Bishop Daniel’s Message for June

Beloved in Christ,

Christ is risen!

We are drawing near to the end of the Great Forty Days of Holy Pascha.  Having passed through the solemn and sobering days of Great Lent, having experienced the solemnity of Holy Week, and having joyously celebrated the Lord’s Resurrection throughout these forty days of the Paschal Season, we will now prepare for the awesome day of Holy Pentecost and then enter into the weeks of the summer with its own cycle of feasts and fasts.  Preparing for the days and weeks ahead, I have been reflecting upon the Lord as the Good Shepherd who leads His flock and guides and protects us throughout the ebb and flow of the year and the seasons of our lives.

In the Gospel of John (cf. John 10) Jesus is presented as the true Shepherd of God’s chosen flock. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (v. 11). He speaks about the relationship that binds him to the sheep of the flock, namely, to His disciples (that is, to us), and He emphasizes the fact that it is a relationship of mutual recognition. “My sheep” — He says — “hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (vv. 27-28). In carefully reading this phrase, we are able to observe that Jesus’ work is explained in several actions: Jesus speaks; Jesus knows; Jesus gives eternal life; Jesus safeguards.

The Good Shepherd — Jesus — is attentive to each one of us.  He seeks us and loves us, addresses His Word to us, knowing the depths of our heart, our desires and our hopes, as well as our failures and disappointments. He accepts us and loves us as we are, with our merits and our faults. He “gives eternal life” to each one of us: that is, He offers us the opportunity to live a full life, without end. Moreover, He keeps us safe and leads us lovingly, helping us to journey upon difficult paths and the sometimes dangerous roads that appear in life.

The words and actions that describe the way in which Jesus, the Good Shepherd, interacts with us correspond to the verbs that relate to the sheep, namely to each one of us: “hear my voice”, “follow me”. They are actions that show how we must correspond to the tender and caring attitudes of the Lord. Indeed, hearing and recognizing His voice, implies a deep relationship with Him.  This relationship with Christ is strengthened in prayer, in the heart-to-heart encounter with the divine Master and Shepherd of our souls. This relationship with Jesus, this openness, prayerfully speaking with Jesus and prayerfully listening to Him speak to us, strengthens within us the desire to follow Him, by emerging from the rocky path of errant ways and abandoning selfish behavior in order to set out on new paths of Christian fellowship and of self-sacrificial giving, following His example.

Let us not forget that Jesus is the only Shepherd who speaks to us, knows us, gives us eternal life and safeguards us. We are the only flock and we only have to strive to hear his voice, while he lovingly examines the sincerity of our hearts. And from this constant and ever-deepening relationship with our Shepherd, from speaking with Him and listening to Him, springs the joy of following Him, allowing ourselves to be led to the fullness of eternal life.

As we leave behind the season of Pascha, let us turn to the Ever-virgin Mary, Mother of Christ the Good Shepherd. May she, who readily responded to God’s call, protect our families and our parish and help us to be faithful in proclaiming the Gospel in the service of the Kingdom of God.

With love in the Risen Lord, the Good Shepherd who leads and protects His Flock,

+Bishop Daniel

 

 

Upcoming Calendar
  • 29

    Jun

    Saturday
    Ss. Peter & Paul
    5:00 Great Vespers
  • 30

    Jun

    Sunday
    9:00 Divine Liturgy
  • 6

    Jul

    Saturday
    5:00 Great Vespers
  • 7

    Jul

    Sunday
    9:00 Divine Liturgy
  • 13

    Jul

    Saturday
    5:00 Great Vespers
  • 14

    Jul

    Sunday
    9:00 Divine Liturgy
  • 20

    Jul

    Saturday
    Prophet Elijah
    5:00 Great Vespers
  • 21

    Jul

    Sunday
    9:00 Divine Liturgy
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Adult Study Group

 

Please join us for an adult study group led by Father Thomas on the book "Building an Orthodox Marriage: A Practical Commentary on the Eastern Orthodox Marriage Rite" by Bishop John Abdalah.  Meetings will take place on Wednesdays, 6:00-7:30 p.m, with the  first meeting on Wednesday, June 26th at the parish hall.  Attendees will find it helpful to have a copy of the book.  Please contact Eli at elijah.ferbrache@gmail.com to let him know you will attend and need a book.  Feel free to bring a snack and something to drink.

The Mission of The Orthodox Church in America, the local autocephalous Orthodox Christian Church, is to be faithful in fulfilling the commandment of Christ to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

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The Holy Scripture is a collection of books written over multiple centuries by those inspired by God to do so. It is the primary witness to the Orthodox Christian faith, within Holy Tradition and often described as its highest point. It was written by the prophets and apostles in human language, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and collected, edited, and canonized by the Church.

Daily Readings >

Holiness or sainthood is a gift (charisma) given by God to man, through the Holy Spirit. Man's effort to become a participant in the life of divine holiness is indispensable, but sanctification itself is the work of the Holy Trinity, especially through the sanctifying power of Jesus Christ, who was incarnate, suffered crucifixion, and rose from the dead, in order to lead us to the life of holiness, through the communion with the Holy Spirit.

Today's Saints >

Saints Peter & Paul Orthodox Church
1614 E Monte Vista Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85006