The Church Year In Giving

On the Last Judgment

mother maria

The way to God lies through love of people. At the Last Judgment I shall not be asked whether I was successful in my ascetic exercises, nor how many bows and prostrations I made. Instead I shall be asked did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners. That is all I shall be asked. About every poor, hungry and imprisoned person the Savior says ‘I’: ‘I was hungry and thirsty, I was sick and in prison.’ To think that he puts an equal sign between himself and anyone in need. . . . I always knew it, but now it has somehow penetrated to my sinews. It fills me with awe.

+Mother Maria Skobtsova of Paris

Sunday of the Prodigal Son

PRODSON

We, like the Prodigal who “came to himself” (Luke 15:17), must realize how we have squandered God’s great gifts to each of us, and return to Him crying,

The riches of Your gifts of grace, which You gave me, the wretched one, I squandered badly, O Savior, since without cause I departed, and lived in great extravagance. The demons tricked me to disperse. And therefore as the Prodigal, I am returning. Receive me, O loving Father, and save me.

(From the Exaposteilarion of Orthros on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son.)

The Publican and the Pharisee

Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee: Triodion Begins

PUBLPHAR

As we enter the three weeks of preparation for Great and Holy Lent, the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee are particularly pertinent to the themes of EveryGoodandPerfectGift.org. In this blog, we strive to bring together resources that will inspire Orthodox Christians to greater giving back, especially of their treasure. However, we would do well to remember the Pharisee who gave tithes of all he had, and yet he was not justified. As Christ said in the Gospel of Matthew concerning almsgiving, “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

As we practice the spiritual discipline of giving tithes and offerings, let us learn from the mistake of the Pharisee, who “… in his pride, … has falsified the meaning of true religion and faith. He has reduced these to external observations, measuring his piety by the amount of money he gives.” And, like the Publican, let us humble ourselves before God. “He humbles himself, and his humility justifies him before God. He becomes, in the words of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3), ‘poor in spirit.’ Our preparation for Lent thus begins with a prayer for humility, the beginning of true repentance.”

Quotes taken from the Great Lent resources page, The First Sunday of the Triodion Period: Sunday of The Publican and Pharisee, at goarch.org.

The Gospel of Luke 18:10-14

The Lord said this parable, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

The Rich Man and Lazarus

GREGPALA

Brethren, please let us be afraid of these truly dreadful evils. Let is organize our lives as is pleasing to God. Let us forgive that we may be forgiven, let us be merciful to those in need that we may receive mercy many times more abundantly, He who impoverished Himself to the uttermost for our sakes, Himself receives our alms, and in His munificence He will multiply the reward. We must either be poor as He was, and so live with Him, or share what we have with those who are poor for His sake, and so be saved through them. Let us acquire merciful hearts and give positive proof of brotherly love and devotion towards the Father and Master of all. You will never find a more acceptable time to do this than the days of the fast. If you join almsgiving to fasting you will blot out every sin, venerate the saving passion with boldness, join in the rejoicing at Christ’s resurrection and gain eternal redemption.” (St. Gregory Palamas, On the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus)

To read the Gospel reading for the 5th Sunday of Luke (16:19-31) visit the Online Chapel at goarch.org.

From the Parable of the Sower

wheat

And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.

The Gospel of Luke 8:14-15

From the Gospel reading on the Sunday of the 7th Ecumenical Council. Visit the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese for the entire reading for the day.

 

Second Sunday of Luke

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But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

From the Gospel reading on the Second Sunday of Luke. Find the entire reading from Luke 6:31-36 at the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

 

The Cheerful Giver

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BRETHREN, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians 9:6-11, the Epistle Reading on the 2nd Sunday of Luke.

Sunday After Holy Cross

exaltation

For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life?

The Gospel of Mark 8:36-37

From the Gospel reading on the Sunday after the feast of the Holy Cross.

Mother Maria Skobtsova, July 20

mother mariaA person should have a more attentive attitude toward his brother’s flesh than his own. Christian love teaches us to give our brother not only material but spiritual gifts. We must give him our last shirt and our last crust of bread. Here personal charity is as necessary and justified as the broadest social work. +Mother Maria Skobtsova

From the Asceticism of the Open Door on In Communion. Learn more about how Mother Maria continues to inspire in our blog post The Legacy of Orthodox Action Continues.

 

Seek first His kingdom

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

From the Gospel reading on the 3rd Sunday of Matthew.

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