Iconography and Hand painted icons

The measure of God’s mercy

6th Sunday of Luke
The Gadarene Demoniac, Luke 8: 27-39

The measure of God’s mercy

Δαβίδ Προφήτης_David King prophet_ Давид Пророк-1c6241de9fec6e6d15d029af5b9c9f5dThe measure of God’s mercy is illustrated in the following Biblical story. When King David sinned, the prophet Gad came and offered to him the choice of one of three punishments: Either the country will suffer three years of famine, or for three months the pursuing swords of his enemies will hang over him, or for three days the Lord’s sword and pestilence will wreak their destruction within the boundaries of Israel. “And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the Lord; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man” (1 Chron. 21:8-14).

Every sorrow and difficulty of life should be viewed as an enlightenment sent to us for our improvement. “Like a mother teaches her infant to walk,” St. John of Kronstadt informs us, “so does our Lord teach us a living faith in Him. A mother will get a child on its feet, walk away herself and call upon it to walk toward her. The infant cries without a mother’s assistance, wanting to go to her yet afraid to take a step, or attempting to come to her, falls over. This is how our Lord teaches a Christian to believe in Him. Our faith is as weak as a child that is learning how to walk. Our Lord leaves a Christian for a time and gives him up to various adversities, and later, when the need arises, He delivers him. Our Lord bids us to look and walk toward Him. The Christian attempts to see our Lord, but untaught in how to look upon Him and afraid to be bold, trips and falls. Yet the Lord is close and is in some way ready to take the feeble Christian into his arms. Therefore, during various woes or the devil’s contrivances, learn how to view your Savior with your heart. Look upon Him boldly as an inexhaustible repository of goodness and ardently implore Him for His help. And instantly, you will receive what you have asked for. Here, the important thing is to have a heartfelt vision of God and a hope in Him as being All Good. This is true from experience! Thus, our Lord teaches us to acknowledge our impotence and have faith in Him.”

Consequently, let us remind ourselves daily how strongly God loves us and how much He has done and is doing for us in order to save us. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32)


Prokeimenon. Mode 1.
Psalm 32.22,1

Let your mercy, O Lord, be upon us.
Verse: Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous.

The reading is from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians 9:6-11

Brethren, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.


Saint Apostle and Evangelist Luke, the first iconographer ,Now, in radiant Paradise with the other apostles, he prays for the Holy Church.

Λουκάς ευαγγελιστης ο ιατρός_Saint Luke Evangelist_Апостол и Евангелист Лука 0_9-Лука рисует Деву МариюApostle and Evangelist Luke

Commemorated on October 18

Hymn of Praise
Apostle and Evangelist Luke
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Saint Luke the Apostle and Evangelist
The divine Luke, both wise and learned,
Was tortured willingly for the Lord.
He could have avoided mockery and torture,
But the world would not have had the great Luke.
The young Luke beheld God’s truth
And surrendered his heart to the Son of God.
He hearkened to the Teacher, beheld the Wonderworker,
And in Him he recognized the Immortal Creator.
He beheld the Resurrected One, and spoke with Him,
And worked miracles in His name.
Christ became his only joy,
And Luke sacrificed his mind, wealth and youth to Him.
When Luke became old, he was young in Christ,
And gave to the world what he received from the Lord.
And when he had given the world all he could give,
Then the world, fulfilling the Scripture, repaid him with contempt.
From an old olive tree the aged Luke hung,
With a smile on his face and his arms folded crosswise.
And the hand of Christ came down from heaven
And received the soul of His Evangelist.
Now, in radiant Paradise with the other apostles,
St. Luke prays for the Holy Church.Λουκάς ευαγγελιστης ο ιατρός_Saint Luke Evangelist_Св Лука_4389284168621326484_n

Life of the Saint Apostle and Evangelist Luke the first iconographer

Saint Luke came from the city of Antioch, probably of a pagan family. From his youth he applied himself to seek after wisdom and to study the arts and sciences. He traveled all over the world to quench his thirst for knowledge, and had particular skill as a physician and in painting. The Gospel he wrote shows his excellent command of Greek; he also knew Hebrew and Aramaic.

There is a tradition that Luke was one of the Seventy Disciples that the Lord Jesus Christ sent before Him, two by two, to announce salvation in the towns and villages. Luke was in Jerusalem at the time of the life-giving Passion and, on Easter morning, walked with Cleopas (October 30) towards the village of Emmaus, distraught at the loss of the Master. But sadness was turned into unspeakable joy when Christ, whom they were unable to recognize when He joined them on the way, revealed to them in the breaking of bread that He was really and truly risen (Luke 24:35). After the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Luke remained for a time in Jerusalem where there were already disciples. Some say that on his way back to Antioch he stopped to preach the Good News at Sebaste in Samaria, where he obtained the relic of the right hand of the Holy Forerunner, which he took as a precious trophy to his own city. It was, therefore, at Antioch where he met Saint Paul in the course of his second missionary journey and accompanied him thence to proclaim salvation in Greece.

But another tradition says that Luke did not know the Lord during His earthly sojourn, and that he met Saint Paul while working as a physician at Thebes in Boeotia during the reign of Claudius (c. 42 AD). The Apostle’s fiery words convinced him of he Truth that he had vainly sought in the wisdom of this world for so many years. Without hesitation, he gave up all that he had and his profession in physical medicine to follow Paul and become the beloved physician (Colossians 4:14) of souls.

He went with the Apostle in his journeys from Troas to Philippi, where Paul left him to nurture the newly born Church. Luke remained in Macedonia for some years and, when Paul visited Philippi again during his third journey (AD 58), he sent him to Corinth to receive the collection made by the faithful there for the needs of the poor at Jerusalem. They went together to the Holy City, strengthening the Churches on their way. When Paul was arrested in Jerusalem and transferred to Caesarea, Luke remained with him. He accompanied Paul to Rome and describes their difficult and eventful voyage at the end of the Acts of the Apostles (chapters 27-28).

Λουκάς ευαγγελιστης-ιατρός_Γεώργιος_Saint Luke Evangelist_Св Лука_438683dd1f3a64b09082dbe45f1d65f3ddeLuke wrote his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles at Rome in obedience to Paul, dedicating the Acts to Theophilus, the Governor of Achaia, who was a convert. In his Gospel, Luke adds details which are not found in the first two evangelists: in telling of the Savior’s life, he especially stresses His mercy and compassion for sinful humanity that He has come to visit as a Physician (Luke 4:23; 5:31). And in the Acts, after telling of all that happened in the foundation of the Church at Jerusalem, he gives most attention to the work of his master, Saint Paul, who labored more abundantly than all the other Apostles in spreading the glad tidings of salvation.

After two years of imprisonment in Rome, Paul was released and immediately resumed his traveling ministry, followed by his faithful disciple Luke. But Nero launched his furious persecution of the Christians in Rome soon after, and Paul returned to the city at the risk of his life to strengthen the faithful there. He was arrested, put in chains, and held in far worse conditions than before. Luke remained steadfastly faithful to his master while others forsook him (Timothy 4:11), and he was probably present at Saint Paul’s martyrdom, although he left no written testimony to the fact.

After the glorious death of the Apostle of the Gentiles, Luke made his way back to Achaia, preaching the Gospel in Italy, Dalmatia and Macedonia. It is said that, in his old age, amid great tribulations, he also evangelized the idolaters in Egypt. He is supposed to have gone as far as the remote Thebaid and to have consecrated Saint Abile, the second Bishop of Alexandria.

On his return to Greece, Luke became Bishop of Thebes in Boeotia; he ordained priests and deacons, established churches and healed the sick in soul and body by his prayer. The idolaters arrested him there when he was eighty-four years old. They flayed him alive and crucified him on an olive tree. Many miracles were wrought afterwards by a miraculous myron trickling from his tomb, which was particularly effective in the cure of eye diseases for those who, in faith, anointed themselves with it.

Many years later, the Emperor Constantius, the son of Saint Constantine the Great, sent Saint Artemius (October 20) to Thebes to bring the relics of the Apostle Luke to Constantinople, where they were placed under the altar of the Church of the Holy Apostles with the relics of the Apostles Andrew and Timothy.

It is the tradition of the Church that Saint Luke was the first iconographer and that he painted an image of the Holy Mother of God in her earthly lifetime. The All Holy Virgin praised this representation and said, “May the grace of Him who was born of me be upon this image.” Saint Luke afterwards painted other images of the All Holy Virgin and of the Apostles, giving rise in the Church to the devout and holy tradition of veneration of the icons of Christ and of His Saints. For this reason, Saint Luke is honored as the patron of iconographers.

Adapted from The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, Vol. 1, compiled by Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra and translated from the French by Christopher Hookway (Chalkidike, Greece: Holy Convent of the Annunciation of Our Lady, 1998) pp. 412-415.

Scripture readings for the feast are the following: At the Divine Liturgy: Colossians 4:5-11,14-18; Luke 10:16-21. (If the feast falls on a Sunday the Gospel reading may vary.)

Apolytikion of the Saint Evangelist Luke(3 Tone)

O Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.

Kontakion (4 Tone)

As a disciple of the Word of God, with Paul you illuminated all the earth and dispelled the gloom in writing Christ’s divine Gospel.

Prophet Hosea (Osee) “the prophet of God’s exacting love”

Prophet Hosea (Osee) “the prophet of God’s exacting love” (820 B.C.).
Holy Martyrs and Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian in Cilicia (4th c.), and their brothers Leontius, Anthimus, and Eutropius.
Translation of the relics (898) of St. Lazarus “Of the Four Days” (in the tomb), bishop of Kition on Cyprus.
Martyr Queen Shushaniki (Susanna) of Georgia (475) (Georgia).
Holy Martyr Kozman (Georgia).
New Hieromartyr Neophit and Anatolius priests, Martyrs Hyacinth and Callistus (1918)

Commemorated on October 17

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6)
But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice (Matthew 9:13).

Hosea was the first to reveal to us that God is not simply an awesome and chastening Judge, as had been previously thought (and as many continue to think), but above all a Father full of mercy.

Hymn of Praise
The Holy Prophet Hosea

Ωσηὲ προφήτης_Holy Prophet Hosea_Осия пророк_Osiya_prorok._TCentralnyj_nef.The discerning Prophet Hosea cried out
And prophesied tribulation to the sinful nation:
“The Lord, the Lord saith: Mercy is dear to Me,
But sacrifices, filthy and rotten, are not dear.
Ye transgress the Law, as did Adam of old,
Ye worship lies, and a falsehood is lord over you.
Your sacrifices are finished; I will not accept them.
Now I shall prepare the greatest sacrifice for Myself.
Ye have planted godlessness; iniquity have ye reaped.
Ye have sown wind, and harvested a storm.
But if ye now plant righteousness, ye will reap mercy-
And to Me, ye will be a holy people again.
But ye are ashamed of Me and love idols.
Ye encourage adultery, ye encourage sin!
That is why ye shall wander throughout the world,
And every nation shall be more powerful than you.
And I will raise up a New Israel:
A new Kingdom-a Kingdom of saints.
It will be as the dew and as a blossoming lily,
And its most wondrous fragrance shall fill the world.
I am the Lord, the Lord; whatever I desire I can do!
Blessed are those who worship Me, the Living God.”
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for Old Calendar date October 17, and New Calendar date October 30.

Apolytikion of Prophet Hosea
Second Tone

As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Hosea, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.

Silence is a wonderful thing. Love silence and solitude. Elder Ieronymos the Hesychast of Aegina of Gelveri, Cappadocia

Blessed Elder Ieronymos the Hesychast of Aegina of Gelveri, Cappadocia

reposed in the Lord on October 3/16, 1966

Ιερώνυμος της Αιγίνης_Elder Jerome (Hieronymos) of Aegina_Старец  Иероним  эгинский_gerondas_ieronimos_aiginis_010• Love silence and solitude. If possible, avoid people. I think that the prayer, where the heart is not distressed with love, does not reach God.
• People need to teach more with doings rather than with words.
• One needs to be holy in order to know who is holy. If you are not holy yourself, then how could you know whether the other is holy.

• Do not open your internal doings to anybody.
• Deliver everything into God’s hands and do not worry about the future. What would be useful and salvific to you, this the Lord shall send.
• If there is no spiritual man to talk with, then do not grieve so much. Stay at home, and the Lord, Who loves all, shall send you His comfort and guidance. God knows about your solitude and shall not leave you.
• When affection comes up in prayer, then leave the prayer book and pray in your own words about what has stirred up the soul.
• Silence is a wonderful thing. If you learn to control your tongue, you shall experience the joy of keeping silence. Respond only when asked. Do not start conversations.

Do not cease praying until you have shed at least a little drop of tears.

Let is entrust our life to God, and may it be done as He wishes. Whatever the outcome may be for us, that’s the one that is for our good. For God does not want the perdition of man, but his salvation.

You want to love people? Fall in love with Christ too much – and you will see how to fall in love with people, too. Such love – coming out of the love of Christ, is true and strong.

• Do not seek comfort from people. And when you [happen to] receive from somebody a small consolation, do expect a double grief. In God alone seek consolation and help.
• Today, a man may be very good, but people are changing. Caution is always helpful. Keep every man at some little distance. Let God be your mentor, and not people.Γκέλβερι-Güzelyurt-Καρβάλη-karvali-Καππαδοκία-Cappadocia_Каппадокии-2Kilise CamiΚαππαδοκία_Cappadocia_Каппадокия_Kapadokya_131_3204portfolyo1

If we reproach the sins of brothers, then God will reproach our sins, Abba Poemen the Great

Ποιμήν ο Μέγας-Прп. Пимена Великого-Saint Poimen Poemen the Great-Pimen_VelikijAbba Poemen the Great

While Abba Poemenius sat quietly in the cell the brothers quarelled fiercely among themselves, but Poemenius said nothing to them at all. When Abba Paphnutius came in and found them wrangling he said : “Why do you let them go on without telling them to stop their arguments?” Poemenius said to him: “They are brothers. They will make it up in due course.” “How can you say that?” said Paphnutius. “You can watch them quarrelling almost to the point of shedding blood, and you can say they will make it up?” Abba Peomen said to him: Brother, you should think in your heart that I am not here at all.” This was the quality of the stillness and silence of Abba Poemenius.

One day the priests of the district came to the monasteries where Abba Poemen was. Abba Anoub came and said to him, ‘Let us invite the priests in today.’ But he stood for a long time without giving him any reply, and, quite offended, Abba Anoub went away. Those who were sitting beside Poemen said to him, Abba, why didn’t you answer him?’ Abba Poemen said to them, ‘It is not my business, for I am dead and a dead man does not speak.’

Σεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_ Преподобный Серафим Саровский_σιωπη-serafim_10He also said, ‘If man remembered that it is written: “By your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned,” (Matt. 12.37) he would choose to remain silent.’

Abba Joseph said, ‘While we were sitting with Abba Poemen he mentioned Agathon as “abba”, and we said to him, “He is very young, why do you call him ‘abba?’ “ Abba Poemen said, “Because his speech makes him worthy to be called abba.” ‘

A certain monk asked: “Ought one to veil over with silence the sin of a transgressing brother, if perchance one see him?” The elder answered: “If we reproach the sins of brothers, then God will reproach our sins, and if thou seest a brother sinning, believe not thine eyes and know, that thine own sin is like a wood-beam, but the sin of thy brother is like a wood-splinter, and then thou wilt not come into distress and temptation.”

Abba Poimen once went to dwell in the region of Egypt. Nearby there lived a brother who had a concubine, for which Abba Poimen never reproached him. It so happened that one night this woman gave birth, and when the Elder got wind of this, he summoned his younger brother and said to him: ‘Take a knidion of wine with you and offer it to our neighbor, for he has need of it today.’ The other members of his brotherhood had no idea about any of this, but the younger brother did as the Elder instructed him.
The erring brother accepted the wine and, being moved to compunction, let his concubine go after a few days, after giving her whatever he possessed. He went to the Elder and said: ‘From today on, I am going to repent.’ The Elder encouraged him in his repentance. The brother built himself another cell near Abba Poimen, and there he kept in regular contact with the Elder. The latter illumined for the monk the way of God and thus won over the sinful brother. (from the Evergetinos, Book 3, Hypothesis II, ‘That one should not condemn or denigrate even one who sins openly, but should be attentive to himself and not busy himself with other people’s affairs; for he who attends to his own vices is incapable of condemning his neighbor’—Archbishop Chrysostomos, p. 27)

The saint said: “Malice in turn never wipes out malice. If someone doeth thee bad, do them good, and thine good will conquer their bad.”

He possessed such great humility, that often with a sigh he said: “I shalt be cast down to that place, whither was cast down Satan!”

Be like the birds. They’re always joyful. The birds are always singing praises to the Lord. Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Άγγελοι_Angels_Ангелы_romania-moldavia-24109-LElder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

They are grateful to God. Not so us men. The birds are always singing praises to the Lord. They begin their song early, at three o’clock in the morning, and don’t stop until nine. At nine they calm down a little bit – it’s only then that they go looking for food to feed their young. Then they start singing again. Nobody tells them to sing, they just do. And what about us? We’re always frowning, always pouting; we don’t feel like singing or doing anything else. We should follow the example of the birds. They’re always joyful whereas we’re always bothered by something. What is it that bothers us? Nothing, really… Isn’t that right?


πουλί_o3fbo2QrIX1rrqsx6o1_1280Once, two women came to me and brought a third who was dragging her leg. She could barely walk. She said that she had been to several doctors, but they were not able to say what was wrong with her. I told her that her nerves were weak. I also told her that mine was a worse case than hers! She said that her husband had left her. “Of course he has,” I said. “Who is going to take care of the children, who will prepare his meals for him when you are so depressed? You are not physically ill! You are too depressed. Sing! Sing and your husband will come back to you!” I told her that I was going to the church to read some prayers, and that I wanted her to go home by herself. She looked at me for a while and then practically ran to the car. The other two were amazed. “She is well,” I said, “and she no longer needs your help!”

Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives, The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom
The Holy Anaphora

Priest: Let us lift up our hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord.
People: It is proper and right.
Priest (in a low voice): It is proper and right to hymn You, to bless You, to praise You, to give thanks to You, and to worship You in every place of Your dominion. For You, O God, are ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, existing forever, forever the same, You and Your only-begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit. You brought us out of nothing into being, and when we had fallen away, You raised us up again. You left nothing undone until you had led us up to heaven and granted us Your Kingdom, which is to come. For all these things, we thank You and Your only-begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit: for all things we know and do not know, for blessings manifest and hidden that have been bestowed on us. We thank You also for this Liturgy, which You have deigned to receive from our hands, even though thousands of archangels and tens of thousands of angels stand around You, the Cherubim and Seraphim, six-winged, many-eyed, soaring aloft upon their wings,
And he exclaims:
Singing the triumphal hymn, exclaiming, proclaiming, and saying…
People: Holy, holy, holy, Lord Sabaoth, heaven and earth are filled with Your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Sow, Father Simon, sow! Sow everywhere the wheat that has been given to you. St Seraphim of Sarov – The Parable of the Sower, Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh

Σεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_Преп. Серафим Саровский_d1%8b%d0%b9Fourth Sunday of Luke:
The Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:5-15)

St Seraphim of Sarov said to one monk, “Sow, Father Simon, sow! Sow everywhere the wheat that has been given to you. Somewhere or other it will sprout and grow and bear fruit.” By this he meant that the monk should tell everyone about Jesus Christ and His Heavenly Kingdom.

“You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a swamp that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgement. This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil.” —St Seraphim of Sarov

Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men. —St. Isaac of Syria

Dostoevsky, writing in The Brothers Karamazov, ‘If you had shone, your light would have lighted the way for others, and the one who did wickedness would perhaps not have done so in your light. And even if you do shine, but see that people are not saved even with your light, remain steadfast, and do not doubt the power of the heavenly light; believe that if they are not saved now, they will be saved later. And if they are not saved, their sons will be saved, for your light will not die, even when you are dead. The righteous man departs, but his light remains.”


The Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:5-15) 
by Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh
29 October 1989

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Ιησούς Χριστός ΣΠΟΡΕΑΣ_Jesus-Christ_Господне Иисус-Христос-Byzantine Orthodox Icond64e7ecd92ec2d2ebe869f2e8b8216c9How familiar, and how simple seems to us, appears to us today’s parable of the seed and of the sower; and yet, how relevant it is to us, and how much more thought we should give to it. We forget the setting itself of the parable, the imagery of the sower and the seed, and we dont see in it an image of Christ, walking along the roads and the paths of Galilee and Judea; and everywhere He went, people came to the roadside because they have heard, as the Blind Man have heard of whom Saint Marc reports, that He was a Teacher, that His words were true, that they had in them a power of life.

And people came, and lined the roads, and lined the streets, and listened. Some were prepared for the message; some have been in an agony of mind, have been asking themselves questions which hitherto no one have been able to answer. But others came, as so many people come now to a preacher, to an evangelist, to a leader of any side, came to see a man of whom one spoke, and to listen to what he had to say. He was not answering any of their questions, He was not meeting any of their needs, except perhaps the desire to see someone that was outstanding, someone unique in his time. They heard the word, but it fell at their ears, they find it beautiful, lovely, true – but it did not go beyond this. They were listening to words, they were not listening to the cry of their own soul that was hungry for words of truth.

And so, when He had passed, they all returned to what was their ordinary, their normal life. They might have gone home and repeated these words, saying, Wasn’t it lovely? Did He speak well? – and then they went back to what was life, ordinary life, day-to-day life…

Others, who had come to the roadside, received the message with emotion, it stirred something in their hearts, something in their minds, it answered something in them. And they received it and hugged it to themselves, and returned home; but the moment they were no longer by the road, at home, the concerns of home overwhelmed them: there was so much to do, so much to think about, there was so much in life, there was no time to reflect again and again on the words heard, there was no time to sit quietly and to look in imagination at the face they had seen, to rehearse the voice they have heard.

We have another parable about those who have been called to the Bridal Feast of the King: they heard a call, they knew they were called personally – but could they go? The one had bought a field, he was rooted in it, tied to it, a prisoner of it; others have bought five pairs of oxen – they had to try them, they had something to do in life, a vocation, a job, something great – or something simply that matters supremely in a personal way, as the last one: he had taken a bride – how could he spend time for anyone else?

Those are the people who receive the word, who receive it truly, in their heart, but there are so many things that matter – tomorrow will do, or, if we only could reduce the message to something liveable, simple, not to the absoluteness of it!

And then, those who receive the message, like the rich soil that could receive the message, receive a seed and bear fruit. Those people were not simply better people, they probably were not better people; they were people who had a question in their mind and heart, people who had a longing, people for whom their daily life was too narrow, too small, people who were aware that their soul was deep, and vast and could not be filled with the trivialities – or even the noble, the good things of life: they received the message, they took it to heart, deep into them, and they bore fruit because it was answering a need.

Now, we can apply it to ourselves: how many of us listen to the words of the Gospel, listen to the words of preaching, read books that are full of interest and depth, and they store it in their memory, they enjoy it – but that is the end; they can quote it, they can pass it on to others, – but that is all.

And there are so many of us who have received the message with enthusiasm, with passion, knowing that this message is an answer to all there is in us of longing, of hunger, of greatness, indeed; but then, life is so complex, there is so much to do! And in all this doing, in all this complexity the words is left aside – for another time, for another day, when I will be old enough not to have any concerns: then I can turn back to this glorious moment when life unfolded itself in all its splendour – I keep it in my memory!

What about us, receiving the message and bearing fruit?

But how does this message reach us? I remember a Russian priest saying to me, ‘I read the Gospel daily, and I respond to it very seldom. But I read it daily because I never know whether today, or tomorrow, or on another day I will be the barren roadside, or the weeds by the way, or, of a sudden, whether this word will not fall on a small patch in me which is capable of receiving it and bearing fruit.

Isn’t that simple, isn’t that encouraging? We all are the three things described in the parable of the Gospel; but if we give a chance to God Who speaks, to God, Who passes through our life, to God Who knocks at our heart – from time to time we will receive the message with joy and let go of it; but from time to time it will reach a depth in our heart, a core of our life and be the answer that will change it.

Let us therefore listen, listen to the words of the Gospel day in and day out; listen to the voice of our conscience, listen to what the deepest self says to us about life, about truth, about reality; and from time to time we will have been the good ground that can bear fruit.
This parable, so simple, so clear, if we only apply it, can be a beginning of a new life. Amen.