19th Sunday 



What Thank Have Ye?

Luke 6:31-36Luke 6:31-36

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
{32} For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners
also love those that love them. {33} And if ye do good to them which do
good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. {34}
And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye?
for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. {35} But
love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again;
and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the
Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. {36} Be ye
therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.


In the name of the Father, and the son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 
Today is the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, and also this day we
remember the holy Hieromartyr Gregory, Enlightener of Armenia.

Today-s main readings continue the theme the Church has been talking
about for the last few Sunday-s, concerning the talents that are given
us.  We recall, from two Sunday-s ago the parable about the talents.  We
know what a talent is -- the grace God gives us, the ability God gives
us, the strength He gives us for the fulfillment of His holy law, and
when we fulfill his Holy Law, the enlightenment He gives us.  This is a
cycle, a circle.  As we fulfill more of God-s law and as we value the
commandments and do them, God enlightens us more, and more and more.

We read the following Sunday after the parable about the talents
concerning the Canaanite woman.  She showed us great humility, and great
faith.  If you recall, her humility sprang from her faith, and our Lord
commended her on her faith.  We see that she used her talents most
righteously and most correctly. 

The next Sunday we heard about the miraculous catch of fish, and how the
Apostle Peter and all the other Apostles were obedient to our Lord. 
This was even after they were tired, and had caught nothing throughout
all the night (and the night is when you are able to catch the most
fish, because in the heat of the day it is almost impossible to catch
fish using the methods that they used back then).  Yet they showed faith
and obedience, even in the midst of their difficulties and trials, and
their feelings, which were contrary to what the Lord was asking them to
do.  After the draught of fish, there occurred a greater miracle -- St.
Peter saw himself.  That-s what all the miracles are for you know -- to
bring us to a knowledge of ourselves and of Christ.  A man who knows
Christ will know himself, and a man who knows himself -- he will learn
more of Christ, because he will be humble.  God will enlighten the
humble man, but He won-t say anything to the proud man.  He will let the
proud man go on in his ignorance, not even knowing what he is missing. 

This Sunday, we see another application of the talents which God has
given us.  I want to state again what I said a couple Sundays ago about
the talents.  They are not an ability that God gives us in order to
perform music or some other such thing; they are the grace that He fills
us with and he indwells us with.  If we are full of love for God, He
will give us more talents.  He will fill some vessels much more full,
because those worthy ones will enlarge themselves more for Him.  The
bigger vessels will be filled even more to capacity than the smaller

In today-s readings, in both the Epistle and the Gospel, we see much
tribulation, and how we should act in the midst of it.  If you apply the
talent given to you, then you will do as our Lord tells you.  It-s
really very simple.  Christianity is not at all ?Rocket Science."  We
follow what our Lord tells us, and what He tells us in many cases is
?common sense," although it is generally ignored in the world today. 
Common sense tells us that if you want people to do kindly to you, you
do kindly to them, but beyond, that, supernaturally beyond that, is that
you do good to people regardless of what they do to you.  Do you see the
revolution the Lord calls us to?  Common sense is that you do good to
people and expect them to do good in return.  Every culture understands
this, and there is even honor among thieves.  Christianity is beyond
this, way beyond.  We do good to everyone, regardless of what they do to
us.  We do not have a choice in the matter, it is a requirement of us,
because our Lord has told us to act in this way. 

?As ye would have that men should do to you, do ye also to them
likewise.¦ Okay, that is what everybody does, so He says further, ?For
if you love them that love ye, what thank have ye?¦.  The answer is, you
have none.  You will not have any reward if you only love those who love
you.  You must love the unlovely.  You must love the ungrateful.  You
must love the evil, and the wicked, and the proud.  He says: ?For
sinners also love those that love them."  That is just common.  We are
to live beyond this.  ?And if ye do good to them which do good to you,
what thank have ye?  for sinners even do the same.  And if ye lend to
them from whom you hope to receive, what thank have ye?¦ Now wait a
minute.  Is He going too far here?  He has just reached into our
pocketbooks now, something we hold very dear!  Lend to someone without
expecting anything in return?  To the world this sheer craziness, this
is insanity.  This, though, is the Christian way.  He is not saying that
if you lend money to someone, that you do not accept repayment, but He
is saying that you should not expect it and require it of a man.  In the
days when the church was more flourishing in people-s hearts, there was
no usury.  There was no lending of money to a brother with interest,
Instead there was giving to people who had need, and not expecting
anything in return.

He says, ?Love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for
nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the
children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the
evil.¦ He is kind to everyone.  The rain falls on the evil and the good,
you know.  So we are to be like our Savior, we are to be like the
Blessed Trinity, and we are to be kind to the evil and the good, without
any respect for persons.  This is the Christian way. 

We must understand that there is a law, a fundamental law of human
nature, which is built into our character.  Man acts, as he believes. 
It is very important to understand this law, because there is a very
great heresy in our day, that a man can believe one way and act another,
and a man-s beliefs and his actions are not bound to one another.  This
idea is expressed in various ways, in various heresies, and it is
terrible, perhaps the worse heresy ever to beset mankind -- that a man's
works and his faith are not connected, completely connected.  In fact,
they are one and the same!  If a man does not have faith, he will not
act in a way that is pleasing to God, even if externally he appears to
be pleasing to man.  If a man knows Christ, and knows His sweet
commandments, he will act in such a way that shows this.  This is all
over the pages of the scriptures, it is all over our prayers, it is in
the very mind of the church, which is Christ-s. 

Take a look at how our Savior lived.  Take a look at the works that He
did.  Look at the effort that He expended.  We are to be the same. 
Christianity is labor, brothers and sisters.  I don-t know how such a
heresy, that Christianity is not labor, has fallen upon so many, for
such a long period of time.  Christianity is labor, and yet, there is a
paradox in our labor.  Our Lord said ?My yoke is easy, and My burden is
light."  This is true!  A yoke is easy upon the oxen when they do not
strain against it, but they pull as they are told to do by their master.
 Then the yoke rides easily on their shoulders, and because it has been
carefully sanded and fitted to their shoulders, it does not chafe them,
and cause sores on them.  If they strain against the yoke, it causes
great sores on their shoulders, and then they don-t want to pull at all,
because it hurts.  Their master must then give them the whip to make
them do their work.  We are not to be like oxen that are stubborn and
stupid.  We are to bear his yoke with dignity, and His yoke is truly
easy, and we are just to follow what He says. 

We have some instructions here, to listen to.  Be kind to everyone. 
This is Christianity.  Lend to people without expecting to receive. 
Love your enemies!  We have no choice about the matter.  This is how we
are to act if we are to be Christians.  If we do not do these things,
and if we are tight with our money, or tight with the good works we do
to others, then I tell you, we are not Christians.  No matter how much
we know, no matter how much we say, no matter how much we pray, no
matter how much we do, we are not Christians if we do not do as our Lord
commanded us.

We should imitate our Lord just as a child does.  I see a lot of
imitation in the church.  Look at the way the children imitate us.  They
imitate our good things and our bad things, you know.  I see a lot of
imitation nowadays in my son Daniel.  He is just beginning to do things,
reach out for objects, learning his impact upon his environment.  He is
slowly learning so much everyday, and does not have any idea what he
will know soon.  But we know, because we have seen it happen before.  If
we are good and fruitful, then our son will grow up with love for
Christ, and will act as a Christian, and will be a light on a hill.  So
we should follow our Savior, just as our children follow us.  It is just

The older I get, the more I realize how simple Christianity is!  Our
Lord touches us, our Lord gives us a great catch of fish, and we see
that He is the Lord, just as the Apostle Peter did, and we are aware of
ourselves and of Him, and we desire to change!  This is not something we
can put on paper, it is not something we can explain, but it comes
within us, and lives within us, and makes us change.  It is wonderful
what happens to a man when Christ fills him.  A man can never be filled
too much with Christ, because Christ expands him.  There is always
capacity for Christ in a man, but only if we do those things that He
enlightens us concerning v to be good to those who are our enemies, to
lend to those whom we know will not give anything in return, and to not
expect anything in return from them. This is Christianity v this is bare
metal Christianity.  This is not anything ?pie in the sky¦ or
theoretical or philosophical v this is the way we are to live. 

Sometimes when I hear Holy Orthodoxy described, I hear people say ?We
believe in this, we believe in that, we believe in the sacraments of
baptism, and of chrismation, and the Holy Eucharist, etc.  And we have
the seven Ecumenical councils, which codify the basics of our dogma and
practices, etc."  This is not the essence of what Holy Orthodoxy is! 
The essence of Orthodoxy is to follow Christ, to follow what He has
revealed to us, and to change.  We can see that there is much in us, if
we look in our hearts, that is wrong, and is amiss.  If you look in the
mirror, you should see much that is sore, and much that needs help. 
Where can you obtain this help but from Christ?  This is the essence of
the Orthodox faith v to act in accordance with how He has enlightened
us.  And of course, He has enlightened us with so many things v the
ecumenical councils, the dogmas of our faith, the holy priesthood,
baptism confession v all these things are given to us, and they are all
true, and belief in them and obedience to them is all required of us. 
However, if we do not act upon the strength that is given us, then they
are useless to us.  We would be like the man who buried the talent in
the ground. 

Someone recently commented that this man who said he was afraid when his
Lord called him to task was afraid because we have this incorrect vision
of God which is too filled with fear, and instead, we should love Him,
as our Father.  They missed the boat when they said something like that!
 The man feared God because he had not acted as God had given him the
strength to act.  That is why he was afraid.  He was not afraid because
he misunderstood who God was, he was afraid precisely because he did
know who God was, and he knew that he had not done what God had
commanded, and what is more, what God had given him the ability to do! 
That is why this man was afraid.  That is why he was terrified.  And,
instead of confessing and begging forgiveness, which our Lord would have
given, instead he made excuses concerning his sin.  We are not to be
like that, we should not make any excuses for our sins.  We should
understand that God has given us His grace and knowledge because He
wants us to become perfected.  He actually told us, didn-t He?  He said:
?Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is
perfect.¦.  This is a tall order, but it is a requirement of

Don-t just believe about something.  Don-t just know about the
sacraments.  Don-t just memorize the rudder.  Instead of doing these
things and thinking that you have hope in them, become like Him! 
Actually, in becoming like Christ, you will memorize your prayers,
because they will be sweet to you, and no words will be more important
than those words, and you will remember them.  The Gospels will be sweet
you, and will be familiar with them, and you will be able to open to any
page, and immediately recognize the stories, and they will warm your

In the other Gospel today, the Lord says to ?Watch, therefore: for ye
know not what hour your Lord doth come." He says that if we knew when
the good man of the house v and who can this be, except our Lord, at the
judgment of all v then we would watch. But we don-t know, so we are to
watch at all times.  Then He asks a question that is really quite
profound.  ?Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath
made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?¦ You
see, our Lord gives us things, and requires action based upon what He
gives us.  When He says, Who then is the man, we should be like Samuel v
Here am I, Lord. We should not be like the man who buried the talent,
who said, I buried this talent because I knew that ?thou art an hard
man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not
strowed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo,
there thou hast that is thine.¦ We should be like the Saints, who saw
what He had done for them reacted, and lived according to Who He was. 
This is what we are to do in the Christian life.  It is very simple,
very, very simple.  And it is supernatural.  It is the life that God has
chosen for us, and it is a sweet life, because His commandments are
sweet.  Try to taste more of His commandments, to follow His
commandments, and God will enlighten you more.  And if you have sins,
they will be forgiven you, and if you have passions and weaknesses, God
will give you strength to overcome them.  It will happen.  It will take
some time, but it will happen through the application of your efforts,
joined to God-s grace.  

God help us all to be as the Lord said concerning the servant who
follows His commandments.  He says ?Blessed is that servant, whom his
lord when he cometh shall find so doing.  Verily I say unto you, That he
shall make him ruler over all his goods.¦

God bless you.  


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19th  Sunday after Pentecost

What Thank Have Ye?

	-   PAGE  10  -

-   PAGE  9  -

 This homily was transcribed from one given On September 13, 1996
according to the church calendar, being the Nineteenth Sunday after
Pentecost, and the day appointed for the commemoration of Holy
Hieromartyr Gregory, Enlightener of Armenia. There are some stylistic
changes and minor corrections made and several footnotes have been
added, but otherwise, it is essentially in a colloquial, ?spoken¦ style.
It is hoped that something in these words will help and edify the
reader, but a sermon read from a page cannot enlighten a soul as much as
attendance and reverent worship at the Vigil service, which prepares the
soul for the Holy Liturgy, and the hearing of the scriptures and the
preaching of them in the context of the Holy Divine Liturgy. In such
circumstances the soul is enlightened much more than when words are read
on a page. 

 Luke 6:31

 Luke 6:32

 Luke 6:32

 Luke 5:36

 Cf. Matthew 5:45

 Cf. Matthew 18:4

 Matthew 5:48

 Matthew 24:42

 Matthew 24:43

 Matthew 24:35

 1 Samuel 3:5

 Cf. Matthew 25:24-25

 Matthew 24:46-47