PRAYING IN "HOPELESS" SITUATIONS

“Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, and besought him, saying, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’ And he went with him. (…) While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?’ But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’” (Mk 4: 22-24, 35-36) These people say to Jairus, “Why trouble the Teacher any further?” It’s over. Also in our “hopeless” situations, when it appears that the absolute-worst has happened,

LISTEN!

“And he taught them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it had not much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil; and when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.’ And he said, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’” (Mk

CHRIST & CONTROVERSY

“The Pharisees went out, and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed; also from Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from about Tyre and Sidon a great multitude, hearing all that he did, came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they should crush him; for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him.” (Mk 3: 6-10) As His “haters,” the Pharisees and Herodians, were busy plotting “how to destroy him,” our Lord simply “withdrew to the sea” and continued His sa

TRANSFIGURATION & SELF-OFFERING

“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is a good thing that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to him.’ And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any

FORGIVENESS

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fe

WHEN SORROW IS A GOOD THING

“And behold, one came up to him, saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘All these I have observed; what do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ When the

FACE-TO-FACE CONTACT IN 2020

“When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him; but the people would not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.” (Lk 9: 51-53) As we consistently refresh the living memory of the Church known as “Tradition,” we “remember” not only the things the incarnate Lord said and did, but also what He looked like, what His “face” looked like, as He said and did those things. Because face-to-face contact with Him, made possible for us in the Incarnation, and the “memory” of which is handed down to us in holy icons, is an essential part of

THE MOTHER OF LIFE

“Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos, / Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions. / For being the Mother of Life, / She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her ever-virginal womb.” (Kontakion-hymn of the Dormition of the Theotokos) Just as St. Peter said about the Source of Life, our risen Lord, that “it was impossible” that He should be “held” by death (Acts 2: 24), we sing in the above-quoted hymn that death “could not hold” the Mother of Life. As one with a unique role in Salvation History, the Mother of God also has a unique, personal “salvation history”: She experienced Pentecost “before” anyone else, at the Annunciation (cf. Lk 1: 35,

BLESSED IS THE WOMB THAT BORE YOU

“As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!’ But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’” (Lk 11: 27-28) The unnamed “woman in the crowd” who raised her voice and blessed Mary, the most-holy Theotokos, is pointing out the unique, inimitable part of Mary’s vocation, which was giving birth to our Lord Jesus Christ, in the flesh. But none of us share that specific vocation with the one-and-only Mother of God, so we can’t “relate” to it, really, – and by “really” I mean that we can not, nor are we called to, follow the Holy Virgin in that vocation, unique in all of

"NEWSWORTHY" WORDS

“…And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her. In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ’Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?...” (Lk 1: 38-43) As those of us on the “New” Calendar prepare for the upcoming feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos

DELIVERED FROM FEAR

“For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all of one (origin). That is why he (Christ) is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, ‘I will proclaim your name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.’ And again, ‘I will put my trust in him.’ And again, ‘Here I am, and the children God has given me.’ Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.” (Hebr 2: 11-15) Our Lord Jesus Christ “partook” of our human life and our human death, hav

"HELP MY UNBELIEF"

“And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, ‘How long has he had this?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’” (Mk 9: 20-24) The father of the child does believe. And yet he is not quite sure if the Lord “can do anything.” He says quite desperately, almost h

THE MEANING OF "MONDAYS"

“I see the bad moon a-rising I see trouble on the way I see earthquakes and lightnin' I see bad times today Don't go around tonight Well it's bound to take your life There's a bad moon on the rise…” (“Bad Moon Rising,” Creedence Clearwater Revival,1969) “Monday” literally means “the day of the moon.” It is the English translation of the late-Latin “lunae dies,” from a time, in antiquity, when the seven days of the week were named after what the ancients believed to be the seven planets, which were deified, and believed to affect our human decisions and lives. John Fogerty did not believe that about the moon, when he wrote the well-known song quoted above, but – nonetheless – he used the imag

WE ARE THE LORD'S

“He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. He also who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Rom 14: 6-9) How “liberal” of St. Paul, to put our minds to rest like this, not only with regard to our various traditions of fasting and feasting, but also to our various ways of “living” a

CHURCH-POLITICAL DISPUTES

“And they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, ‘If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’ And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.’ John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus sai

THE POWER AND COMING

“Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming (δύναμιν καὶ παρουσίαν) of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed (βεβαιότερον, more sure), which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and th

COME AND SEE

“The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say (this), and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, ‘What are you looking for (Τί ζητεῖτε)?’ And they said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.” (Jn 1: 35-40) Andrew already had a great teacher, St. John the Baptist. But still, he had

AND WITH YOUR SPIRIT

Priest: “Peace to all.” People: “And with your spirit.” Deacon: “Let us love one another…” (Byzantine Divine Liturgy, just before the “Kiss of Peace”) It is in and by the grace of the Holy Spirit that the priest shares with all of us, and we share with him and all others in our midst, in the gift of “peace.” Shortly before the central prayer of Divine Liturgy, the Anaphora, when we (re)-affirm this, our God-given “peace” with “all,” – the “peace from above,” both we and our priest are reminded of this fact, as cited above. As St. John Chrysostom explains to his congregation in a homily given on Pentecost, the main celebrant at Divine Liturgy “does not touch the offerings before he himself ha

CUT IT OFF & THROW IT AWAY

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.” (Mt 18: 7-9) Here the Lord is talking about the worst kinds of “temptations to sin,” – the kinds that are coming to us through something/someone important or dear to us, like one of our arms or feet

TAX COLLECTORS & HARLOTS BELIEVED

“What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.’” (Mt 21: 28-32) How is it that the

© 2020 Coffee with Sister Vassa Inc.

  • Odnoklassniki Social Icon
  • YouTube Reflection
  • Facebook Reflection
  • Vkontakte App Icon
  • Twitter Reflection
  • Google+ Reflection