CHRIST IS RISEN

“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!...’” (Lk 24: 1-6) When Nietzsche intuited that “God is dead” in our modern-day culture, he meant it figuratively, in the sense that the Enlightenment

CHRIST IS RISEN

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (Jn 1: 1-5) Today Christ tramples death by death, inviting us to come out of our self-imposed “tombs” and “darkness,” with Him. Let me let Him take me by the hand, and pull me out of my rut, if I happen to be stuck there. Today I can hand myself over to Him, in a bit of faith and heartfelt prayer, even if my “darkness” seems too “dark” to be overcome by this Light coming

CLOTHED IN MAJESTY

“Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. And the women who had come with him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the com

“I THIRST!”

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!’ Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to his mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.” (Jn 19: 28 – 30) Today, on this Holy and Great Friday, I say with the Lord, “I thirst!” Because it’s OK, and more than OK, to admit that we “thirst,” ever since the God-Man demonstrated to us what it means to be perfectly-human and said, “I thirst!” – just before being served the awful “sour wine,” and gave up His spirit. Toda

“DIVIDE IT AMONG YOURSELVES”

“And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the

“WHY THIS WASTE?”

“Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head, as he sat at table. But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, ‘Why this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor.’ But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing (ἔργον καλὸν) to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me….’” (Mt 26: 6-11) According to another Evangelist, John, it was the treacherous Judas Iscariot, and not any other of “the disciples,” who objected to the “

BEHOLD, THE BRIDEGROOM COMES!

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to thos

CHRIST, THE CORNERSTONE

“Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.’” (Mt 21: 42-43) This conversation of our Lord with the chief priests and elders, about Him becoming the “cornerstone,” takes place in the Jerusalem Temple, built of stones. Christ indicates that He is the “stone” that they, “the builders” of Orthodox religious life at that time, centered in the Temple-built-of-stones, “rejected.” Where, in what kind of “building,” has Christ become a

FEAR NOT, DAUGHTER!

”The next day a great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’ And Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it; as it is written, ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on an donkey’s colt!’ His disciples did not understand this at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that this had been written of him and had been done to him.” (Jn 12: 12-16) Here is the full text of the prophecy of Zechariah, written ca. five-and-a-half centuries before the Entry of our Lord i

EXPECTING “GOOD THINGS” FROM GOD

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world (ὁ εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἐρχόμενος).’” (Jn 11: 23-27) “Yes,“ I respond with Martha today, I do believe that You, Lord, are the One “who is coming into the world,“ – also into our world today, bringing New Life, – as we prepare to celebrate Your resurrection. Let m

DON’T SELF-ISOLATE

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (Jn 15: 1-4) I am reminded today, as many Christians celebrate Good Friday, how our suffering-and-life-creating Lord encouraged us not to be “cut off” from Him, even in the “pruning” process we undergo in our suffering in this life, in one of His final talks with us, before He headed to

GOING & DYING WITH CHRIST

“Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.’ Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’” (Jn 11: 11-16) Today most Orthodox Christians prepare for Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday, while other Christians already celebrate Holy Thursday, or the Lord’s Supper wi

EXTEND YOUR SOUL

“…If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Is 58: 10-11) As the fasting season draws to a close, and we prepare to accompany our Lord Jesus Christ on His way to the Cross, let me “extend my soul” to others, including Him. Today let me take a step back from my own expectations of others, and see what I can do, however small, to “satisfy the afflicted soul” in my vicinity. As the Prophet Isaia

THE NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL BURNS

”Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (Jn 12: 24) As our hearts break today, watching the beautiful Notre Dame cathedral in Paris “fall” and “die” as it’s consumed by fire, I am thinking of this Scripture-passage, about a grain of wheat “falling into the earth” and “dying,” …that it may bear “much fruit.” I’m thinking, how terrible, and yet light-filled, this symbol of a burning church, during the very week that our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters celebrate the Lord’s Passion, when He approaches the death and burial of His Body “into the earth,” that He may “bear much fruit” for us, in t

BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES

“The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the ass and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’” (Mt 21: 6-9) At every Divine Liturgy, in the middle of the Eucharistic Prayer, we proclaim these words of the crowds in Jerusalem. Right after we chant the “triumphal hymn” of the heavenly powers, “Holy, holy, holy…,” we follow that hymn with the “Hosanna… Blessed

REJOICE, (EVEN) WITH NO SPOUSE!

“Rejoice, O un-wedded (without-a-bridegoom) Bride! / Χαίρε, Νύμφη Α-νύμφευτε. / Радуйся, Невесто не-невестная.” (Refrain, Akathist-Hymn of the Theotokos) In the Akathist-Hymn to the Theotokos, celebrated on this 5th Saturday of Lent, we praise the Theotokos not only for who/what she “is“ and “has,“ but also for what she is “not,“ i.e.,“ wedded,“ and what she does “not“ have, which is a spouse or bridegroom, hence we praise her as “Α-νύμφευτε,” or one “without a bridegroom” (without a “νυμφίος“). Is this cause for celebration, the fact that the Most-Holy Theotokos had “no bridegroom,” in the usual sense, in her specific vocation, of bringing our Lord into the world? Yes, apparently so, as thi

FEMALE-NESS IN GOD

“The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man; He shall stir up his zeal like a man of war. He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud; He shall prevail against his enemies. ‘I have held my peace a long time, I have been still and restrained myself. Now I will cry like a woman in labor, I will pant and gasp at once. I will lay waste the mountains and hills, ... I will bring the blind by a way they did not know…” (Is 42: 13-16a) In today’s reading from Isaiah, we see God using not only “male” imagery, but also “female” imagery, to refer to Himself, as He reveals Himself to us. He likens Himself not only to “a man of war,” but also to One Who “will cry like a woman in labor,” Who “will pant and gasp at o

REMEMBERING DEATH

“As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it shall not be, and it shall know its place no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from generation to generation on those who fear him…” (Ps 102: 15-17a, LXX) To “remember that you will die” (memento mori) has been considered a healthy sort of reflection, since ancient times. It’s not a morbid thought, in light of the New Life we look toward, in Christ. But it’s also both liberating and sobering for our here and now, as the reality of death helps us to cherish/prioritize what really matters to us, “at the end of the day,” and to take a step back from unnecessary concerns and bat

ON HAVING CHILDREN, OR NOT

“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ But Abram said, “O Lord God, what wilt thou give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘Behold, thou hast given me no offspring; and a slave born in my house will be my heir.’ And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir; your own son shall be your heir.’” (Gen 15: 1-4) Why is Abram so concerned that he has “no offspring”? Because in his time, the only hope for “new life” after one’s own death was in/by one’s “offspring.” Before the Coming of Christ, and His “New Co

“HOW” WE SPEAK

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Prov 15: 1) Does this verse mean I should lie, rather than tell the truth, when the truthful “answer” might disagree with my interlocutor? No, that’s not what Holy Wisdom tells us in this passage. He is talking, rather, of “how” we speak, rather than of “what” we say. As the very-next verse of Proverbs says, “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.” (Prov 15: 2) So if we’re to be “wise” with His Wisdom, our “tongue” is to “use knowledge rightly,” rather than “pour forth foolishness.” This is very hard, as most of us will know. But with God, all things are possible! So le

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