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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...

Saturday, December 9, 2017

As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. ThenJesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’” (Lk 17: 12-19)

How surprising that Christ says to this man that his “faith,” of all things, has made him well. This man was a Samaritan...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor 13: 1-3)

What a divinely disconcerting passage this is. I “gain” nothing, says St. Paul, when I don’t have love, even if I’m doing and saying all the “right” things; even if I “understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith,” as in, the Orthodox faith. My words and actions fail to be constructive for myself and others, but rather fall flat, if what I’m saying and doing is...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

“…But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.” (Rom 3: 21-26)

…Say what?! This is one of the many complicated passages in St. Paul, dealing with the whole issue of “justifi...

Saturday, March 25, 2017

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, O full of grace (κεχαριτωμένη), the Lord is with you! Blessed are you among women!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.” (Lk 1: 26-29)

Mary was not an un-reflecting kind of person. She was “greatly troubled” by, and “considered in her mind,” what in the world an angel, – yes, an angel, no less, – was talking about. She needed to know more, because the “greeting” made no sense in the context of Mary’s life-experience thus far.

I’m thinking about this today, because I just read something t...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

“…And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing… Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13: 2, 8-13)

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