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Monday, July 13, 2020

     “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual/divinely-reasonable worship (λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν). Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to be high-minded above/beyond what needs to be minded (μὴ ὑπερφρονεῖν παρ᾽ὃ δεῖ φρονεῖν), but to think with sober judgment (φρονεῖν εἰς τὸ σωφρονεῖν), each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.” (Rom 12: 1-3)

     The message I carry away from this passage today is, “Keep things simple!” By and in the Word (“Logos”) of God, we...

Saturday, July 11, 2020

     “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Cor 9: 24-27)

     St. Paul frequently uses athletic metaphors to describe our journey of salvation. As an effective teacher, he uses the familiar, sports, to explain the less-familiar, the mysteries of the human-divine process called “salvation,” or our “return to wholeness” or oneness with God and one another. This is the “prize” for which we strive on our God-focused, Spirit...

Friday, July 10, 2020

     “And coming to his own country he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.’ And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.” (Mt 13: 54-58)

     Why do we tend not to “believe” in the extraordinary gifts of one of “our own”? I think, for three reasons: 1. Familiarity, 2. Collective self-loathing, and 3. Jealousy. First of all, we are so fa...

Thursday, July 9, 2020

     “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God…” (Rom 15: 13-15)

     As those of us on the Older Calendar approach the great feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (coming up this Sunday for OC-people), I’d like to take pause and reflect on St. Paul’s admonishing-yet-encouraging pastoral “style.” The great Apostle to the Gentiles does admonish his people, writing “more boldly” to them “on some points”; but he also takes the ti...

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

     “Then one was brought to him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and he healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, ‘Could this be the Son of David?’ Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, ‘This one does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.’ But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of...

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

     “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight—” John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mk 1: 1-5)

     Still today, we are called to make a “confession of sins,” and to be “immersed” (i.e., “baptized”) in “repentance” (a change of mind or change of focus), whenever we “prepare the way of the Lord” and “make His paths straight” in o...

Monday, July 6, 2020

     “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another (τὸ αὐτὸ εἰς ἀλλήλους φρονοῦντες). Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble (τοῖς ταπεινοῖς συναπαγόμενοι, be led together by humble things). Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all people. If it is possible for you (εἰ δυνατὸν τὸ ἐξ ὑμῶν), live peaceably with all people.” (Rom 12: 15-18)

     Let me recognize today that we’re all “in the same boat,” – is what St. Paul is saying to me in the first part of the above-quoted passage. I should not regard my own issues or vision as “higher,” or more important, than those of others in my vicinity, lest I fail to notice, or take seriously, t...

Friday, July 3, 2020

     “At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.’ He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law how on the sabbath the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would n...

Thursday, July 2, 2020

  “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is good, and my burden is light.” (Mt 11: 27-30)

     Today, on the day of the repose of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco (+1966), I’m thinking about the light and lightness of the cross-carrying Way. It so often emanated from this holy bishop, as those who knew him testify. And gratefully for those of us who did not know him, it is captured on some photos of him. He so completely gave himself up to...

Thursday, June 25, 2020

  “If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor...

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