Devotional Thoughts for Jan 27, 2013/Sunday of the Departed Clergy
- The Faithful and Wise Servant
Sermon on St. Matthew 24: 42-51
On Sunday, January 27th, 2013, we will be the remembering all our departed priests as we do every year two weeks before the beginning of Great Lent. As we prepare for the Lenten Journey, we seek the blessings and intercessory prayers of our teachers, leaders and shepherds who lived the Faith. It is on their shoulders that we continue to persevere and uphold all that has been entrusted to us.
We are called to remember them and honor their service because it honors God�s work through them.
�Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing.� (St. Matthew 24:45-46).
In Greek, the servant who is given charge over the household is called the episcopos, which means overseer. Our bishops and priest are given the charge to minister in the house of God. It is clear that the faithful and wise servants should be the bishops and priests who are called to dispense the divine food, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In Jeremiah 3:15, it states, �And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.�
The clergy take a great and heavy task in ministering to the Church because their failure has terrible consequences and will not be tolerated by our Master, Jesus Christ. As it states, in St. Matthew 24:50-51, �The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.�
Our clergy, of whom I am one, know the gravity of their vocation. But the task of being a parish priest is not easy as I am learning in my first year of priesthood. A priest needs the prayers and support of the parish because the task ahead cannot be done alone. The servant who is given charge of the household can only keep things in order with the cooperation of the other servants.
Thus, we are all called to be faithful and wise servants. We are all called to be ministers in the house of God. As it states in 1 Peter 2:9, �But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God�s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.�
In his book, �The Orthodox Pastor,� Archbishop John Shahovskoy makes a very important statement that our parishes often forget. He writes. �The parish priest�s co-workers should be devout, spiritually zealous people � this is the chief point to take into consideration when electing church-wardens or members of the parish council; their business efficiency is a secondary consideration. The parish may lose this or that material advantage, but it will be free from the demonic spirit of ambition, vanity, dissention, and pride.�
These words by this departed Archbishop along with the powerful warning of Christ should drive us to push aside those things that separate and hinder us. The clergy and laity need to work together for the growth of the Church. We should drive towards working together to make the most of the time we have been given.
As written by our departed and beloved Barnabas Thirumeni, �What is time? It is the opportunity to do good.�
As we remember Barnabas Thirumeni and all our departed clergy, we must listen to the wisdom and faithfully work together to encourage each other for the glory of God!
+Rev. Fr. Vijay Thomas
Assistant Vicar of Sts. Basilios-Gregorios Orthodox Church in Central Jersey