11th Wed. after Pentecost (2 Cor. 3:4-11, Matt. 23:29-39)
The Life Giving Spirit
What sustains St. Paul? What does he means by Sufficiency? The life-giving Spirit
"BRETHREN, such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life."
1. This is a message of great hope (including for our ministry here at Holy Trinity)
2. Who is sufficient of these things?
3. The one who places trust, confidence, faith through Christ in God.
4. We give our all in service, but ultimately human power and will is not sufficient – we must depend wholly upon God.
"Now if the dispensation of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such splendor that the Israelites could not look at Moses' face because of its brightness, fading as this was, will not the dispensation of the Spirit be attended with greater splendor? For if there was splendor in the dispensation of condemnation, the dispensation of righteousness must far exceed it in splendor. Indeed, in this case, what once had splendor has come to have no splendor at all, because of the splendor that surpasses it. For if what faded away came with splendor, what is permanent must have much more splendor."
1. Paul's use of logic and rational
2. Dispensation of death – materiality, merely carved on stone – and yet the splendor was so great that the Israelites could not look at Moses' face.
3. The dispensation of righteousness in spirit is far greater and permanent, how much greater must it's splendor be?
4. The Old Covenant was external, material, temporary, and as such powerless.
5. Under it God was present, and it was glorious with the presence of God. But it was imperfect, and imparted a ministry of death because men were unable to keep the Law.
6. There was an access to God, but Israel generally failed to apprehend it or to follow it. The inner veil of the temple and the veil over the face of Moses spoke of the veil over the hearts of fallen human nature: men could neither adequately approach nor adequately see God.
7. Many even fail to see God the father veiled in Jesus' flesh. By contrast, the New Covenant is internal, eternal, and all powerful. In the new covenant God is fully present as an unlimited, life-giving splendor....
8. Christians have bold and unlimited access to God through Christ - there is no veil to separate us. The new covenant is therefore more glorious.
Few thoughts on Paul and his Epistle:
1. We learn that Kosmas was "Equal to the Apostles" – that is to say equal also to Paul, the great missionary apostle.
2. Paul's epistles in this case, have the major theme of reconciliation and communion – this is clearly illustrated in Paul's attempt to be reconciled to the particular church at Corinth.
3. The communion of Saints. Paul's epistles take for granted an understanding on the part of the reader that the Church is the body of Christ: a corporate unity of all members in all things.
4. Apostleship and the Church.
- The faith of the properly ordained and recognized apostles is essential to the life of the Church. If there is no apostolic faith, there is no Church.
- For Paul, the "Apostolic ministry" is part of the "ministry of the spirit" (3:8) – "will not the dispensation of the Spirit be attended with greater splendor"
- The Apostles have real authority, a loving, serving authority, based on and empowered by the mercy of God.
- The relationship between the apostles and the laity is a communion of love, as between father and child, as is between The Father and The Son.
- The primary duty of the apostles is to preach the gospel, both to the Church, but also to the world: that is to say the Good news that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and He is risen. His resurrection is the basis for all else: doctrine, sacrament, and the Christian life.
- That is why every Sunday we recite the words "I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church"
5. The church and the world:
- Christianity does not renounce of forsake the world, but renews it. Things are not divided into categories or secular or sacred, profane or holy, or even lesser categories – for God made all and continues to be in all. Things are however divided into old and new. The old deeply affected by corruption, and temporary. The new participating in incorruption, perfection and eternity. The task of the Church, and parenthetically, the Apostles is to reconcile all men and all of creation to God, so that they may be made new, and transformed into what He originally intended.
- This was undoubtedly the objective of Saint Kosmas.
Kosmas the New Hieromartyr & Equal-to-the Apostles of Aetolia
Our holy Father Kosmas was from the town of Mega Dendron (Great Tree) of Aitolia. At the age of twenty, he went to study at the school of the Monastery of Vatopedi on the Holy Mountain. Later, he came to the Athonite Monastery of Philotheou where he was tonsured. With the blessing of his abbot, he departed for Constantinople where he learned the art of rhetoric, and thereafter, he began to preach throughout all the regions of northern Greece, the Ionian Islands, but especially in Albania, for the Christian people there were in great ignorance because of the oppression and cruelty of the Moslems. Finally, in 1776, after having greatly strengthened and enlightened the faithful, working many signs and wonders all the while, he was falsely accused by the leaders of the Jewish people and was executed by strangulation by the Moslem Turks in Albania.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Come from Aitolia, O God-bearing Father, thou didst become a righteous monk on Mount Athos; and as a true initiate of the glory of God, thou didst preach the word of truth to all men, O most blest one, and didst bring them all to Christ as a true emulator of the Apostles' choir, and thou didst prove a hieromartyr in shedding thy sacred blood.