OUR AGEING-PROCESS IN CHRIST

“…He said to him (to Peter) the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know all things; You know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’ This he spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” (Jn 21: 17-19) As we age, in Christ, we are increasingly called to nurture others; to “fee

LIVING HOPE

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (ἐν καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ). In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of J

ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER

“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) On this fourth week of the Apostles’ Fast, as we approach the great feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (this upcoming Friday, for NC-people, and on July 12, for OC-people), I’d like to take pause and reflect on St. Paul’s admonishing-yet-encouraging pastoral “styl

BEING MINDFUL OF ONE ANOTHER

“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

BEING MINDFUL OF ONE ANOTHER

“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 impor

LET US BREAK THEIR BONDS

“Why have the heathen raged, and the peoples meditated on empty things? The kings of the earth were raised up, and the rulers were assembled together, against the Lord, and against His Christ. Let us break their bonds asunder, and let us cast away their yoke from us. He that dwells in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn and the Lord shall deride them.” (Ps 2: 1-4, Septuagint-translation) Let me be both consoled and liberated by this “radical” Psalm, whenever I am confronted with particularly disturbing news-stories about the policies and decisions of our political leaders, who sometimes pander to those who “rage” about, and “meditate” upon, “empty things.” …As is the case in the present-da

REPENTANCE, A GREAT OPPORTUNITY

“Then he began to upbraid the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.’” (Mt 11: 20-24) In our

WHAT DOES “BE PERFECT” MEAN?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You will be perfect, therefore (Ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι), as your heavenly Father is perfect (τέλειος).” (Mt 5: 43-48) The final verse of the above-quoted passage can

METR. KALLISTOS WARE & FATHER’S DAY

“For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions (σχίσματα) among you; and I partly believe it, for there must be differences/factions (αἱρέσεις) among you in order that those who are genuine/proven (δόκιμοι) among you may be recognized.” (1 Cor 11: 18-19) Some “divisions“ occured amongst us just recently, regarding an article published in the online-journal, “The Wheel,“ by His Eminence, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, touching (in part) on the “hot-button“ topic of homosexuality. In this article, Metropolitan Kallistos cautiously raises questions about present-day, pastoral approaches to homosexuals, – without, however, pretending to have answers to the

BUILDING IN CHRIST

“’Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.’ And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority/power, and not as their scribes.” (Mt 7: 24-29)

CHRIST vs. CODEPENDENCY

“So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.” (Mt 10: 32-36) Christ does not force us to be “His”; that is to say, to “acknowledge” Him for Who He is, our One-and-Only Lord and ultimate authority. We are free, so we can alternatively hand ourselves over to “others,” o

FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN

“When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot k

CONTENT WITH WEAKNESSES

“And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, ’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12: 7-10) We don’t know, exactly, what St. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was. We do know that it was a “weakness

“POLITICAL CORRECTNESS” & MISSION

“To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law—though not being myself under the law—that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law—not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ—that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Cor 9: 20-23) I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, unapologetically: I love St. Paul. What a giant, what a great “Lion of God,” as Taylor Cald

FISHERS OF MEN

“As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.” (Mt 4: 18-22) The Apostles’ Fast is a good time to contemplate what we mean, when we profess our faith in a Church that is, among other things, “apostolic.” In the broadest

A NEW KIND OF FASTING

“Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. And no one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; if it is, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.’” (Mt 9: 14-17) The “Bridegroom” of the Church, Jesus Christ, was “tak

COMING TO BELIEVE

“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O (you) of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the people marveled, saying, ‘Who / What kind (of man) is this (Ποταπός ἐστιν οὗτος), that even winds and sea obey him?’” (Mt 8: 23-27) The word of our Lord Jesus Christ can “work” or “do” things for us that we can’t do for ourselves. And it is through this “working” of His word in our lives, when we repl

HOPING AGAINST HOPE

“The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants—not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all, as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dea

BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.” (Mt 7: 15-20) I have a strange thought today, regarding this warning of our Lord, about “false prophets.” And I’m thinking that we ourselves can be “false prophets” to one another, in our personal relationships, when outwardly promising the ot

BEGINNING THE APOSTLES’ FAST

“For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is (a matter) of the heart, in the Spirit and not in the letter. His praise is not from men but from God. Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way! To begin with, the Jews are entrusted with the messages (τὰ λόγια) of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every man be false, as it is written, ‘That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you judge.’” (Rom 2: 28 - 3: 4) Today we begin

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