Homily for 4/13/13 - L4 = prayer fasting and mercy
- Mark 9:17-31
There are three things, my brethren, by which Faith stands firm,
devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting
and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives.
Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to
Fasting is the soul of prayer; mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no
one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one
of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if
you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the
petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open
God’s ear to yourself.
When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that
you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show
mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive,
give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a
Let this be the pattern for all men when they practice mercy: show mercy
to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same
promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you.
Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on
our behalf, one speech in our defense, a threefold united prayer in our
Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others.
Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is
nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the Psalmist said in
prophecy, “A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God does not despise a
bruised and humbled heart.”
Offer your soul to God, make Him an offering of your fasting, so that
your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim,
remaining your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails
to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to giv e Him
yourself you are never without the means of giving.
To make these acceptable, mercy must be added. Fasting bears no fruit
unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up.
Mercy is to fasting as rain is to the earth. However much you may
cultivate your heart, clear the soul of your nature, root out vices, sow
virtues; if you do not release the springs of mercy, you fasting will
bear no fruit.
When you fast, if your mercy is thin your harvest will be thin; when you
fast, what you pour out in mercy overflows into your barn. Therefore, do
not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering. Give to the poor, and
you give to yourself. You will not be allowed to keep what you have
refused to give to others.
Through the prayers of the holy hierarch Peter, O Christ our God, have
mercy on us and save us. Amen.
From the Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion: A sermon by St Peter
Chrysologus, Archbishop of Ravenna (+450 A.D.)
Archpriest David Moser
St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)