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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...

Saturday, March 17, 2018

     “Though we speak thus, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things that belong to salvation. For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience (μακροθυμίας) inherit the promises.” (Hebr 6: 9-12)

     What promises? The many promises made to us by our Lord, of growth in true life, peace, hope and wisdom, on our cross-carrying journey in communion with Him. ”Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,” He invites us, “for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul...

Monday, January 15, 2018

What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2: 14-17)

I’m grateful to come across the above-quoted passage on this chilly Monday morning in Vienna, as I begin my work-week. I’m reminded that my faith in God, however Orthodox, does not “clothe” or nurture me merely by the words I profess on Sundays; nor does it simply ensure that I speak the “right” words, on the “right” kinds of issues. In fact, the Apostle James tells me, my faith is “dead,” if it does not “warm and fill” my l...

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval. By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things not visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he received approval as righteous, God bearing witness by accepting his gifts; he died, but through his faith he is still speaking. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was attested as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists (ὅτι ἔστιν), and that he rewards those...

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