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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

     “The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants—not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all, as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against...

Thursday, February 1, 2018

If we say we have no sin (ὅτι ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν), we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn 1: 8-9)

Is “sin” all that hard to admit, before a “faithful and just” God? No, not really. Because He can and “will,” indeed, “forgive” and “cleanse” me. It’s much harder, I’d say, to burden myself with self-justification, before myself and the rest of merely-human “others” and their opinions, neither “faithful” nor “just.” 

To say that I have no “sin” (ἁμαρτία in Greek, meaning, “to miss the mark”) means to be in burdensome denial, about the “truth” of myself and others. Because, time and again, I do miss “the mark,” which is God’s specific call to me, or my “vocation,...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, ‘What do you seek?’ And they said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, ‘So you are Simon the son of Jona? You shall be called C...

Monday, October 2, 2017

Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin (ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε); do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no place (τόπον) to the devil.” (Eph 4: 25-27)

What kind of “anger” is St. Paul talking about here? The kind that is directed not at people, either others or ourselves, but at “falsehood.” This kind of “anger” is a gift from God and a helpful tool, which I can pick up briefly to “put away falsehood.” But I don’t let “the sun go down” on such anger, lest it mutate into a “falsehood” of its own, which will begin to eat away at me and my relationships with others.

Today let me use anger to shed God’s light on darkness, rather than to perpetuate it. Let me not be afraid to...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him. We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’” (Jn 9: 1-5)

So the innocent suffering of a child born blind was not “because” of anybody’s sin, but for the works of God to be “made manifest in him.” Because the birth of a helpless, blind child calls the parents or caretakers of the child to extra-attentive service and selflessness, which are “works of God,” to care for the life of this child. (This is true, BTW, in...

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Now the man who had been healed (at the pool of Bethesda) did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, ‘See, you are well (ὑγιὴς, healthy)! Sin (ἁμάρτανε) no more, that nothing worse befall you.’” (Jn 5: 13-14)

What does our Lord mean by “sin no more”? Is that even possible, for any human being? I think our Lord means “sin” (amartia, missing the mark) in the “big” sense. Not in the “small” sense, of pronouncing an idle word here and there, or occasionally getting irritated, or oversleeping, or getting distracted by “sinful” images or sounds, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and stuff like that.

What does “sin” mean in the “big” sense? It means missing “the” mark or purpose of my life, by n...

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain and are about to die, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember then what you received and heard; keep that, and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.” (Rev 3: 2-3)

There are so many helpful passages in Scripture against spiritual sloth and procrastination. But I happened to come across the above-quoted one this morning, which is part of a message to the church in Sardis, and it really struck me with regard to my “sins of omission.” That is, my tendency to “drop out” of contact with loved ones who live far away, neglecting to make a simple phone call; or my tendency to avoid making simple amends to those with whom I work, by avoiding a mu...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

“…He (Pilate) entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, ‘Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’” (Jn 19: 9-11)

Pilate was in a position of civil “power,” which is given to him “from above,” as our Lord reminds him. More surprisingly, perhaps, Jesus mercifully adds that “therefore” Pilate’s sin is lesser than that of Judas, who was not burdened with any position of public authority. While Pilate is still “guilty of a sin,” as a public servant he finds himself pushed to carry...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be (so) now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” (Mt 3: 13-17)

 

St. John the Baptist was “sent from God” (Jn 1:6) for a specific ministry to the people; to “make straight the paths of the Lord” in the people’s hearts, by calling them to “the baptism of repentance” or “metanoia,” a...

Saturday, August 8, 2015

"As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.’” (Jn 9: 1-3)

 

What does the Lord mean when He says this strange thing, that neither the blind man nor his parents “sinned”? Doesn’t everybody “sin,” at least from time to time? Were these three people, the blind man and his parents, the only three in the history of humanity who never, ever “sinned”?

 

Here Jesus is using the word “sin” (“amartia” in Greek, which means “missing the mark”; or “missing the objective,” which is salvation) in the broad sense, of what their overall objective in life was. These people, apparently, did...

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