Archive for February, 2008

What did Christ do on the Cross?

Monday, February 11th, 2008

38th Monday after Pentecost, 2088-02-11

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

Here the holy Apostle explains our Lord’s work on the Cross. Jesus Christ voluntarily choose to die on the cross in order to cause our sins to die. The idea that he was sent to the cross by his Father in order to be punished in lieu of our being punished for our sins is a preposterous one, which the humble fisherman refutes magnificently here.

Look closely at what he says: our Lord “bare our sins in his own body”, that is, all of mankind’s weaknesses, and predilection to sin, which made it impossible for us to attain unto the righteousness of God, in his own very human body.

This act of “baring our sins” is also stated in the parable of the good Samaritani. When the man, representing all of humanity was lying half dead on the road, Christ, our good Samaritan, attended to his wounds (all of which were because of our sins and our inability to keep from sinning) with oil and wine, and then put him on his beast and took him to an inn (church) for further recuperation. The beast represents the incarnation of the Son of God, who became man precisely to “bare our sins in his own body” and bring about our healing.

How did he heal us? As a man, he conquered sin; one could say he was “dead to sins”. As the God-man, when he “bare our sins in his own body on the tree”, He passed on to us the ability to also be “dead to sins” and taught us the way, and took care that his successors, the Holy Apostles, innkeepers, would be equipped to continue living and teaching and passing on this way.

His ministry was one of healing, not of forestalling judgment and placating his Father. He and His Father, Who are oneii, were of one mind on His life’s mission, to teach us the way, and empower us to follow it, so that we, “being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness”

How wretched and lamentable we would be if our Lord only forgave our sins on the cross! Even if we are forgiven “seventy times seven”iii times, we would still be sinners, and sin causes great pain to our soul. The Lord came to forgive, and to heal. Forgiveness without healing is clearly not enough, because only the “pure in heart” will see God,iv and a forgiven sinner is still a sinner, and because of his impure nature, unable to be with God. The Lord forgave his disciples, and yet, when they were in the presence of the uncreated light on Mount Taborv, they could not bear it, because they had not become pure in heart. Only the healing of the soul, accomplished by our grace aided attempts to follow the commandments, will allow us to gaze upon the beauty of God without pain.

Our Lord’s work on the cross can be considered to be “central” to His mission in that it demarcated the two portions of his work, His teaching and accomplishment of the way of life before his death, and after his human death, His shattering of the gates of Hell and subsequent ascension into heaven, which completed his healing of our very nature. With the sending of the Holy Spirit, we would have all that we need to be able to live righteously, and be “dead to sins, (and) should live unto righteousness.”

This homily is also archived with many other text and audio homilies at http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

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1 Peter 2:21-3:9 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

iLuke 10:30-37

ii“I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30)

iii“ Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. “ Mat 18:22 This large number represents infinity, that is, to forgive every time.

iv“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Mat 5:8

vMat 17:2-9; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:29-36 2Pe_1:16-18

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Sunday of Zacchaeus – Luke 19:1-10 – Encouragement

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

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Luke 19:1-10 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.



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Audio talk on: Prayers of the church, ALL HOLY TRINITY

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

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O All Holy Trinity, have mercy on us.

O Lord, blot out our sins.

O Master, pardon our iniquities.

O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for Thy name’s sake.


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36th Sunday after Pentecost – Matthew 15:21-28 – The Canaanite Woman: A Perfect Example Of How To Pray

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

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Matthew 15:21-28: Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.


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36th Sunday after Pentecost – Matthew 15:21-28 – The woman of Canaan

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

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There is an occasional buzzing sound on the recording, but the homily may be heard easily.

SCRIPTURE:Matthew 15:21-28 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.


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Audio talk on: Prayers of the church, O Heavenly King

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

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O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.


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36th Friday after Pentecost – James 2:1-13 – The Royal Law

Friday, February 1st, 2008
Christianity is perfection by degrees. It does not abolish the law – it fulfills it. I have spoken many times about the cognitive dissonance produced in our soul by observing the lamentable reality of our lives – our weaknesses, bad habits, tendency to fall into sin again and again – vs. the promise and requirement of our becoming perfected. What we see in our lives does not approach this ideal!
What to do? Even with the help of Christ, how can we change within so completely?

They key to our COMPLETE change is the ROYAL LAW: (if) “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well”. It is NOT POSSIBLE TO BE SAVED if we do not love our neighbor. It is not possible to love our neighbor if we are a “respecter of persons”, that is, if we love some more than others.
These are well known, but little followed words. They are the EASIER way, because as James makes clear, if we transgress part of the law, we are guilty of all, and we certainly transgress more than just a little bit! We have only one chance; we must live according to the law of liberty. “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty”

The Royal Law, and the Law of liberty are the same. They are both rooted in mercy. Since we have obtained mercy, we must mete it out without regard to persons. This is the key to our regeneration. The EASY way is to love our neighbor, and we know who he is. Let us not mock God by choosing who to love and who we hate, who to treat with deference, and who to ignore – the question of who our neighbor was was answered emphatically by the parable of the Good Samaritan.
As a priest, and a sinful Christian, I have learned that many of us lack confidence that we can ever get completely better – it is that cognitive dissonance thing rearing its ugly head. Since we cannot see the way right now to get better in EVERYTHING, I have proposed a strategy many times – “If you cannot stop sinning, at least be kind!” In order to guard against favoritism, and in the spirit of the words of the brother of the Lord, let me amend that directive: “If you cannot stop sinning, at least be kind TO EVERYONE!”.
Is it really that simple? Can we really be saved by being kind, even though we still sin? What does James say? “ “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.”
Kindness, mercy, non judgment, love – all are fundamentally the same virtues. Our own kindness will save us, if we apply it EQUALLY and liberally to all.
Look carefully at your life. You may think you are kind, but will this belief stand up to careful scrutiny? It is easy to love the lovely; it is easy to be kind to the kind. It is natural to treat well those who we think can help us or hurt us – are we kind to the “little ones” who cannot influence our lives unless we let them? We will hear their voices at the judgment day – what will they be saying? If we have lived according to the law of liberty, we will be judged by it, and be saved.
There is no other way to be saved. If we follow this “Royal Law” (of liberty) carefully, we will see a marvelous thing in our lives – we will get stronger – we will stop sinning. This is for later – for now, let us be no “respecter of persons”: since we cannot stop sinning, let us be kind to everyone.


James 2:1-13 1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? 8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

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