Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

Great Fast 2014 – 1st Sunday

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We need a reminder at the beginning of the Great Fast every year that our aim in doing it is not to live a temporary vegetarianism, but something much more important. We are taking a trip together to a very special place, where we are to be changed in a very special way. Each Sunday is a checkpoint or landmark along the way, which each time gives us special joy in realizing we're on the right track and a little bit closer to the goal. The fasting from food is simply a type of the chaste regimen that any person or company must undergo when they are attempting to achieve something great.

The first Sunday (the coming one) is the first "checkpoint" on our journey together, and it has two themes. The first theme is Christ's command to us to seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness. So here we are told the destination of our journey from the very beginning: God's Kingdom. Specifically, we are to be made, or remade, into obedient subjects of that wonderful kingdom that God has established through His Son. And a central characteristic of all such subjects is righteousness, which can only be achieved, of course, through repentance.

The second theme is Christ's command to lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. Even those of us who have reached merely our third or fourth decade of age will begin to feel how quickly life runs by and how meaningless and fleeting monetary wealth is. Money makes a lot of promises (happiness and security) but never seems to deliver on them. We use up so much of our time on earth amassing as much money as possible, but we never seem to arrive at what we're looking for. Christ calls this treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. The "moth and rust" are the meaninglessness and disappointment of money, and the "thieves" are its unpredictability—when it's made into an idol.

Let us try together to spend these days seeking for the Kingdom, seeking for righteousness, and laying up the true treasure, because embarking on a journey with faithful companions is much less daunting than going it alone.

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