14 October OS 2015 – Tuesday of the Twenty Second Week after Pentecost/4th Week of St. Luke, Holy Martyrs Nazarius, Gervasius, and Protasius, Venerable Mother Paraskeva
In today’s Gospel, we see the holy women who accompanied the Lord in His preaching journeys ministering to Him “…of their substance.”
And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance. – Luke 8: 1-3
“…of their substance” means that the material resources they helped Christ with – time and work, food, clothing, money, etc. – were things that they themselves really needed for their families and for themselves, not surplus, not what was left over after their needs were met. They were making real sacrifices. After they had met Christ, their priorities became radically different from before, and they put caring for Him and enabling Him to spread the Gospel over other priorities.
The Lord Jesus was of the tribe of Judah, not of the tribe of Levi, who, being the priests of the Mosaic covenant, were supported by tithes from the other tribes, which freed them to perform the complex and time-consuming duties of the Old Testament worship. Until His Baptism in the Jordan and beginning His preaching at age 30, the Lord had had to earn His living like everyone else, probably working in the family trade – recall, the people in Nazareth knew Him as “Joseph the carpenter’s son.” When He began preaching, however, He left all earthly work behind completely and dedicated Himself entirely to announcing the Gospel, the coming of the Kingdom of God. When He called His disciples, both men and women, it compelled them so powerfully that they realized that they either had to drop everything and preach the Gospel, like the Apostles, or support those who were doing so “…of their substance.” By their material sacrifice, they were enabling the spread of the Kingdom of God and would thereby inherit that Kingdom.
Today’s economy is tough on people who are honest and not buying into the corruption at the top of the “food chain” or the welfare dependency at the bottom. The government and corporate crooks who run the rigged game of contemporary society are making sure that it will be increasingly difficult to get ahead or even tread water without prostituting yourself to something inherently evil, so that honest and God-fearing people will be tempted to despair. In this setting, it is tempting to give up making material sacrifices for the mission of the Church, because we feel that we face an uncertain material future and therefore cannot spend on anything extra.
The reality, however, is that the Church is not the extra thing – it is the most essential thing. It is obvious to anyone half-awake that from now on serious Christians will be increasingly marginalized in the rat race. So, who wants to be a rat, anyway? We may as well radicalize our priorities and life choices, and go for the crown of a pure confession and a Gospel life. St. Paul says in Philippians 3:14: ” I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Let us press forward with him, through the prayers of the Holy Myrrhbearing Women who served the Lord and of all the saints.