On the feast of St. Raphael of Brooklyn (celebrated by the Antiochian Archdiocese every year on the first Saturday of November), Fr. Matthew Howell talks about how St. Raphael founded 30 parishes in this country, how we should not take our freedom and ability to worship or confess for granted, and how joy is the fruit of the abundant life that Christ promises in John chapter 10.
Brethren, it was fitting that we should have such a High Priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; He did this once for all when He offered up Himself. Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son Who has been made perfect forever. Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a High Priest, one Who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.
The Lord said to His Disciples: “I am the door; if anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know My own and My own know Me, as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed My voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.”