Falling on our Faces: the Feast of the Transfiguration

Matthew 17:1-13; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Exodus 24 and 34; Daniel 10:5-10; 1 Kings 19; Malachi 4. St. Matthew tells us that when the disciples heard the voice of the Father, directing them to Jesus His Son, they “fell on their faces and were filled with awe.” All three synoptic gospels relate this event of Jesus’ transfiguration, with some difference in details and focus. But it is St. Matthew whom…

“Written For Our Instruction”: Seventh Sunday of Matthew

Romans 15:1-7, Matt 9:27-35; Psalm 69 (LXX 68) “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Our God is the God of steadfastness and encouragement. We see this clearly as Christians, for the Father has reached into our world, as St. Irenaeus puts it, by His two hands of the Son (who steadfastly endured…

“Medicines for the Soul:” Theology and Pastoral Compassion in Gender and Sexuality

Normally my blog is dedicated to giving Old Testament background that illumines the New Testament readings for Divine Liturgy. However, the present concern over sexuality in society and in the Orthodox Church has led me to think that my paper may be helpful to some: further, some respected Orthodox friends have asked me to make my ruminations public.  The matter of marriage and ordered sexual relations is found throughout Scriptures, not only…

The Pigs and the Perishing: Fifth Sunday after Pentecost and Fifth Sunday of Matthew

Matthew 8:28-9:1 For twenty-first century Western hearers of the gospels, demons and demoniacs are troublesome. We do not live in a time or a place where this phenomenon is understood, or even frequently experienced. (Though some would say that this is a deficiency in our perception!) Other ages have known about demoniacs, and even missionaries today in the third world report demonic activity.  But our experience is rather limited.  It would be…

Telling the Truth, Then and Now: the Nativity of John the Baptist

Luke 1: 1-80, 3:16-20, Malachi 4, Romans 13:11-14:4 Jesus began his ministry in full awareness of the dangers of telling the truth, and being the Truth.  As God, He knew the human heart and the depths of evil to which it can sink.  As man, He surely took notice of the sacrificial life of his slightly older cousin, John the Baptizer.  His cousin spoke the truth to everyone—including the compromised religious leaders…

“More is Going on than Appears to be Going On”: Lessons from Scripture on the Feast-day of the Righteous Prophet Job

Job; James 5:11; Ezekiel 14:14-20 Tell me, brother, what you are able to endure, And how much of a man you are, I will tell you. Job the righteous rich man and all-glorious By Satan on a dunghill was thrown, And with pus and sores covered, To dogs and to men, a horrifying sight! Whatever he had in a day perished Except faith and except patience. But with the weapons of faith…

St. George: Linking Legend with Historical Lessons

Revelation 12:9-11, Job 41:1-5, Isaiah 43:9-21, Isaiah 27:1 The stories concerning St. George are both a delight and a complication in the Orthodox tradition. For those of a practical mindset, a story that involves a princess, ravenous dragon and the knight who tames the beast smacks of legend. What is it doing among the more sober accounts of a soldier-saint who was bold to speak the truth in a hostile environment, who…