The Gospel is proclaimed succinctly in this classic and often misunderstood! passage from Ephesians. We go through it carefully, emphasizing that we must not only understand what Christ did for us, but also that this understanding places a moral obligation upon us. Every point made by the Apostle has a moral application to our daily lives, culminating in the significant, somewhat forgotten words (since they follow the famous and significant statement: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God") "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." This is important stuff! At the end of the homily, a pastoral exhortation regarding what we MUST expect when we attend the liturgy or any service (and how to learn to do this by degrees) and the MOST important prayer that a pastor must have in his heart when he celebrates any service.
The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is very complicated and teaches many things. We focus on two: everything in life is a trade; what do you want the most, pleasure now or happiness later? How do we remind ourselves of this trading, and trade well? Read the Scriptures.
In the parable of the sower, the Lord concludes: “On the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” Why did He specify patience as the necessary virtue, and not faith, hope, love, zeal, etc? We examine patience, and how it is the active aspect of faith, hope, love and many virtues. How can we increase our patience?
The Psalter. Verse by verse meditations on Psalm 118 – Verse 1: Blessed are the blameless in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord
Colossians chapter 1 contains one of the most succinct and clear descriptions of Who Christ is, what He did, how the cross was involved, and what we must therefore do. It is “Christology 101” and we must understand it and act accordingly. This is not your Baptist Grandmother’s Christology or understanding of the cross!
The Resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain, like most miracles in the NT, must be read as a parable to receive the full benefit of its instruction. This miracle is our life in microcosm. We are both the woman and the boy in the “parable”, and the words “Weep Not” do not fully apply to us now, but they will. In our life we must weep, with purpose and hope, and also “stand still”, and only if we do this, will we receive the much anticipated words of our Savior, “weep Not”. Apologies for the sound quality. The homily was inadvertently recorded at too low a volume, and the audio was massaged by an incompetent sound engineer!
An answer to a question posed in a prison visit: “Why do priests wear black?”. The answer covers a lot of ground, from prison to abortion clinics to the pain of pastoral ministry and life in general for those who are paying attention, to Johnny Cash, who gave a superficially correct answer to this question, and of critical importance, “Remembrance of death” (which we speak of at some length) and “Joyful mourning”
Synopsis: When Jesus commanded Peter to “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught;”, He was giving a principle, by which, and only by which we will stand in the presence of God, even in this life. This principle is all over the Scriptures. It involves patience, courage, obedience and INTENSITY. Although prayer is not explicitly mentioned, it is also about prayer, and especially about the Jesus prayer. How and why must we “launch out into the deep”?
We begin with an admonition from the Apostle Paul, in the selection read on the 17th Sunday after Pentecost: “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” This is the what, but most of a pastor’s life is spent explaining the how, which the readings for the Sunday after the Exaltation of the Precious cross do very well. The Epistle ends with the stirring words ” I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…”, and the Gospel tells us that “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it “. These describe an attitude, a way of living. Without this attitude, we will not be able to make our way and be “perfecting holiness”. One way to explain this attitude is to elucidate the uniquely ascetic and Orthodox understanding of the “remembrance of death”; this is CRITICAL stuff! We must understand this way of life, the ONLY way of life, which starts with baptism and the cross, and must continue in the way of the cross.
The Caananite woman teaches us *exactly* how we should pray: with knowledge, simplicity, persistence and humility. A close examination of her encounter with Christ shows these virtues plainly, and should also show us which ones we are lacking in (definitely at least 3 of the 4!).