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Sunday, April 1, 2018

     “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Mt 5: 21-24) 

     This is not my Church’s reading for today, when we are celebrating Palm Sunday, the day on which our Lord enters Jerusalem, where He is soon to be killed on a cross. Nonetheless, I am thinking about th...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen...’” (Lk 24: 1-6)

The two angels, the “two men in dazzling clothes” are not all that direct in delivering the news of the resurrection to these women. First, they allow the women to be “perplexed” for a bit, about the rolled-away stone. And then, “suddenly,” the two make their appearance, introducing themselves with the silliest...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

When You did descend to death, O Life Immortal, / You did slay hell with the splendor of Your Godhead, / And when from the depths You did raise the dead, / All the Powers of Heaven cried out, / O Giver of Life, Christ our God, glory to You!” (Troparion-hymn of Holy & Great Saturday)

The great “silence” of Holy Saturday, when the God-Man lies in the tomb, is different for all those involved. For Joseph of Arimathea and the women who had seen “how his body was laid,” and now, on the Sabbath, “rested according to the commandment” (Lk 23: 56), it was a day of great mourning and buried hope.

For us, however, today’s “silence” is more like the calm before a storm. Because we know that the Lord of the Sabbath is “working” even as “all mortal flesh” is silent in the face of His horrifying death: “M...

Friday, April 14, 2017

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Elo-i, Elo-i, lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ And some of the bystanders hearing it said, ‘Behold, he is calling Elijah.’ And one ran and, filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’” (Mk 15: 33-39)

Centuries before the events of this Holy and Great Fri...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

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 new covenant in my blood. But behold the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table.” (Lk 2...

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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 for me (εἰς ἐμέ). For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.’ Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I see Your bridal chamber adorned, O my Saviour, and I have not the garment, to enter therein; O Giver of Light, make radiant the vesture of my soul, and save me.” (Exaposteilarion-Hymn of “Bridegroom Matins” on Holy Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday)

Some of us have not fasted enough, or prayed enough, to be well-prepared for the upcoming celebration of Pascha. But in fact the hymns of this Holy and Great Week, like the one quoted above, speak of and for all of us, as ill-prepared for the ”bridal chamber” that is the upcoming celebration. – Like the man in the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, who is found to have no “wedding garment,” and is thrown out for his impropriety (Mt 22: 1-14).

But today let me let go of any preoccupation with my “ill-preparedness” and join the celebration, handing ov...

Monday, April 10, 2017

Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight, / And blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching, / And again, unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless. / Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep, / Lest you be given up to death, and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom. / But rouse yourself crying: Holy, Holy, Holy, art Thou, O our God, / Through the Theotokos have mercy on us.” (Troparion-Hymn of “Bridegroom Matins” on Holy Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday)

This hymn, chanted in our churches at the morning-service of the first three days of this Holy and Great Week of our Lord’s passion, refers to the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Mt 25: 1-13). In that well-known parable, there are five “wise“ virgins, signifying those of us who are well-prepared, with “oi...

Friday, April 7, 2017

We have finished the spiritually-beneficial forty days! O Lover of Mankind, we ask: Grant us also to see the Holy Week of Your passion, that we may glorify Your mighty deeds, and Your ineffable dispensation for our sakes, as we sing with one mind: Lord, glory to You!” (Lenten Triodion, Friday of Week 6)

Today is a difficult day to write one of these reflections, because there is so much going on in our liturgical calendar(s). Some of us, on the Older Calendar, are celebrating the great feast of the Annunciation, or “the beginning of our salvation” (as this feast is called in its Troparion-hymn). At the same time, we are transitioning to the beginning of Holy Week, having “finished the forty days” of Lent, according to the Byzantine liturgical calendar. Today Lazarus rests in his tomb for t...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’…After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he sa...

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