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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

  “He said therefore, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.’” (Lk 13: 18-19)

     How subtle is the “Man,” the God-Man Jesus Christ, Who has “sown” just a tiny “mustard seed” of faith in our little hearts. It is enough, even to provide “nests” for others, nay, even to move mountains (Lk 17: 6), – if only we don’t obstruct its growth in our “gardens.”

     So let me not be discouraged today, by the smallness of my faith. Because the Sower Who has gifted it to me continues to take care of its growth, by His light and His “rain,” which He sends both “on the just and on the unjust” (Mt 5: 45). Let me...

Monday, June 22, 2020

  ”In hope he (Abraham) believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was ‘reckoned to him as righteousness.’ But the words, ‘it was reckoned to him,’ were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and r...

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

  “The Lord is my light and my saviour; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the defender of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?” (Ps 26/27: 1, Septuagint-translation)

     The opposite of fear is not courage, or self-confidence, but faith. When some form of fear or anxiety rears its ugly head in my heart, like the fear of financial insecurity, of human opinion, of abandonment and being alone, of “failure” or “success,” – it’s a tap on the shoulder, telling me that I’ve slipped away from God-reliance; I’ve lost sight of His loving presence in my life and my world.

     So I need to hurry back into His hands, in some heartfelt prayer, letting His grace liberate me from the crippling effects of fear. Because God’s grace, – His “energies” of mercy, love, and Self-offering com-pass...

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

    “In the middle of the Feast, O Savior, / Fill my thirsting soul with the waters of godliness, as You did cry to all: / If anyone thirst let him come to me and drink! / O Christ God, Fountain of our life, glory to You!” (Troparion of Mid-Pentecost)

     Today we celebrate “Mid-Pentecost” (Μεσοπεντηκοστή, Преполовение Пятидесятницы), which is the “midpoint” of the fifty days between Pascha and “Pentecost” (i.e., the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles on the 50th Day after Pascha). I’m reminded that we’re in the middle of a 50-day journey right now, in case I lost focus on the Church Calendar soon after the 40-day journey of Lent ended. In the Troparion-hymn of this day, quoted above, the Church taps me on the shoulder and says: Hey!! Your soul is thirsting!! Time to come back...

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

     “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh (τὴν σάρκα) of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed… This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’” (Jn 6: 53-55, 59-60)

     All this occurs well before Holy Thursday, when the Lord at His Supper commanded us to eat a certain bread as His “body,“ and to drink a certain cup as His “blood.“ There is no way that already here, in John 6, anyone could have understood these shocking words about “eating His fle...

Thursday, August 23, 2018

     “By night I pondered in my heart, and my spirit asked: Will the Lord reject forever, and will he be favorable no more? Or will he cut off his mercy unto the end? Has he brought an end to his word from generation to generation? Or will the Lord forget to be merciful? Or in his wrath will he shut up his compassions? And (then) I said: Now have I begun; this change is of the right hand of the Most High. I remembered the works of the Lord; for I will remember your wonders from the beginning…” (Ps 76: 6-11, Septuagint-translation)

     The above-listed questions or fears sometimes kept the Psalmist up at night; fears based on the uncertainty of the future. But then he would re-focus and re-affirm his faith, by “remembering” the good works of the Lord, Who always took care of...

Friday, July 27, 2018

    “I believed, therefore I spoke; I was greatly humbled.” (Ps 115: 1, LXX / cf. Ps 116: 10, KJV)

     What a beautiful, Spirit-filled moment the Psalmist shares with us here: he’s been compelled to speak, by and from the conviction of his faith, and “greatly humbled” by that experience. When we make the “living water” of God’s word our “own,” imbibing it in faith, it flows out of us in our own words, somehow also filling us with the gentle grace of humility; with the gentle realism that is humility, and clearing up the burdensome confusion of merely-human words. Just as the Lord promises us, “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn 4: 14, a pas...

Thursday, June 7, 2018

     “And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O (you) of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the people marveled, saying, ‘Who / What kind (of man) is this (Ποταπός ἐστιν οὗτος), that even winds and sea obey him?’” (Mt 8: 23-27)

     The word of our Lord Jesus Christ can “work” or “do” things for us that we can’t do for ourselves. And it is through this “working” of His word in our lives, when we replace fear with even a “little” faith, that we begin to “marvel...

Saturday, May 19, 2018

     “The Lord is my light and my saviour; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the defender of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?” (Ps 26/27: 1, Septuagint-translation)

     The opposite of fear is not courage, or self-confidence, but faith. When some form of fear or anxiety rears its ugly head in my heart, like the fear of financial insecurity, of human opinion, of abandonment and being alone, of “failure” or “success,” – it’s a tap on the shoulder, telling me that I’ve slipped away from God-reliance; I’ve lost sight of His loving presence in my life and my world. 

     So I need to hurry back into His hands, in some heartfelt prayer, letting His grace liberate me from the crippling effects of fear. Because God’s grace, – His “energies” of mercy, love, and Sel...

Sunday, March 18, 2018

     “…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 possibleto him who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.’ And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, i...

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