Sunday, January 31, 2016


It is rightly believed by many that our post modern, post Christian society is rapidly descending into the mire of depravity, unbridled greed, senseless violence, and deception.  Western civilization has largely forsaken God and we have all but lost that moral compass that served to guide us--however imperfectly--in the past.  Our children are taught in our secularized schools that there is no absolute truth, all values are essentially relative, gender identity is fluid, life in the womb is not inherently sacred--and marriage means whatever our courts declare it to mean.

Yet St. Paul confesses boldly, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.  Be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines.  For it is a good thing that the heart be established by grace...."  Therefore it is imperative that we--as faithful Orthodox Christians--should stand firm in the Faith once delivered to the Apostles and sealed by the blood of the martyrs.  "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come."

Truth be told, we are but pilgrims upon this earth, called to be in the world, but not of  it.  As the Holy Apostle beseeches (inspired by the Holy Prophet Jeremiah), "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing."  And so we are commanded to "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

Of course, it is more likely nowadays that our witness will provoke hostility and hatred rather than invoke a desire for repentance and salvation.  But so what?  We are indeed surrounded by "a great cloud of witnesses"--the multitude of holy martyrs of all ages who gladly exchanged their blood for the incomparable glory of God's eternal Kingdom.  Strengthened by the grace if God, we are called to conform our lives not to a world sunk in sin and held in bondage to the Evil One, but rather to our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ--through Whom alone we may hope to be delivered from the darkness of nihilistic hopelessness and despair into the Kingdom of Light.

Friday, January 29, 2016


As the Holy Prophet Isaiah foretold, "the people that sat in darkness saw great light; and to them that sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up."  Likewise, the Holy Apostle Paul proclaims, "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

Now the theme of light runs like a luminous thread throughout the pages of Holy Scripture--in both Testaments, Old and New.  Our Lord Himself affirms that He is the light of the world, and truly it is by the light of His revelation that He dispels the darkness of ignorance and deception that overshadowed the world before His coming. 

In the Mystery of Baptism, our souls and bodies are illumined by the light of grace and our spiritual eyes our opened that we might behold "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."  Moreover, we are--as faithful Orthodox Christians--called to bear witness to this light in our daily lives and relationships, in the midst of a world that is being increasingly submerged in the dark sea of deception, ignorance and unbelief.  Christ Himself warns us that we not hide this light under a bushel, but that we should let it shine forth at all times and in all places.

But alas!  All too often we all but extinguish this light by indulging in sinful passions and--in general--living a worldly and self-centered life.  Our baptism robes are soiled and we find ourselves drifting further and further away from our divinely appointed destiny.  It is, of course, true that "we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."  But it is, nevertheless, our solemn duty to guard this treasure faithfully, to preserve it against every assault of the Evil One. 

This means, however, that we must be willing to strive and struggle to live a life of purity and sacrificial love, casting aside every work of darkness and enduring all things whatsoever for the sake of Christ.  And if this podvig should seem to be beyond our power--it certainly is.  Yet even so, we must remember always that by the grace of God, all things are possible.

Friday, January 15, 2016


"Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the Wise Men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, from two years old and younger."  Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah, "In Ramah there was a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not."  The slaughter of the Holy Innocents was a tragedy that defies an easy explanation: how could a loving God allow such a thing to happen?  After all, these tender young infants could not have done anything to deserve such an untimely death.  Unlike the Holy Martyrs down through the ages, these tender infants did not voluntarily choose to accept torture and death in order to bear witness to Christ.

And yet....  Was not our Lord Himself as an innocent lamb led to the slaughter?  He ascended the Cross and suffered, shedding His precious blood for the sake of the salvation of the human race.  As for you and I: for what purpose have we been born into this vale of tears?  Is it that we might attain to happiness and a carefree life?  God forbid!  It is, rather, only through sacrificial suffering in union with Christ that we may hope to be deemed worthy of salvation in God's eternal Kingdom.

Indeed, our very life in this fallen world is interwoven with tragedy... and death itself is the greatest tragedy of they all.  The slaughter of the Holy Innocents was, after all, a one time event... and through the eyes of faith, the believer behold those martyrs interceding on our behalf before the Throne of God!  What, then, shall we say concerning the ongoing murder of infants still in the womb--cut off before they have even seen the light of day?  This is a tragedy of immense proportions--yet so many in our "enlightened" culture consider the evil of abortion to be of no consequence.As Orthodox Christians, however, we are obligated to speak out against this abomination--thought we may be no more than a voice crying out in the wildness: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord."

According to the testimony of Scripture and the Holy Father, every soul--born or unborn--exists before the ages in the eternal memory of God.  Even those souls which have yet to be conceived are precious in the Lord's sight and have been given a name that shall not be fully revealed until the end of time.  Moreover, for each and every one of us He has prepared--according to His providential wisdom--a unique destiny that belongs to no other.  All that is required is that we voluntarily take up  our cross of sacrificial suffering--and follow Him.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


"When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory."  Thus does the faithful Orthodox Christian await in joyous expectation the full revelation of God's heavenly Kingdom at the end of time.  Setting aside all earthbound thoughts and desires, he mortifies (puts to death) his "members which are upon earth," that his heart--burning with the love of God--might receive "the King of all, Who comes invisibly upborne upon the angelic host."

This is that Great Supper prepared by "a certain man" in today's Gospel.  Rightly understood, this Supper is the ultimate fulfillment of every conceivable hope and desire of the human race.  How is it possible, then, that those guests who were invited to the Great Supper should so easily spurn God's gracious invitation?  One man must inspect the piece of ground he had just bought; another must test five yoke of oxen; while yet another... Well!... he has married a wife.  So it is that these men--like unto Esau--willingly sell their God-given birthright for a pot of porridge!

It is business as usual, then.  As our Lord proclaims elsewhere: when the Son of Man returns to earth, it shall be as in the days of Noah, when the people were buying and selling and giving in marriage--all the while oblivious to the wrath of God that was upon  to descend upon them.

Jesus Christ and the holy Forerunner and Baptist John declared from the beginning that the Kingdom of God is at hand--yet life in this world just seems to go on as ever it did.  I know I've got to get more serious about repentance and my spiritual life, but right now I've got to get to the mall before it closes (some last minute Christmas shopping, you know!)--and then I've got to post those picture on Facebook.  Plus, my car needs to be washed and I've got to check to see how my stock market investments are doing.  Oh, there's church tonight?--I'm really going to try to make it.  So you get the idea--excuses are a dime a dozen, but in the game of eternal life... we're playing for keeps.

Tomorrow may well be another day--but today is the day of salvation.  We are given but one life to live, and so it behooves us that we use our time wisely--careful lest we fritter it away in vain and frivolous pursuits.