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Monday, August 26, 2019

     

    “Every one should remain in the calling (ἐν τῇ κλήσει) in which he was called. Were you a slave when called? Never mind. But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. So, brethren, in whatever (state) each was called (ἐν ᾧ ἐκλήθη), there let him remain with God.” (1 Cor 7: 20-24)

     This is a difficult passage about our “vocation,” or “calling” from God. More specifically, it’s about 1. The fact that God has “called” us, and 2. The place or state we were in, when He did so. And St. Paul says, sure, if you were in a bad place at that time, when H...

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

     ”But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel (τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, of the good news), so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” (Phil 1: 12-14)

     St. Paul’s decision to follow his “vocation” or “call,” to follow Christ, led the Apostle to much pain and isolation, even unto imprisonment and “chains.” As Carl Jung wrote about the whole messy business of following one’s “vocation,” which he considered an essential part of “the development of personality”: “...The words, ‘many are called, but few are c...

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

  “When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ And they discussed it among themselves, saying, ‘We brought no bread.’ But Jesus, aware of this, said, ’O men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to perceive that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pha...

Friday, July 13, 2018

  “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual/divinely-reasonable worship (λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν). Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to be high-minded above/beyond what needs to be minded (μὴ ὑπερφρονεῖν παρ᾽ὃ δεῖ φρονεῖν), but to think with sober judgment (φρονεῖν εἰς τὸ σωφρονεῖν), each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.” (Rom 12: 1-3)

     The message I carry away from this passage today is, “Keep things simple!” By and in the Word (“Logos”) of God, we are giv...

Thursday, May 17, 2018

    “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ Then they gathered around him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to th...

Friday, September 29, 2017

Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of/because of the Son of man (ἕνεκα τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου)! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” (Lk 6: 22-23)

How can we know when we’re “hated” or “excluded” or rejected in some other way, specifically “because of the Son of man,” and not for some other reason? We know this is happening “because of the Son of man” when we are rejected specifically for being ourselves, according to our “vocation”; I mean, according to our response to Christ’s call to us personally, to be and to act and to serve according to our God-given character, faith, background, and all our other gifts and chall...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Priest (silently): “Again and countless times we fall down before You, and we implore You, O Good One, Who loves mankind: That You, having regarded our prayer, may cleanse our souls and bodies from every defilement of flesh and spirit, and grant to us to stand before Your holy altar of sacrifice, free of guilt/debt and condemnation (ἀνένοχον καὶ ἀκατάκριτον). Grant also, O God, to those who pray with us, progress in life (προκοπὴν βίου), faith, and spiritual understanding (συνέσεως πνευματικῆς). Grant that they always worship You with awe and love, partake of Your Holy Mysteries without guilt/debt or condemnation (ἀνενόχως καὶ ἀκατακρίτως), and be deemed worthy of Your celestial Kingdom.” (Second Prayer of the Faithful, Byzantine Divine Liturgy)

Here, a few moments before we begin the Cheru...

Saturday, July 1, 2017

So you also must consider yourselves (λογίζεσθε ἑαυτοὺς) dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.” (Rom 6: 11-12)

Well that’s easier said than done, some of us might say, as we dismiss this passage for all practical purposes. After all, does it really matter what we “consider ourselves,” or don’t “consider ourselves,” when it comes to sin’s “reign in our mortal bodies”? Does our perspective or view of ourselves matter, when our “mortal bodies” call to us to “obey their passions”?

Yes, perspective does matter. The words I tell myself matter, and have power. Because I, as a human being, am made up not only of the “powers” and calls of my “mortal body,” or its unreflected “emotions.” Contrary to the small...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

"O Holy God, Who is resting among the holy ones, praised by the Seraphim with the thrice-holy voice, glorified by the Cherubim, and worshiped by every celestial power, You have brought all things into being out of nothing. You have created man according to Your image and likeness and adorned him with all the gifts of Your grace. You give wisdom and understanding to the one who asks, and You overlook not the sinner, but have set repentance as the way of salvation. You have granted us, Your humble and unworthy servants, to stand even at this hour before the glory of Your holy Altar of sacrifice and to offer to You due worship and praise. Master, accept the Trisagion Hymn also from the lips of us sinners, and visit us in Your goodness. Forgive all our voluntary and involuntary transgressions,...

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...

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