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Sunday, July 14, 2019

           

           As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him and saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.’ And he said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ But the centurion answered him, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.’ When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, ‘Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table wit...

Friday, July 12, 2019

           

         “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” (Ps 18/19: 4, Communion-Verse on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul)

        Today, when our Older-Calendar churches celebrate the great feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, we refer this Psalm-verse to the “voice” and “words” of the Holy Apostles, the fallible but faith-inspired human beings, who famously endured certain ups and downs, on their cross-carrying journeys. While they themselves were limited, and did not physically travel “into all the earth,” nor “to the ends of the world,” their unified “voice” and salvific “words” have continuously spread, passed on from generation to generation “to the ends of the world,” by way...

Thursday, July 11, 2019

           “And Paul, looking intently at the council, said, ‘Brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience up to this day.’ And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, ‘God shall strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?’ Those who stood by said, ‘Would you revile God’s high priest?’ And Paul said, ‘I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’’” (Acts 23: 1-5)

           As those of us on the Older Calendar prepare to celebrate the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (tomorrow), I am thinking about this inciden...

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

   “But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, ‘Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead I am on trial.’ And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. Then a great clamor arose; and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended, ‘We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?’” (Acts 23: 6-9)

     I dare say, St. Paul is quite shrewd here, pitting one part of the Sanhedrin, the Sadducees, against another, the Pharisees. He s...

Sunday, October 28, 2018

     “Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.” (Gal 6: 18)

     Just as we often respond to a celebrating priest, “And with your spirit,” after he has blessed us at our church-services, so does St. Paul say to all of us, “Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” Because all of us, both clergy and laity, while having different vocations, are given to share in One and the Same Spirit, as St. Paul writes: “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink (ἐποτίσθημεν) of one Spirit.” (1 Cor 12: 13)

     Whatever my state of mind is today, and whatever “mood” I may be in, with regard to the whole business of my faith, – whether uplifted or discouraged or indifferen...

Friday, October 26, 2018

     “Give my greetings to the brethren at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house (κατ᾽οἶκον αὐτῆς ἐκκλησίαν). And when this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, ‘See that you fulfil the ministry which you have received in the Lord.’ I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.” (Col 4: 15-18)

     The final greetings at the end of St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, which are part of our Church’s reading for today, are very personal, and specific to the community for which they were written. And yet, we read these greetings, year after year, as part of our Church’s liturgical “reading program“ or lectionary...

Thursday, October 11, 2018

     “For we are the (true) circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh. Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” (Phil 3: 3-8a)

     Once again, St. Paul pleads with us not to have “confidence in the flesh,” but in “knowing Christ Jes...

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

     ”But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel (τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, of the good news), so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” (Phil 1: 12-14)

     St. Paul’s decision to follow his “vocation” or “call,” to follow Christ, led the Apostle to much pain and isolation, even unto imprisonment and “chains.” As Carl Jung wrote about the whole messy business of following one’s “vocation,” which he considered an essential part of “the development of personality”: “...The words, ‘many are called, but few are c...

Monday, September 17, 2018

    “…and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all. And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” (Eph 1: 22 – 2: 2)

     Is St. Paul alleging that we, members of “the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all,” no longer “sin” or “trespass,” – hence we are “alive”? No, the Apostle knows that we are still works-in-progress, who still “sin” and “trespass” on occasion, falling short of the “fulness” of our calling. But St. Paul is, indeed, assertin...

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

       “And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offence/scandal of the cross (τὸ σκάνδαλον τοῦ σταυροῦ) has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you (about circumcision) would even cut themselves off! For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that yo...

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