2 Homilies on the cross: What is the way of the cross? Why this epistle which does not mention the cross?

Two homilies on the Precious Cross:
The entire Gospel is important, but some passages are absolutely critical to understand and follow. This is one of them. It explains what the way of the cross is, and teaches a principle that we must use literally every moment of our lives – to learn to always make a good “exchange”. We explain what the Lord means when He commands us to “deny” ourselves, and what the answers to His questions: “What shall it profit a man…” and “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” must be. These are not rhetorical questions – you must answer them.

The Epistle for the Exaltation of the Cross never mentions the cross. There are many epistles that mention the cross; why was this one chosen?

What Shall a Man Give in Exchange for His Soul? 3rd Sunday of Great Lent – Holy Cross Mark 8:34-9:1

Brothers and sisters, this is now the midpoint of the fast, the Sunday in which we exalt the All-Holy Cross, the third Sunday of Great Lent.

In this gospel that we read today, there are many important points, and there are important questions which you must answer. I think the most important question is this: What shall a man give in exchange for his soul? The question before it is: What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? But that is sort of, more of a general question.

The question that follows it, what shall a man give in exchange for his own soul, applies to every moment of your life. It’s not just a general theoretical question. These are not rhetorical questions.

A two-fer today: Homilies on the two Sunday Gospels and St Gregory Palamas – sin,sickness,faith,healing,perfection – it’s all in there.

A two-fer today: Homilies on the two Sunday Gospels and St Gregory Palamas

St Gregory PalamasSynopsis: This is an important discussion, too wonderful to believe for most Christians, but absolutely true, and the main teaching of St Gregory Palamas: To be Christian is to become perfect. The Gospel for St. Gregory teaches this in a hidden way, when it says: “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture”. Let us look in wonder at his teaching, the Gospel John 10:9-16, and the Matins Theotokion: “Adam’s nature was made Godlike O Virgin, when without undergoing change, God took flesh within thy womb, and we who were deceived of old by the hope of becoming Gods, have been set free from the ancient condemnation”, and how we are to pursue perfection.

Synopsis: Why do we speak of the Paralytic borne of four during Great Lent? It is because we must learn that we are paralytics because of sin, and the relationship of sin to sickeness, physical and mental. We must also learn what saving faith is and that we must help out our brother.

Twelve hour vigil in front of Planned Parenthood in McKinney TX. Abortion Euphemisms. Anger. Do not reason with the unreasonable.

On Tuesday, Mar 6, for 12 hours, I prayed with many other Orthodox Christians in front of the McKinney Planned Parenthood in the “Orthodox Day” in the “40 Days for life, McKinney TX” prayer vigil. The purpose of vigil in front of these houses of another currently legal, government promoted and funded “peculiar institution “, is, for me, the healing of all people touched by abortion, directly and indirectly – the mother, father, other children, other family members, abortion workers. I know others pray for the especially for the murdered innocents, but for me, their suffering is over. … 12 hours is a long time. As in most things in life, this time was large amounts of “space” punctuated with brief, important moments. Some of the moments were very intense, and at the time. Here goes.

The Triumph of Orthodoxy must occur in the heart, and will be because of doing simple things, as the Gospel teaches today

Orthodoxy and life is very deep and complex, but the essence of Christian life is simple. The Gospel today teaches us a simple way, and if we obey the simple apostolic command, we will not be confounded. If we think too much, we will always be confused. We look at the calling of Nathaniel and the simple way he was told to approach his doubts; this applies to EVERY doubt and difficulty in our life. “Come and see!” is the only door to the triumph of Orthodoxy, that is, the fullness of the indwelling of God, in our hearts.

The Hymns of the Sunday of Orthodoxy proclaim the restoration of the ikons and their most important teaching – the Incarnation with all its implications, and the reason why we fast.

The hymns for the Sunday of Orthodoxy, which proclaim the restoration of the icons, are a primer in Christology. Their most important teaching is explained, using examples from the services. Also the purpose of fasting, from a matins hymn, is clearly explained, and the importance of the hymnology of the church and how it teaches us true theology is discussed. All the following hymns are mentioned:

Thou who art uncircumscribed, O Master, in Thy divine nature, / wast pleased in the last times to take flesh and be circumscribed; / and in assuming flesh, / Thou hast also taken on Thyself all its distinctive properties. / Therefore we depict the likeness of Thine outward form, / venerating it with an honor that is relative. / So we are exalted to the love of Thee, / and following the holy traditions handed down by the apostles // from Thine icon we receive the grace of healing. (Sunday of Orthodoxy, Vespers, Lord I have cried)

We venerate Thy holy icon, loving Lord, / asking Thee to pardon our transgressions, Christ our God. / For Thou of Thine own will wast pleased in the flesh to ascend upon the Cross, / so to deliver from the bondage of the enemy those whom Thou hast fashioned. / Therefore in thanksgiving we cry aloud to Thee: // Thou hast filled all things with joy, our Savior, when Thou hast come to save the world. (Sunday of Orthodoxy, Troparion, Tone II)

Depicting Thy divine form in ikons, O Christ, we openly proclaim Thy Nativity, Thine ineffable miracles and Thy voluntary Crucifixion. So the devils are driven out in fear and the heretics, their fellow workers, lament in shame and sorrow. (Sunday of Orthodoxy, Matins, Sessional Hymn)

Moses, in the season of abstinence, received the law and proclaimed it to the people. Elijah by fasting closed the heavens; and the three children of Abraham through fasting overcame the lawless tyrant. Count us worthy, O Christ, through fasting to attain the Feast of the Resurrection, as we cry aloud: “Holy God, Holy and Strong, Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us!” (Sunday of Orthodoxy, Matins, Praises)

How to learn to forgive. Sunday of Forgiveness, 2012

On Forgiveness Sunday, on the precipice of Great Lent, we hear in the Gospel the last important piece of essential information for preparation for Great Lent and salvation in general. Forgiveness is the most important topic here, after we have been taught about in the preceding Sundays about the Judgment, the process of sin and repentance, and the deadly sin of judging others. The first and last Sundays of preparation are like bookends, because the man who judges will not forgive, and the man who forgives will not judge. We talk about, mainly, how we can learn to forgive others. This is mostly from us knowing ourselves. This skill is not optional, because our Lord said “if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”.

A personal note: I get very little feedback about my homilies, but this one “felt good”, and later I was told by someone whose opinion I trust that this was one of my best homilies