2013.04.21 The Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt
Sermon by Father Jonah
首先，我們一起來研讀今天的福音。今天福音的內容，帶領我們來到大齋期的最後一個星期日，下週日就是聖枝主日，到時候將有不同的慶祝方式。今日，也是聖徒Mary of Egypt的聖日，教會要帶我們一起來看「悔改的果實」，它是幾周以來的靈性準備和祈禱的收成。
聖徒Mary of Egypt是一位年輕的女孩，她受魔鬼的陷害而墮入紅塵。她之所以獻身不是為了錢，而是為了縱慾。她和許多年輕男子一起旅行，從她所居住的城市亞歷山大出發前往耶路撒冷，為的是親吻神聖的十字架。在前往耶路撒冷的船上，她犯下所有的罪。
她此行的目的，是要前往「復活教堂」（現在這座教堂還在耶路撒冷）親吻十字架，但是，有一些權力阻止她進入教堂。她認為，阻止她進入教堂的應該是上帝，因為 她的生活充滿了罪惡。所以，她在教堂外，向一幅聖母的聖像祈禱，她一邊哭泣，一邊向聖母許願：如果上帝允許我進入教堂，上帝要我做什麼我都願意。於是，她 進入了教堂，親吻了十字架，又在告解中懺悔了她所有的罪。她從教堂出來之後，又到聖母的聖像前面祈禱，此時，她聽見聖像裡傳來說話的聲音，聖母告訴她，希 望她能度過約旦河，隱居在荒漠之中。聖母要她遠離塵世，這樣才能平息她對性欲的渴望。幾天之後，她領了聖餐、度過了約旦河，並且在荒漠中度過她的餘生。
幾 年之後，上帝派遣一位神父去荒漠中找尋這位聖徒。這位神父真的前往荒漠中，找到了一位被長髮覆蓋的人，他非常害怕，但是，此人擁有上帝的恩典，她輕聲呼喊 這位神父的名字，她還請這位神父為她賜福。神父非常震驚，此人竟然知道他的名字，他知道她是一位聖徒，所以他在她面前跪下，請求她為他賜福。他看到她的面 容，她就是聖徒Mary，她一邊祈禱，一邊飄升至空中。
之後，聖徒Mary向 他描述了荒野中的生活。前七年，她的生活充滿了不可思議的誘惑。魔鬼想要喚起她心中關於性的回憶，藉此誘惑她。她熱切地祈禱，拒絕了這些誘惑。除了沙子之 外，她幾乎沒有食物可以吃，然而，她還是繼續祈禱，不畏懼飢餓。接下來的七年，聖母賜給她平安，之後她獲得許多上帝的恩典，她變得像天使一樣，不需要飲 食。她對於Sophronius神 父的修道院瞭解很多，她幾乎無所不知，她的心中充滿了上帝的恩典。她請這位神父明年再回來，為她帶來聖餐，於是，隔年他為她帶來了聖餐，她又要求他隔年再 來，並且告訴他：「你會像上帝所希望的那樣找到我。」明年神父回來的時候，發現她已經過世了，她在地上寫下「我的名字是Mary」。 這位神父感到非常哀痛，他一邊哭泣，一邊為她祈禱並主持喪禮儀式。然而，這位神父年紀太大挖不動土，此時，他看見有兩頭獅子前來。一開始，他非常害怕，然 而，獅子變得像家犬那樣溫順，牠們舔了這位聖徒的身體，之後，又用爪子為她挖掘墳墓。神父將聖徒的身體放進墳墓中，用土覆蓋在她身上，此時，這兩隻獅子就 轉身離開，牠們在她身上嗅到了非常神聖的氣味，那是天堂的氣味。由此，我們可以看見，動物如何與人共融，牠們也活在天國的神聖之中，活在上帝的愛裡。
Mark 10: 32 Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: 33 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; 34 and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” 35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; 40 but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. 42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
First to say a few things about the Gospel today. This reading brings us to the last Sunday of Great Lent since next Sunday is Palm Sunday, when we celebrate, which is different. And today the Church puts in front of us the fruit of repentance. This shows to us what should be the result of the spiritual preparation, what should be the result of all these prayers and other things we do: St, Mary of Egypt.
I will say a few things about her. She was a young girl who had the demon of prostitution; she was doing this not for money, but just for pleasure. Because of this, she traveled with many young men from Alexandria, where she lived, to Jerusalem to kiss the Holy Cross. So she joined in and having all the sins in the ship she went to Jerusalem.
There she tried to enter the Church of the Resurrection, which is still there today, to kiss the Cross, but some kind of power did not allow her to enter. She understood it was God who did not allow her to enter because of her sinful life. So she prayed to an icon of the Holy Mother outside of the church, crying to say that if she was allowed to go in, she would do whatever God wanted her to do. So she kissed the Holy Cross after she went inside and confessed her sins. The she went out and went to the icon of the Holy Mother and she heard a voice from the icon telling her to cross the river of Jordan and live in the desert. The Holy Mother told her that sexual desire was so special for her that she could not live in the world. So after a few days she received the Holy Communion, crossed the river and lived in the desert the rest of her life.
After many years, God sent a message to a priest saying that he should go to the desert and he would find a very holy person there. So he went into the desert and he found something that looked like a lot of hair, and he was afraid. But she called him by his name since she had the Grace of God now, and she asked him to bless her since he was a priest. But he was shocked that she know his name, and he asked her for a blessing since she was a holy person. So he knelt down, but he looked at her and saw Mary praying and that she was lifting up in the air as she was praying.
Then Mary told him her life in the desert. For the first seven years, her life had been full of unbelievable temptations. Demons were bringing all her memories of sexuality to tempt her, she was fighting so much and praying, and she had nothing to eat except the dirt, but she stayed there and continued to pray. After another seven years, the Holy Mother gave her peace, and after this she had the Grace of God so much that she had not the need to eat, like an angel. She knew many things about the monastery of Father Sophronius and her mind was full of the Grace of God. She knew everything.
She said to him, next year come back and bring me the Holy Communion, he brought it to her and then she said to come again “And you will find me as God wants.” So the next year the Father came back, but he found her dead, and she had written in the soil. “Maria is my name.” So he cried and prayed to do the funeral service. But he could not dig since he was so old. Then he saw two lions who came; at first he was scared, but the lions became like dogs and were licking the body of this holy woman. Then the lions dug with their feet and the priest put her body in, they covered it and then the lions left, because the animals recognized the holiness and the smell of paradise on her. So we see how the animals cooperate and they are in the holiness of paradise and the love of God.