Monday, February 29, 2016

Starving with the Pigs

As we come closer to Great Lent, the Church offers us the
Parable of the Prodigal Son as inspiration for us to embrace a genuine
repentance in our heart. The story of two brothers, both selfish but only one
experienced the love the father by repenting. When we remain in our sin
refusing to admit that we need to change our life and return to God, we will
remain lost and starving with the pigs. Even when we remain loyal to the
father, in Church every Sunday, if our loyalty is not with love, we will not be
able to experience the love of God. The blessing comes the moment we admit that
our life needs changing and we choose the return to God. At that moment God
welcomes us home and restores us whole to His Kingdom.


Hello, My name is Father Athanasios Haros and I'm the pastor here at the Transfiguration of our Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Florence, South Carolina and I'm your host for Be Transfigured Ministries. Here at Be Transfigured, as we say, we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We feature our sermons, and our Bible studies, and other special events in the life of the Church. We do it to inspire you to join us in living a new life in Christ. I hope you'll join us. I'll be back in a moment after this video to share some information about our ministry.

Today we're beginning our second week of the Triodion Period, the second week of our pre-Lenten preparation and the Church gives us this great message of repentance. The Sunday of the Prodigal Son we call it because there was this son who squandered his living. He spent all of his inheritance on prodigal living, on sinful living. We know the story but have we placed ourselves in the story because the Church wants us, my brothers and sisters, as we are preparing to enter Great Lent, the Church wants for us to hear the message as if we are in the story. I want to peel off a few layers and I want to place us in the story this morning.

We know that the father represents God and there are two sons. There is the one son who says to the father, "I don't even want to wait for you to die. Give me my inheritance now." He's selfish but the loving father says, "Here you go. Take what is yours," and this son goes and he lives in a far off country wasting everything. Everything his father gave him is now gone. He does not have one penny to his name and he's feeling all abandoned. He says, "I tell you what, I'm going to go into town and I'm going to find somebody and I'm going to get a job."

Now, think about that. The first step is he spent everything. He was a rich man and finally he realized, "Well, I suppose I'll just have to get a job." Someone takes him in and sends him out to feed the pigs. It says in the Gospel that he would have gladly eaten the pods, the pigs'- the slop. The Gospel says no one gave him anything so he thinks to myself. He says, "Here I am. I'm starving. I have no money. I have no food. Even the pigs are eating better than me." Then he remembers his father's servants, the ones who used to serve him, and he says, "I would rather be one of my father's servants because they had plenty of food to eat. I'm going to go back and tell my father, "Don't take me as your son. I'm not worthy to be your son. Just hire me as one of your servants."

Now, my brothers and sisters, this is the great message of repentance. So long as he was in the far off country, so long as he thought he was okay, we could even say, so long as he refused to admit he needed help, he would remain starving with the pigs. That's the first place that the message of repentance has to rest within our hearts, my brothers and sisters. Until we realize that we need God's help, until we realize we are lost, until we realize that we are starving with the pigs, we will remain there hungry and lost. This brother first had to accept that he had to change something about his life. He first had to admit to himself, "Something is not right here. I've made some poor decisions. I need to return to my father but I'm not going to return to my father as if nothing happened."

You see, repentance, my brothers and sisters, is not simply going back pretending everything is okay. Repentance is not going back to God and saying, "Hello, God, I'm back. Remember me?" Repentance, according to the message in this morning's Gospel is, "Lord, I have sinned against You. I am not worthy to be called Your son. Please accept me back simply as one of Your hired servants." That is repentance and that is where the Church is calling us, my brothers and sisters, as we enter this Great Lenten period, not just to come to Church but to come to Church with a heart open to God saying, "God, I have sinned against You. I am not worthy to be called Your child."

I have news for you. Until we are willing to accept that reality we will never have true repentance in our heart because there was another brother in the story, the loyal brother. The obedient brother never left his father, always at his father's side, always doing exactly what his father wanted, living the life of that rich family but he had a problem also. His loyalty was not out of love. When the younger brother came back and the father, which was his right, chose to restore the brother as if he had never left, it was the loyal brother, the obedient brother, we could say the brother who was in Church every Sunday; he turned to the father.

He was angry, "How dare you let that man back in our house. That son of yours, he wasted everything you gave him on harlots and you come and you kill the fatted calf? I never left you. I have always obeyed you. I have been here serving you loyally, father, and what have you done for me?" We are also that son because more often than not we find ourselves sitting in Church when someone does return thinking that we, the whole time, were sinless, living our entire life thinking that we were the good one simply because we were the ones coming to Church every Sunday out of loyalty, out of obligation but if there's no love in our hearts, if we're only sitting in these pews because we think it's the place we're supposed to be, then we may as well be out in the street selling hot dogs because God wants our hearts to want to be with him.

In the story of this morning's Gospel, my brothers and sisters, the loyal son was the one condemned. The one who never left was the one who was condemned because his heart was so selfish he could not see the love of the father on someone else. If our Great Lenten journey is going to mean anything for us this year, if we're going to receive any blessing whatsoever from God, it must begin there at the pigs. It must begin in our hearts where we realize and admit maybe even for the first time, "I have sinned against You God. I am not worthy to be called Your son." That is the moment that God opens to us His kingdom. At that moment when we truly in our hearts realize that we need God and that we do have things about our lives that have to change, that is when God opens for us the kingdom, and He kills the fatted calf, and He puts a royal robe on us, and He puts the ring, which symbolizes our inheritance being restored to us as if we never left.

The key, the key to that door, it rests, what are we doing with the pigs? Are we still thinking that we don't have anything about our lives to change? Are we still the loyal brother sitting in Church pretending, rationalizing ourselves away, saying, "Well, I'm in Church. I'm doing just fine. There's nothing I have to do to change?" This is the great opportunity, my brothers and sisters that the Church offers us every year with our Great Lenten journey. We have traveled far from God whether we want to admit it or not. We have traveled far away from God's kingdom and He is waiting for us to return. He is looking over the horizon, as the father did, and the moment the son turned around the father ran and embraced him and welcomed him home. The moment we, in our hearts, return and acknowledge the need for God in our lives, that very moment is when He welcomes us back. Then we can begin the journey home and walk with God back to the kingdom and enter paradise as one of His children; glory to God for all things.

Well, I'm back and I hope this video was an inspiration to you. I hope it helps you live a new life in Christ. Please share our message of hope with your friends and family and invite others to live a new life in Christ. Find more information about Be Transfigured Ministries by joining us on our website at You can also find many of our videos at the Orthodox Christian Network, our partners at As we say at Be Transfigured, until next week, God bless you and don't forget to live a new life in Christ.


Be Transfigured is a production of the Transfiguration of our Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Florence, South Carolina and presented by the Orthodox Christian Network. Contributions in support of this ministry may be sent to Be Transfigured, 2990 S. Cashua Drive, Florence, SC 29501 or online at our website at

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