Friday, January 28, 2011

Antiochan Syriac Orthodox Daily Readings For Friday, 28 January

From:,, and

Daily Readings:

Saints/Martyrs/Feasts/Fasts to be observed/commemmorated/celebrated:  Memory of our venerable Father Ephrem the Syrian (+373)

Scriptural Readings:

Saint Mark 10:23-32 (1/28-2/10) Gospel for Friday: Thirty-first Week after Pentecost

Setting the Heart: Saint Mark 10:23-32, especially vs. 25: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” Many years before the Lord took flesh and dwelt among us, His Holy Prophet David, led by the Spirit of God, perceived the grave danger in wealth and warned: “...if riches flow in, set not your hearts thereon” (Ps. 61:10). Listen carefully! Where your heart is fixed, where it is ‘set,’ the matter that delights it, whatever goal is foremost in its yearning, such becomes the defining compass that motivates the whole of life. The Lord Jesus Himself puts the matter quite simply: “...where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:21).

Why then does Christ focus on riches especially? Observe Him: He warns three times that wealth makes it difficult “ enter the Kingdom of God” (Mk. 10:23,24,25). Is there something inherently wrong with wealth in and of itself? Not at all! The danger in riches lies in the how the heart orients to them. Thus, for fickle-hearted mankind, riches repeatedly have proven a stumbling block, shoals upon which many have wrecked themselves, both in this life and for the age to come. As Saint Augustine of Hippo notes: “It is hard to be saved if we have them; and impossible if we love them; and scarcely can we have them, but we shall love them inordinately.” There is the threat: to love them inordinately, to ‘set’ the heart upon them.

The setting of the heart is the whole of the matter for that upon which we set our heart shapes thinking and action. If our primary attention is on gaining a fortune, then we may well attain our goal, or, perhaps, we may not. Still, let us, who profess Christ as our Lord, heed Saint Augustine: riches “...are gained with toil and kept with fear. They are enjoyed with danger and lost with grief.” Surely let us not be so foolish as to set our heart foremost on elusive riches.

On the other hand, the Prophet David teaches the proven way: “delight thyself in the Lord, and He will give thee the askings of thy heart” (Ps. 36:4). We ‘delight’ in the Lord when we set our heart on Him, on heeding and keeping His ways, for then we ask only that which pleases Him and receive the askings of our hearts, “...good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over...” (Lk. 6:38). God, Who is rich Himself, Who owns everything, places all that we ‘have’ at our disposal. He is especially generous toward those who set their hearts on Him and seek “...first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness...” (Mt. 6:33).

It is not difficult to understand the astonishment of the Disciples as recorded in today’s Gospel (Mk. 10:24,26). They heard the Lord well. They understood how quickly human hearts yearn for all sorts of created entities: things, causes, people, and goals. The Master’s declaration chilled them, made them afraid (vs. 32). Who possibly can be saved? Caesarios of Arles answers clearly: “Rich and poor, listen to Christ: I am speaking to God’s people. Most of you are poor, but you too must listen carefully to understand. And you had best listen even more intently if you glory in your poverty. Beware of pride, lest the humble rich surpass you. Beware of wickedness, lest the pious rich confound you. Beware of drunkenness, lest the sober excel you.”

Given our sin-weakened hearts and the fickleness of our fallen nature, how is it possible for us to be set on the Lord above all else? It is Christ Himself Who is able to “establish [our] hearts blameless in holiness before [our] God and Father” (1 Th. 3:13). From Him let us learn to discount anything and everything that stands between us and Him (Mk. 10:28), and let us not be “wise in [our] own conceit, but fear God and depart from all evil” (Pr. 3:7).

O Christ God, Who willed to lie in the hands of the old man Simeon as Thou didst ride in the chariot of the cherubim, deliver us from the woe of passions and save our souls.

James 2:1-13

James 2:1-13 (King James Version)

James 2

1My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

2For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;

3And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:

4Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

5Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

6But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?

7Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

8If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

9But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

10For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

11For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

12So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

13For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Mark 10:23-32

Mark 10:23-32 (King James Version)

23And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

24And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

26And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?

27And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

28Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.

29And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,

30But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

31But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.

32And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him,

The Synaxarion:

January 28

Memory of our venerable Father Ephrem the Syrian (+373)

Saint Ephrem was born in Nisibis, Mesopotamia, at the beginning of the Fourth century. His father, named Abnil, was a pagan priest. Ephrem was a disciple of James, the Bishop of Nisibis. He practiced monastic life to perfection. He was ordained a deacon and became master of the great Christian school of Nisibis, commenting on the Holy Scriptures and explaining, the dogmas of the Orthodox faith. After Julian the Apostate's death and the treaty concluded in 363 between Jovian, the Roman Emperor, and Sapor, the Persian King, Nisibis fell under Persian rule. Many Christians therefore left their country and with them the blessed Ephrem, who henceforth taught in Edessa, in what was then called the Persian School. He died in peace in the month of June in the year 373. He composed a great many wonderful hymns in Syriac, nearly all of which have been translated into Greek for the instruction of the faithful. He was surnamed the Prophet of the Syrians, the Syrians' Elia, the Column of the Church, and the Harp of the Holy Spirit.

Fifth Class Feast.

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