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Russian Greek-Catholic Church

Sunday of Orthodoxy


Today the Church commemorates the final ending of the Iconoclast controversy and the definitive restoration of the icons to the churches by the Empress Theodora, acting as Regent for her young son, Emperor Michael III.  (Please see the related article in “Father Quotes”).  This took place on the first Sunday in Lent, 843.  There is, however, not only a historical link between the first Sunday in Lent and the restoration of the icons, but also a spiritual affinity.  If Orthodoxy triumphed in the epoch of the Iconoclast controversy, this was because so many of the faithful were prepared to undergo exile, torture, and even death, for the sake of the truth.  The Triumph of Orthodoxy is above all a celebration in honor of the martyrs and confessors who struggled and suffered for the faith; hence its appropriateness for the season of Lent when we are all stiving to imitate the martyrs by means of our ascetic self-denial.

In the Epistle reading today, we hear the author describe the sufferings of Moses and of David, of the patriarchs and martyrs of Israel, whose faith yet overcame the world.  These were images drawn not on wood, but in the flesh.  They already prefigured and announced the coming of the definitive Icon, the Person of Christ. 

The Gospel reading has no direct bearing on images, but rather we  hear of Philip bringing Nathanael to meet Christ.


The readings below are Sunday, February 18, 2024

Today's Epistle reading: [Hebrews 11.24-26, 32-12.2]:

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, denied himself to be the son of Pharao’s daughter. Rather choosing to be afflicted with the people of God than to have the pleasure of sin for a time. Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasure of the Egyptians. For he looked unto the reward. And what shall I yet say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Who by faith conquered kingdoms, wrought justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, recovered strength from weakness, became valiant in battle, put to flight the armies of foreigners. Women received their dead raised to life again. But others were racked, not accepting deliverance, that they might find a better resurrection. And others had trial of mockeries and stripes; moreover also of bands and prisons. They were stoned, they were cut asunder, they were tempted, they were put to death by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being in want, distressed, afflicted. Of whom the world was not worthy; wandering in deserts, in mountains and in dens and in caves of the earth. And all these, being approved by the testimony of faith, received not the promise. God providing some better thing for us, that they should not be perfected without us. And therefore we also having so great a cloud of witnesses over our head, laying aside every weight and sin which surrounds us, let us run by patience to the fight proposed to us.

Looking on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, who, having joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God.



Today's Gospel reading: [John 1.43-51]:

On the following day, he would go forth into Galilee and he findeth Philip. And Jesus saith to him: follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael and saith to him: We have found him of whom Moses, in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth. And Nathanael said to him: Can any thing of good come from Nazareth? Philip saith to him: Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him and he saith of him: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile. Nathanael saith to him: Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said to him: Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered him and said: Rabbi: Thou art the Son of God. Thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said to him: Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, thou believest: greater things than these shalt thou see. And he saith to him: Amen, amen, I say to you, you shall see the heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.