Wednesday, June 26, 2013

There are Saints and there are saints; Which are you?

I am often asked, “What is a saint, and how does someone become a Saint?” On the Sunday of All Saints, which is always the Sunday following the Feast of Pentecost, the Church commemorates all the holy men and women, most unknown, who have shown themselves to have placed God first in their lives while on Earth. They were some, the known holy men and women, who excelled in their love for God while living either through martyrdom (bearing witness to God sometimes even to death) or confessing Him before others, or living holy and righteous lives, that the Church bestows the title of “Saint” and urges the faithful to imitate their loyalty to God.

Then there are the unknown holy men and women, known ONLY to God, who lived quiet lives dedicated to God above all else in their lives. They were teachers, janitors, mothers, fathers, priests, bishops, monks, nuns, lawyers, farmers, ranchers….normal people just like you and me who struggled against the “ways of the world” in favor the “ways of the Lord.”

These Saints and saints were more interested in Heavenly things than earthly things. Saint Paul teaches we are all called to be saints (Romans 1.7) and reminds us “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” (Hebrews 12.1) as inspiration to remain faithful to Jesus Christ. We are not alone in being tempted by our passions (wealth, power, anger, selfishness etc) since all the saints were also tempted.

Be inspired on this Sunday of All Saints to reclaim the courage to become the loyal saint you were called by Christ to become. Be comforted today by being reminded that all saints have temptation. Be strong today and decide to place God first IN ALL THINGS in your life. Be blessed by God who said, “Every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10.32)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Radical Message of Jesus

Love your enemies! Don’t pursue wealth! Deny yourself! Drink and have a river gushing from your heart! On the surface these sound like radical ideas from a man who was a carpenter. Even His accusers said, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” With the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the Church was granted the gift of being “guided in all truth” by the Holy Spirit sent to us by Jesus Christ from Heaven. How about this for radical…..let the Church be your moral guide? That’s right; being a Christian is being radical, but when Jesus is involved, even the radical seems right.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

Before His Passion, Jesus comforted the Holy Apostles with a promise. “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 15.13) Before His Glorious  Ascension Jesus, “commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘ you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” (Acts 1.4-5)

Following the Ascension of Jesus Christ, the Holy Apostles waited until the Feast of Pentecost and the coming the Holy Spirit. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.” (Acts 2.2-3)

With the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Apostles now had the authority of God and were guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit. Since that day, we have remained faithful to the teachings and way of life of the Holy Apostles, not in blind obedience, but in faith that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter promised by God, continues to guide the Church into all truth – so long as we remain faithful to the Apostles. As Saint Paul said, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of our epistle.” (2 Thessalonians 2.15)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

W4T (Word for Today) - Άσκηση – practice

Anything we desire to improve requires practice. We all prepare in some fashion for activities and events in which we participate. If, for example, we will be performing in a musical concert, we ask what the music will be and then we practice the music. Some day we will all be expected to worship God in Heaven. How can we practice for that? Check out Isaiah 6.1-4 and Revelation 1.12-15; both describe the continual worship of God in Heaven. This was the same worship established by God in the Temple, and this IS the same worship which continues today in the Orthodox Christian Church. So we know HOW we will worship God in Heaven, now it time to practice. Find the closest Orthodox Christian Church and begin practicing for Heaven.

Isaiah 6.1-4 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

Revelation 1.12-15 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

“Am I looking for the truth of Christ?”

“That the works of God should be revealed in him.” (John 9.3)

The miracles of God as told in the Holy Scriptures are for one purpose, to reveal to us the truth of God. The story of the healing of the man born blind has this purpose; to reveal to those who witness the miracle, and to us who hear about the miracle, that Jesus Christ is the not only the Messiah, but the Creator of the universe.

The Gospel offers a glimpse, if we choose to see it, when we hear, “He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.” (John 9.6) The image reminds of another time when God created using dirt. “Then God formed man out of the dust from the ground, and breathed in his face the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2.7)

In this miracle, we find ourselves face-to-face with a Man not only heals the sick, but can complete the creation started by God, as God revealing His authority and power.

In his homily on this passage, St John Chrysostom puts it this way, “"For as some excellent architect may build part of a house, and leave the rest unfinished, so that those who believe not he may prove, by means of that remnant, that he is author of the whole; so also God joined together and completes our body, as it were a house decayed, healing the withering hand, bracing the palsied limbs, straightening the lame, cleansing the lepers, raising up of the sick, making sound the crippled, recalling the dead from death, opening the eyes that were closed, or adding them where they were not, all which things, being blemishes arising from the infirmity of our nature, He by correcting showed His power."

So the next time you are faced with asking for a miracle from the Lord, consider this; “Am I looking for the truth of Christ?”