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Saturday, November 3, 2018

     “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 5: 13-16)

     Fr. Robert F. Taft, SJ, a beloved teacher of many, including me, and who passed away yesterday, was both these things: both “salt” and “light.” By the “salt” of his particular genius, he brought alive the “flavor” of otherwise-dead historical facts, – sometimes even to the point of distur...

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

     “’While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.’ When Jesus had said this, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, yet they did not believe in him.” (Jn 12: 36-37)

     I do “have the light” today, whenever I choose to turn toward Him. I “have the light” in the many, powerful and life-giving gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Church “in this world”; gifts like Holy Scripture, and other sacraments or mysteries that live and breathe in us and through us, on a daily basis, whenever we choose to embrace them in faith. 

     Let me choose to “believe in the light” offered to me today, by the ever-generous hand of our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, He has “done so many signs before” me already,...

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

“…Yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and preserving the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you; understanding will guard you…” (Prov 2: 3-11)

This passage from Proverbs will be read at today’s Vespers, celebrated together with the first (of this L...

Saturday, February 17, 2018

All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt 11: 27-30)

The reading quoted above is for this Saturday preceding Lent, the Saturday of All the “God-Bearing” (θεο-φόροι, бого-носные) Fathers, i.e., the great ascetics who came to “bear” or to carry God within themselves, dedicating their lives entirely to God-focused fasting and prayer. They left the ranks of “all who labor and are heavy laden” with merely-human conc...

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 5: 14-16)

This passage is read on the feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs, Sts. Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom, celebrated today (NC). They “let” the “light of the world,” Christ (Jn 8: 12), “so shine” through them, that it lit up the lives of all who encountered them.

When I choose to “let” Christ light up my life, connecting with Him in my heart, I can also be of service to others, shining love onto hatred, forgiveness onto wrong, harmony onto discord, hope onto despai...

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” (Jn 8: 12)

How many times have I heard these words, and they just passed over me? But this morning, while it’s still dark outside and a group of drunks is singing and laughing outside my windows in the center of Vienna, I just came across this passage and it’s almost overwhelming. It’s “killing me softly,” if that doesn’t sound too cheesy. (Sorry to those of you who will now have Roberta Flack’s voice in your heads).

What does it mean, to “have the light of life”? It means walking and talking and reacting to things in God-reliance, rather than burdensome self-reliance. It means breathing the fresh air of the Lord’s presence, in the sense of belongi...

Monday, September 11, 2017

Glory to You, Who has shown us the light! Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among people. We praise You. We bless You. We worship You. We glorify You. We give thanks unto You for Your great glory…” (The Great Doxology, Byzantine Matins)

Traditionally this is the way we greet the first light of the rising sun, every morning at matins, by praising God for “showing us the light.” This traditional, light-embracing approach to a new day is particularly helpful to me this morning, on September 11, when difficult memories fill my heart, not only as a native New-Yorker, but also as an Orthodox Christian on the Older Calendar, commemorating the Beheading of St. John the Baptist today. “Bad things happened today,” is the dark thought that comes to mind this morning, as I’m w...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

“…For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair…” (2 Cor 4: 6-8)

As imperfect human beings in an imperfect world we do, at times, encounter “darkness,” both within and outside ourselves. But as Church or “ekklesia” (from “ekkaleo,” meaning, “to call out”), – as “those called out” by God to follow His Son, in communion with Him, we are never entirely light-less, even when encountering darkness. Because ours is a God Who knows how to deal with darkness. He doesn’t shy away from...

Friday, July 7, 2017

“…The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony (εἰς μαρτυρίαν), to bear witness (μαρτυρήσῃ) to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness (μαρτυρήσῃ) to the light.” (Jn 1: 6-8)

Today, as those of us on the Older Calendar celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, I’m thinking about this business of “bearing witness” (“martyria” in Greek, i.e., martyrdom), specifically to “the light.” It was the whole point of St. John the Baptist’s life, or his vocation. The Forerunner literally “bore” witness, or “carried” it, as his great gift and cross that included great suffering. “Martyrdom” or “bearing witness” to the Light always includes suffer...

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 5: 14-16)

Who? Us?! I can just imagine our Lord’s followers, the men and women to whom He said these words, looking behind them and each of them thinking, “He can’t mean me.” But Christ did mean them. And in our day, He means us, His followers in the today, when He says, “You are the light of the world.”

So I need not hide today, nor hesitate to “shine before men,” as outrageous as that may sound to me. Because our Lord tells all of us to do so, in His light, which has become ours in baptism. Let m...

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