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Thursday, August 1, 2019

      “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6: 11-12)

      In the rite of monastic tonsure, the monk/nun is handed not only a cross, as a “shield of faith,” but also a prayer rope (“komvoschoinion” in Greek; “chotki” in Russian), as a “spiritual sword.” Note that the latter is often (mis)understood as a mere calculator, helping us “keep count” of prayers or prostrations. But in monastic literature and tonsure-rites it is more than that; It’s a “spiritual sword,” because it “helps us conquer absent-minde...

Thursday, June 7, 2018

     “And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Save, Lord; we are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O (you) of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. And the people marveled, saying, ‘Who / What kind (of man) is this (Ποταπός ἐστιν οὗτος), that even winds and sea obey him?’” (Mt 8: 23-27)

     The word of our Lord Jesus Christ can “work” or “do” things for us that we can’t do for ourselves. And it is through this “working” of His word in our lives, when we replace fear with even a “little” faith, that we begin to “marvel...

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

     “After this Jesus went about in Galilee; he would not go about in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. Now the Jews’ feast of Tabernacles was at hand. So his brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples may see the works you are doing. For no man works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.’ For even his brothers did not believe in him. Jesus said to them, ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil. Go to the feast yourselves; I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.’ So saying, he remained in Galilee.” (Jn 7: 1-9)

     The “brothers” of Jesus instruct Him, a...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

“’What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. He went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you…’” (Mt 21: 28-31)

Here Jesus is speaking at the temple, specifically to “the chief priests and elders of the people” (Mt 21: 23). He is telling these religious “professionals,” the ones who “talk the talk,” that they are not “walking the walk,” – the “walk,” that is, into the kingdom of God. Because they were not, in fact, “going and...

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...

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...

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

“’Do not work on the food (ἐργάζεσθε μὴ τὴν βρῶσιν) which perishes, but on the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.’ Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be working the works (ἐργαζώμεθα τὰ ἔργα) of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God (τὸ ἔργον τοῦ θεοῦ), that you believe in him whom he has sent.’” (Jn 6: 27-29)

So, believing in Christ, Whom the Father has sent, is “work.” More specifically, it is “the work” of God, in us. For our part, it involves “working on the food which endures to eternal life,” or seeing to our spiritual nourishment.

What does this mean for me on this cloudy Tuesday, in practical terms? It means staying close to God’s word, and staying, prayerfully, in His presence,...

Monday, October 24, 2016

What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They (the chief priests and elders) said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.’” (Mt 21: 28-31)

These religious leaders called themselves descendents of Abraham, and sons of “th...

Monday, May 16, 2016

For the saving grace of God has appeared to all people, training us to renounce iniquity and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.” (Titus 2: 11-14)


Here the Apostle describes the dynamic adventure of our lives “in this world.” On our cross-carrying journeys we embrace, and are “trained” by, the grace that has “already appeared,” while awaiting the glory that is yet to appear – “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” So when I lead a God-centered life, I never stand in place, nor do I imagine th...

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.” (Prov 12: 24)


A large part of my “spiritual” journey, of my journey to freedom, in God’s light, consists of facing the challenges of my everyday responsibilities “diligently.” I can easily slip into excluding these responsibilities, like opening the mail and filling out necessary forms, from my “spiritual” obligations, as if my work-responsibilities were mundane trivialities. But a life in Christ is not one of “forced labor,” whatever it is I happen to be doing.


I remind myself today that my Lord calls me, and indeed empowers me, to the freedom to do what I should be doing, because I want to do it. His “will” for me is most clearly expressed in my immediate responsibilities, however unpleasant they may seem. So let me embrace...

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