The Fifth Sunday

Of Great Lent

St Mary of Egypt 

The Gospel for St Mary of Egypt

Luke 7:36-50

 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he
went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. {37} And, behold,
a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at
meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, {38}
And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet
with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his
feet, and anointed them with the ointment. {39} Now when the Pharisee
which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man,
if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this
is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. {40} And Jesus answering said
unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master,
say on. {41} There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one
owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. {42} And when they had
nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which
of them will love him most? {43} Simon answered and said, I suppose that
he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly
judged. {44} And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou
this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my
feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the
hairs of her head. {45} Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the
time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. {46} My head with oil
thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with
ointment. {47} Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are
forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same
loveth little. {48} And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. {49}
And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who
is this that forgiveth sins also? {50} And he said to the woman, Thy
faith hath saved thee; go in peace.


In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

This kind cannot come forth by anything but by prayer and fasting.  So
we read last week.  What is this kind that cannot come forth?  The
demoniac boy was made by the demons to fall into fire and water, the
fire being impurity - the lusts of the flesh, all manner of anger,
meanness, murder and strife, envy, and all other such things.  And the
water means a distraction with worldly things - avarice, desire for
things, distraction.  Fire and water: this kind comes out not but by
prayer and fasting. 

But today we see indeed this kind will come out -if prayer and fasting
and labor are applied.  We see this because we have the example, the
spectacle, before us of holy mother Mary of Egypt - a woman that knew
whom Zosimas was from afar, who knew God's will for Zosimas to fulfill
one last wish of hers that she would have the Mysteries the following
year; a woman who, when she prayed, stood in the air. We can't even lift
up ours eyes to heaven, and she was standing in the heavens when she
prayed.  She walked upon water as if on dry land.  And she called
herself a miserable sinner.  

She struggled for many, many, many years.  If you read her life, you
will learn she spent 17 years in great, terrible struggles after she had
repented.  She was about 30.  She had lived a life of total, complete
debauchery and depravity.  Her modesty precluded her from completely
fulfilling the command of Zosimas and she couldn't tell him everything
that she did, but suffice it to say that she was a most wretched and
sinful one.  Everything that is possible to do to defile one's self she
did.  But when she repented, she understood something that we would do
well to understand.  Labor. 

Labor!  This is the key to the Christian life.  Laboring in Christ.  And
the church understands this.  The church makes the connection between
St. Mary and the sinful woman who was also a prostitute.  A repentant
prostitute of whom our Savior would later say, "The harlot and the
tax-collectors are coming into heaven before you", when speaking to the

He is in the home of the Pharisee and a prostitute comes in, and she
begins to anoint his feet with her tears, and with ointment.  Why? 
Because of love.  Because previously she had been forgiven.  She knew
this in her soul.  It changed her.  She lived with this reality.  And
she was thankful in the depths of her being.  That's what made her
anoint His feet.  Love.    But this anointing, this coming to the house,
is labor!  Without labor you can't be saved.  Without demeaning yourself
and remembering what God has done for you, you won't be saved.  

St Mary of Egypt realized what God had done, and what the Mother of God
had done, by praying to her Son, and helping her.  She spent 48 some
years in the desert alone, coldness, nakedness, hunger, longing, desire,
that could not be fulfilled. She said she would even go and bite the
ground and lay on the ground until these feelings would go away from
her.  Oh, yes, she still had impure feelings, for many, many years.  But
she had great love.  Like this woman who anointed our Lord's feet.  

This is the key to the Christian life.  This is why the Church presents
this woman, great among women, and St. Mary of Egypt, great among the
saints, as examples for us.  And we've been given everything they've
been given.  Read what our Savior says about "he who has little
forgiven, loveth little, but he who has much forgiven loveth much". 
Then He refers to the sinful woman.  

We can take this two ways. If you have very little forgiven, then you
don't have much that you have to be thankful for.  But when you realize
what's been done for you, then you realize that you have had much
forgiven.  For really everyone, everyone -- has had much forgiven them. 
And so he should love much.  He should turn to His Savior.  But a man
who doesn't turn to our Savior, is not a Christian whether he calls
himself a Christian or not. I don't care about all the "trappings" - I
don-t care how many songs you know - I don-t care about any of that.
It's all part and parcel of the life of the church.  It's critical for
our salvation - but the knowledge of things doesn't save.  Action based
on knowledge - that's what saves.  

So when a man knows what Christ has done for him, he loves much.  When a
man doesn't care, when he's all filled up with pride, or filled up with
the life that he's living, or filled up with lust or avarice or whatever
else, then how can he love?  He has no room in his heart to love.  He's
already chosen the object of his love.  And he will have his reward,
right here, such as it is.  And even the richest man is a pauper,
compared to the lowest in the kingdom of heaven.  

This woman and St. Mary sealed their repentance by action, by activity. 
We just read a couple nights ago the great canon, and St. Andrew
compares Leah and Rachel to activity and contemplation.  He said without
these two you cannot be saved.  This woman who anointed our Lord's feet,
she contemplated what our lord had done for her; He had forgiven her. 
Perhaps she was the one who had been caught in adultery and was about to
be stoned.  Perhaps she was just another nameless, faceless prostitute
that saw Divinity and cleaved to it and changed.  And when she
contemplated what He had done her heart was filled, and this is what
caused the activity, action, desire, longing to be with her Savior, to
caress him, to kiss his feet, to be close to Him, to be in His presence.

Do we have this longing?  If we don't then we should fear greatly for
our souls.  The church presents us extravagance here, extravagant
repentance, and without it we can't be saved.  Without it we cannot be
saved.  Not partial repentance.  If you have something that ails you,
then you must lament it, you must pound your breast about it.  You must
prostrate with tears over it.  You must do whatever you have to do,
labor in order to eradicate it, and in the process of doing that, at the
same time, you must renew yourself with Who God is.  

St. Mary of Egypt knew.  This was a woman who could neither read nor
write.  This was a woman who, the only time she had darkened the door of
the church was at her baptism, save two other times, the day she saw the
holy cross, and received the holy mysteries at the monastery of the
Forerunner before she went into the desert.  And in the end of her days,
she knew the entire scripture by heart, and she lived the entire
scripture by heart.  The church speaks of her as an angel.  She had so
transcended the flesh that she previously had lived with in such a base
way.  None of us probably can claim to have been as sinful as she was. 
That's the truth.  But none of us can claim to have one tiny grain or
repentance compared to her.  

The Christian life is simple.  If you know that which you've been
forgiven of, you should love much, but the only way to know is to open
your eyes and to pray with your heart.  God will fill you.  He will show
you.  You will be overwhelmed by it.  You won-t want anything but -
Christ.  The key to the Christian life.  Contemplating what God has done
for you, and acting upon it.  

These women are the examples we have before us today.  But what does the
world tell us?  It tells us all manner of garbage. Probably all of us
have had this secular saying said to us, when one or the other of our
parents or an uncle or aunt, said, "I don't care what the other kids do.
 You don-t do it that way."  The world tells you so many things, and the
church says, "I don't care what the world tells you.  God your Savior
tells you to do something else."  In fact, our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ said this to His apostles, didn't he, when they had been jousting
about who would be greatest?  They had forgotten Who He was.  He tells
them a very important saying:  "He who will be greatest must be the
servant."  But before then what did He say?  He described the way the
world is, how the greatest, the chiefest among people are the ones who
grind people in the mud, and lord things over people, and the boastful
pride of life in the extravagance of power and authority.  And then He
said that it "shall not be so among you."  Instead, the church gives us
the example of the sinful woman, formerly sinful woman - two formally
sinful women, the unnamed woman who is great among the saints, and Mary,
who is great among the saints.  Don't listen to the world.  Listen to
what the church says.  Be renewed.


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 Mat 21:31 - "Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say
unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That
the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you."

 Cf. Luke 7:77

 See Matthew 5:46 and onwards.

 John 8:4-11

 Mark 9:33 and onwards

 (Mat 20:25-27)  But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that
the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that
are great exercise authority upon them. {26} But it shall not be so
among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your
minister; {27} And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your

The Fourth Sunday of Great Lent

The Healing of the Woman with an Issue of Blood

 and the Raising of the Daughter of Jairus

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The Fourth Sunday of Great Lent

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The Fifth Sunday of Great Lent

The Fifth Sunday of Great Lent