21 February 2016

Reflection on the Troparia and Kontakia of the 3rd Sunday of Lent

The Troparia for This coming Sunday are:

You have destroyed Death by your cross, you opened paradise to the thief, The sorrow of the myrrh bearers you turned to joy. You commanded your apostles to proclaim: Christ our God, you have risen, granting great mercy to the world.

Save your people O Lord, and bless your inheritance. Grant victory to your Church over evil and protect your people by your Cross

The Kontokian for this coming Sunday is as follows:

No longer does the flaming sword guard over the ages of Eden, for the tree of the cross has come to quench it wondrously. The sting of death and the victory of Hades have been driven out. For you, O my Saviour, stood and called out to those in Hades, Enter again into paradise.

On this the Third Sunday of Lent, we venerate the Holy Cross,

In the 1st Troparia, which is the Troparia of the resurrection, we see Jesus remembering the good thief on the cross.

We recall the words of the good thief in the prayer before Holy Communion, "Remember me, O Lord when you come into your Kingdom." Why do we pray these words? We beg for the mercy of God (as we have been throughout the Liturgy)....These are not just empty words on a page, they are quite significant. We beg for God's mercy to not eat and drink our own condemnation in the reception of Holy Communion. We pray for the forgiveness of all of our sins, God is good and loves us all, and all things are possible through the Holy Trinity.

To proclaim: Christ is Risen, granting great mercy to the world. As St Paul alludes to, the Faith is in in vain if the resurrection did not happen. Great mercy, the latin word misericordiae, literally means o have a place in the heart....

My Bishop Gerald puts it this way "...mercy has a much deeper, more profound meaning. I did not simply mean to feel sorry for a person. The word "mercy" mean to have the ability to get inside the "body" of a person so that you can see things as he/she sees them. It meant to possess the ability o think with their minds and to feel with their feelings."

Our Lord did exactly this by taking flesh, being born of a woman (cf Eph 4, 4-6, Phil 2, 1-12). Taking on human nature in all things but sin. Our God is very personal and not someone that is far or abstract as some would like to say. For some this can be quite a challenge, how could God be so personable? I is definitely a great mystery and something we could dwell upon forever.

It sometimes seems that evil is going to conquer the Church. Whether it's ridiculous statements by *insert clergy member here* or some type of scandal, we know our God who loves us all, keeps His promises, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. (Mt 16, 19), we pray the grace of Our Lord guide the Church through the various storms that attack the Church.

After the ancestral sin of our parents Adam and Eve, the tree of Life, the Cross restores what was lost. Death has been trampled by Death, by His grace are we able to enter eternal life.  Those that died before Christ were called on his decent into Hades.

Today in addition to the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we in the Byzantine church chant "We bow to your Cross, O Lord, and we glorify, your Holy Resurrection. In place of the Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy and Immortal.  3 times of course.

It is through the Cross that we are able to have Life after death, let us focus upon the mystery of the cross, and do our best, so that Our Lord will indeed, remember us when we come into His Kingdom.

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