This Gospel is read on the second Sunday before the Great Lent, also called Meat Fare Sunday or Sunday of the Last Judgement. That is the Sunday when we stop eating meat, and remind ourselves that God who immensly loves people has also to come as the Judge. During His first arrival He came as a servant. His second arrival is going to be completely different. This time He is arriving in His glory, with all the holy angels with Him, and He will sit on the throne of His glory. «All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.» As we can see here, the whole of humanity is going to be judged and divided into two groups. «And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.» Sheep were always regarded as a symbol of obedience and meekness. They always loyaly follow their shepherd and they are easily kept together as a flock. The sheep represent righteous people who follow Christ as their own Shepherd. In the Gospel according to St. John Christ reveals his role as «sheep shepherd». He says: «the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.» (John 10:3-4). «His voice» was heard and followed by righteous people who spoke the words spoken by Christ – The Holy Gospel. On Judgement Day it will be not difficult for Him to separate those who followed Him from those who didn't. Jesus perfectly knows every single man: «I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and am known by My own» John 10:14. An especially important statement for our understanding of this Gospel is the following claim: «There will be one flock and one shepherd.» This refers to Christ as the head of the church. «And He is the head of the body, the church..» (Colossians 1:18). The Church is the community of faithful people who follow Christ and His Gospel. Symbolically, «sheep» who follow the «shepherd and his voice».

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                                     THE PRODIGAL SON (LUKE 15:11-32)

                       Restoring our sense of belonging through repentance

This Gospel is read on the third Sunday before the beginning of the Great Lent called the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. In a very simple way, God reveals His love, patience and forgiveness towards every single human being. It is very clear that “a certain man” in this parable represents God the Father. The older son represents all righteous people, and the younger son represents all sinners. The younger son asks for his portion of the inheritance and wants to go his own way separating himself from his father and his brother. He was not stealing or taking anything that was not rightfully his and already coming his way. Christ does not explain why this young man goes to “a far country” and “wastes his possessions in prodigal living”. Even Greek philosophers, thousands of years ago were writing about how young people lacked patience, respect and had difficulty waiting for good things. Little has changed today.

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In order to understand this Bible story properly, we should remind ourselves what the roles of Publicans and Pharisees were in Judean society at the time of Christ’s ministry. The Pharisees belonged to a Jewish sect, known for its strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, adherence to oral laws and traditions, and the coming of a Messiah. They belonged to the middle-class of society, and also believed in an afterlife and the resurrection of the dead. They regarded themselves as righteous people, and their relationship with God was purely legalistic. By certain historical records, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem A.D. 70, there were around six thousand of them. Publicans were actually tax collectors employed by Romans – occupiers of Judea at the time. They were obliged to pay an agreed amount to the Romans, and whatever was left over they were permitted to keep for themselves. They grossly overcharged people extorting money from them. This was the primary reason they were despised and hated by their own people.

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On Saturday, January 27th, the Saint Sava temple in the capital of New Zeland ceremoniously celebrated its patronate saint. The ceremony began with the Holy Liturgy, which was lead by the fr.Meletius from the sacred archangel monastery in Levin, with Fr.Predrag. After the Divine Liturgy and Litija around the temple, the Slavic cake was prepared, which was prepared by the hosts of the  Basic family.

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In restoring eyesight to the blind man called Bartimaeus, Our Lord does another miracle in Jericho. This time He is opens the spiritual eyes of a tax collector named Zacchaeus, thus enabling him to accept the Gospel, to perceive his inner self and his sins, to repent, and to drastically change his life. Opening the spiritual eyes of a spiritually blind man, is just as great a miracle as restoring the eyesight of a man blind from birth. Zacchaues was a chief tax collector, and in that capacity an employee of the Roman government.  By way of contract with the Romans, he was obliged to give a certain agreed amount to them, and whatever was left over he could keep for himself. He could freely overcharge people.

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The Holy Archangel Michael Parish and Church Community in Homebush, celebrated its patronal feast day the Holy Archangel Michael on Sunday, 19th of November 2017. This year’s feast day has broken all the previous attendance records. Close to 200 hundred people have gathered to celebrate and partake in the glorious occasion. 

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Today’s Gospel exposes the truth about life after death, and also reveals one very important principle: we cannot achieve eternal life without struggle. Also, through this Bible story Christ reminds us that wealth without virtues is pure wickedness. 
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On Thursday the 9th of November, His Grace Bishop Siluan was received by the Mayor of Hornsby, Mr Phillip Ruddock. The Mayor is Australia's second longest serving federal politician, serving the nation as both Minister for Immigration and Attorney General. As a token of thanks for Mr Ruddock's decades long support of the Serbian Church and community, His Grace presented Mr Ruddock with an Orthodox wall Cross. Mr Ruddock mentioned that he has a considerable number of Orthodox icons, and was grateful for the new addition to his collection. In a very warm exchange of reflections on both world and local events, both the Bishop and Mayor expressed their mutual concerns for society in this time of social confusion. 
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