Oh Lord…Instill in us also reverence for Your blessed commandments so that, having trampled down all carnal desires, we may lead a spiritual life, both thinking and doing all those things that are pleasing to You. This is a segment from the Prayer of the Holy Gospel, which precedes the Gospel reading in the Divine Liturgy. This prayer helps those in attendance to understand the purpose of reading the Holy Gospel: To accept the commandments of the Lord with faith and devotion, so that they may grow in fulfilling them. Through the Gospel, the people will be helped in overcoming the passions (the flesh and otherwise), as well as living a spiritual life. Ultimately, this will lead to body and mind being united in one goal, which is to please God.

Before His glorious Ascension to Heaven, which is celebrated in these days, our Lord Jesus Christ made an important promise to His disciples: “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). The Kontakion of the feast also refers to these words of the Lord: “O Christ our God… You ascended in Glory, uniting the earthly with the heavenly… and cried out to those who love You, ´I am with you and no one is against you´". How is it possible for Jesus to always be with the disciples, when they saw Him disappear into heaven and “leave”? This defies human reason!

As we learn in the Acts of the Apostles, our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to His Disciples for 40 days after His Resurrection, encouraging them and entrusting them with the care of His Holy Church (see Acts 1:3). This is why the Resurrection is celebrated for 40 days, with this Sunday being the last of this Paschal season.

In the seventh prayer of the preparatory service for Holy Communion we pray: "You know the multitude of my evil-doings, You also know my wounds, and You see my bruises. But You also know my faith, and You behold my willingness, and You hear my sighs. Nothing escapes You, my God, my Maker, my Redeemer, not even a tear-drop, nor part of a drop!”

From the beginning of creation to the present, the human race has received innumerable blessings from God, which we continually seek in our common worship. Despite our sinfulness, we take courage in approaching God with our supplications. The Prayer which the Priest addresses to God during the Divine Liturgy at the 3rd Antiphon ends with the words: Lord we are asking You of all these “Because You are good and loving [charitable] God …” Similarly the Priest, after the series of petitions (which is called “The Great Litany”) in all holy Services, pronounces aloud: “For you are benevolent and charitable God …”


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