Matthew 馬太福音1032-33; 37-38; 1927-30

2013.6.30 sermon by Fr. Jonah

The Sunday of all saints

紀念神聖的宗徒和所有聖徒

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VARkz3Rb-A0

今天教會慶祝十二宗徒的聖日和聖徒的聖日。每一位聖徒都是聖靈的果實,是人類的楷模。

宗徒和聖徒改變了世界,改變了人類的歷史和文明。宗徒(使徒)的使命就是傳達福音,他們由耶穌揀選出來。使徒原本只是一群單純而平凡人。他們工作的時候,耶穌基督召喚他們。他們當中,甚至有些人從事不太好的工作,例如:馬太是一位稅吏。耶穌召喚他的時候,他正在向窮人討稅。然而,當他意識到耶穌召喚他時,他馬上就拋下一切跟隨耶穌。他們沒有受過很高的教育,但是都有一顆良善的心。他們改變了自己,跟隨耶穌。他們當中有些人是施洗約翰的門徒。他們的特質就是,願意拋下一切跟隨耶穌。每個人都可以像他們一樣,當神父召喚時,都可以拋下一切,盡全力為教會的傳教工作效力。他們完全改變過去的生活型態跟隨耶穌,由此可見,這些使徒的心地純潔、良善。即便他們一開始並不知道真理,也不知道耶穌基督就是上帝,他們還是願意離開家,跟隨這位偉大的老師,一起宣揚「天國已經降臨人間」的福音。

當然,每位宗徒都有自己的特質、優缺點和軟弱之處。即便如此,他們還是跟在耶穌身邊學習。耶穌賜給他們權柄行使神蹟,他們也行了許多奇蹟。有時候,使徒之間也有爭吵,他們甚至為了在天國裡誰要坐在耶穌左、右邊而爭吵,可見,他們也有軟弱之處。在十二門徒中,只有一位背叛耶穌,那就是猶大。儘管耶穌一直想要勸他悔改,然而,他還是做出最後的決定,耶穌也尊重他。可見,光是接受耶穌的召喚還不夠,我們必須要不斷精進,努力發揮自己的效用。

耶穌的門徒最後領受了聖靈,聖靈進入他們心中,賜給他們真正的平安。他們在人群中成為人們的光明。以前耶穌教導他們的一切,在聖靈降臨之後,他們終於完全瞭解,聖靈的果實已經在他們心中茁壯,真理也藉由他們,傳佈在整個宇宙。藉著宗徒(祭司)的獻祭,麵包與酒被獻給整個宇宙。宗徒不只是傳福音的人,也是真正的祭司。耶穌是最大的祭司,宗徒是耶穌的傳承者。他們傳承了耶穌留下來的各種能力,包括一項很重要的工作—-赦罪,祭司的赦罪對人們來說是一種醫治。耶穌把他的能力和工作傳承給使徒,使徒又傳承給主教和各位神父,這樣的傳承是非常重要的。教父和祭司在教會傳揚真理、教授上帝的話語,他們留下來的教導,藉由聖潔的傳承而流傳至今。這些珍貴的教導超越了國籍與文化的隔閡,那是每個人都能瞭解的道理。

宗徒始終活在教會,教會是宗徒傳承下來的,就好像尼西亞信經告訴我們的那樣。在亞洲,我們尤其應該注意這一點,因為,亞洲的教會非常多,大部分都不是由宗徒傳承下來,他們拿出聖經就開始教導教友。

我們的教會是宗徒傳承下來的教會,因此,我們每個人都有傳揚福音的義務。教會不是一個商業俱樂部,也不是一個民族或文化交流的社團。教會總是向全世界(不分種族、不分國籍)張開雙臂。十三年前我來到台灣,開始在台灣舉行聖禮儀。聖禮儀將神的恩典傳遞出去,不是只有來教會參加聖禮儀的人可以領受神的恩典,我相信整個台灣、整個世界都能因此而受益。聖禮儀不是一個秘密聚會,我們把聖禮儀的影片放在網路上供大家點閱,希望聖禮儀的畫面可以為所有兄弟姊妹,還有宇宙的萬事萬物帶來神的祝福和平安。

一位真正的東正教徒,必須是一位傳福音的人。我們應該把神的恩典和愛散布在家庭、職場、生活中,甚至是身邊的小動物和一草一木上面。有些人認為,傳福音是神職人員的工作,與他們無關。耶穌基督說:「父差遣我,如我差遣你到世界。」傳揚福音並不是某個組織的工作,神召喚我們所有人傳揚神的愛。

我們在傳揚福音的時候,可以把十二門徒當作典範,看看自己工作的態度,有沒有需要改進之處。當代的生活型態,似乎更有利於傳福音。還有一點值得留意的是,宗徒在傳揚福音時,完全沒有藉此謀取任何個人利益,也沒有利用職務之便侵佔別人的錢財。他們自己工作謀生。他們傳福音的工作,全是為了他人的利益。在領受聖靈之後,他們常常聚在一起,討論教會遇到的難題,共同尋找解決方案。在耶路撒冷的使徒會議中,他們共同推舉雅各擔任主席。他們非常團結,不會為了主席的位置而爭執。宗徒非常愛耶穌,甚至願意為耶穌犧牲生命。宗徒傳揚的不是哲學理論而已。無論宗徒或殉道士在傳揚福音時,從來不會強調個人的國籍,他們強調的是活生生的耶穌基督、聖禮儀、福音書和聖三位一體。

今日,讓我們一起向宗徒祈禱,我們虧欠他們甚多。讓我們試著仿效使徒的精神,就算一點點也好。無論我們身在何處,努力付出一點點,傳揚一點點上帝的福音。願聖三守護我們。阿門。

 

2013.06.30 Feast of the Holy Apostles – The Apostles Today

 

Today we celebrate two things, the first is the Twelve Apostles, and the other is one week after the Pentecost, when we pray to all the saints because they are all the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But I will say a few things today about the Holy Apostles, especially one of them, very for our life.. As we know, these twelve people from Palestine changed the world, human history and civilization.

        The word apostle means “he who is sent with as a messenger.” Jesus picked them, selected them as simple people. It is very important that Jesus called them when they were working at their jobs, even Matthew, who was a tax collector, which was not a good thing to do, Jesus called him while he was doing that job. They were not educated people, but they had good hearts. They loved God and most of them – because Matthew changed – some of them were disciples of John the Baptist, though some of them were not even good people, like Matthew.

But when Jesus called them, they left everything and followed him. To leave everything and follow Jesus Christ is a very characteristic thing of an Apostle. And as you understand today, it can be very difficult and we can be in their position because if I were to say to you – and you all have a job or you study – if I were to say to you to leave everything and work for the church as preachers, you could understand how difficult, almost impossible that would be. So what they did was really to refuse their former life and follow Jesus Christ. And this shows such a good attitude, such a good heart. Even Matthew said that Jesus called him. They did not know the truth about Jesus, that he is God, but even their families they abandoned to follow this great teacher, a great person who was doing miracles and preaching a new message, that the Kingdom of Heaven is here.

So they followed Jesus and each of them had his own character, his own good things and his own weaknesses. But during this period, even if they had difficulties, they followed Jesus Christ. Jesus gave to them the power to do all the miracles, even before his Crucifixion. But even though they did so many miracles, their personal weaknesses still were allowed to come out: sometimes asking about who was the first among them, having some disagreements about power or not such strong belief. But they followed, they obeyed Jesus Christ, even if it was not complete. There were so many different characters, but all under the same guidance of the love of Jesus Christ. Only one used his freedom to betray Him, but Jesus Christ honored him as the others, or even more, and He did everything to prevent this betrayal. And through this we can understand that to be selected as an apostle is not enough. We must accept and work on this. If you don’t work, you will be like Judas. These people finally received the Holy Spirit, and when the Paraclete (God) entered into them, then they were ready vessels of God.

So these people became the light for human beings. Everything now was understood by them. All the memories, all the work that they did, all that they saw near Jesus Christ now started to have fruit. And through them it could go to the world, to all the universe. How was this? First as those who offered to God the bread and the wine, the sacrifice of the Word. The Apostles are not just pastors, they are not just preachers; they are priests who participate in the priesthood of Jesus Christ and they gave their priesthood to their successors, even today.

And they forgave sins, and this power to forgive sins, which was given to the Church, through the Apostles, goes today to the Church through the bishops and the priests. This is very important because this forgiving is reconciliation; it is a healing of the souls of the people and their relationships.

And also they preached the World of God. The Apostles gave the teachings of the Church and then the Fathers of the Church took these teachings and they explained and analyzed them. So through the Holy tradition they are given to us today. And through the Church to take it, transmit it, and make it more beautiful, more understandable, in dialogue with the different cultures and different people. The Apostles are always alive in the Church, the Church is an Apostolic Church, as we say in the Creed. And this is very important today, especially in Asia because we see here today so many churches, people who begin a church and they say, “I started a new church.” And of course these churches do not dare to say they are apostolic because they don’t come from the Holy Apostles, but from pastor or somebody who just bought a Bible and started a new church.

And it is also very important to understand that we should not just say, “They are Apostles and may we have their blessing.” To admire them is not enough. Don’t think that they are Apostles and it is their job to bless us, because the Church is always apostolic, which means that the Church must preach to the others, must spread the Word of God and the Grace of God. The Church is not a closed club. It not a national activity or a cultural club or cultural center. The Church is always going out to the world spreading God Himself to the world. The liturgy, which I have been doing in Taiwan for thirteen years and which I continue to do by the Grace of God and by your prayers, it is not only for the few people who are coming to this room. It is the Grace of God that goes out from this room that goes out of this room to all of Taiwan to bless all the things, all the people, the living and the dead, in this area. And all the preaching of the Church that we say here and we put on the internet, it is not just for us here, as secret, but it goes to all our brothers and sisters all over the world. And even in their memories, after many years it will work the Grace of God. So to be a Christian, to be Orthodox, you must be a missionary to spread the Grace of God, the Love of God to your family, to your job, to your pets, to your things. It is a very big mistake to say, “Well, everybody in the Church has some job. I have my own job; I work in this company to earn money, while others are apostles.” Jesus Christ said that to spread Word of God is from God Himself. Jesus said. “As the Father sent me, in the same way I send you to the world.” So to be a missionary in your job, in everywhere, it is not to spread propaganda, not at all, not to proselytize people but to project and to give the Love of God. And to this Jesus is calling all of us. We must remember this, and when we celebrate the Apostles we must compare ourselves, how much we are like them, especially because we are in a much easier position then they were because Jesus did not ask us to leave everything and follow Him.

Also, it is very important that the Apostles did not take advantage of the people. They all died for the people; they did not need their money, even Paul was working to earn a living.

And we also see from the Apostles that they talked together after receiving the Holy Spirit to resolve the different problems that they had in the Church. This is why they the first conference of the Apostles in Jerusalem. And it is very important that they did not take advantage of their position. Finally they all loved Jesus Christ and they all died for him.

One last thing to say. The Apostles did not preach any philosophy. And the martyrs of course did not have any nationality or national idea. They preached that Jesus is alive, and the Liturgy and the Gospel, the Trinity. So today remember the Holy Apostles, pray to them. We owe to them everything that we are. And we should do something to be Apostles in some way in our small environment, wherever we are. May the Holy Trinity protect us.