Monday, May 26, 2014


Today's Gospel poses a perennial question: Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why are some of us born with various infirmities--such as blindness--while others are born whole? There was actually a book written a number of years ago by a Jewish rabbi called Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?  I never read it, but it was a bestseller--New York Times, Time Magazine, your name it, yet the review I read (surprise!) concluded that though the book was intriguing, it offered no definitive answer to the question posed. 

Consider Job, a truly righteous man, who lost all he possessed and ended up sitting on a dung hill scraping his puss filled boils with potsherds--and yet, by his proverbial patience and longsuffering endurance, could exclaim, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord!"

Our Lord assured His disciples that neither the blind man himself nor his parents sinned that he should be born blind, but rather that the glory of God should be revealed.  Still we ask, Why me and not him?  Why was I born in a ghetto and she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth?  Some people get all the luck....With my luck, things are bound to turn out bad....I was abused....I am a victim....I can't help it, I was born that  way!

These are common ways of thinking nowadays, but such an attitude is futile and gets us nowhere.  It is a product of our egocentrism and our unwillingness to accept reality as it is, according to the unfathomable Providence of God.  The spirit of the age is that we should all be equal, that the good things of this world should be equally distributed and that no one should be left out in any way.  But like I told my own children when they were teenagers, life isn't fair.  And though we are all equal in the eyes of God in the sense that we are infinitely precious in His sight, there is no spiritual law that says we must be inherently equal.  Some are rich and some are poor.  Some are sick and disabled, while others are healthy and whole.  Some tend to be lazy while others are consumed by the ambition to get ahead.  And, of course, some of us are intelligent and possess various talents, while others possibly possess gifts of an entirely different order.

In any case, evil circumstances are inevitable in this fallen world.  Bad things happen along with the good, and we cannot always control the impact outside forces exert on the course of our lives.  We can, however, choose to glorify God whatever our circumstances, to be profoundly thankful to God for all things, knowing that--as St. Paul reminds us--all things work together for the good for those who love God and strive to fulfill His commandments.   

Monday, May 19, 2014


Jesus said unto the Samaritan Woman at the well, "whoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I give him shall never thirst again."  Truly these words apply to all things whatsoever that men may seek in this fallen world--apart from God--in pursuit of happiness and fulfillment.

Whether it be the latest electronic toy, a big house with fancy furniture, dining sumptuously in gourmet restaurants--and all things whatsoever that constitute the so-called "good life"--sooner or later, every worldly attraction will lose its luster and cease to satisfy our insatiable thirst, so that we find ourselves constantly seeking to acquire more of the same, until in the end we are left with a God-sized hole that simply cannot be filled with the fleeting pleasures and satisfactions of this world.

I suspect that the Samaritan Woman had thought, If only I can find the right man who can provide for me security and all the pleasures of the marital life, then I shall be happy.  But sadly she had already gone through five husbands, and by the time of this encounter at the well, the man she lived with was not her husband.  She was--as the supposedly quaint and old fashioned expression has it--"living in sin."

The truth is, nothing in this temporal life is permanent.  The latest novelty or fad might entice us for awhile, providing a false sense of fulfillment, but soon enough these attractions begin to weary us and we are off to find a still newer and more promising source of distraction. 

Jesus told the Samaritan Woman that if only she knew the gift of God and Who it was Who offered it, she would have asked, and He would have given her living waters.  By this He means the Holy Spirit, who is indeed the gift of God Himself to the thirsting human soul.  St. Seraphim said that the whole purpose of our life on earth is to acquire the Holy Spirit, for it is by this means that we are united to God and become partakers of the divine nature.  The Samaritan Woman (St. Photini) was slow to understand, but once she opened her heart at last to God's gift, she was filled to overflowing with the living waters of eternal life.  May we also--having set aside all vain and frivolous pursuits--prove ourselves worthy to receive this gift.


I encourage my readers to check out my latest novel--THE CHANGELING--at Amazon Books.  "Following her third miscarriage, Tatiana Anderson is devastated and teeters on the edge of insanity. Her wounds only begin to heal after her husband, Alex, arranges for the adoption of a twelve year old girl named Charitina ("Charley") from his place of employment--the mysterious quasi-governmental institution known as The Castle.  Charley is a delightful girl who immediately steals her parents' hearts, but then--three years later--her soul is apparently snatched away in the night and all that remains is a shell.  What follows is a harrowing adventure in which one dream sequence is succeeded by another.  The question is: shall the light finally prevail over the darkness?"

Saturday, May 17, 2014


It came to pass that Jesus came to the Pool of Bethesda, where a multitude of "impotent folk" were gathered, waiting to be cured.  For it was widely believed that from time to time an angel would descend from above and stir the waters, and that whoever had the good fortune to enter first after the stirring would be cured of his infirmity.

Now there was a man there who had been a paralytic for thirty eight years.  When Jesus approached him and asked if he truly desired to be healed, the man responded that whenever the water was stirred, he "had no man" to lift him into the pool, so that someone else always got there before him.  It was at this point that Jesus told the man to lift up his bed and walk, cautioning that he should sin no more lest he should be afflicted with something even worse than paralysis.

The question is....Are we not all "impotent folk" (the word means "lacking power") paralyzed by those sinful passions that bind us?  And so we hope against hope that somehow a miracle will occur to heal our infirmities.  The truth is, we are--humanly speaking--powerless to save ourselves.  Try as we might, we simply cannot pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps--and we "have no man" to lift us when the hour of deliverance is at hand.

Yet there is indeed a Man--the Godman Jesus Christ--who can by a single word set us free from our wretched condition.  We must, however, first of all truly desire to be healed.  But who, you might well ask, would not desire deliverance from their sinful condition?  Yet the sad truth is that many would rather choose to remain paralyzed than to "sin no more"--that is, to consciously renounce their attachment to the sinful passions and to live a life of ongoing repentance.

However, there simply is no magical cure that will grant us healing and salvation apart from a lifelong struggle against our sinful passions and desires and a genuine commitment to change and to be changed.  Apart from the abundant grace of God, it is impossible to be set free from those infirmities that bind us to this world.  Only beware that having once been healed, you become negligent and complacent, so that in the end something even worse should befall you. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


While the Holy Apostles cowered behind closed doors "for fear of the Jews," the Noble Joseph fearlessly approached Pilate to claim the body of Jesus, which he took down from the Cross, wrapped in fine linen and placed in a rock hewn tomb.  Finally he rolled a large boulder to seal the entrance.  What courage, faith and devotion Joseph demonstrates, while those who had been most intimate with our Lord over the course of His three year mission are seemingly paralyzed by depression and a loss of hope. 

The Myrrhbearing Women likewise seek to fulfill their service of love, rising early in the morning to anoint the body of our Lord with sweet smelling spices--though the whole situation does at the moment seem hopeless.  Besides--"Who shall roll us away the stone?" the grieving women ask.  Nevertheless, they persist in completing their self-appointed task--and a moment later, their persistence is rewarded.  As soon as they raise their eyes from the earth and behold the tomb, they are astonished to see that the stone has already been rolled aside--not by any human agency, but rather by the power of God Himself.  Even more incredible, an angel reveals to the women that Christ has indeed arisen, just as he foretold.

Now this stone can also symbolize our own unbelief and spiritual blindness.  We profess to believe, joyously proclaiming, "Christ is risen!", yet too often our attitude and behavior would seem to suggest that our Lord still lies in the tomb, that despite the words of the angel, we persist in seeking the living among the dead.  On one level we believe, but on a deeper level, His death and Resurrection seem to have had no significant impact on our everyday lives.

So we too might ask, "Who shall roll away the stone?", because it is indeed--from our human perspective--very large and immovable.  The answer is, of course, that it is God alone Who can roll away the stone of our unbelief.  But if this is to occur, we must--like the Myrrhbearing Women--set aside our sorrow and despair, persisting to fulfill our own service of love toward God and our fellow man.  Only then shall God roll away the stone from our passionate, hardened hearts that we might behold the empty tomb and receive the promise of eternal life in the heavenly Kingdom.