Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; to fulfill the command we must control our thoughts! Matthew 6:22-33

The Lord never gives us a command that He does not explain and teach how to fulfill. In this selection, He first teaches us how to fulfill the command by teaching about the eye, and desire, and then progresses to rebuke our thoughts and anxieties. These things are obviously related! They both tie in to HOW to fulfill the command “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness”.

How to become a Saint. You do want to be a saint, don’t you? Sunday of All Saints, 2012

We are ALL called to be Saints (holy). This is the purpose of Christianity and the church – to guide people towards sanctity and holiness – to become Saints. The scriptures read today are an instruction manual in how to become a saint. It boils down to priorities, the courage to make the effort to hold to them, even when it is difficult (confession) and patience.

The world, that is life enslaved by the affections of the flesh. St Basil the Great.

The word “world” is used in multiple senses in Scripture. It is important to recognize the different uses, and the most important discernment to have is to understand what is sinful and leads away from God – this is perhaps the most important understanding of the word “world”. We can leave the nuances of syntax to the philologists and theologians, but all Christians must recognize that which is of the world and is therefore to be avoided.
St Basil the Great, in his discourse on the Holy Spirit, incidentally gives a wonderful definition of the most important understanding of the word world. Let’s look at it, with text pertinent to “the world” highlighted in bold italics.

The entire Trinity participated in the act of creation – it is right there in the bible! Psalm 32:6

By the Word of the Lord were the heavens established, and all the might of them by the Spirit of His mouth, Who gathereth together as into a wineskin the waters of the sea, Who layeth up the abysses in storehouses. (Psalm 32:6, Boston SeptTranslation)

Some translations have “breath of His mouth” – the Holy spirit is also known as “breath” or wind.

This is a Trinitarian reference. There are many more in the Scripture. The Father, Son (Word) and Spirit (breath) are seen to be creating. since creation is an act of will, and God, being one in essence, has one will, all persons of God were equally involved in creation.

The “take home” about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. From Mark the Ascetic.

There is lots of complicated “stuff” regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit, and His being sent. The take home is pretty easy, no matter how difficult the theology is. He came to us and abides in us for our illumination and perfection. We cannot use reason to understand Him or the energies of the Holy Trinity, and God’s relationship with Himself, but we can accept His enlightenment in one way only, as St Mark the Ascetic teaches:

“(The Holy Spirit) … gives to each person what is needful..

“I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you” – learning to read the heart and discriminate between the old and new ways.

The readings for Divine Liturgy on Pentecost give the story of Pentecost and our Lord #39;s prophesy of it. The "take home" for Pentecost is from one of the Vespers readings: "I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26) We can know a lot about Pentecost, but if we do not learn how to discern the old ways, which the heart falls into frequently, from the new ways, we will have learned nothing useful for our salvation. We look into how to learn to discern what is in our hearts, whether it be according to the old, or according to the new. The Holy Spirit will not continue to abide in a heart that does not seek after the new ways. We contrast new and old ways and discuss how to develop the skill to discern between them. This is a critically important subject. This homily is a bit longer than normal, but it is important, and it is difficult to discuss important things, and important skills in 12-15 minutes.