Archive for the ‘thoughts on the scriptures’ Category

Thoughts on Tuesday’s Scripture Readings

Monday, August 25th, 2008


"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ" (2 Cor 2:14-17).

The Apostle considers his preaching successful, by God’s grace, because He has made the Gospel known everywhere, even though some heard this Gospel to their own condemnation because they did not wish to receive it and live by it. "To the one we are the savor of death unto death, and to the other the savor of life unto life." But "who is sufficient for these things?" In other words this is not of us but of God (St. John Chrysostom). "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). The preaching of the Gospel is the proclamation of light and truth. Some people accept the light with joy, while others reject it, preferring to abide in darkness "because their works are evil." Our Lord also explains this at length in his early parables (Matthew Ch. 13). We should, then, struggle to obey the commands of the gospel, that we may receive the light unto salvation. "Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock" (Matthew 7:24-25).

St. John Chrysostom:

"Whether, saith he, one be saved or be lost, the Gospel continues to have its proper virtue: and as the light, although it blindeth the weakly, is still light, though causing blindness; and as honey, though it be bitter to those who are diseased, is in its nature sweet; so also is the Gospel of sweet savor, even though some should be lost who believe it not. For not It, but their own perverseness, worketh the perdition."

"For this sweet savor some so receive that they are saved, others so that they perish. So that should any one be lost, the fault is from himself: for both ointment is said to suffocate swine, and light (as I before observed,) to blind the weak. And such is the nature of good things; they not only correct what is akin to them, but also destroy the opposite: and in this way is their power most displayed. For so both fire, not only when it giveth light and when it purifieth gold, but even when it consumeth thorns, doth very greatly display its proper power, and so show itself to be fire: and Christ too herein also doth discover His own majesty when He "shall consume" Antichrist "with the breath of His mouth, and bring him to nought with the manifestation of His coming." (2 Thess. ii. 8.)" (


Comfort in Afflictions (Epistle Reading for Thursday)

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008


"Blessed [be] God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, [it is] for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you [is] stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so [shall ye be] also of the consolation" (1 Cor 1:3-7).

God comforts us in our afflictions, and we in turn our able to comfort those who are afflicted, "by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." God is the source of all comfort. Our life is full of temptations and afflictions, but God comforts us in the midst of it all. Just as the Lord saved Peter in the midst of the waves of the stormy sea, he comforts us in the midst of the storms of our life. Indeed, God became man so that "in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted" (Hebrews 2:18).

The Apostle rejoices that, being thus comforted by God, he is able to pass on this comfort to others. "That we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." This is our task as well. In another place, the same apostle urges us to "be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor 11:1). Life is full of temptations. Let us find our comfort in God, and let us strive with all our powers to pass on that comfort to others.

Temptation / ?????????

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

St. Theophan the Recluse. Thoughts on every day of the year.

(1 Cor 3:18-23; Mt 13:36-43) “And they shall cast them (those who offend of do iniquity) into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth; then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” In this manner, evil and good, light and darkness will be divided. Now, during this life, they are commingled, as it was pleasing to the Lord to order things such that his creation would grow and become stronger in good through the struggle against evil. Evil is allowed to freely exist within us and to influence us from without, but it does not determine our actions. Rather, it tempts us. When tempted, we must not fall but fight. Gaining the victory, we are freed from one temptation, and move onward and upward to meet a new temptation, and thus it is until the end of our life. O, when will we understand the meaning of the evil which tempts us, so as to order our life in accordance with this understanding! Those who struggle are crowned, and in the end, pass on to another life, where there is no sorrow or sickness externally, and where internally, like God’s angels, they will be pure, without the defilement of tempting movements and thoughts. Thus we may be prepared for the festival of light and good, which will be revealed in all its glory in the last day of the world.

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Why speakest Thou in parables?

Monday, July 21st, 2008

10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men 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. 18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13:10-23)

St. Theophan the Recluse writes that we “seeing see not, and hearing hear not, neither understand” the word of God because we our hearts are so strongly tethered to worldly concerns. Our hearts are waxed gross, our ears are dull of hearing, and we have closed our eyes… This is why it is so difficult to read the scriptures, to listen to the church services, and to say our prayers. We are, by our own free choice, entirely enslaved to earthly cares. But in the end, all these cares will pass away, and only heaven will remain. And we, being strangers to heaven, will be left out in the darkness…

But Our Lord gives us hope, saying, “therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” In other words, as Archbishop Averky of Syracuse explains, the parables make divine truths accessible to our earthly minds. If we attend to the Lord’s parables and attempt to live according to their teaching, then we will come nearer to the Lord and be enlightened by His grace. Gradually, then, we will grow closer to heaven, and will be able to understand the more sublime teachings of the Lord, and will find ourselves amid the guests at the heavenly banquet. Glory to our God!