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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    http://www.stjohnsroc.cjb.net/ (taken from here) THREE MAGIC WORDS:  “I WAS WRONG” SUNDAY OF THE PRODIGAL SON           A major league umpire was
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 27, 2005
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      http://www.stjohnsroc.cjb.net/ (taken from here)



                A major league umpire was asked if he ever made mistakes in
      calling balls and strikes.  He replied, “Of course, I make mistakes.  My
      only trouble is I can’t admit it.”  Our hope in life as Christians is the
      humility to admit to ourselves and to God that, not being infallible or
      perfect, we have made mistakes --- and do make them every day.

                If you were asked what is the hardest task in the world, you
      might think of some muscular feat, some acrobatic challenge or some act of
      bravery on the battlefield.  Acturally, however, there is nothing harder,
      nothing more arduous than to say these three little words, “I was wrong.”
      It takes humility and self-effacement such as few people are capable of;
      yet, no three words are more needed in our life than the words, “I was
      wrong.”  They are magic that heal wounds and bring peace.

                Many years ago there was a man who was not afraid to say, “I was
      wrong.”  His name was Judge Samuel Sewall.  He was on the Governor’s
      Special Commission in Massachusetts which tried the famous Salem
      witchcraft cases.  He was one of the judges who passed the verdict of
      “guilty” on the so-called witches.  But later Sewall became convinced that
      his judgment had been wrong.

                And so, on a cold January day in 1697, as the Rev. Samuel
      Willard walked down the aisle of his church to the pulpit, Judge Sewall
      handed him a document requesting that it be read before all the people.
      On that paper Judge Sewall had written that he was wrong in his verdict of
      five years before.  He did not blame anyone but himself.  He asked
      forgiveness from God and men.

                In no other hour had this New England jurist been as brave or
      good a man as when he stood before his fellowman and admitted:  “I was

                Judge Sewall’s admission of being wrong brings to mind today’s
      Gospel reading of the Prodigal Son.  The Prodigal Son was honest with
      himself with a frank and merciless honesty.  It was when he admitted the
      wrong in himself and said, “I have sinned,” that he came to his true
      self.  A new chapter of his life began that very day.  A new chapter can
      begin for us if, bidding good-bye to self-excuse, self-pity, self-defense,
      we will face the facts about ourselves and say, “Yes, that’s the kind of
      person I am; that is the sort of thing I am capable of doing and have
      done, but, by the grace of God, I can be different, and I will be

                If it is therapeutic to admit our faults to others and say, “I’m
      sorry, I was wrong,” it is even more so to say just to oneself, “I have
      sinned.”  This can lead to despair and suicide.  When Judas, for example,
      saw that Jesus was condemned, he brought the money to the chief priests
      and elders and said, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent
      blood.”  Then, throwing the pieces of silver in the temple, he went and
      hanged himself.  Judas was remorseful enough to admit his sin to himself
      and the chief priests, but he just could not bring himself to face Jesus
      and say, “I’m sorry.  Forgive me.”

                Jesus, who forgave the penitent thief on the cross, would have
      forgiven Judas, too, if he had gone to the cross and confessed.  If only
      he could have realized that the reward for apology and confession far
      outweighs the momentary humiliation and embarrassment of saying, “I am

                When the Prodigal Son said, “I have sinned,” he did not stop
      there.  To have stopped there could have meant despair and self-pity.  He
      took the next step.  He said, “I will arise and go to my father.”  And
      this is what Jesus urges us to do.  When we see ourselves for what we
      really are, are ashamed of ourselves, have difficulty accepting ourselves,
      we can be sure of one thing – God will accept us in the same manner as the
      Prodigal Son was accepted in today’s Gospel:

                            “But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw
      him and had compassion, and

                            ran and embraced him and kissed him….and said to his
      servants, ‘Bring quickly

                            the best robe and put it on him; and put a ring on
      his hand, and shoes on his feet;

                            and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us
      eat and make merry; for this my son

                            was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is

                This is the way God welcomes us when, with deep repentance in
      our hearts, we come to Him with those magic words:  “I was wrong.”  These
      are three of the most difficult words to say to yourself, to others and to
      God; but to the person who musters enough courage to say them, there comes
      forgiveness, peace, new strength, and a new lease on life.


      PRIME BAROMETER OF DISCIPLESHIP:  One of the things that has always
      dismayed me as a priest is the ease with which some parishioners dismiss
      the importance of attending church services.  Vespers have been long
      forgotten by many, and Divine Liturgy is almost as forgotten.  In speaking
      with parishioners about their lax attendance at services, I am amazed at
      some of the things I hear.  Their lives are over scheduled, they say.
      Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings are times for them to spend with
      their family doing things they do not get to do together during the week.
      Laundry must be done, shopping, hiking, dance lessons, soccer, football,
      etc. have taken time away from God.  “Christian” parents accept this
      passively and many of these parents do not set worthy examples themselves
      to their children when they  “skip” services because of other
      commitments.  Perhaps we need to face the deeper implication of this.  If
      we are not at church services, it is not because we are too busy; it is
      because we have forsaken the one true God.  We have allowed false gods,
      the idols of the world, to crowd Him out of our lives!  Participation in
      church services is one of the prime barometers of true discipleship.  If
      we are not with God at services when they are held (Saturday afternoons,
      Sunday mornings, eves of Feast Days, Feast Days, etc.), we can hardly be
      with Him the rest of the week.  How can we live seven days a week without
      His word to direct us and His presence (the Eucharist/Communion) to
      empower us?

                   Let us remember that Sunday is a day of worship, a day on
      which, drained by the week’s exertions and anxieties, we bathe our spirits
      in God’s presence, and return, refreshed and rejuvenated, to our tasks.
      We go to church to meet God.  We go to church to listen to God and learn.
      We go to church to give ourselves to God.  We go to church to receive God
      (the Blessed Sacraments).

                   We must also realize that going to church alone does not
      fulfill our spiritual responsibilities to God – God wishes us to fulfill
      His commandment of love, for throughout the whole life of Christ, as we
      read in the Gospels, He did not live for Himself but lived for others.  He
      nurtured them when they were sick, He healed them of their diseases, He
      raised the dead, He fed the hungry and He gave support to those who needed
      to hear words of encouragement.  This is the message that we should obey
      in order for us to fulfill the master plan of salvation.  The question is
      how do we fulfill all these things?  The answer is by taking part of His
      Church not only in worship but also in the physical aspect of perpetuating
      His Church.  There are opportunities for us to be involved in the work of
      the Church – this involvement is the invitation for us to be with Christ.
      We at St. John’s offer many opportunities for involvement – for the
      children we have the youth group, altar servers, the family choir, yolka,
      religious education classes, etc.  For the adults we have so many projects
      it is difficult to name them all; however, a few suggestions are the
      choir, religious classes, the catering service, the ethnic food sale
      projects, visits to the nursing homes, etc.  Let us not shirk our duties
      to the Church but fulfill the plan for salvation!
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