Monday, December 29, 2014


" A certain man made a great supper and invited many...."  Now who would decline such a gracious invitation--unless his reason for doing so was very compelling, such as "I have just been run over by an ox cart and lie in bed a-dying....I beg to be excused."  For surely it is an insult to the host--who has provided the supper free of charge--when everyone declines on flimsy pretexts.  I am reminded of a friend who said he could not attend my wedding because he had to help his father install a water softener--well, I was rather hurt. 

The excuses given in this parable are just as lame.  It seems that none of the guests invited to the great supper had legitimate excuses not to attend.  But of course in the context of the parable, the stakes are much higher.  The Great Supper is the Kingdom of Heaven, and all the faithful who have been baptized into Christ are invited.  But if we were truly serious about accepting this invitation, we should gladly devote our whole life to serving Christ and His Church, denying ourselves and taking up the cross of sacrificial suffering.

Instead, we all too often make excuses why it is impossible for us to make such a total commitment--at least for now.  We have too many worldly concerns that need to be attended to--and they just can't wait!  And so we spend much of our lives in a vain and futile attempt to secure our place in the earthly kingdom of man.

Yet we are commanded by Christ to "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these other things will be added unto you."  And surely God is true to His word.  So let us, at least for today, "lay aside all earthly cares, that we may receive the King of all."

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


St. Paul writes, "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light...."  It is, however, unfortunate that we too often take for granted the blessings of God--either because we do not fully comprehend at what great a price our Lord has wrought our salvation, or--our stony hearts are impervious to the blessings which God continually showers upon us.

Ingratitude is a grave sin that we too often tend to overlook.  We generally focus on "major" sins such as murder or adultery.  Meanwhile, we pray to God for all sorts of needs, but seldom do we simply prostrate ourselves before Him, our hearts--humble and contrite--overflowing with praise and thanksgiving.

Luke records in his Gospel that Jesus cleansed ten lepers, but only one returned to thank Him--and he was a Samaritan...a member of a despised and oppressed race, with whom the Jews would have no dealings.  As such, he was one of the "poor"--"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall see God.  And indeed, this thankful Samaritan perceived the Divinity of Christ, falling before Him and worshipping Him.  Likewise do we Orthodox Christians perceive Christ's Divinity in the Body and Blood of the Eucharist (which means "thanksgiving").

Every good thing in this earthly life proceeds from above, from the Father of Lights, Who is the sole source of every blessing.  We are but paupers before God, without Whom all of our pretended righteousness is but filthy rags. 

Monday, December 15, 2014


"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."  Indeed!  St. Paul is talking about you and me, poor miserable sinners living in the 21st Century, on the very eve of the final manifestation of the Antichrist.  As I see it, time is speeding up and evil is growing at an exponential rate.  So how can we hope to endure unto the end, when the flow of time shall come to a screeching halt and we shall all stand naked before the dread Judgment Seat of Christ?....Only by the grace of God, which is given to all those who strive and struggle for salvation.

In today's Gospel, the rich ruler turned sorrowfully away when he was told there was one thing lacking: he must sell everything he owns, give the money to the poor...and come follow Jesus.  This was the one thing he could not do, however, because he was so enraptured and caught up in this transitory, earthly life that he could no longer break free from the bonds that enslaved him.

But just consider: while it is true that none of us are rich in worldly possessions, we are, nevertheless, no less bound to the distractions of this earthly life than the rich ruler.  But Christ's command that we give up all that we apparently have for the sake of His Kingdom applies to every one of us.

It is impossible to serve two masters: either we dedicate our lives totally to Christ and His heavenly Kingdom, putting on the whole armor of God and fighting against the powers of darkness, or else our faith is a mere pretense and we shall in the end be cast from the presence of God.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as foolish but as wise, redeeming the time."  But exactly what is time?....It is a mystery that as far as I know, no one had yet been able to adequately define.  What we can say is: time and eternity are mutually exclusive.  God created time, along with the whole material universe.  It is the tyranny of time that binds us to the tragic reality of this fallen world.

The truth is, the fallen human mind can barely conceive of existence apart from time.  To truly transcend the bounds (and bonds) of time and space, what does this mean?  Enough said, however, about such metaphysical speculations.  In this world we live in, time is a given.  So how do we redeem the time?....The simple answer is, by using it wisely rather than foolishly squandering it.

For you see, it was God Who created time in the "beginning," and it is given to us as a gift--that we might be granted the opportunity to work out our own salvation "with fear and trembling."  But the unfortunate fact is, we tend to take this gift for granted, as though there were an unlimited quantity of time at our disposal.  But like every creation of God, time has both a beginning and an end.  The time that has passed is gone forever, and there can be no second chance.  One cannot recycle wasted time....One can only redeem it. 

The fact is, it is only within the God-ordained limits of time that we can choose to set our feet upon the path of salvation.  Now is the time for repentance--once we have passed on from this earthly  life and escaped from the shackles of time, it will be too late. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


In today's Gospel parable, "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully"--so as we see, the man was already rich, and now...he has acquired to many earthly goods that he no longer has enough space to store them all.  The obvious solution, of course, is to tear down the old barns and to build bigger ones--then to spend the rest of his life enjoying the goods he has accumulated--to  "eat, drink and be merry."

Probably most contemporary Americans would consider this to be a good plan, the achievement of the American dream.  Truly we are inundated in our consumerist culture by get rich schemes--"How to Prosper in the Coming Hard Times"--how to achieve financial security and to retire early.  In fact, the dignity of work has been denigrated and the cult of worldly pleasures and selfish pursuits raised to a high level.

But back to the parable:  was it not God who blessed the rich man with such an abundance of goods?  Rather than thanking God, however, and praising Him, the rich man considers this abundance to be his due, while thinking only of himself and the sensual enjoyment of this transient life.

Unfortunately, the one thing the rich man left out of his equation was the sure and certain fact that we are mortal--one day we must all die, and no one knows the day nor hour when God will demand our soul.  It behooves us, therefore, to acquire treasures in heaven--to become rich toward God--because all things earthly shall surely pass away.

We are all but pilgrims and wanderers upon this earth, and whatever we possess is the gift of God.  We are but stewards of these material blessings, and we must therefore strive to use them wisely--not to serve our own needs, but rather the needs of others.  In this way we glorify God and acquire for ourselves treasure in heaven--which neither rust nor moths can consume.