February 17, 2020 - February 23, 2020 Issue no. 816
Saturday, February 22
Commemoration of the Dead
10:00 am Divine Liturgy
Sunday, February 23
8:00 am Matins
10:30 am Divine Liturgy
Wednesday, Feb 19
Friday, Feb. 21
Commemoration of the Dead
The Service to Commemorate the dead will take place this Saturday, Feb. 22 at 10:00am. According to Orthodox teaching, through the prayers of the Church the dead can receive relief or freedom from their punishments beyond the grave. “Anyone who wishes to show his love for those who have died and give them real help can do this in the best way by praying for them, and especially by commemoration at the Liturgy, when a particle removed [from the prosphora, or communion bread] for the living and the dead is immersed in the Blood of the Lord with the words, ‘O Lord, take away the sins of those whom we commemorate here by Thy precious Blood, through the prayers of Thy saints’” (St. John [Maximovich], Life after Death.)
If you would like to have Fr. Jeries bless your home, please contact Hannan Aboujudom at 408-204-6441 to schedule a time for Father to bless your home.
St. James Annual Crab Feed, Feb. 22
Our Annual Crab feed will be held this Saturday, Feb. 22 at 6:30pm at our church hall. Tickets are $55 for adults and $35 for kids under 10. Payments are required prior to the event date. Please reserve by this Wednesday.
Next Bible Study, Friday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 pm
The next Bible Study session will be on Friday,February 28th at 7:30pm. Fr. Jeries encourages all members especially youth 12 and older to attend Bible Study.
Sunday, Feb. 23
Farah Khoury & Family
Sunday, March 1
Sunday, March 8
Akram Kildani & Family
Sunday, March 15
Imad Zureik & Family
Candle Making, Saturday, Feb. 29 at 10:30 am
Each year a few members gets together and make candles for our parishioners to light at the entrance. Come and share the blessing! May God bless you and your family.
Church Clean up Day, March 7th
Come and receive the blessings by helping clean our church. We plan on cleaning the church on Saturday, March 7th at 10:00am. We will split into groups to clean the altar, church, narthex, closets, Abuna's office, outside the church, hall and kitchen. All the help is needed. Thank you in advance and may God bless you and your family.
Saturday, February 22 at 6:30 pm
General Parish Meeting
Sunday, February 23 at 12:30 pm
Friday, February 28, at 7:30 pm
Saturday, February 29, at 10:30 am
Church Clean up day
Saturday, March 7 at 10:00am
Board of Trustee Meeting
Wednesday, March 11, at 7:30 pm
Many companies offer matching gift programs to encourage employees to contribute to charitable organizations. Some provide matching funds to support employee volunteer hours. Please find out if your company will match your donations to St. James Church.
St. James Banquet Hall
With the recent remodel of our Hall and Kitchen, please support the church by renting our hall for your occasions. Feel free to contact any board member or see attached flier for additional information.
Scrip Gift Card Program
A large variety of scrip (gift) cards are available at the church hall following the liturgy. We have Amazon, Gas, Visa cards, your favorite restaurants and much more! By purchasing scrip cards, our church will receive a percentage or kick-back from the company.
Meatfare Sunday (Judgement Sunday) February 23, 2020
The commemoration for this Sunday is taken from the parable of our Lord Jesus Christ concerning his Second Coming and the Last Judgment of all, both the living and the dead. In Matthew 25:31-46, Christ speaks about what will happen at this specific point in time when He will “come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him” (v. 31).
At His coming, “He will sit on the throne of His glory,” and all of the nations will be gathered before Him. He will separate them “as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats” (v. 32). The sheep will be placed on His right hand, and the goats on the left.
To the sheep, He will say “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (vv. 33-34). This kingdom is offered to the sheep because of their compassion and service to those in need. Jesus says, “…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”
The sheep, who are the righteous chosen for the kingdom, will ask how this could be so.They will ask Jesus when was He hungry or thirsty, a stranger, naked, and in prison. He will answer them by saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to the least of these My brethren, you did it to me” (vv. 35-40).
Christ the King, seated on His throne of judgment, will then turn to the goats on His left and say, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (v. 41). He will condemn them because they did not feed Him when He was hungry, give Him drink when He was thirsty, take Him in when He was a stranger, clothe Him when He was naked, visit Him when He was sick or in prison.
The goats will ask the Lord, “When did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?” Then He will answer them saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (vv. 42-45). Jesus concludes His words on the Last Judgment by stating that those on the left “will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (v. 46).
On the past two Sundays of this pre-Lenten period, the focus was placed on God’s patience and limitless compassion, of His readiness to accept every sinner who returns to Him. On this third Sunday, we are powerfully reminded of a complementary truth: no one is so patient and so merciful as God, but even He does not forgive those who do not repent. The God of love is also a God of righteousness, and when Christ comes again in glory, He will come as our Judge. Such is the message of Lent to each of us: turn back while there is still time, repent before the End comes.
This Sunday sets before us the eschatological dimension of Lent: the Great Fast is a preparation for the Second Coming of the Savior, for the eternal Passover in the Age to Come, a theme that is also the focus of the first three days of Holy Week. But the judgment is not only in the future. Here and now, each day and each hour, in hardening our hearts toward others and in failing to respond to the opportunities we are given of helping them, we are already passing judgment on ourselves.
Another theme of this Sunday is that of love. When Christ comes to judge us, what will be the criterion of His judgment? The parable of the Last Judgment answers: love—not a mere humanitarian concern for abstract justice and the anonymous “poor,” but concrete and personal love for the human person—the specific persons that we encounter each day in our lives.
Christian love is the “possible impossibility” to see Christ in another person, whoever he or she is, and whom God, in His eternal and mysterious plan, has decided to introduce into my life, be it only for a few moments, not as an occasion for a “good deed” or an exercise in philanthropy, but as the beginning of an eternal companionship in God Himself.
The parable of the Last Judgment is about Christian love. Not all of us are called to work for “humanity,” yet each one of us has received the gift and the grace of Christ’s love. We know that all persons ultimately need this personal love—the recognition in them of their unique soul in which the beauty of the whole creation is reflected in a unique way. We also know that people are in prison and are sick and thirsty and hungry because that personal love has been denied them. And, finally, we know that however narrow and limited the framework of our personal existence, each one of us has been made responsible for a tiny part of the Kingdom of God, made responsible by that very gift of Christ’s love. Thus, on whether or not we have accepted this responsibility, on whether we have loved or refused to love, shall we be judged.
John the Forerunner & the Baptizer - January 20, 2020
St. John was the son of the Prophet Zacharias and Elizabeth, who was a kinswoman of the Virgin Mary. St. John is known as the “Forerunner” and “Baptist.” He is known as the Forerunner because he preceded Christ and taught repentance, which prepared men for Jesus’ teaching and His ministry. He even recognized Christ as the Messiah as early as when they were both still in their mothers’ wombs. According to Holy Tradition, the Virgin Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth and when they embraced John leapt in his mother’s womb, which is considered his first acknowledgment of Christ as Messiah. After his birth, St. John’s father Zacharias was murdered in the temple. He and his mother fled to the desert and he was raised there. Thus he lived as an ascetic from the earliest part of his life. He ate plants and roots and wore rough clothing. When he grew, he baptized people in the Jordan, teaching repentance, but also saying that someone greater would come after him and baptize with the Holy Spirit.
St. John always spoke the Truth and because Herod did not appreciate his criticism, he was imprisoned. Later he was beheaded, as the result of a promise Herod gave to his step-daughter to give her anything she asked. The daughter was convinced by her mother to ask for John’s head on a platter. Our parish celebrates the feast of St. John’s Beheading as our patronal feast day. It is a strict fast day in recognition of the way in which he died, but it is also a joyous feast day because John’s life was such a luminous example for monastics, martyrs and all Christians to follow him.
Hymn of St. John the Baptist (2nd Mode)
The memory of the just is celebrated with hymns of praise, * but the Lord’s testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner; * for thou hast proved to be truly more venerable than the Prophets, * since thou wast granted to baptize in the stream * Him Whom they proclaimed. * Wherefore having contested for the truth, * thou didst rejoice to announce the good tidings * even to those in Hades: * that God hath appeared in the flesh, * taking away the sin of the world * and granting us His great mercy.
Councils and Creed
As Orthodoxy has avoided any tendency to restrict the vision of God's revelation to only one avenue of its life, the Church has also avoided the systematic or extensive definition of its Faith. Orthodoxy affirms that the Christian Faith expresses and points to the gracious and mysterious relationship between God and humanity. God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, not to institute a new philosophy or code of conduct, but primarily to bestow upon us "new life" in the Holy Trinity. This reality, which is manifest in the Church, cannot be wholly captured in language, formulas, or definitions. The content of the Faith is not opposed to reason, but is often beyond the bounds of reason, as are many of the important realities of life. Orthodoxy recognizes the supreme majesty of God, as well as the limitations of the human mind. The Church is content to accept the element of mystery in its approach to God.
Only when the fundamental truths of the Faith are seriously threatened by false teachings does the Church act to define dogmatically an article of faith. For this reason, the decisions of the seven Ecumenical Councils of the ancient undivided Church are highly respected. The Councils were synods to which bishops from throughout the Christian world gathered to determine the true faith. The Ecumenical Councils did not create new doctrines but proclaimed, in a particular place and a particular time, what the Church has always believed and taught.
The Nicene Creed, which was formulated at the Councils of Nicaea in 325 and of Constantinople in 381, has been recognized since then as the authoritative expression of the fundamental beliefs of the Orthodox Church. The Creed is often referred to as the "Symbol of Faith." This description indicates that the Creed is not an analytical statement, but that it points to a reality greater than itself and to which it bears witness. For generations, the Creed has been the criterion of authentic Faith and the basis of Christian education. The Creed is recited at the time of Baptism and during every Divine Liturgy.