The Reading is from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 6:10-17
Brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Spiritual warfare is a very real thing in our lives. The closer we move towards our relationship with the Lord the stronger the forces of the evil one will work on us to drive a wedge between us and the Lord.
In the Epistle reading chosen by the church for the Thursday of the 1st week is taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Paul is writing to his beloved Church as a father giving advice to his children. He is reminding them that the evil one is real in the world and that we must arm ourselves against him. We do not fight an enemy that is flesh and blood, that would be easy, but we are fighting against the powers and the one who rules this world.
Those of us who stand for good and are willing to wage battle must do this constantly. We must be on guard at all times and watch our thoughts as well as our actions. Until Christ comes is his glory we will need to fight this fight. We are not alone in this fight. We fight this battle with the arms of God, not the arms of man. We fight this fight with our spirituality and the sacramental life of the Church.
At our baptism we put on the armor of God. In verse 17 of this periscope quoted above St. Paul explains this armor. We gird our loins with truth, we put on the breastplate of righteousness, and we shod our feet with the Gospel of peace. How do we do all of this? With the shield of faith that will quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. We put on the “helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”
We cannot fight the fight alone; we need the community around us to give us the strength to get through. When Jesus sent out His Apostles they were sent in groups of 2 of support and accountability. We need that other person to “watch our back” as we continue the battle. We also need a good spiritual guide to assist us in the fight.
St. Gregory Palamas wrote, “You should strive to have a spiritual father throughout your life and to confess to him every sin and every evil thought.” Our spiritual father will help us and guide us along the right path and we can all use the help.
“Brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”