St Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
161 N. Murphy Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Sunday of Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council

Sunday of the Fathers of the First Council

(John 17:1-13)

On Thursday of this past week, the Holy Church celebrated the feast day of the Ascension of our Lord. Having triumphed over death, our Lord had risen, appeared to, and ministered to His disciples for forty days – assuring that they were well instructed in the faith and preparing them to go forth in the establishment of the Christian church. He also promised them that, though He was going to be with His Father in Heaven, He would send them the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Who would lead them in all truth. We will celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit in just one week’s time – on Pentecost, Trinity Sunday.

When our Lord ascended into heaven, He left the disciples with great joy and with much anticipation in their hearts. Jesus Christ had completed the mission for which He came to this earth… As He ascended into heaven the disciples were filled with wonder and with joy – for they had beheld and were assured of the resurrection, they had experienced the joy of Christ’s presence with them over these past forty days, and, though there was some sorrow in seeing Him go to be with His Father, there was expectation that the promised Comforter would come to them.

We also experience this joyful anticipation in these days between Ascension and Pentecost. We have experienced the joy of Pascha, over these past forty days we have greeted one another with the words ‘Christ is risen!’. And now our Lord has ascended to be with His Father and we await the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in just one week’s time.

This is a time of incredible revelation for mankind! The fullness of Christ’s ministry has been accomplished and we approach the great day of fullness of the revelation of the Holy Trinity.

On this Sunday, the Holy Church commemorates the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council. It is very much in keeping with the fullness of the revelation of God to mankind that we remember the Holy Fathers of the First Council.

In the year 325 in the town of Nicea, the bishops of the Church gathered to meet in council to define and defend the truth of our Holy Faith. These great fathers were guided by the Holy Spirit, as promised by Christ, to rightly define the word of truth and codified this into what we know as the Nicene Creed. The Creed clearly states what we believe – about the God the Father, about God the Son, and about God the Holy Spirit.

The Gospel reading assigned for this day is also a dogmatic clarification of Who Jesus Christ is… that He is fully equal with the Father, that He is begotten, not made, and that He is one in essence with the Father.

Why is it so important for us to know and accept these things?… Why did the Church go to such lengths to clarify that which is true and in accordance with the Holy Spirit from that which is false and the invention of man?

The answer to that question is given to us in today’s Gospel reading… ‘And this is eternal life, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.’

The knowledge of God is not an academic or philosophical exercise. We do not seek knowledge of God in order to please ourselves or to win theological arguments or for any other self-seeking purpose. To know God is to begin to participate in His Life and in His love… it is the source of abundant and eternal life… and this eternal life is not the hope of future reward, it begins now, the very moment we enter into this life of Christ.

Christ has given Himself for us and we must give ourselves to Him. ‘For Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them.’

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us enter into that life of eternity offered to us by God. In this life of love, all of our worldly distractions and worries gain perspective – we are not swept away by the dramas of the ups and downs of this life. We keep our eyes fixed on Christ – Who is the Author and Finisher of our salvation.

May our Lord Jesus Christ, Who ascended into heaven, bless us and have mercy on us. And may we now spend this week in love and anticipation of the great mercy and blessing of the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Spirit of Truth, Who fills all things and grants us the true life of eternity with God.

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