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SESSION 2

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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT MARK: “LET US BE ATTENTIVE”
Who was Saint Mark? - He was one of the 70 Apostles (or 70 Disciples in other traditions). He was also known as John Mark. This can be referenced in Luke Chapter 10 where Christ “sends” as missionaries, hence the word Apostles, the 70 in pairs to evangelise the Gospel in what is best described as a sacrificial life for the sake of the Gospel. - Saint Mark travelled with Paul and Barnabas, and was aided by Peter (1 Pt 5:13). St Mark writes his Gospel from what seems to be a strong foundation to the teachings of Saint Peter. - Most likely written prior to 70 AD thus making it the first Gospel written. - Address the Christian Community of Rome - Major Themes: Jesus Christ-the anointed one (Messiah) and Son of God condescends from heaven not be served BUT to serve His people by offering Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for our salvation. Saint Mark also emphasises Christ’s teaching of discipleship with regards to how our suffering for Christ allows us to share in His Glory. After all it was at that moment where Christ was sacrificed on the cross which Christ displays all His Glory as He conquers all the enemies of creation! - The Gospel enthroned on the Holy Alter is occupied by the four Evangelists on each corner. They are represented with symbols which are consistent with the contents in their Gospel accounts. Mark focuses on the almighty power and glory of Christ as well as how He is the King of all men. Therefore, the Gospel of Mark is associated with the lion who is the mighty king of beasts. This session will focus on an basic outline of Mark Chapters 1-7. We shall spend much more time on central issues as we get to them such as the Crucifixion and Resurrection. AIM: Jesus Christ must show the world, beginning with the Jews, His true Identity and His true purpose. He must show that He is 1 Person who is 100% God and 100% Human- the promised Messiah, and that He has come for our salvation. He must do this with the virtues of God, with references to His target population, and with safety.  Ministry Begins→ Works of Love→ Oppositions to His Ministry→ continues works of love even whilst being opposed by His people→ teaches us about the Heavenly Kingdom→ demonstrates power over unclean spirits and death.  Still people oppose His identity as the Messiah and Jesus Christ continues to reveal His true Identity and our salvation.  The basic profile of the Gospel begins with the preparation and the commencement of the Ministry, and then we read about the miracles and signs, followed by the Eucharist, the sacrifice, then the Resurrection and Ascension. In addition, we have the Great Commission given to the Apostolic Church.

Why did Jesus Christ come when he did approximately 2000 years ago? - When we read the Holy Scriptures it becomes evident that at this time all the prophecies would be fulfilled and that the Jews were “prepared” to accept the self revelation of God in Jesus Christ. - This is why St Mark begins with the preparation for the Saviour’s ministry with the call to repentance for the forgiveness of sins by John the Baptist. - So it was the right time, place, and moment in God’s salvation plan for the world to accept Jesus Christ. - The prophecies and final preparation of the Jews by John the Baptist together with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ correlate with the 2000 year history of Christianity. Note: The definition of prophecy or a prophet in the Holy Scriptures is not embedded in the ability to foretell future events; although this is often the case. Prophecy does not have to always be “predictive”. More importantly, a prophet is someone who brings forth a prophecy that reveals God. Therefore, prophecy= revelation of God, and this can be past, present, or future. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was given to certain individuals (e.g. Moses and the prophets) in order to reveal to Israel who God is and His salvation plan for them. Examples include: That He would be Born of a Virgin Is7:14; Mat 1:23 Not a Bone would be Broken Ex 12:46; Nm 9:12; Ps 33 (34):20; Jn 19:36 His Side would be Pierced Zec 12:10; Ps 21 (22):16; Jn 19:37 In the New Testament the Holy Spirit is poured out on all persons (as is prophesied in Ezekiel) thus all of us can receive the revelation of God. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and is sent through the Son to all humanity. Jesus Christ is the great prophet because He does not receive the revelation of God BUT He is the very self revelation of God. This means that Jesus Christ doesn’t “eradicate” the Old Testament role of the prophet; instead He fulfills this in the New Testament with perfection. God reveals Himself to man so that man can be more like God. This is what we were created to be “in the image and likeness of God”. This can only be truly possible if we ourselves are prophets receiving the very self- revelation of God within creation. In other words, we can’t reach a goal that is unfamiliar to us. John the Baptist and Forerunner (Greatest prophet of the Old Testament- chosen by God prior to his birth) - John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets serving as a “bridge” between the period of revelation and the New Covenant. This is why he is called St. John the Baptist the Forerunner. He plays a crucial role in the history of salvation. - In the OT Elijah was a prophet and miracle worker who defended the worship of Yahweh (God). In 2 Samuel we read that that Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind to heaven. However, in the book of Malachi (another prophet) we read that the return of Elijah will precede the coming of the Messiah. This means that the Jews were anticipating the sign of Elijah’s return as a reference for the coming of the Messiah. John is clothed in a manner similar that of Elijah and Jesus teaches us in other parts of the Scripture (Mt 11:14) that this fulfilled the prophecy of the return of Elijah. John the Baptist preceded the Messiah as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord”. John also prophesied that the Messiah was coming with the words (“one greater than I” where he would be not even worthy to be His slave) and identified that Jesus Christ as the one who needed to baptise him. SUMMARY: Sign of the coming of the Messiah (Christ) =Return of Elijah=John the Baptist

John the Baptist prepared the Jewish people for the New Covenant established by Jesus Christ in the NT. Important Orthodox rhythm and pattern seen in the Bible and in the liturgical life of the Church is “preparation & fulfillment”. Important Words to understand with the Orthodox “mindset”: - Sin means to “miss the mark” of deification (image and likeness of God) that God has set for His people thus resulting in alienation from Him. The Holy Scripture calls us to be “icons” of the Trinity and sin “blurs” this image- The clearer the image the closer to God and “deification” we are. - Note: Sin is NOT defined as an offence against a punishing God thus humanity is at need to “satisfy” Him by faith and works. Many have this perception that offence=sin thus punishment= physical death. For Orthodoxy, sin= “missing the overall mark of deification” and the consequences or “effect” for this is creation’s bondage to the devil, evil, and death. The effects of sin are NOT considered as punishment but rather justice for one’s own actions mediated by their own free choice (free choice=effect=justice). Physical Death is never a punishment but by His mercy God allows for physical death to occur in order to “cut” off the sin so we do not live in sin for an eternity since after the fall humanity has always had the propensity to sin. The fear of physical death is what keeps humanity continuously predisposed to sin. John the Baptist prepares the Jews for the SAVING work of Jesus Christ teaching them that if they repent (turn from sin) their sinful ways will be forgiven. Forgiveness is the remission of sin and guilt (our personal sin and guilt, and the effects of living a life predisposed to sin) through the sacrificial love of Christ. We do not inherit Adam’s guilt and sinful actions, however because we share in Adam’s nature by being human we inherit and share the predisposition towards sinful actions of which we are personally responsible. The remission of the effects of sin along with entrance into the Heavenly Kingdom by Christ is given to us originally through Baptism. Forgiveness is the means by which the “effects or consequences” of one’s actions are not experienced i.e. Christ forgives that thus in Christ we have eternal life as death has no effect on us. Forgiveness for our actions due to the propensity or predisposition to continue to sin comes through repentance. Note: Because Jesus Christ (God) forgives our sins, we that are created in the image and likeness of God should forgive the sins of others when committed against us. Repentance is the radical change of one’s spirit, mind, thought, and heart, a complete reorientation of the whole of one’s life. This is always the first step in the way of the Lord. We are called upon to change our sinful ways and repent towards the perfection that God has set for us.

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John came baptising in the wilderness and preaching a baptism (with water) of repentance for the remission (forgiveness) of sins. This is important because the acceptance of John as a Holy Man by the Jews prepared them to accept Jesus as well. It is only through the work, power, and glory of Jesus Christ that our sins are forgiven, however John the Baptist prepares the people to enter into this New Covenant. Note to keep in mind: John’s brotherhood played a pivotal role in the Apostolic Ministry.

Jesus Baptised: If Salvation was made possible through Christ, why was Jesus Baptised?

While John prepared the people for Christ through a visible sign of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, Baptism by Water and the Holy Spirit has the power of regeneration (our personal Pascha/Passover). We mystically undergo death with Christ but are “reborn from above” enabling us to become children of God. Jesus Christ, Son of God does not need to be purified in Holy Baptism because it is He who purifies humanity to grant us regeneration and in doing so reveals the mystery of the Holy Trinity. However, Christ’s Baptism fulfills God’s righteous plan of salvation and accomplishes several things:- An affirmation of John the Baptist’s ministry (baptism for the remission of sins) - The Divine Holy Trinity (1 God, 3 Persons) was made publically manifest to the world. The Holy Spirit is made visible by the sign of the dove. The Father reveals by a voice that Christ is His beloved Son. The heavens are opened to the earthly world which since the Fall (the entrance of sin into the world) has been separated. This is celebrated on Jan 6 known as the Theophany (“God Revealed”). - Jesus Christ in His humanity can be identified with His people by also descending into the waters with them. - Prefigures His death as Baptism is a regeneration or renewal known as a re-birth or “born again from above” - Jesus Christ sanctifies the water meaning that Holy Baptism is one of the Holy Mysteries of the Orthodox Church. In the Old Testament the substances such as water and manna were symbolic and prefigured what was to come with Christ in the New Covenant. The substances of Water, Wine, and Bread in the New Covenant actually contain God! (His Grace) because of Christ’s sanctifying work in creation.  Jesus is Tempted

There is great significance why Jesus Christ was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days but we shall study this in the Gospel of Matthew. For now, it is important to note that to be tempted is to be tested in your fundamental areas of faith or your “innermost” beliefs. The Holy Spirit leads Christ into the wilderness to face these temptations and struggles with the devil but He is victorious. We when baptised in Christ with the Holy Spirit we need not be defeated in our temptations because we have the aid of the Spirit also.  Jesus begins His ministry- “the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel”.

John being put in prison before Jesus begins preaching reveals that the bridge between the old covenant and the new covenant has been completed (this does not mean God disposes of John…hold on!). Jesus begins His ministry in Galilee. Orthodoxy believes the Kingdom of God is at hand thus in the Divine Liturgy heaven and earth meet. Therefore, within the Divine Liturgy we are “foretasting” the eternal life in the Kingdom of God.  Jesus selects the first four Disciples

Note that the apostles first become disciples or “students” of Christ. Simon (later his name is changed to Simon Peter) is always recorded first in all lists of the apostles. He has a primacy of honor (“first amongst equals”) to be discussed elsewhere. Also note their willingness to sacrifice their life to follow Christ.

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Healings in Capernaum Christ begins preaching and healing on the Sabbaths to show that the new creation began where the old creation ceased. Prophets and teachers (scribes) of His day always taught in the 3 rd person e.g. “God says…” however, Jesus Christ being God spoke with authority in the 1st person e.g. “I say to you”. The Lord was not revealing His identity as Messiah as plainly as what would be expected (e.g. “Be quiet He says, and in other instances he does not answer plainly). This is due to the growing hostility of the Jewish leaders, the people’s misunderstanding of what the identity of the Messiah would be like (i.e. expecting a powerful-earthly political leader NOT the suffering servant), and the Lord has a desire to evoke genuine faith not based solely on outward visible signs. The unclean spirit was unable to withstand the influence of Jesus Christ thus was rebuked. While Christ preached the Kingdom of God is at hand the miracles testify to the truth of His teaching and identity. Tour of Galilee

The holistic integrated approach of the Orthodox Christian spiritual life can be seen as Christ goes to a solitary place to be free from distraction to pray. This was performed prior to serving the multitudes to demonstrate to us that we must put as first priority our commitment to God (Father- Origin of all things visible and invisible, who is perfect unity with His Son and His Spirit) that we will be equipped to serve others.  Uncleanness Cleansed: A leper

Leprosy was one the most dreaded diseases of the time. It brought great physical suffering as well as total banishment and isolation from society. These people were not even allowed to worship God in the synagogues of the temple. It was viewed at the time as a visible symbol of sin thus a direct punishment from God rendering the person unclean. In fact there is Biblical law in the Old Testament concerning leprosy which describes the need for a priest to purify the leper and their households. In addition, touching the unclean was strictly forbidden (e.g. touching Gentiles or lepers). The healing of the leper by Jesus Christ by the means of physical touch is of great significance. Not only is Jesus Christ teaching us to be compassionate but He is demonstrating that He is not subject to the Old Testament Law but over it. He also shows us that for the pure and clean nothing is deemed unclean. Note: we must also keep in mind that Jesus Christ is the High Priest. The Oppositions: Authority, Behaviour, Worship, and Law.  Sins Are Forgiven: A Paralytic Healed - Paralytic and his 4 friends do everything to get to Christ. Faith is an indispensable condition for salvation both personal and collective. - Note Jesus firstly says “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” This indicates the one purpose of Christ’s coming into the world is to forgive sins freeing humanity from its bondage to effects of sin since the fall (ancestral sin). Salvation is the greater power than physical healing.

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Jesus’ Divinity is shown by: 1. He knew the disposition of the heart (“secrets of hearts”) 2. He forgives sins which is a power that only belongs to God alone (scribes knew this). Jesus also completes the easier task of physical healing in an act of condescension so that humanity will be drawn towards God and glorify Him (God builds relationships on the human level). God becoming Flesh (Immanuel) and is sacrificed for our sins is the greatest act of condescension- He became like us so that we can become like him. In doing so He is glorified so that we can share in His glory. 3. He heals by the power of His word and authority. Sinners Are Welcome: Levi (Matthew the tax collector and Apostle)

Roman overloads assigned specific areas to Jewish tax collectors, who were free to collect extra revenues for their own profit. This “corruption” and “fraud” angered the Jews who hated such “unclean/sinful” persons. Jesus not only dines with them but accepts a tax collector as a disciple which offends the Pharisees (a political Jewish secular group). -Jesus Christ teaches that it is the sick that need the physician. Likewise, he did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance that are in need spiritual healing. -All of us are sinners thus we all need Christ -Holy Unction given on Holy Wednesday is for the physical and spiritual healing of body and soul.  Jesus Transcends the Fast

For the Jews fasting was typical- twice a week Monday & Thursday, on public fasts i.e. Day of Atonement, and in times of mourning. For the Jews they saw the days of the Messiah (Saviour) as a wedding feast- a time of joy and gladness and celebration. Jesus Christ is plainly proclaiming this to them that He is the Messiah and Bridegroom, in other words, the wedding feast is here. This is why He tells the Jews that there is no need to fast at the wedding feast. However, the day will come when He will be taken away and they will need to fast, however with a difference! The old garment and old wineskins are the Old Covenant and the Law (fasting by bodily deprivation) which is imperfect and temporary. The new wineskins are the New Covenant and those in Christ. The new wine is the Holy Spirit dwelling within the renewed people. Here the fasting is of mind, body, and heart which leads to repentance. This change leads us to the Lord and His forgiveness allowing us to enter into the Heavenly Kingdom. This fasting is for all the Disciples of Christ so that they can develop self-control and prepare themselves for the eternal Wedding Feast when the Bridegroom returns. Fasting is not just a physical discipline for the body because the New Covenant fasting is for our spiritual healing also. This is part of our journey as we become partakers of the divine nature- body and soul.  Jesus Transcends the Sabbath

It was against the Old Covenant Law (Jewish Law) to harvest on the Sabbath. The Sabbath in Old Testament Law was a day of strict rest or worship devoted to God. This correlates with the Ten Commandments (4 th), and is also associated with the day God rested (7th) after He created the heavens and the earth.

Authority: Jesus clearly states that He is the Lord of the Sabbath and that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Jesus being the Lord of the Sabbath means He is the Maker of the Law. He made the Law so that man can serve Him; however because the Son of God became the Son of Man for the sake of man, He now puts the Sabbath at the service of man. This is known as the “second Sabbath” which is an image of the new covenant and eternal resurrection. Food which was at one time not lawful for anyone but the priests to eat is now freely given to all by the Lord of the Sabbath. David prefigured this when he gave the showbread to all those with him. Symbolically this can also be understood as the inability of the Law up against the spiritual fruits given to those that hunger for the action of Grace.  Chapter 3

The traditions of the scribes and Pharisees were that healing was considered work and not permissible on the Sabbath. Here we see that such legalistic traditions made them insensitive to God’s mercy. Jesus shows the mercy of God as well as the Authority of God. - Jesus demonstrates righteous anger in response to people profession God in the synagogue yet having such hardness in their hearts not to rejoice in the healing of one of their brothers.  The People Follow Jesus

Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea and many people followed Him. The Pharisees were planning to destroy Him and Jesus with the foreknowledge of God avoided this as it was not time for Him to die but to continue His Ministry. He continues to heal many but does not fully disclose His identity as Messiah .  The Twelve

The twelve disciples which become the 12 Apostles are chosen. They are listed in pairs indicating their possible travel partners on this first missionary journey. While Jesus heals by His own power and authority He gives them power in His name to perform miracles also.  The House Divided

Here the scribes from Jerusalem accuse Jesus of casting out demons in the name of Beelzebub or Baal. He was a god worshiped by the Philistines known as the prince of “dung heap” or lord of “the flies”. The scribes refer to Beelzebub as the ruler of the demons. Jesus demonstrates how the pride and envy of the Pharisees in their opposition of Jesus leads them to irrational and impossible conclusions- “that demons would be casting out themselves”. Most of the Holy Fathers speak about the danger of pride and envy but of the benefit of humility as one of the most important virtues.

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: - Blasphemy= to insult and show no reverence - While the Jews did not accept that Jesus Christ was Son of God- 100% Man yet 100% God they always (from the Old Testament) knew of the divine activity of the Spirit of God. To reject or insult the Holy Spirit shows a willful hardness of hearts and a refusal to accept God’s mercy. In fact, int is rejecting the work of God Himself in humanity by His Spirit. - Myth= that this is the only “unforgivable sin” - Truth= repentance leads to forgiveness in all cases, however, Jesus knows that these people who are blaspheming against the Holy Spirit are calling pure divine goodness “evil” thus by their willful hardness of their heart are beyond repentance. Note: Jesus Christ is the Truth- through our BAPTISM and REPENTANCE all sins are forgiven by HIS saving work. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth leading us to Christ. Rejecting the Spirit of Truth willfully stops us knowing Christ. If we do not know Christ or accept Him how are we going to be forgiven? Parables: The Teacher - Recall from session 1 how we need spiritual wonder and receptivity when approaching the Holy Scriptures in order to become obedient to the Gospel. - Parables are stories in word-pictures that reveal spiritual truth as they communicate the deepest things of God (Is 55:8, 9). The word also means “allegory”, “riddle”, or “proverb”. Parables have been used in Jewish culture for centuries before Jesus. However, Jesus perfects the art of the parable as He prepares us for His Eternal Kingdom. - In Mark 4:11 Jesus states that “to those who are outside, all things come in parables”. This can be translated that “to those who are outside, all things come in riddles (hard to understand the teachings of Jesus)”. Jesus does not do this to blind various people from spiritual truth or to “hide” the thoughts of God from various people; rather He demonstrates that as individuals we are responsible for our own lack of receptively. As is the case with “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” Jesus is suggesting that people can grow dull and insensitive to the point of completely shutting off what God offers His people e.g. forgiveness through the Holy Spirit and parables to help us produce the fruit of righteousness. - Faith is always required to perceive the mysteries of God’s Kingdom. Understanding the mysteries of God does not come only through an intellectual understanding. - There are different levels of spiritual growth as each person attempts to achieve “theosis”. Most importantly is that we’re trying our best to grow into citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom. This spiritual growth termed “theoria” has no end (continues after physical death) because to achieve theosis like God is eternal. However, the “wholeness” of a person naturally consists of our bodies and our soul (spirit). Body and spirit are not to be viewed as separate entities because what affects the “flesh” will influence the “spirit” and vice versa (we can’t live a sinful life in the flesh hoping that our spirit deep inside is all that counts). Being receptive to the parables is essential for achieving theosis both body and soul. When we physically die we are separated from our body and Christ will judge us according to the whole (Body and Soul). At this point our soul will experience the effects of how we lived our earthly life, both in the flesh and the spirit. As such we experience judgment when we physically die but in the future we shall experience the Heavenly Kingdom which is revealed in the parables both with Body and Soul.

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The Parable of the Sower In this parable our Lord reveals Himself as the promised Messiah, the sower of the Word, who had been foretold in Is 55:10-13. Some people hear the Word but allow Satan to come immediately and take what has been sown away (birds). Some people don’t have a strong foundation of faith when hearing the Word thus when they face tribulation or persecution they stumble (stony ground). Other people are choked by the materialistic cares of the world which yields no eternal worthwhile reward- only temporary as is the case with sin (thorns). The people who hear the word and keep it will be rewarded greatly in the Heavenly Kingdom. Note how we can hear the Word yet still shudder! = Salvation is an dynamic ongoing process…we must hear the Word and build a strong foundation of faith in order to be saved into the Kingdom. The Lamp Under a Basket Those who are attentive and hear the word and respond to Christ with open hearts will grow with obvious understanding because nothing will be hidden to those who seek the Truth. The Parable of the Scattered Seed (Only appears in the Gospel of Mark) The Kingdom refers to the wholeness of God’s plan of salvation (liberation from evil, devil and sin and perfect reunion with God). The man (Christ), scatters the seed (Gospel). His sleep indicates Christ’s death, from which He will rise. The man does not have an idea how the seed grows shows that Christ does not manipulate our response to the Gospel. We respond with freedom thus grow freely. However, the harvest will come when all will be judged on their reception to the Gospel. The Parable of the Mustard Seed Both Christianity and Faith begin from the smallest point of origin but end up growing with “godlike” proportion. Faith causes an inward growth of virtue.

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Miracles: In particular His authority and power over creation, unclean spirits, and death  Calming the Storm The storm occurs while Jesus is asleep so that the disciples have an opportunity to perfect their faith and while work on their weaknesses. The disciples showed faith in turning to Jesus Christ for answers but also showed unbelief when they said “We are perishing.” It is one thing to “hope” (faith) that we will resurrect body and soul and another thing to actually believe (perfected faith=pistis) this will be the case. A best example of such “pistis” is the Martyrs. The Lord’s ability to alter nature or His mastery over creation is a sign that He is the Messiah and is divine. More symbolism to be discussed in the Gospel of Mathew i.e. sea and waves, sleep, and the boat. The Gadarene Demoniac Demon= schism and separation, thus demons influence us to be separated from God. Demons are a living reality and also share a common mode of existence with us and the Trinity in that they are “personal”. “Persons” have relationships thus demons alter our relationship with God.

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This miracle occurred in an area of Galilee where many Gentiles were living amongst the Jews. The raising of swine was forbidden for Jews by the Law (Dt 14:8), however the Gentiles influenced the Jews towards this sinful behavior. The demons recognise the authority and power of the Son of God over theirs. The demons only enter the swine which are destructed. This means the will of God is with mankind and nothing can overcome the will of God. While animals are a venerable part of creation, man is of far greater value because he was created in the image and likeness of the Holy Trinity. Each of us is protected under God’s care otherwise the demon possessed man would have come at the same faith of the swine. Demons are always subjected to the will of God thus at the command of Christ they enter the swine. While demons work within creation they have no power over creation. Christ removes the source of sin through a sacrifice. Therefore, our salvation is worth every sacrifice.

The Woman with a Flow of Blood - The healing of this woman demonstrates Christ’s power to cleanse and to heal. In the OT haemorrhage caused ceremonial defilement imposing religious and social restrictions, for contact with blood was strictly prohibited. Note: Now that we are in the New Covenant thus ladies who are menstruating are able to come to Church, however as is the case with everyone else they must come with Peace. This is much more difficult for some women who are menstruating in which they should choose not to partake in Holy Communion. - To those who are faithful and come in Peace nothing can exclude you from Christ. - Spiritually speaking the woman symbolises humanity who are constantly suffering and subject to death (flowing blood). The physicians include all other religions, philosophical paths, and the Old Testament along with the Law. Only through “touching” Christ are we free from suffering and death. - “Touching” is interpreted in two ways. Firstly, Christ was “touched” by the woman’s faith and this brings forth His response. Secondly, because of the Incarnation the materialistic creation is sanctified (made Holy) by Christ thus “touching” His garment brings forth healing.  Jairus’s Daughter Raised Authority over life and death is in the hand of God alone (Dt 32:39 and 1Kg 2:6). Jesus Christ clearly demonstrates His identity as God and Man. Being in one essence (nature) with the Father, Jesus has this authority (Jn 5:21). Christ has the “qualitative” essence of God (eternal, uncreated, all knowing etc.) but also the “personal” authoritative attribute of God. Note that death and the word sleep are used commonly in biblically language. This does not mean that physical death is described as a state of sleeping as death is the unnatural separation of body and soul. However, in Christ we can expect the same outcome common to both- a point of return, a point of awakening and our bodily resurrection.

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At Nazareth: No Honor Arrives at Nazareth (His country), however the people are astonished and offended by his teachings and works. This rejection by his own people foreshadows His rejection by Israel at His Trial before Pilate where they opted to Crucify Him. Jesus opted not to do mighty work here because of the lack of belief and thus lack of receptive faith. With synergy God initiates and offers His Grace (Himself) to all humanity, however it is those who respond with God in Faith that receive the benefits of His Grace. The brothers (James, Joses, Judas, and Simon) and sisters of Christ are not His bloodline siblings. There are many reasons for this, most importantly theological, and also related to His identity as the Messiah (cover these at a later date). Basic points to consider at the moment include; the word brother is used throughout the bible to depict a nephew and a cousin, Mary (who cannot be the Mary who is Christ’s mother because she was at foot of the cross) is said to have been the mother of James and Joses in Mark 15:40, and in Acts chapter 1 we read that Jesus has approximately 100 brothers when you eliminate the persons who we are told were present from the 124.

The Messiah further reveals His Identity  The Mission of the Twelve (Apostolic Minstry) The disciples “learnt” from Christ (Teacher) then were “sent out with purpose” by Christ as Apostles to teach and heal. While Jesus Christ teaches and heals by His own power and authority the Apostles only are able to perform these tasks by the authority and power given to them by Christ. This is known as the Apostolic Ministry and what they teach is known as the Apostolic Faith. This has the Authority of Christ, and it is this Authority that we find in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. He sends them out with nothing so that they can learn to have sole dependence on God and not the materialistic items of this world. Here we note the sacramental healing (both spiritual and physical) with Oil. Holy Oil acts in creation as a vehicle of God’s healing Grace (James 5:14) and His merciful Grace. The lists of names of the 12 apostles vary slightly due to what names the author used. Peter is named first which is related to the “Primacy of Peter” and corresponds to the function of the Bishop. Sometimes the apostles are named in pairs which may indicate which two were paired together on their missions. John the Baptist Beheaded Governor Herod (or “king”) is the son of King Herod who attempted to murder Christ as a newborn in Bethlehem. Governor Herod was confused of Christ’s identity. Hearing of His wisdom, virtues, and wonderful miracles Herod began to speculate that Christ was in fact John the Baptist raised from the dead. This is because John the Baptist was a holy man and Herod was responsible for beheading him. Other possibilities included were; that Christ was in fact the return of Elijah who was expected by the Jews to return and perform signs before the coming of the Messiah, or that this was another prophet who had arisen from Israel. That Herod respected John the Baptist is a testament his esteem and holiness. Herod married Herodias who was his brother’s wife. John the Baptist told Herod that this was an unlawful marriage, and since Herod feared John the Baptist it most likely influenced his relationship with Herodias.

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One day Herod was entertained by Herodias daughter and Herod by oath had promised to grant anything she had wished for. After consultation with her mother she requests the head of John the Baptist. The beheading of John the Baptist was allowed by God as part of His salvation plan so that John could also prepare the souls in Hades for accepting Christ as their Messiah. When Christ died on the cross he descended into Hades to preach to the souls that were already prepared by John. * God did not “dispose” of John in prison when the preparation prior to the Christ’s Ministry was complete. Feeding 5000 This miracle is reported by all four evangelists. It represents both the compassion of Christ for His people and the Eucharist that would later be instituted by Christ to be celebrated eternally in the Divine Liturgy of the Church. With regards to Christ’s compassion we can see that His power and authority is given freely also to those who suffer and seek Christ. Those who suffer while seeking Christ will always have a reward much greater than can be comprehended. Jesus demonstrates that we ought to give thanks to God first before receiving the bread offered by God. This is similar to the feeding of the Israelites in the desert (Ex16) and most importantly for the Church, the institution of the Last Supper (Eucharist). In the Divine Liturgy we give thanks to the Christ as He offers to feed us with His body which is bread of life. Jesus walks on water Only God has the dominion over nature and creation, thus this miracle confirms the divinity of Christ. Also the words “It is I”= “I Am” which is always been the divine title of God. In this, the second times the discliples are caught in a storm they are without Christ. This further enhances their faith that Christ will always be present to help them overcome any “storm” they could possibility encounter. Many made whole The implications of the Incarnation is that Christ’s very body is life, and touching or in fact coming to any contact with His flesh as we do in the Divine Liturgy is life-giving. The physical and the spiritual together with heaven and the earth have been recreated into One by the One incarnate Body of Christ. THE END

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