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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...

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, September 13, 2017

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers (μέτοχοι) in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the Αpostle and High Priest of our confession. He was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in his house. Yet Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, as the builder of a house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by some one, but the builder of all things is God.” (Hebr 3: 1-4)

Here’s a simple, but liberating, thought. As we go about our vocations, as “partakers in a heavenly call,” we participate in the building of our own “house,” in light of God’s life-giving word. We go about our daily responsibilities, trying to do the next right thing, growing and developing both physically and spiritually. But as we do “the next right thing,” whether it’s...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit (πνεῦμα εὐθὲς) within me.” (Ps 50/51: 10)

The “right” spirit is the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. He carries me in the “right” direction, like the wind carries a weak little bird in its flight, because God (“G” “O” “D”), as I heard somebody say, is all about “Good Orderly Direction.” Conversely, the “not right” kind of spirits, when I choose to befriend them, carry me all over the place, so I aimlessly “miss the mark,” that is, where I am supposed to be going, according to my God-given purpose or vocation. This state of affairs is both disorienting and lonely, leaving me flapping my wings against all sorts of hostile winds, on my own.

Today let me recognize, once again, God’s “right” Spirit, Who is always ready to carry me, when...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) withstood them (Barnabas and Paul), seeking to turn away the proconsul (Sergius) from the faith. But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.’ Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.” (Acts 13: 8-11)

Now, the Apostle Paul is not “nice” to the magician, having looked at him “intently.” (I can just imagine that “look”). Nor is the author of the Book of Acts,...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me also this power, that any one on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right (εὐθεῖα) before God…’” (Acts 8: 18-21)

That’s one of the great things about the Holy Spirit: His power cannot be bought, sold, or otherwise manipulated, (despite mankind’s efforts to do so throughout Church History). All we can “offer” the Holy Spirit is ourselves, as He offers Himself to us. Like Simon, we can have “neither part nor lot” in God, – without actually “having part and lot” in H...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance (μετάνοιαν) and forgiveness of sins (ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν) is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you the promise of my Father; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’” (Lk 24: 45-49)

They are to proclaim two vital things, in His name: 1. “Repentance” (a change of mind or change of focus); and 2. “Forgiveness” (ἄφεσις, a “letting go,” or “setting free from”) of sins. (The English word “for-give,” similar to the Vulgar Latin “per-donare” and German “ver-geben,” means to giv...

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