Monday, July 21, 2014


"And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed...."  And Jesus, seeing the faith of his friends, says to the man, "Son, be of good cheer: thy sins are forgiven thee."  Then certain scribes who were present accused Jesus in their hearts of blasphemy--for God alone has the power to forgive sins (which is not the same as forgiving a person who has offended us, which we are commanded to do).    

But as the Godman, Jesus discerned the secret thoughts of their hearts and asks, which is easier: to say "Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Arise and walk?"  And to prove that He really does have the power and authority to forgive sins, he commands the sick of the palsy  to "Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house."

But it might well be asked: wasn't the whole reason for bringing the man to Jesus that he might be healed of the palsy?  And could not Jesus have done just that, without first forgiving his sins?  Of course He might have, but then the man would have departed in a worst state than when he had arrived.  For the crucial issue here was not the ailment itself, but rather the underlying cause.  After all, sickness and disease are unpleasant and inconvenient, but there is, nevertheless, an inevitable cure for every human infirmity: death, which is the natural limit God had set for all of our physical pain and suffering.

The consequences of sin, however--unless we sincerely repent--extend into all eternity.  For it is sin alone that breaks our communion with God, and apart from His grace, we shall be consigned forever to a hell of our own making.  Thus the Mysteries of the Church are appointed for the salvation of soul and body, for as a psychosomatic unity, a man's soul and body must either be saved together, or else he is lost forever. 

This is why God so often allows sickness and disease to fall upon us.  It is either a wake-up call--that all is not as it should be in our lives--or else it can become the very means by which we work out our salvation through patient endurance.  In any case, it behooves us to endure with gratitude whatever circumstances God allows in our lives, that by these means we may be proved worthy of eternal life in His heavenly Kingdom.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


As Jesus entered into the region of the Gergesenes, He encountered two men possessed of fierce devils that cried out, "What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, the Son of God?  art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?"  So....The devils bear testimony: first, that they are indeed destined to suffer eternal torment on that Great Day when our Lord shall return with glory to judge the living and the dead.  Until that Day, God has allowed Satan and his fallen angels (the demons) to tempt the faithful, that by resisting this temptation we might prove ourselves worthy of the heavenly Kingdom.

But by the providence of God, Satan's days are numbered, and the demons are painfully aware of that.  They are desperate, therefore, to destroy as many human souls are they possibly can within the allotted time.  Thus, Satan prowls the earth like a ravenous lion, "seeking whom he may devour."

Secondly, the devils confess that Jesus is, indeed, the Son of God, Who shall begin His eternal reign at the end of time.  It is significant, then, that "even the devils believe...and tremble," while the atheist foolishly claims to deny God's very existence.  As the Psalmist declares, "The fool says in his heart, there is no God."  There are, however, very few true atheists.  Those who claim to be such have for the most part willfully blinded themselves to His presence, using their alleged atheism as a cloak for their sinful and self-indulgent way of life.  For as Dostoyevsky said, if there is no God, all is permitted.

Of course, if we don't believe in God, it makes no sense to believe in Satan either.  Yet many folk who claim to believe in God deny the existence of Satan, and thus become easy prey for the insidious suggestions of the demons.  Moreover, the deceptive lies of the demons are often so subtle that they are well nigh impossible to detect unless are hearts have been purified by divine grace and we have attained at least a modicum level of discernment.  In The Screwtape Letters,  the senior devil explains to his pupil that Satan's greatest triumph in modern times has been to convince the vast majority of people that Satan does no exist, or that he is merely a comic figure with a long tail and a pitchfork.

As Christians, we are called to put on the whole armor of God, that we might stand aright, resisting by the grace of God every temptation of the Evil One.  We are called to spiritual warfare as soldiers in the militia of Christ.  If we truly believe in God and strive to obey His commandments, Satan can have no power over us...unless we voluntarily give him this power.  Still, demons have thousands of years of experience and their deceptions are so subtle, we can so very easily be led astray without even knowing it.  We must be ever vigilant, therefore, and not let down our guard even for a moment...lest we become like those swine who were driven by the demons to run heedlessly over the cliff unto their own destruction.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," writes the Holy Apostle.  This is so because according to its very definition, sin is any thought, word, deed or desire that separates us from God--and God is the one and only Source of life.  It stands to reason, then, that apart from God, we are truly dead spiritually--nothing but walking corpses--though we may enjoy the very best of physical health.

There is a lot of emphasis nowadays on healthy living--with the emphasis on good food and exercise--and this is good, considering that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Nevertheless, how are we profited by good health if we shall in the end be cast into that place of outer darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth?  Repent, therefore, while there is still time, and turn from the darkness of this world to the light of Christ, who alone can grant us the gift of eternal life.

Now there are various definitions of sin prevalent in today's world.  Some only consider it to be an act that directly causes harm to another.  Others regard it  merely as "breaking the rules" decreed by God, as when we violate the laws of the land and are sentenced by the judge to a term of imprisonment or the payment of a fine.  But as St. John the Evangelist affirms, God is love--not some sort of vengeful judge who demands satisfaction for our wrongdoing and delights in casting sinners into hell.

Indeed, God does not desire the death of any man, but rather that he turn from his evil ways and live.  He created us out of love and for love, and so--as St. Augustine taught--"Our hearts are ever restless till they find their rest in Thee."  No matter how sinful we may be, God will never reject us--it is we ourselves who reject Him, thoughtlessly spurning the gift of love He desires to bestow upon us.

The centurion in the Gospel who approached Jesus for the healing of his servant knew that he was not worthy that the Lord should come under the roof of his house, but he was nevertheless convinced that our Lord possessed the power and authority to fulfill his petition.  And so--if we are humble like the centurion and strive always (however inadequately) to nurture the love of God in our hearts, He will surely grant to us healing of soul and body and all things whatsoever needful for salvation.