Devotional Thoughts for the 1st Sunday after the feast of Holy Cross – 15th Sep 2013

By the Grace of God we are entering the 1st Sunday after the feast of the Holy Cross on Sunday 15th Sept 2013. Soon after the crucifixion of our Lord, the Jews had hidden the three crosses in an empty dry well and had covered the well with stones, thrones and mud. Queen Helene had reached Jerusalem in search of the blessed cross of our Lord. After tedious efforts mixed with struggles and sufferings, the cross of our Lord God was recovered. The memory of the recovery is celebrated by the Christian Churches all over the world on 14th Sept every year. The recovery of the cross of our Lord God is a great event in the history of the Christian Church. In our Church the worship order is divided into two. The first part is from the date of the feast of Resurrection of our Lord till the feast of the Holy Cross, when and where our central theme of meditation is the Resurrection of our Lord and the promised resurrection and everlasting life of the entire humanity.  The second part is from the day of the feast of the Holy Cross till the next feast of the resurrection. During these days we meditate mainly on the salvation we attained through the sacrifice on the cross and look forward for the life in God.
In today’s reading we come across three words uttered by our Lord and Savior. They are:
1. Heed
2. Watch
3. Pray
The term heed literally means take notice of or care for etc. In the context of today’s reading we must take care for the day on which our Lord God would come again. We all believe that He would come again. But how many of us are really interested in making us ready for the welcome of our Lord God? Today’s reading starts with a parable of a fig tree. Our Lord exhorts His listeners: “Now learn a parable of a fig tree.” As our Lord’s parables were so simple and easily understandable for the listeners, this parable of the fig tree is also so simple and attractive. People of those days were able to understand the seasons while watching the changes in plants and trees. Our forefathers also had the same power and blessing. Still our elders say such experiences. Our Lord is asking each and every one to watch and realize. This is the actual heeding. God Almighty has given us many things of knowledge, either directly or through other Medias. Our duty and responsibility is to watch the changes around us and to try to understand the changes on the basis of our understanding. Let us try to search for the signs of His second coming every now and then.
Watching is also in effect the same. We must keep aloof from the circumstances and watch. Watching does not require sacrifice of our holdings or savings of whatever shape and size we have. We are supposed to watch out and see that is near us or make sure that all that are near us are not satanic. We are supposed to watch that all our words deeds and thoughts are not touched by the absence of the love of God.
Finally comes the word Pray. We do pray and we know what Prayer is. There is no need of explanation to any one of us regarding prayer. We all know how to pray and when to pray. We all have no doubt while we are alarmed that the prayer is just like respiration. Our Lord taught us a Prayer, which is officially known as Lord’s Prayer. When the blessed Apostles beseeched our Lord to teach them a prayer, our Lord said: you pray like this and uttered the words of the Lord’s Prayer. We the faithful are really very clever. By calling this prayer ‘Lord’s Prayer’ are we not keeping a distance from the prayer, knowingly or unknowingly. While we would say ‘Lord’s Prayer’ do we think that we don’t have to take the prayer so seriously, as it is a prayer of our Lord? The blessed Apostles handed over the prayer to the Holy Church to practice in our daily lives.
By the grace of God, the prayers prevailing in our Church are so unique, great and deep in meaning and holiness. Are we handling them with the due reverence and respect? We continue our family prayers, somehow or the other, as we are trained so in our childhood period. In our common prayers, we do pray for the entire mankind. And the prayer must be for one and all. While we participate in the Holy Sacraments, prayers etc. we must pray for all the mankind. In recent years we have adopted a practice of praying for themselves and their close relatives. It is not a Christian prayer. We cannot encourage such prayers or stand. When we are praying for a departed soul, we are supposed to pray for all the departed souls. In our prayers and supplications plural numbers were used. While we would pray for others, our needs would be granted by God. Instead of asking and beseeching: Lord, have mercy upon me, my children, my family, let us pray: Lord bless us all, Have mercy upon your entire creation, bless our entire families and like wise. When we would practice so, within no time we would experience the net result of real and genuine prayer. Apart from Common Prayer and private prayer, we have continuous prayers, which originate from the inner heart. The greatness of the Orthodox prayer could be witnessed in the continuous prayers which are often known as Jesus prayer.
Let us give heed, watch and pray as desired by our Lord God.
May God bless us all.
Jose Kurian Puliyeril, Kottayam.

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