Without Precedent! (Second Sunday of Lent)

Hebrews 1:10-2:3; Mark 2:1-12; Psalm 101 (102 MT), Daniel 7. More than twenty years ago, when I was fairly new to teaching, I had one year in which I cobbled together four lectureships at different institutions.  Each of them had a different character—one was secular, one was evangelical, one was a liberal arts college run mostly by Anglicans, and one was Catholic. In the latter, I met, for the first time, some…

Forgiveness and Fasting: Cheesefare and Forgiveness Vespers

Romans 13:11-14:4; Matthew 6:14-21 Isaiah 58:1-11; Sirach 28:1-7 “Give me tears, O God, as once Thou gavest them to the woman that had sinned, and count me worthy to wash Thy feet that have delivered me from the way of error. As sweet-smelling ointment let me offer Thee a pure life, created in me by repentance; and may I also hear those words for which I long: “Thy faith hath saved thee,…

“Hastening to that Fatherly Refuge:” The Sunday of the Prodigal Son

How is it possible that the good creation which God entrusted to us has become for many a means of enslavement? How is it possible that the creation, which God called “good,” and which he meant as a lovely nexus of signposts towards him, we have turned into ends in themselves, idols that can never satisfy? But it has happened! Here we are, earth-beings made after the image of God, and instead…

Going to the Dogs? The Seventeenth Sunday of Matthew

Matthew 15:21-28; 2 Cor. 6:16-7:1; Dan. 7 Today’s gospel reading, at first blush, is a scandal. How is it possible that Jesus could even seem to have refused anyone who came to him for help? Yet, working from the rules that I learned in grad school of contemporary Biblical scholarship, this passage, above all others, has a claim to be authentic even among skeptics. Who in the early Church would fabricate such…

Sons of Abraham, the Son of Man, and a Wee Little Man: Sunday of Zacchaeus

Readings: 1 Timothy 4:8-15; Luke 19:1-10 Daniel 7:12-14; 17-18; 1 Chronicles 16:7-14 What makes a BIG human being? What does it really entail to “man up,” to use a politically incorrect, but graphic “exclusivist” expression? Our readings for Divine Liturgy this Sunday, the Sunday of Zacchaeus, tell the story of a man who was small in stature AND status, but who met the Lord Jesus, and show us half of the conversation…

Loving Lepers, Foreigners and Israel: Twelfth Sunday of Luke and St. Anthony the Great

Hebrews 13:17-21; Luke 17:12-19; 2 Kings (4 Kingdoms) 5; selections from Isaiah This Sunday, as we remember our great Father Anthony who deliberately went into the desert in order to become closer to God, we also hear the story of one who made an outcast by his condition, and how he was healed by our Lord: As Jesus entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance…

On Dragons, Water, Light, and the Holy Trinity: Theophany and its Forefeast

Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7; Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:1-8 Isaiah 9:1-2; 27:1; 40:1-10. I remember when I first encountered the Orthodox Church, I was surprised at the “spin” that they put on the feast of Theophany, celebrated at the same time as the Western Epiphany. I was not used to contemplating the Holy Trinity at this time of year, but accustomed to focusing upon Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed, as seen…