February 20, 2020

     “Though we speak thus, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things that belong to salvation. For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience (μακροθυμίας) inherit the promises.” (Hebr 6: 9-12)

     What promises? The many promises made to us by our Lord, of growth in...

February 19, 2020

     “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give.. a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” (Rev 2: 17)

     In this intriguing passage in the strangest of New-Testament Scriptures, the Book of Revelation, the Lord the Holy Spirit speaks about “the one who is victorious,” the believer who co-carries the victory of Christ’s life-giving Cross. By walking the journey of the cross on the cross’s terms, i.e., Christ’s self-giving love, humility, patience, cou...

February 18, 2020

     "If you want to be respected among women (and a spiritual man should be especially concerned about this), then do not have friendship with them, and then you will be respected by them... A woman, when one flatters her, becomes unbearable, but she is most trepidatious, and becomes very impressed, before those who comport themselves with her in a free and imperious manner." (St. Isidore of Pelusium, as quoted by St. Dmitry of Rostov, p. 47 of vol. 2, February 4, of his "Жития святых" or "Lives of the Saints," Moscow 1905, Sinodal'naja Tipografija.)

     This is...

February 17, 2020

     “Open to me the doors of repentance, o Lifegiver; / For my spirit rises early to pray towards Your holy temple, / bearing the temple of my body all defiled. / But as The Generous One, // purify me by Your abundant mercy.” (Byzantine Lenten Hymn, Sunday Matins)

     Has the Lord closed any of His “doors” to us? No. In fact, in these weeks leading up to Lent, we’re repeatedly reminded of how willingly He exchanges “house-visits” even with the “worst” of us, whenever we open up to Him, in repentance. Two weekends ago, we heard about Zacchaeus, a tax collector who...

February 16, 2020

     “And he said, ‘There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed...

February 15, 2020

     “Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’” (Lk 2: 27-32)

     Today, on the great feast of the Meeting of the Lord (OC), we’re celebrating an encounter of t...

February 14, 2020

     “Now the men who were holding Jesus mocked him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and asked him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’ And they spoke many other words against him, reviling him.” (Lk 22: 63-65)

     Does it do us any good, to know the heartbreaking details of certain violent crimes, like the ones described above? They blindfolded Him, beat Him, mocked Him, and apparently they enjoyed it. You can’t “un-know” that; it stays with you, like stories that pop up in the news about various forms of human cruelty. How can I “process” this informat...

February 13, 2020

     “When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village opposite, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat; untie it and bring it here. If any one asks you, Why are you untying it? you shall say this, The Lord has need of it.’ So those who were sent went away and found it as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ And they said, ‘The Lord has need of it.’ And they brought it to Jesus, and th...

February 12, 2020

     ”Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he was wont to do for them. And he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, ‘Then what shall I do wi...

February 11, 2020

     “But take heed to yourselves/watch yourselves (βλέπετε…ἑαυτούς); for they will deliver you up to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say; but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will...

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