TO WHOM SHALL WE GO?

“‘He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.’ This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’ But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, ‘Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no av

TAKE UP YOUR PALLET AND WALK

“After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed… One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.’ And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked.” (Jn

REMEMBER HOW HE SPOKE TO YOU

“Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified,

DEALING WITH REJECTION

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (Jn 15: 18-19) Sometimes we might make the mistake of wanting to “belong” to those or to that which is not, actually, “ours,” and we don’t realize we’ve made this mistake until we suffer rejection. And this hurts. But this kind of pain, if we receive it in God’s light, is a great “teachable moment,” revealing more to us about our “vocation” as “ekklesia” (from “ekkaleo,” meaning “to call out”) to follow Christ. We are “His own,” and nobody else’s, as long as we ar

WHY DO YOU PERSECUTE ME?

“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’” (Acts 9: 1-6) Now, this question takes Saul by surprise: Why do you persecute “me”? Be

GOD’S WILL AND OURS

”Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.’” (Jn 6: 35-40) Christ has “come” down fro

GOD DOES THINGS HIS WAY

“So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him, ‘Unless you people see (ἴδητε) signs and wonders you will not believe (οὐ μὴ πιστεύσητε).’ The official said to him, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living. So he asked them the hour when he began to men

SEEKING THE LIVING AMONG THE DEAD

“The godly women hastened to You with myrrh, O Christ. The one whom they had sought with tears, as a dead man, they worshipped as the living God! And they proclaimed the mystical pascha to Your disciples.” (Paschal Canon, Troparion of Ode 7) The women hastened to the Tomb that Sunday morning, looking for “a dead man.” But the One they found, the One revealed to them, was “the living God.” Hence the “mystical pascha” (i.e., “passover” or “transition”) that they proclaimed to the disciples was not only the Lord’s transition from death to life, but their own, the women’s, transition from merely-human dedication to “a dead man” to faith in “the living God.” Because their beloved Teacher was “mor

LOVE ROLLS AWAY THE STONE

“And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?’ And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, ‘Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disc

CASTING PEARLS BEFORE SWINE

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Mt 7: 6) What does our Lord mean here, 1. by “what is holy” and by our “pearls,” and 2. Who are the “dogs” and “swine” before whom we are not to offer these? 1. The “holy” and the “pearls” in us are our God-like and God-given gifts, like love, faith, wisdom, desire (both spiritual and physical), beauty (both spiritual and physical), creativity, compassion, etc. 2. The “dogs” and “swine” on whom we might be tempted to waste our God-given gifts and energies are not other people, because we are never to regard other people as “dogs” or “swine.” Th

DRINKING A NEW DRINK

“Come, let us drink a new drink (Δεῦτε πόμα πίωμεν καινόν, Приидите пиво пием новое), not miraculous water drawn forth from a barren stone, but from the fount of incorruption, springing from the tomb of Christ. In Him we are established (ἐν ᾧ στερεούμεθα, в немже утверждаемся).” (Irmos 3 of Paschal Canon) Here the author of the Paschal Canon, St. John of Damascus, is comparing the “miraculous water drawn forth from a barren stone” by Moses in Exodus 17: 5-8 (and also later, in Numbers 20) with the new life offered to us in the risen Lord from a most unexpected place, – from a stone tomb, – in His unexpected exit from there. Every day, I am invited to “drink” of His life-giving word, and to “

OUR DAILY NEWNESS OF LIFE

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (ἐν καινότητι ζωῆς).” (Rom 6: 3-4) This past, “Thomas” Sunday (the first one after Pascha/Easter), is also called the Sunday of Renewal, or simply “New” Sunday, because it is the first Sunday of the year on which we celebrate the Lord’s resurrection “anew,” having celebrated it in a special, once-a-year manner on Pascha or Easter. We continue to celebrate the resurrection “anew” on every Sunday throughout the year in our weekly

BELIEVING ONE ANOTHER

“…Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’ Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may ha

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES

“While he (the lame man, just healed by the prayer of Peter and John) clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s, astounded. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people, ‘Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To

PASCHAL TRANSITION

“It is the day of resurrection! Let us be radiant, O people! Pascha! The Lord's Pascha! For Christ our God has brought us from death to life, and from earth unto heaven, as we sing the song of victory!” (Paschal Canon, Irmos-hymn of Ode 1) Transitions can be hard. And yet I am invited, on “the day of the resurrection,” to join the Lord’s Great Transition, – the Lord’s “Pascha” or “Passover” from death to life, and from earth to heaven. This “day” is every day in the life of anyone who believes in the risen Lord; “This is the day which the Lord has made” (Ps 117/118: 24), also this Friday of Bright Week, on which I am, once again, invited to join “the Lord’s Pascha” and to transition from any

UPON THOSE IN THE TOMBS

“Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.” (Paschal Troparion-hymn) Christ is risen! – as most of you have probably heard by now. I for one have heard the news many times this week, and I’ve also been hearing and singing the above-quoted hymn many times, these past few days of Bright Week. But I’d like to “hear” the news of our Lord’s rising from “the dead” once again this morning, that I may once again choose to “rise” in Him, and to receive wholeheartedly the “life” He is “bestowing,” yet not forcing, upon me. As I rise from bed this morning, I recognize that I have a choice, – either to be with “those in the tombs” and dead-

LET GOD ARISE!

“Let God arise (Ἀναστήτω ὁ Θεός, Да воскреснет Бог), and let his enemies be scattered…” (Ps 67/68: 1) God doesn’t force His salvific, good works upon us. Good things or “God-things” happen to us when we “let” them, embracing God’s presence and light in our lives. This is why we have so many “Amen-s” in our liturgical services, because it’s important for us consciously to “let” God’s truth and power “be” as they are, rather than block them out through our own concerns and fears. That’s what faith is: letting God be the God He truly is, in my life. That’s why today, on Holy Saturday, we begin to proclaim the words of Ps 67/68, which we will repeatedly sing throughout the Paschal season: “Let G

HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP

“He has no form nor comeliness; and we saw him, but he had no form nor beauty. But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; he was a man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness, so that his face was turned away: he was dishonoured, and not esteemed. He bears our sins, and is pained for us: yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction. But he was wounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our iniquities: the chastisement/teaching of our peace (παιδεία εἰρήνης ἡμῶν) was upon him; and by his bruises we were healed. All we as sheep (ὡς πρόβατα) have gone astray; every one has gone astray in his way; and the

GOD BELIEVES IN US

“When he (Judas) had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified; if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’” (Jn 13: 31-35) There is so much to contemplate, on this Holy and Great Thursday, the day of the Lord’s Mystical Supper, at which He establishes

SHE HAS DONE A BEAUTIFUL THING

“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. ‘Why this waste?’ they asked. ‘This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.’ Aware of this, Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you bothering this woman? For she has done a beautiful thing (ἔργον γὰρ καλὸν) for me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout

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