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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

     ”The maid who kept the door said to Peter, ‘Are not you also one of this man’s disciples?’ He said, ‘I am not.’” (Jn 18: 18)

     Peter is the same man who, earlier in this very chapter of the Gospel according to John, drew a sword when our Lord was arrested in Gethsemane, and in a vain attempt to “stand up” for His Master, cut off the right ear of the high priest’s slave (Jn 18: 10). But nobody asked or “called” Peter to do that. Yet a bit later, as we see above, when he is truly ”called” to stand up and be counted as one of the Lord’s disciples in a less dramatic way, – to respond truthfully to a maid’s simple question, – he fails to do so.

     So the call to being a “martyr” or “witness” to the Lord does not always come wrapped in heroism and extraordin...

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

     “If we say we have no sin (ὅτι ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν), we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn 1: 8-9)

     Is “sin” all that hard to admit, before a “faithful and just” God? No, not really. Because He can and “will,” indeed, “forgive” and “cleanse” me. It’s much harder, I’d say, to burden myself with self-justification, before myself and the rest of merely-human “others” and their opinions, neither “faithful” nor “just.”To say that I have no “sin” (ἁμαρτία in Greek, meaning, “to miss the mark”) means to be in burdensome denial, about the “truth” of myself and others. Because, time and again, I do miss “the mark,” which is God’s specific...

Monday, February 3, 2020

     “One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and took his place at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.’ And Jesus answering said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ And he answered, ‘What is it, Teacher?’ ‘A certain creditor had t...

Sunday, February 2, 2020

     “Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And inspired by the Spirit (ἐν τῷ πνεύματι, in the Spirit) he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel.’” (Lk 2: 25-3...

Saturday, February 1, 2020

     ”He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And...

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

      “Come, O wretched soul, together with your body/flesh (σὺν τῇ σαρκί σου), and confess to the Creator of all (τῷ πάντων κτίστῃ ἐξομολογοῦ), so that henceforth, you shall abstain from the past foolishness/meaninglessness (τῆς πρὶν ἀλογίας) and offer tears of repentance to God.” (Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, Ode 1)

     We “come” into the “repentance” (change of mind / change of focus) of the Lenten season not only with/in our “soul,” but also with/in our “flesh.” Hence all the dietary restrictions, the longer church-services and the great prostrations connected to Lenten prayer(s), which draw also our bodies into our communal effort to re-focus on “the Creator of all,” – the Creator of “all things, both visible and invisible.” By engaging our entire being, both phy...

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

     “Lord and Master of my life, grant me not the spirit of idleness, despondency, love of power, and idle talk.” (Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem, Part One)

     Today Lent begins for many Christians, while for those of us in (most of) the Orthodox Churches, it will only begin next Monday. Nonetheless, (little-known “fun fact”), even we Orthodox Christians have Lenten-style services on this Wednesday and Friday of the pre-Lenten “Cheesefare Week,” although dairy-products and fish are allowed. By “Lenten-style services” I mean that this Wednesday and Friday no Divine Liturgy is celebrated (as it is not on weekdays of Lent); and along with other hymns and prayers from the Lenten Triodion, the Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem is read, with great prostrations. So we have a foretaste of Lent this...

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