St Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church
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/ Weekly Message / Weekly Message 07-20-08: Sunday of the Fathers of the 6 Ecumenical Councils
Sunday of the Fathers of the 6 Ecumenical Councils

Sunday of the Fathers of the 6 Ecumenical Councils


Today we celebrate the Sunday of the Fathers of the six Ecumenical Councils; as such, the Gospel reading today replaces the one listed on our church calendar for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost.  The company that makes our calendars supplies Orthodox liturgical calendars for many jurisdictions in the United States; I guess because of the different local customs particular to each jurisdiction, it is impossible to have every commemoration in each tiny block.  So, while our calendar does not make note of today’s celebration, our pew book has today’s Troparion and Kontakion, as well as the specific readings for the day.

The passage of the Gospel we read today is called the priestly prayer of Jesus. In this prayer Jesus expresses his relation to God the Father, and the purpose of his mission: He has been sent by the Father to give eternal life to all men and woman. This is salvation. He said: “Eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and him whom you have sent, Jesus Christ”.  (John 17:3)

Jesus continues his prayer with, what I believe is the central message of today’s Gospel, “that they may be one.” (John 17: 11)

That they may be one.  Unity.  That sums up the entire purpose of the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils.  Their goal was to squash errant teaching, heresy, and to ensure all of Christendom was on the same page in belief, in teaching, and in living as a true believing Christian.  The Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils are honored by the Church because, based upon the preaching of the Apostles, they have established one faith for the Church.  And yet, despite their best efforts, over the centuries there have been groups that have rejected or altered some of the points made by the Council Fathers, and the result is the vast differences in Christian denominations that have appeared, all believing they possess what is truth.  However, our blessed Orthodox Church can still proclaim that she teaches and believes the full truth as handed down from the first Apostles.  In fact, I’ve seen a few bumper stickers available at the Orthodox book store in Bound Brook that reads:  “Orthodoxy.  Proclaiming the truth since 33 AD.”

That they may be one.

All of us who are parents know and understand the consequences of not acting as one.  And all of us who ever had parents know the easiest way to cause harm and make trouble is to pit one parent against another by asking them independent of each other for something questionable.  The net result is always the same:  mom says no, dad says yes, the kid walks away getting what they want, and leave a wake of communication problems.  But, when parents are one, and act as one, they are a united front against the assault of the teenaged instigator.  Both parents need to proclaim the same message of truth and unity as did the Council Fathers – otherwise, chaos ensues with the wrong message being read as Gospel. 

That they may be one.

As parishioners, we have been faithfully kept abreast by our Father in Christ, Fr. Lucas, of the progress made with the plans for building a new church building and hall.  Because we have acted as one, we’ve conquered all of the past obstacles before us in land issues, local ordinances, state requirements and the list goes on.  We must continue to fight the good fight, all with the same message that the building up of a new temple is not for our own personal satisfaction, but for the glory of God.  As other issues arise, we must all be on the same page to ensure God’s will is done with glad hearts and helping hands. 

As we go forward this day as Disciples of Christ, let us imitate the example set for us by the Council Fathers, and make the truth of our blessed Orthodox faith as handed down to us the focus of our lives.  Let us strive to live the truth, teach the truth, and worship as true believing Christians.  And let us pray that our separated brothers and sisters may, by the grace of the Most Holy Spirit, find the truth in faith we possess.

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