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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The most pure Temple of the Savior; / the precious Chamber and Virgin; / the sacred Treasure of the glory of God, / is led today into the house of the Lord, / bringing with her the grace of the Spirit. / Therefore, the angels of God praise her: / ‘Truly this woman is the abode of heaven.’” (Kontakion-hymn, Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple)

Today, those of us on the “New” Calendar celebrate the Most-Pure Virgin “being led,” at three years of age, into the Temple; and those of us on the Older Calendar – the feast of the Archangel Michael and All the Bodiless Powers (i.e., the invisible creation of angels, archangels, seraphim, cherubim, etc.). Thankfully, the above-quoted hymn allows me to reflect on both feasts, as it also mentions the angels.

The angels praise with us the...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made both (τὰ ἀμφότερα) one, and has broken down the dividing wall, the hostility, in/by his flesh, abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and...

Sunday, August 27, 2017

“…And Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (Mt 19: 23-26)

In our part of the world, many of us have more than enough, in terms of food, clothing, housing, and material “comfort.” This kind of affluence can lead to a false sense of self-sufficiency, and a complacency with respect to God, as if He were “unnecessary.” Our relative affluence also contributes to our widespread spiritual afflic...

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Behold, now is the acceptable/favorable time (καιρὸς εὐπρόσδεκτος, время благоприятное); behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6: 2b)

The best time, the most “favorable” time, for me to respond to God’s call to me, to be found or “saved,” like a ship lost at sea, is now. And this is true, whatever is going on in my chaotic life in the moment, and however little time I seem to have for matters “spiritual.” The Apostle tells me, “now is the day of salvation.” Because God meets us where we are. We may be limited in our places and times of prayer, and in our forms of prayer, sometimes very feeble, informal, and not the way prayer is “supposed” to look, – but He is “everywhere and fills all things,” and is not limited in hearing us, anywhere and at any time.

So let us not procrastinate, o...

Monday, August 14, 2017

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις), but to us who are being saved (τοῖς σῳζομένοις) it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Cor 1: 18-20)

Today, those of us on the Older Calendar begin the Dormition Fast, while those of us on the “New” Calendar complete it and begin to celebrate the great feast of the Mother of God’s Dormition. Regardless of where we find ourselves within the awkward reality of different church-calendars, St. Paul refers to all of “us” as those who are “being saved,” as distinct from those who “are pe...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, ‘Now you are dismissing your servant in peace, O Master, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’” (Lk 2: 25-32)

Three things surprise me about St. Simeon, for...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Draw therefore water with joy out of the wells of salvation. And in that day you shall say, sing to the Lord, call aloud upon his name, proclaim his glorious deeds among the Gentiles; make mention that his name is exalted. Sing praise to the name of the Lord; for he has done great things: declare this in all the earth. Exalt and rejoice, you that dwell in Sion: for the Holy One of Israel is exalted in the midst of her.” (Is 12: 3-6, Septuagint-translation)

As those of us on the Older Calendar enter the great feast of The Baptism of the Lord or Theophany, when we have the great blessing of water in our churches, we also hear this prophecy, among the many Old-Testament readings included in the Theophany-services. It calls us to “draw water with joy”; to quench our thirst, both physical and s...

Friday, October 21, 2016

…But the rulers scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’ One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’” (Lk 23: 35-39)

How ironic is this repeated demand, that Christ prove Himself as “King” and “save” Himself and us, – right at the moment when He is accomplishing just that, the salvation of the world. But these people don’t see it, because they are too busy “saving” or salvaging their own vision of kingdom, and their own “grasp” or control of it. So they are bitt...

Friday, July 22, 2016

After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished to fulfil the scripture, said, ‘I thirst’ (Διψῶ). A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (Jn 19: 28-30)

A literally “excruciating,” physical thirst was part of the agony of anyone dying in this horrible manner, by crucifixion. But as one of the few, precious words offered to us by our Redeemer in His final moments, this word, Διψῶ (I thirst), sticks in my mind as more than an expression of only His physical state. His entire journey, His entire coming into our world speaks of His undying “thirst” for our good, our salvation. And so also He called me to “thi...

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