Note: The following article was written following one of the annual St. Nicholas Eparchial conferences. To maintain context, it is being printed in its original, unedited form.
This past weekend the annual Eparchial conference took place in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a time of listening to presentations, discussions between delegates from the parishes of the eparchy. Many of the delegates have attended past conferences, so it was also a time to renew friendships. The conference concluded on Saturday night with a banquet and Bishop Richard’s first address to the conference. The title of his presentation was: “A look into the future of the St. Nicholas Eparchy.”
At the conference, there were two main themes presented. The first was by Fr. Jack Custer, professor of Sacred Scripture at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary. He spoke on the influence of St. Matthew’s Gospel and its use in the main feasts of the Church, and how the Gospel influenced many of the tropars and kondaks that are sung during these feasts.
The second theme was presented by Rev. Wayne Ruchgy, Vicar General of our eparchy and pastor of St. Michael’s and Ascension churches on the west side of Detroit.
His presentation centered around the theme of what does it mean to live a Christ-centered life, and how we receive the power to become the person that God has called us to be. It is allowing the beliefs we have give meaning to our lives.
One of the steps on our spiritual journey is to become a Gospel-minded person. This is something for us to think about today. It means translating what we read and hear in the Scriptures into action.
This is what today’s Sunday Gospel from Luke 8:5-15 is about. At the end of this parable of the planting and growing of the seed, the Word of God, Jesus cries out with a loud shout; “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear”. It’s like after the Scripture reading during the Liturgy Jesus is shouting out to us “Are You Listening? Is this getting through to you?” It presumes that we are paying attention, and that we are not somewhere else in the church as these reading are read. Note that before the readings the priest says: “Be Attentive!” Having heard these readings we can ask ourselves some questions. Am I true to what I hear Sunday after Sunday? How have these readings affected my life?
Faith begins in the hearing. In the parable of today’s reading everyone has heard the word sown. But more is required. It must grow into maturity. The main characteristics of God’s Word are fidelity and perseverance. If the Word of God takes root in our lives it will not fade away in times of testing. It does not become suffocated by anxieties and cares. The ground of our soul must allow it to mature.
The Word of God has to be heard, not on the surface of life, but deep down in the heart. This is where the wellspring of our life and actions is located.
The whole section of this reading from St. Luke gives us a picture of the community that will develop after the resurrection of Jesus. They hear the Word of God; they make a decision to allow it to mature within them. So must we.
Starting tomorrow the clergy of the eparchy will gather for our annual retreat. It will be for me a time to ask myself: What in my life prevents me from truly hearing and receiving the Word of God? Is there a part of my life that is on stony ground? Are there thorns in my life that are spiritually choking me? Where am I growing spiritually?
Originally published on October 2nd 2003.