty to us. They must be tasty and succulent to our sinful souls because we indulge ourselves so often in these terrible passions. The water quenches zeal, quenches ardor, quenches desire for holy things. It is worldly cares. A man will send himself to perdition with either the one or the other, or, more commonly, both.

This boy is cast into the fire and the water and he is terribly afflicted, and the father begs our Lord's aid. Jesus has an interesting response. He says, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you?" This is sort of an odd thing to say to the people present, but it cuts to the heart of the matter. He rebukes two people here, or two groups. First, He rebukes the father, because the father has very little belief. He blamed the apostles instead of himself and said, "Ö I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him." Our lord is pointing out to the father - it is YOUR unbelief, it is YOUR depravity which has hurt your own son. This is a truth for all parents to understand. We visit affliction upon our own children because of our own passions. This is a terrible truth, and a frightening truth for all of us to bear. Indeed, even demon possession can be visited upon a child because of the sins of his parents. This is a terrible truth, but we must know it. And all the other things that can happen to a person are many times the responsibility of the parents, because they do not teach him, and because they live depraved lives themselves. Be careful, my brothers and sisters. Before you judge yourself to be immune from these problems, consider what you are teaching your children, not only in words, but also in deeds and attitudes. Measure your life against the requirements of the Christian life before you are quick to judge others as depraved, and yourself as blameless.

Our Lord is also rebuking everyone around: "Faithless and perverse generation" - these are the same people that in a short while would say, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" because they wanted to be under a temporal king, and not the King of all. So Christ has the man bring the boy up. In another account He tells the father, "All things are possible to him that believeth." The man says: "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." Indeed, the Lord had already exposed this manís unbelief, his lack of faith, his judgmentalism. The man had all these weaknesses, but he did have a germ of belief, and our Lord did not require everything of him right away. He healed the son, even though the father had only a small amount, a little germ, of belief. He who has ears to hear, and believes, let him hear.

The apostles came to our Lord apart, and they were very upset and troubled. Remember they had gone out into the countryside, and they were raising the dead, and healing the sick. The lame were walking, the blind were seeing, the deaf could hear, and the demons were cast out, by not only the twelve, but also the 70. They were amazed at the grace that God was sending through them. And yet, it did not "work" this time. They were concerned - had they lost this gift? Had their unworthiness caused them to be passed over by the Lord? What did He tell them?

Your unbelief is the reason. "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." And I tell you, this is not just figurative. Mountains have moved. A mountain moved to save the holy Baptist, and mountains have moved at other times, literally, but this mountain means something else. A mountain is high. Pride exalts itself, and raises itself up, as if to the heavens, like the tower of Babel. The Devil, the liar, the slanderer - he is like a mountain, exalting himself up to the heavens. And you can say to this mountain "move", and IT WILL MOVE, if you have faith. Wherever this mountain might be, whatever affliction you might have, whether it be of your own self, or of someone that you care about, indeed you can say to the mountain, "move", and it will move, IF you have faith as the mustard seed. The mustard seed is a small, tiny seed, very, very small, but it is very pungent and hot. There is warmth and flavor in it, and it affects a dish exquisitely with its pungent flavor. And also, when you put it into the ground, it grows into a great tree. This is what our faith should be like. It need not be big in a worldly sense, but it needs to be hot, pungent. It must be strong, and it needs to grow.

Our Lord also told the disciples concerning the demon, "This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." It is related to what He had just said about faith, because the mustard seed, when it grows, is buffeted by winds, and in danger for much of its life as a seedling, but it grows into a great tree, and there is abundant fruit from it. Without prayer, and without fasting, I tell you, you donít have faith. You do not have faith, or love for God, if you do not live how He has told you to live. This way of life includes prayer, fasting, desire, putting God first in all things. If you do this, then "this kind" - meaning not just the "kind" that made the boy fall into the fire and the water, but also the passions that make you and me fall into fire and into water will be eradicated from our souls, and we will find peace. By the way, we do not always innocently fall into sins. I think we most often jump into these things, because we LIKE them. This "kind" that is embedded in our souls - this kind comes out not but by prayer and fasting. This does mean prayer and fasting in a literal sense, which is absolutely necessary. Without fasting, the church does not see how a man can be saved. This is on account of our character. The church understands this and that is why it is obligatory upon us, because it is necessary for our salvation. The "prayer and fasting" enjoined upon us by our Savior also includes the whole continuum of the Christian life, and the whole perspective we should have.

The whole purpose of our life is the salvation of our souls. There is nothing more important. There is nothing that has any meaning, but to know the God-man. We just had a feast where we saw what it will be like, a little bit, to know the God-man, to see the Uncreated Light, to understand and apprehend the energies of God. This is meant for the elect. But when they saw God transfigured on the mountain, the holy three apostles had already traveled a long way. They had labored to go up the mountain. We must labor, brothers and sisters. I donít understand how completely this terrible heresy has occurred in our day, and even for many hundreds of years - that Christianity is a life without labor, requiring only belief.

I donít understand how it happened - how the Devil so beguiled so many hearts and souls of men to think that is belief ONLY that saves a man. It is labor that saves a man, because of what he believes. It is becoming like Christ. It is doing as He tells you and as He teaches you. Without labor you cannot be saved, or without desire, without prayer, without fasting. Fasting is what? Itís our blood, the giving of our blood, like the martyrs gave theirs - so says our blessed Metropolitan. It shows we are sincere. Thatís what it is - showing that we are sincere, showing that we are not liars. Thatís what our fasting is, and our prayer and our long vigils and our prostrations and our giving up of ourselves. Thatís what our turning away from lust, or anger, or deceit, or any other thing that casts us into the fire or the water is. Our life is one of sincere labor because of love for our Savior.

A Christian should consider himself to be a slave of a benevolent master. "Slave of God" - that is the terminology used in the scriptures. Indeed, there will come a time when we will be fully worthy of that name "friend". Christ said He would call us friends, but we have a way to go before we can appropriate that name. Indeed, it is ours - it is our destiny to be friends of God. But we must have humility, and work out our salvation now, and labor.

So this demon, this passion that afflicts us, regardless of whether a man is possessed by a demon or afflicted by demons - this kind comes out only by prayer and by fasting. This is the Christian life. It is a life of labor, it is a life of zeal, it is a life of desire. May God help you to be zealous for your salvation - to pray, to fast, and to love God above all things. And then you will find peace. Amen.

Answers to Questions about the Gospel on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost

ANSWER 1

In that day, there was the superstition that when the moon came out, it made some people crazy, and they called such people lunatics. Actually, it was a demon, not the moon. Demons commonly use folklore and superstition to entrap the unwary, and remove suspicion from themselves. This demon obeyed the cycles of the moon because it suited his purpose, but he could actually afflict the boy at any time. The father blamed the moon, when actually there was someone else to blame, and not only the Devil, mind you, but himself also.

ANSWER 2

Fire is anger, and lust, jealousy and the rest of those hot passions, by which we are so afflicted and which are so tasty to us. They must be tasty and succulent to our sinful souls because we indulge ourselves so often in these terrible passions. (See Blessed Theophylact.)

ANSWER 3

The water quenches zeal, quenches ardor, quenches desire for holy things. It is worldly cares. (See Blessed Theophylact.)

ANSWER 4

Three of the disciples were missing when the man came seeking help for his boy from the remaining eight disciples. Looking back a few verses we see that this was at the time of the Transfiguration:

"And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, {2} And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light" (Matthew 17:1-2)

ANSWER 5

Blessed Theophylact explains that Jesus is rebuking everyone present. He rebukes the man because of his weak faith, the disciples because they could not heal the boy because of weak faith, and in a veiled way, the Jews who would soon betray Him and reject Him.

ANSWER 6

When Jesus said, "How long shall I be with you?", He was referring in a veiled way to His upcoming passion and subsequent resurrection and ascension. At the time He uttered this saying, His days of earthly ministry were coming to a swift end.

ANSWER 7

Jesus clearly told the disciples that they could not cast out the demon because of their unbelief, and His embellishment on this point gives us much knowledge about how to increase our belief.

ANSWER 8

The mountain Jesus refers to is our own hard-hearted soul, which is difficult to move, as it is weighed down by passions. Through faith, we will move the stone off our heart, and truly know Christ, intimately, and without shame.

A mountain is high. Pride exalts itself, and raises itself up, as if to the heavens, like the tower of Babel. The Devil, the liar, the slanderer - he is like a mountain, exalting himself up to the heavens. And we can say to this mountain move, and IT WILL MOVE, if we have faith. Wherever this mountain might be, whatever affliction we might have, whether it be of ourselves, or of someone that we care about, indeed we can say to the mountain, "move", and it will move, IF we have faith as the mustard seed.

ANSWER 9

The mustard seed is a small, tiny seed, very, very small, but it is very pungent and hot. There is warmth and flavor in it, and it affects a dish exquisitely with its pungent flavor. And also, when you put it into the ground, it grows into a great tree. This is what our faith should be like. It need not be big in a worldly sense, but it needs to be hot, pungent. It must be strong, and it needs to grow.

"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof" (Matthew 13:31)

ANSWER 10

Our Lord also told the disciples concerning the demon, "This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." It is related to what He had just said about faith, because the mustard seed, when it grows, is buffeted by winds, and in danger for much of its life as a seedling, but it grows into a great tree, and there is abundant fruit from it. Without prayer, and without fasting, we don't have faith. We do not have faith, or love for God, if we do not live how He has told us to live.

This way of life includes prayer, fasting, desire, putting God first in all things. If we do this, then "this kind" - meaning not just the "kind" that made the boy fall into the fire and the water, but also the passions that make us fall into fire and into water will be eradicated from our souls, and we will find peace.

This "kind" that is embedded in our souls - this kind comes out not but by prayer and fasting. This does only mean prayer and fasting in a literal sense, which is absolutely necessary. Without fasting, the church does not see how a man can be saved. This is on account of our character.

The church understands this and that is why it is obligatory upon us, because it is necessary for our salvation. The "prayer and fasting" enjoined upon us by our Savior also includes the whole continuum of the Christian life, and the whole perspective we should have.

St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Home Page Icon of St Nicholas Go to the top of the page

Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
Phone: 972 529-2754
Priest Seraphim Holland

nicholas@orthodox.net
Web Editor:
Fr. Seraphim Holland
Email:
seraphim@orthodox.net
Phone:
972/529-2754
Snail Mail:
2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071, USA

Redeeming the Time Index

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