Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture, beginning with the account from the second Book of Kings, about the discovery of the Torah or the Law of God at the Temple of Jerusalem, during the reign of king Josiah of Judah. As a brief background, King Josiah reigned after the king Ammon, his father, who did not obey the Law of God and neglected the observance of the commandments.
While his grandfather, king Hezekiah of Judah had been faithful to God, it was likely that the Torah or the scroll of the Word of God, preserving the Law and the Covenant of God as written in the first five books of our Bible, in the Books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, has been lost for many years after many years and generations of rulers and peoples who were disobedient against God, and for a long time, His Covenant was forgotten.
When the priests discovered the long lost Scriptures from the Temple, the king and his people realised just how wicked and sinful they had been, and how the Lord had mentioned in those Scriptures, that those who were sinful and wicked, would suffer the fate of those who were punished for their disobedience. One example that was written in the Book of Exodus, was the time when the Israelites worshipped the golden calf, and many were killed on that day because they refused to repent.
Thus, the king and his whole court, and the whole nation of Judah went into repentance and mourning for their sins, and they announced a total conversion to the Lord, with a renewal of the Covenant of God being mentioned in the same passage from the Book of Kings. King Josiah celebrated one more time, the Passover as celebrated by Moses and the Israelites as they left Egypt, as the symbol of the renewal of the Covenant that God had made with them.
In the Gospel today, we listened then to the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples and to the people, giving them a warning about false prophets who would mislead the people and leading them into sin. He mentioned how they would be able to recognise the fruits of the false prophets and therefore identify whether they were true prophets of the Lord or whether they were heretics.
During the time of the kingdom of Israel and Judah, there were many false prophets, including in one occasion in Israel when the prophet Micah spoke out against king Ahab of Israel, while the many false prophets spoke well about the upcoming war the king was going to embark on. The other prophets mocked Micah for his prophecy, and contended that they were the ones who had the word of God with them.
In the end, king Ahab was slain during the battle, and the truth of
God as revealed through his prophet Micah came to reality. It is the same with the prophet Jeremiah who prophesied about the coming end of the kingdom of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem, while he was opposed by the many false prophets who said that all would be well with Judah, and that the Lord would help Judah against the Babylonians.
In the end, again, God’s truth alone prevailed. And in this, we see yet again, just how easily the people of God could have been swayed by false ideas and untruths spread by those who claimed to have God’s truth, and yet, those so called ‘truths’ were actually falsehoods spread by the devil. That was why the people up to the time of Josiah had been unfaithful and wicked in their lives, and again, unfortunately, they would not remain faithful to God after the reign of Josiah.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of St. Cyril of Alexandria, who was the Patriarch of Alexandria and one of the important Church fathers of the early years of the Church. And his story is remarkably similar to what the prophets I mentioned earlier had suffered. Just as those faithful prophets had to contend with many false prophets and idolaters at their time, St. Cyril of Alexandria had to contend with many heretics, particularly the Nestorian heretics.
St. Cyril of Alexandria had many troubles and oppositions, including his famous episode of conflict with the powerful secular Prefect ruler of the province of Egypt, who was corrupt and immoral, and backed by powerful followers and backers. On top of that, as mentioned, he had a lot of troubles with the Nestorian heretics, who wrongly claimed that the Lord Jesus has a distinct and separated human and divine natures, which had the backing of many bishops and even the powerful Patriarch of Antioch at the time.
Yet, St. Cyril of Alexandria persevered through all those challenges with faith, and dedicated himself wholeheartedly to oppose all the mistakes and the falsehoods brought forward by the heretics as well as the corrupt moral authority and activities of the secular rulers. He cared for the well-being of his flock, and ensured that the truth of God remained in them, and that they were not swayed by the heresies and the teachings of the false teachers.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, after having heard all the discourses on the history of the Israelites as well as the courageous works of St. Cyril of Alexandria, are we now all challenged to do our best, in our own lives and as part of the Church, to stand up for our faith and to renew our commitment to the Lord and His ways if we have fallen aside on our way to Him.
Let us all therefore, turn towards God with all of our hearts, minds, souls and indeed with our entire might and strength, and devote ourselves, our time, effort and attention to love Him and to serve Him as best as we are able to do. May the Lord bless us and be with us at all times, and may He empower us all to be ever more committed and devoted to Him, in all the things we do. Amen.