Sunday, May 21, 2017

Some Choose to be Blind

On the Sunday of the Blind Man, the sixth Sunday of Pascha, the Church once again offers a chance for us to see and believe in the power and majesty of God. Unfortunately many of us choose to remain consumed in our own reality and blind to the truth of God. We say we believe, but we do not live as if God is real in our life. We remain blind to our own sinfulness thinking instead about our self-righteousness. We have seen the Light; now we should live by it instead of remaining blind.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

There is always enough

Many Churches are faced with the issue of resources. Will there be enough money? Are then enough volunteers? Do we have enough seats in the Church for more people? These are daily struggles (or struggles similar to them) that every Orthodox Christian parish faces in America. Today’s Gospel has the answer.
Today’s Gospel Reading: John 6:5-14 (RSV) - At that time, Jesus, lifting up his eyes and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, said to Philip, "How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?" Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost." So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!"
Everything we possess comes from God, even if we think we “worked for it” all our life. Our financial resources, our talents, our knowledge, even our very life was given to us by God. Each of these gifts has been a cooperative effort between God, us, and many times the efforts and time of others. Just as it was a cooperative effort between Christ and a young lad to feed more than five thousand, Christ depends upon our cooperation to reach out to those around us.

Next time you wonder if your Church will have enough resources to take seriously its role in feeding the spiritual poor (and physically poor) with the Gospel of Christ, remember that when you are cooperating with God, not only will there be enough, there will be plenty left over!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Truth is Never Relative

It is a common ideal today to think of truth as “my truth” vs. “your truth” in many circles. I’m sure you have participated in conversations during which one person said, “You believe what you believe and I believe what I believe.” Of course belief is not synonymous with truth, since each of us is free to believe as we wish without the burden of any proof. In fact since faith cannot easily be proved, in times of religious discussions we are often forced to admit our faith is based upon our desire to believe, but we should not confuse our desire to believe with whether or not something is the truth. Truth is truth, and two opposites cannot both be true. Red cannot be green.

In today’s reading from the Gospel According to Saint John Jesus declares the devil as the “father of lies” and challenges us to make a choice. Is the devil our father or is God our Father? We cannot have it both ways. Either we follow the devil or we follow God. Both cannot be true as they are opposites. Take a moment and read today’s Gospel...
Today’s Gospel Reading: John 8.42-51 (RSV) - The Lord said to the Jews who came to him, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But, because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? He who is of God hears the words of God; the reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God." The Jews answered him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" Jesus answered, "I have not a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it and he will be the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if any one keeps my word, he will never see death."
In 2013 Gordon-Conwell Seminary reported more than 43,000 denominations of Christianity existed worldwide. I suspect several thousand have been added since then, all with one thing in common. Each denomination and it alone, declares it has the truth about Jesus Christ. If that were not bad enough, some may even subscribe to the “there is more than one truth” mentality. How can it be that 43,000 different answers to, “Who is Jesus Christ,” all be correct? It is a mathematical impossibility.

There are many among those 43,000 who accuse the Church of false teachings. Many also who subscribe to the “Sola Scriptura” mantra, while ignoring the promise of Christ that the Church would possess the fullness of the truth. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16.13)

The Holy Apostles had the fullness of the truth as a gift of the Holy Spirit, and the Orthodox Church is vehemently loyal to that truth. If the Holy Apostles said it, we can trust it. Anything outside that witness of the Holy Apostles cannot be trusted to be the truth. So what now? When we find something which conflicts with the teachings of the Holy Apostles, we have a choice. Which do we believe? Both cannot be true? One is the truth; one is a lie. One is from God; one is from the devil. You know which side Be Transfigured Ministries is on, and we invite you to side with us. Choose the Church which is loyal to the teachings as given to us by the Holy Apostles who have been guided into all truth.