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Consider Holy Resurrection.
Sermon of Reverend Father Sahak M. Kaishian
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
According to the Armenian Church calendar, the Sunday before Great Lent is called Poon Paregentan – the Original Day of Good living. It is a time to remember the goodness of life in the Garden of Eden in the presence of God before the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise. Although this is a time for feasting and celebration of life it is also a transition time for us because we are on the threshold of entering into the period of Great Lent. And the Holy Scriptures of the day were selected by the Church Fathers to help us prepare to enter into Great Lent.
A few years ago a book came out Titles Eat, Pray, Love. The Theme of today’s Bible readings and especially the Gospel could be entitled Fast, Pray, Love because they focus and these aspects of our spiritual life.
Great Lent is a time for us to reset our focus. It is a time for us to think about what is really important in life. It is a time to reconnect with our Creator and a time to become aware of our existence not only as physical creatures but as spiritual beings.
In today’s gospel Jesus gives us the recipe for our conduct during
Great Lent and He teaches about performing three pious acts:
Almsgiving, which is making charitable donations to
support the poor and needy.
Prayer, which is spiritual conversation with God.
Fasting, which is entirely refraining from eating or abstaining from certain types of food.
On the surface, these pious acts appear to be physical disciplines. But the Church offers them to us as practices that lead to spiritual discipline.
In giving alms we recognize that the good things we have in life are really a gift from God. We naturally want to share those gifts with others. We should not only give to the poor, but reexamine our commitment to support the church financially so it can carry out its mission. When we share the gifts, God has given us, with others it is an expression of sacrificial love.
Prayer is simply talking with God. We have elaborate worship services in the Armenian Church and these are increased during the season of Great Lent. But it is also important to communicate with God on a private a personal level. Prayer helps us to connect with God and be aware of His presence on a daily basis.
One of the benefits of developing an active prayer life is that it is impossible to truly and sincerely pray to God and sin at the same time. The two actions just don’t go together. That is why prayer can be so good for us.
Fasting is a discipline that is important as well. It is a practice that seems to be ignored in mainstream America where we are encouraged and even pressured to consume. But sometimes our bodies just need a break. We live in the land of plenty. It is easy to have too much of a good thing. And there a record number of people suffering from health issues that stem from an overabundance of food. So, with the access we have it is important to make good choices in what we consume. I remember seeing a documentary on fasting and the health benefits from the practice. And the conclusion was that there is real benefit from altering the diet and refraining from eating rich food two days a week. I impressed by this because this is the practice that the Armenian Church has advocated for centuries. It validated my belief that the practices of the Church are intended not to hold us back, but to provide us with a beneficial way of life.
Let this period of Great Lent be a time for us to develop discipline in giving alms, prayer and fasting and let us seek the right treasures and bring glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.