Archive for the ‘scripture readings’ Category

Jan 1/14 Circumcision of Christ. Commentary on OT readings.

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

The Readings for the Circumcision and St Basil include 3 OT readings in Vespers, a Matins Gospel and the usual Epistle and Gospel in liturgy. The readings follow the commentart, because they are so long.

 

The Vespers readings cover three different subjects, and taken in total, describe a substantial part of the moral content of Christianity.

 

First Vespers Reading.

 

The first reading describes the institution of Circumcision as a covenant between God and His people. Circumcision is the cutting off of the foreskin. It is a “type” of baptism, meaning that it “points” to the later Christian covenant of baptism.

 

There are many parallels between Circumcision and baptism.

 

Of necessity, Circumcision can only be done once, and we believe in only one baptism. It is not repeated.

 

Circumcision was required of all male members of the Jewish household:

And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.” (Gen 17:14)

Likewise, baptism is required of all Christians:

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16 KJV)

 

Circumcision was only done for males, and baptism, which confers much greater grace upon a person, is for all Christians, male and female. The “type” of a Christian mystery always has limitations, since it points to something greater.

 

Circumcision was performed on an infant, but adult converts to Judaism were also circumcised. The Christian church also baptizes infants, and also adult converts.

 

Circumcision produced permanent physical change in a person, and baptism produces permanent spiritual change. Whether there are verifiable changes in a person after baptism depends on the person. We believe in one baptism, and the enabling of a person through baptism is permanent, but whether the fruits of baptism occur is dependent on our moral struggle in this life.

 

The changes of circumcision were physically verifiable; baptism produces no permanent verifiable physical changes, and spiritual changes occur over time, according to our zeal.

The Lord told us that we shall know a tree by its fruits.

 

The Jews did not understand the full moral implications of circumcision; in their limited understanding it was a physical sign of their privileged relationship with God. Christian baptism is also a covenant between man and God, but its implications are moral in nature. An echo of this moral change is seen in the name change of Abram to Abraham.

 

With circumcision comes the shedding of blood. For the Christian, the blood shed is from Christ.

 

Second Vespers Reading.

 

The second reading describes Jesus Christ. In poetic language, it is firmly asserted that

 

“The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. 23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.”

 

This is a pillar of our theology: that Jesus Christ always was and is fully God.  The language here may be confusing, precisely because it is poetry, and in the OT, the true nature of Christ was not exactly revealed. 

 

 

Third Vespers Reading.

 

This reading ties together the first two readings. It basic message is this. With baptism, we become a “new creature”, able to become perfected. This is only possible because of Jesus Christ, Who, becoming man, fundamentally changed our nature so that death could not have dominion over us. The only way to begin this change is through baptism and our subsequent moral struggles. Whereas for the Jews religion was more about a physical covenant between man and God, for the Christian, it is about moral change.   

 


He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbor:

but a man of understanding holdeth his peace” (Proverbs 11:12)

 

I personally find striking the way in which in English we can say that we hold our tongue – to “hold our peace”. This phenomenon may not occur in other languages, and that is okay – the emotional impact of this verse upon me, a speaker of English, may not be that same if read in another language. Our emotional response to scripture can be very helpful, if it guides us to the truth. The way this verse resonates in my souls is: I cannot gain peace unless I learn to “hold my peace”.

 

This simple truth has manifested itself many times in my life; and has spawned a little saying of mine: “the best things I have ever said are the things I have not said”. It takes great inner peace in order to not be compelled to speak out about every little thing, as if my opinions and preferences are so important. The man who holds his peace is at peace.

 

 

VESPERS

 

Genesis 17:1-7, 9-12, 14  1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. 2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. 3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, 4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. 14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

 

Proverbs 8:22-30 22 The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. 23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. 24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: 26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. 27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: 28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: 29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: 30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;

 

Proverbs 10:31-11:12  31 The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out. 32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness. 1 A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight. 2 When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. 3 The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them. 4 Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death. 5 The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness. 6 The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness. 7 When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth. 8 The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead. 9 An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered. 10 When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting. 11 By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. 12 He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.

 

 

MATINS

 

John 10:1-9 1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. 7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

 

 

LITURGY

 

Colossians 2:8-12  8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

 

Luke 2:20-21, 40-52  20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. 21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. 41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

 

 

Bibliography

The Explanation of the Holy Gospel according to St John, by Blessed Theophylact, published by Chrysostom Press – http://www.chrysostompress.org/. ALL FOUR BOOKS ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

 

 

Priest Seraphim Jan 1/14 2009.                                                                                              St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/ feasts-of-the-savior-circumcision.html

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/ feasts-of-the-savior-circumcision.doc

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/ feasts-of-the-savior-circumcision.pdf

 

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28th Tuesday readings/commentary. All scripture… should be read!

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008
2 Timothy 3:16-4:4 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

 

Luke 19:45-48  45 And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; 46 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. 47 And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, 48 And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.

 

When St Paul was writing about scripture, the NT as we know it did not exist. He was referring to the OT here, but of course, his words apply to the NT also. At the time, the canon of the NT was just in its nascent stage. Various letters were treasured by the church, copied, and read in services, but there was as yet no discussion by the church about which letters to include in “scripture”.

 

Most of us would agree that the NT is somewhat more understandable. The OT language is much more difficult, and on almost every page, the events being described have a meaning that applies to the present time in which they were written, and also point to Jesus Christ, the cross, and other things that are quintessentially about the Christian church.

 

What are our reasons for neglecting so great a treasure? The Gospels are often quite simple and direct, and we MUST read them often. It is good to read them every day. The Epistles help apply the Gospels to our lives and explain the theology and practice touched on in them. The Psalms are the church’s prayer book, used in every service. They have a marvelous way of applying to every person, in every moment of their life. I try to chant at least a kathisma every day, and every time I do this, something “jumps out” at me. Try this habit, and you will become more literate as a Christian, and be empowered to make significant changes in your life.

 

I know the bible is difficult to understand for many people, including some in my flock. We are lazy people, and tend to give up things that are difficult, however, the bible is not like some physics textbook that we would never understand no matter how many times we read it (Reader Nicholas, a physics teacher, being excepted). When we read the scriptures with effort, we will begin to understand them. I write these meditations to inform and encourage, but only the reader is capable of taking the next step: READING THE SCRIPTURES. Like Philip, I must say to you “Come and see!” See what happens if you actually apply yourself to treading the scriptures daily. 

 

We were born for perfection. Do not neglect such a treasure which was designed such that:

 

“the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works”

 

 

Bibliography

The Explanation of the Holy Gospel according to St Luke, by Blessed Theophylact, published by Chrysostom Press – http://www.chrysostompress.org/. ALL FOUR BOOKS ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

 

 

Priest Seraphim Dec 10/23 2008.                                                                                     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/ pentecost-tuesday-28_2008_2timothy3;16-4;4+luke19;45-48.html

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/ pentecost-tuesday-28_2008_2timothy3;16-4;4+luke19;45-48.doc

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/ pentecost-tuesday-28_2008_2timothy3;16-4;4+luke19;45-48.pdf

 

 

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23rd Week After Pentecost – TUESDAY. The “longer” version of the “Our Father”

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008


Today’s readings, followed by a few pastoral & personal thoughts.

 

1 Thessalonians 1:6-10 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost. 7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. 9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

 

Luke 11:1-10 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. 2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. 5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. 9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

 

 

The “Our Father” was taught by the Lord as a model of how to pray. The teaching does not end with the recitation of the prayer! IMMEDIATELY after the Lord finishes reciting the words that we know so well, He tells us we must pursue God in prayer. Too many recite the “Our Father” in the morning or evening, or perhaps even both times let this suffice as prayer for the day. This is not what the Lord taught us.

 

It is easy to learn prayers, but the Lord does not teach us to say prayers by rote here. We must be as the man who goes to his friend at Midnight. We must pray with consistency, insistency and expectation. It does us no good to know the right words to say if we do not say them in the right way.

 

Have we learned to pray as the Lord has taught us?

 

 

Bibliography

The Explanation of the Holy Gospel according to St Luke, by Blessed Theophylact, published by Chrysostom Press – http://www.chrysostompress.org/.

 

Priest Seraphim Nov 5/18 2008.                                                                              St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church , McKinney, Texas

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/ pentecost-tuesday-23_2008_1thessalonians1;6-10+luke11;1-10.html

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/pentecost pentecost-tuesday-23_2008_1thessalonians1;6-10+luke11;1-10.rtf

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23rd Week After Pentecost – MONDAY. “…and he to whom the Son will reveal him”

Monday, November 17th, 2008

23rd  Week After Pentecost – MONDAY

Today’s readings, followed by a few pastoral & personal thoughts.

 

1 Thessalonians 1:1-5 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

 

Luke 10:22-24 All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. 23 And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: 24 For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

 

 

The Gospel today contains the classic, immutable, Christological truth: salvation is through the Son. There are many places in scripture where Jesus touches on this critical dogma:

 

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. John 1:18

 

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. John 6:44-45

 

As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:15

 

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3

 

There are many more scriptures which teach this central dogma of our faith, and not all of them are in the Gospel of John, but these have been selected because the Evangelist John preeminently among all the Apostles reveals the Son to the church.

 

Most heresies have denigrated the Son. This makes perfect sense if salvation is only through the Son, Who reveals the Father.  Of the “Great Three” religions, only true Christianity has the way of salvation, because it knows the Son. The Jews reject the Son, believing that the Messiah is not yet come, and the Moslems believe Jesus to be only a prophet, and subordinate in importance to Mohammed.

 

The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the Son to be a creation of the Father, the Mormons likewise believe foolish things about the Son which are Arian in nature. Arianism is an ancient heresy, which was firmly addressed in the 1st Ecumenical council and is refuted for all time in the Symbol of Faith. It denies that the Son is God, believing Him to be a creation. A creature cannot perfectly know God. Only God knows Himself. If the Son is a creature, even if He is first created, and “god-like” in His qualities, He is incapable of knowing that which is higher than Himself, and His words: “no man knoweth… who the Father is, except the Son” (Luke 10:22, above) are a lie.

 

The question which we must answer if we are to be saved, is how do we place ourselves amongst those of whom the Lord says: “and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him” (Luke 10:22, above)

 

The Son knows the Father because He is like Him. So then, for us to know the Father, we must become like the Son. Like understands like. The Son understands the Father, and if we are like the Son, we will share in the Son’s understanding, which He will share with us. Of course, we cannot become the Son, since we are creatures, but as we have the “adoption of sonship”[1], we can become like the Son in morality, thought and purpose.

 

There is no other way to be saved, but to strive for moral improvement. Our works do not of themselves save us, but without working to become better morally, we can never understand God.

 

It is understandable, therefore, that another major way to attack the way of salvation (other than directly slandering Jesus Christ, as described above) is to deny that works are necessary to be saved. This is a “standard” Protestant heresy held by many. They misunderstand the Scriptures, because they do not read them in the context of the church.

 

Do not join in this heresy. We cannot know God is we do not struggle to become like Him. We cannot know the Father, except through the Son, but we can know the Son. He lived among us; He is God and man, and He showed us the way of life, for our eyes to see and our ears to hear, by his example and His words.

 

Today, the best and most important thing you must do in order to be closer to salvation is to become more like the Son.

 

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Mat 11:29

 

Bibliography

The Explanation of the Holy Gospel according to St Luke, by Blessed Theophylact, published by Chrysostom Press – http://www.chrysostompress.org/. ALL FOUR BOOKS ARE HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

 

 

Priest Seraphim Nov 4/17 2008.                                                                                              St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/pentecost-monday-23_2008_1thessalonians1;1-5+luke10;22-24.rtf

http://www.orthodox.net/scripture/pentecost-monday-23_2008_1thessalonians1;1-5+luke10;22-24.pdf

 

New commentaries are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of: commentaries: http://www.orthodox.net/scripture 

Archive of homilies: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!

 



[1] Gal 4:4-7  But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,  (5)  To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.  (6)  And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.  (7)  Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

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It’s Never Too Late (St. Theophan)

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008
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The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

This week’s readings from the first two chapters of the book of Isaiah marvelously describe both the realities of our fallen condition and God’s mercies. The prophet seems to alternate between speaking of Israel’s (and our) unfaithfulness to God, and God’s promise of salvation. This verse, “the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day,” illustrates an essential condition of that salvation: we must not seek our own glory, but God’s. In everything we do, we should proclaim and sing the glory of God. This is the essence of our church services – unceasing reflection on God, continual praise of Him, of His love and of His plan for our salvation. St. Paul enjoins us to come together with “psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs.” This should be our attitude toward the divine services. Through the voice of the readers and singers, we can together send up praise and thanksgiving to God, to whom be glory, now and forever.

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

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

LISTEN NOW


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LISTEN NOW to homily on Zacchaeus from 2007

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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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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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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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