St Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church
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/ Weekly Message / 11-06-11: Twenty First Sunday After Pentecost
11-06-11: Twenty First Sunday After Pentecost

Twenty-First Sunday

Today we are reminded of the assertions of St. James, Just about everyone says they believe, but give no proof of that belief. "My brothers, what good is it to profess faith without practicing it? Such faith has no power to save one, has it? that does nothing in practice is thoroughly lifeless" James 2: 14 - 17. Be assured then, that faith without works is as dead as a body without breath" James 2: 26.

After relating the parable of the sower and the seed, Christ proceeds to explain it. The sower represents the teachers of the Church, its bishops and priests who go about preaching and teaching the Word of God. The seeds are the elements of faith which are contained in God's Word. The different soils of the parable represent the different people who respond to the teaching of the truth they hear. Our Lord divides those who listen to God's Word and teaching into four groups as well, just like the types of soil which receive the seed from the hand of the sower.

Overall, what the Lord is saying is that regardless of our own personal contention of being believers, the proof is in the pudding. Plainly, if we are hearers of the word, we become believers of the word and doers of the word. As good and accountable students, learners, we put what Christ teaches into practice. There is no validity to the contention we are believers when we do not practice what faith teaches.

We are here every Sunday and holy day, not only hearing what we are to be doing, not only being challenged to do what is expected by the Lord, but we are immersed in the actual worship and glorification of our God which means we become one with him, with the source of our being. If we come here regularly for the right purpose, we ought to be doing the right thing in our life. We must not be the hardened ground, the rocky soil, the sandy loam in which nothing will grow and thrive. We have to take the effort and permit our God to fertilize our souls and minds with his grace that holiness grows in the soil of our souls.

How many there are who can be described as "in one ear and out the other," making no significant impression as they wander through life hopelessly advancing to nowhere. How many there are that do not make the necessary connection that faith without subsequent good works is worthless. Faith that does not stimulate and direct our behavior is dead.

And so, with Abimelech in the Book of Genesis, (20: 1), we readily conclude one near death is as good as dead. He dramatically learned from God himself that if he proceeded on his

dangerous path of professing one truth and living a lie, he would be brought to reality in death.

And then of course we also realize that doing the right thing for the wrong reason is equally bad. How many feign a Christian behavior simply to achieve some earthly advantage. How many pretend in their faith response to be faithful? For how many is their an inconsistency between their insistence on being faithful and the practice of uprightness? How many never tire of repeating the same story that they believe in God, but do not need to go to church

when it is the same God who expects a faith response in the life of his Body and Bride, the Church? The church in the mind of dried out and worthless seeds of so many confused people is considered separate from God, separate from Christ who instituted and established it and apart from the Holy Spirit who guides its destiny.

Not only is the Lord telling us, advising us most sagaciously and strongly to think right, to live right, but to put his teachings into our lifestyle as inseparable and most vital. What is at odds with the Lord is at odds with our eternal salvation.

The sower goes forth today looking for an abundant harvest from his planting. The lessons of Scripture have been chanted, the homily has been shared, the hymnology has aroused a new zeal within us. The prayers attempt to elevate our souls so that the end result is the creation of favorable soil wherein the seed of Christ will take root, and more than that, where it will bring forth fruit worthy of our baptismal vocation, worthy of us as doers of the word and not simply hearers alone. Amen.

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