Wednesday, October 5, 2016


It’s one thing to preach about the grace of God; it’s another to actually witness grace in action. I’ve been blessed many times during my priesthood to witness changed lives through the services and mysteries (sacraments) of the Church. I’ve been blessed to be a part of many of those lives, even witnessing the return of the prodigal son.

If you remember the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15.11-32) as the father waited, the son “wasted his possessions with prodigal living.” The father continued to wait and wait. Finally after the son reached the lowest possible depth of personal despair that “he came to himself” and realized just how far he had fallen. Looking up from deep despair he decided to return to his father humiliated, shamed, and afraid of the possible rejection. “But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him... said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry.”

I have witnessed with my own eyes and through the mystery of Holy Confession, the prodigal son climb in one night from the depth of despair to stand before the Holy Icon of Christ and bear his soul in genuine repentance. I have been blessed to see shame turn to relief in the eyes of someone who once thought he could never be worthy of God’s (or the Church’s) love, and receive the news that God had forgiven EVERYTHING and restored him to his proper place. I have witnessed the grace the God in action giving the prodigal son a new beginning from which to live a new life.

I have been blessed to be a part of so many new lives as people chose to embrace the opportunities the Orthodox Christian way of life offers as a ladder to climb from the depth of despair to heaven, while God is holding their hands. None of those lives changed without hard work. None of those lives remained perfect and sinless, but none of those lives was left abandoned by God. I know, because I have witnessed grace in action.

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