On this the Sunday before the Elevation of the Holy Cross and the Leave-taking of the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, Fr. Matthew Howell introduces the parish to a new icon of the North American Saints given to him for the parish last week during a pilgrimage he made to venerate the relics of St. Sebastian of Jackson, California. He then describes how these North American saints were “all in” on their faith in Christ, living out what Christ declares in John 3:16 that “whoever believes in Him (God’s only-begotten Son) should not perish but have eternal life.” The point is made that we should emulate these saints in their deep-rooted faithfulness by changing our lives to revolve around Christ. Along the way, he mentions the San Francisco 49ers while explaining the difference between being a fan versus a follower, and encourages folks to do more than just “like Jesus on Facebook.”
Brethren, see with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that would compel you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who receive circumcision do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh. But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God. Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.
The Lord said, “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.