Malankara World

Weekly Devotional

by Fr. Dmitri, New Zealand

First Fruits

Saturday 18 April 2009 (10 Paremoude; 10 Baramouda)
Bright Saturday; Vigil of Pascha
Christ is Risen! Hristos Voskrese! Hristos Inviat! Hristos Aneste!
Surrexit Christo vere! Le Christ est Resurrecte! Cristo hay Resurreccion!
Cristo est Ressurreciao!

By him therefore let us off the sacrifice of praise to God
continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.
(Heb.13:15)

CONSIDER THIS:

Christ is Risen, Truly, He is risen indeed !

'Jesus said to her, 'Mary', she turned to Him and said "Raboni"!
(John 20:9)

Lazarus the Bishop, the Beloved of Christ, who was raised
from the dead after four days. He lived another forty years,
and became bishop in Cyprus, he shepherded the flock of Christ.
(Lazarus Saturday)

The eyes of God are on the righteous and his ears are open to
their prayers, but the face of God is away from all evil doers.
(Clementos of Alexandria)

Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump,
since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover,
was sacrificed for us.
(1 Cor.5:7)

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our
iniquities; the Chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by
His stripes we are healed.
(Isa.53:5)

Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!
(John 2:16)

REFLECTION:

The hour has sounded for joyful chants: Alleluia.
Let us praise God with our life, with our voice, with our
heart, and with our deeds.

Heavenly Father, help us to give You constant praise in our
hearts. At the same time, let this attitude bear fruit in our
lives - producing truly Christian deeds.
(S.Augustine)

HOMILY

FIRST FRUITS:

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
(1 Cor.15:20)

This occurred on the day after the Passover, that same day is the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread Nisan 15.

The Third appointed Feast (see Lev.23:9-11) was delayed until the People of Israel took possession of the Promised Land.

They began the Harvest on the Day after Passover as the Passover was a day in which no work of any kind was to be done, as it was a Sabbath of the Lord and an High Day.

They gave to the Priests a portion of all their increase as the Tribe of Levi who supplied the Priests were not given any land and were supported by the offerings of the people. The intent behind the ritual: was not mere tithes and offerings (see Deut.25:1-10). It was a remembrance in how God redeemed them out of slavery. They were to confess before witnesses that the fruits of their labor were a grace gift from God.

There is a reason to see a Messianic significance to the Third Appointed Feast. The New Testament refers to the Resurrected Jesus as the firstfruits of those who will be resurrected at the Last Trump (see 1 Cor.15:20&23). In this light it is important to see how the Resurrection of Jesus links Him to the historic Feast of Firstfruits. This He kept during His lifetime.

Jesus rose from the dead not just on any day. The reality as it played out was not coincidentally on the First Day of the week (Matt.28:1); rather the Messiah rose according to God's intentional design in order to fulfill the Holy Torah. He rose on HaBikkurim - The Feast of Firstfruits. His Resurrection was a promise of the life and everlasting freedom that would come to all who believed in Him.

Like Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Firstfruits is ripe with Messianic overtones. Each rich with insight and principles for our faith. The next important Feast is Pentecost (Shavuot) which falls fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits. The Biblical History of the Apostles tells us that the period between Pesach and Shavuot, were spent in fellowship with and being taught by the Resurrected Messiah. But He left them with a promise that a unique Comforter and Counselor would come.

Ancient Israel spent the period between Pesach and Shavuot in a time of Self Examination and expectancy of one who would come bearing great news. Many Christians today pay scant attention to this period of waiting between Pascha and Pentecost. It it was spent like Ancient Israel in a time of quiet Soul-searching and renewal, you might experience an unexpected Blessing. Those who believe in Jesus can gratefully see Him as the Resurrected Firstfruit of the eternal harvest that God has promised to those who trust Him.

To Thee be Glory and Praise; now and ever unto Ages of Ages.
AMEN!

Today's Readings:

Evening: Isa.55:2-13; 1 Cor.5:7-13; Gospel Matt.27:62-66.
Morning: Jer.13:15-22; Gospel Matt.16:24-28.
Liturgy: 1 Cor.15:1-22; 1 Peter 1:1-9; Acts 3:12-21;
Gospel Matt.28:1-20.
Afternoon: Isa.45:15-20; Jer.31:31-34; Gospel John 5:21-30.

Copyright DR

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