Thursday, August 27, 2015


The rich young man approached Jesus and asked (according to a variant text, which I prefer), "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?  So He said to him, Why do you ask me about what is good?  There is One Who is good.  But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."  Then the young man asked (as though he did not already know), "Which ones?"  Christ thereupon recites five of the ten--as though to jog the man's memory.  "Oh, those commandments," he might have said.  "Of course I have kept them... since I was a child.  But there's got to be more than that.  So... what do I still lack?"

You see, following the letter of the Law--while never easy--is doable.  Even the Pharisees could boast that they were faithful followers of the Law, carefully observing the traditions of their fathers down to the smallest detail.  (Of course they did this in a spirit of pride, and thus unto their own condemnation).  Beyond this fact, however, they missed the point: the Law revealed unto Moses was never intended to be an end in itself.  It is rather a means through which we express our humble and willing obedience to God and our sincere desire to live our lives according to His precepts.

Jesus says that if we desire to enter into life, it is necessary first of all that we keep the commandments.  He does not say that our merely outward keeping of the Law guarantees our salvation.  Because there are no guarantees--though this is what the rich man seems to have been searching for.  The truth is, we can only enter into the eternal life of God's Kingdom when we are willing to relinquish our own life in this world in a spirit of sacrificial love.  If we desire to save our soul, we must lose it--that we may say with St. Paul, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ in me."

Therefore our Lord tells the young man, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me."  And why?....  Because the man was holding back, just as you and I are tempted to do.  "I will do anything for the sake of my Lord and Savior," we may well say, "except...."  Consider the example of Ananias and Sapphira in the Book of Acts, who held back a portion of the money they had pledged to the Church (and ended up paying for this sin with their lives).  There is almost always an exclusionary clause in our "contract" with God.

But in terms of our relationship with God, it has got to be all or nothing.  He commands that we must love Him with all  of our heart, soul and mind and our neighbor as our very own self.  And while this is indeed a standard most of us fall far short of, let us at least strive to attain it according to the grace God has given us, always remembering Christ's words: "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Jesus took his disciples Peter, James and John to the summit of Mount Tabor, where he was transfigured before them, and the Holy Prophets Moses and Elijah appeared to bear witness.  "Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.'"

What was Peter thinking?  He had just witnessed the transcendent revelation of our Lord's divine nature blazing through His humanity--His face shining like the sun and His clothes as white as the light.  And yet all that Peter could imagine was to construct earthly structures as though somehow to preserve this noumenal experience in time and space.

But then-- even while "he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them," and "suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.  Hear Him.'"  And in that very moment the disciples "fell on their faces and were greatly afraid."

For indeed, God's revelation to the human race can be neither contained nor circumscribed by any categories of human logic, nor can it be comprehended according to philosophical concepts.  The light of Tabor is the uncreated light that has illumined the universe from the very beginning.  It is by this light that we see light, and are enabled by grace to become sons and daughters of God.

The disciples were enabled by the grace of God to behold Christ as He truly is, always and everywhere throughout eternity, as we ourselves are destined to become--if we strive to purify our hearts and to persevere unto the end on the path of salvation.


While my blog is entitled Sermons and Commentaries, so far I have posted nothing but sermons.  Today--for the first time--I will post a commentary.  So here goes....

To those of you who have been following the recent controversy concerning that noble and unmercenary organization providing services so essential to "women's health"--namely, Planned Parenthood--it may be of interest that the latest expose video is now available online.  It reveals how living babies with beating hearts are even now being sold and dissected, their body parts no doubt being sold to the highest bidder (free enterprise in action!)  This video opens with the charming and disingenuous Planned Parenthood executive Deborah Nucatola chatting about how she "huddles" each morning with her team to discuss which babies are likely to yield the best "harvest" of viable body parts.

Next, we encounter Holly O'Donnell--formerly a "tissue procurement specialist" (do they teach that at our local technical college, I wonder?) with StemExpress, who explains how "fully intact fetuses" are often "cultivated" for body parts.  (What with all of this talk of "cultivating" and "harvesting," one might think the topic under discussion is agriculture).  These biomedical "commodities" often include live babies already in the process of being born.

As the video continues, footage is shown of a baby in a dish moving its limbs, while O'Donnell relates how she was instructed by her supervisor to take the baby (its heart still beating), to cut open its face--and to extract its brain.  And though this woman was somehow able to suppress every natural human instinct and to complete the task as ordered, it was then she realized she could no longer continue working for StemExpress.

There is much more that could be written on this topic, but I trust that the average reader of my blog (whatever their political persuasion) is capable of doing the research on their own, and to discover that despite the biased coverage in the mainstream media and the continued support of our Commander-in-Chief, Planned Parenthood is without a shadow of a doubt engaged in patently immoral (by most standards) and probably illegal practices.  Are these practices, in fact, any less evil and bizarre than those "medical experiments" conducted by scientists in Nazi Germany?  Or have we as a nation become so morally insensitized that we no longer  recognize blatant evil--even when it stares us in the face--considering the willful, brutal murder of the unborn to be of no great concern?  If so, may God have mercy on us all!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


When our Lord descended from the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James and John, He was confronted by a man who complained that the disciples who had remained below had been unable to cast out the demon from his lunatic (lit., "moonstruck") son.  After Jesus had rebuked the demon and it came out, the disciples asked him why they had been unable to do likewise, and our Lord replied that it was because of their lack of faith.  He then goes on to say, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.  Howbeit, this kind does not go out save by prayer and fasting."  It was, then, due to the weakness of their faith that the disciples were incapable of casting out the demon.  Even so, evil can become so entrenched that even our most fervent faith is not sufficient to uproot it.

And so, as the Apostle Timothy writes, "be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus....  Ye therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, remembering that no one engaged in warfare entangles himself in the affairs of this life."  Now as baptized Orthodox Christians, we have all been enrolled in the Militia of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit to engage in spiritual warfare against the principalities and powers that rule this fallen world and who ever seek to destroy all who remain steadfast in the Faith--in the sure hope that all who endure unto the end shall be saved.

To be sure, not all of us are qualified to be front line soldiers.  Most of us are called to serve in some capacity behind the lines--according to the measure of grace God has bestowed upon us--supporting those who bear the brunt of the battle.  But whatever our name, rank and serial number, we are obligated by our terms of service to undergo regular training and discipline--even in times of relative peace.  A good soldier will never let down his guard, but remains ever vigilant and prepared for battle, lest the Adversary should attack unexpectedly and find the soldier unprepared for combat.

Now if this be true for a warrior who serves an earthly king, how much more so for a warrior who serves the King of king--not for the sake of worldly glory and honor, but rather that he may be made worthy of the eternal glory of God's heavenly Kingdom?  It is for this reason  that every Orthodox Christian, of whatever rank, is called to live an ascetic life of prayer, fasting, spiritual reading and meditation, and regular participation in the Holy Mysteries of the Church, striving to acquire the virtues while living a life of sacrificial love.  Only thus can we hope to receive a crown of victory on that dreadful Day when our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ shall return to judge both the living and the dead.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."  Truly the Holy Martyr Czar Nicholas loved God with all his heart, soul and mind, and through the grace imparted to him through the sacred rite of Anointing, he deeply loved as well the Russian people who had been entrusted to his care.

"Moreover whom God predestined, those He also called; whom He called, those He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified."  Truly the longsuffering Czar of Holy Rus was consecrated in his mother's womb for the great task set before him: to bear witness to Christ and His holy Church in the midst of an evil, Godless generation.

Czar Nicholas--along with the pious and God-fearing family God had granted him--stood steadfast  in the Faith unto the end, courageously enduring the trials and temptations that inevitably assail "those who live godly in Christ Jesus our Lord," ever assured that no force or power in this fallen universe could ever separate him from the love of God.  The Czar and his Royal Family were as innocent lambs led to the slaughter, ready and willing to sacrifice a temporal earthly kingdom for a heavenly one.

It was through the prayers of Holy Czar Nicholas and his beloved family that the Holy New Martyrs of Russia were endowed with the faith and strength to withstand every assault of the Evil One, and it was through their prayers before the Throne of God that Holy Russia was enabled to cast off the Godless authority, proving that even the gates of hades cannot prevail against the Church Christ established through the preaching of the Apostles and the blood of the Holy Martyrs.

Through the prayers of the Royal Family and the Most Holy Theotokos, Holy Rus shall once again--like the phoenix--arise from the ashes in order to proclaim the final word in world history.