Sunday of Holy Fathers of Seventh Ecumenical Council: Things Sure and Shallow

  Readings: Genesis 14:14-20; Deut 1:8-11, 15-17; Deut 10:14-21; Luke 8:5-15; Titus 3:8-15 “The saying is sure…But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels over the law, for they are unprofitable and futile” (Titus 3:8-9). What is sure? What is stupid or shallow? The answers we hear this Saturday and Sunday should give a sense of déjà vu! The Epistle reading for Divine Liturgy (though not the gospel), as well as the…

Intimations of Holiness

Readings: 2 Cor 6:14-7:1; Luke 5:1-11 Ex 29:45-46, Lev. 26: 12-13; Jer 39 (32 MT) 37-40; Ez. 37:27-28; Isaiah 52:1-11 “Make holiness perfect in the fear of God” This Sunday, the seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, we read a passage from St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians that makes many Protestants cringe. Indeed, though there is no textual reason to think so (every ancient manuscript includes this passage, with no significant variants!)…

“With my Own Hand”—God’s World, our Life in the Spirit, and the New Creation.

Readings: John 3:13-17; Galatians 6:11-18; Isaiah 65:17-19; Numbers 21:5-10 This weekend marks my birthday, which stands equidistant between the feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos (Sept. 8), and the feast of St. Edith of Wilton (Sept. 15/16). St. Edith is not well known to Orthodox, but is a (British) saint in the undivided Church, nonetheless. I was delighted, on visiting St. Vladimir’s Seminary, to hear her name remembered in the closing…

A Cautionary Tale: The Beheading of St. John the Forerunner

Readings for the Fast-day: Mark 6:14-30; Acts 13:25-33 Psalm 2:7; 10-12; Malachi 4:4-6 This Saturday is a strict fast. When we remember the beheading of John the Forerunner we are also remembering the dark side of reality, and the sober element of our faith. Clearly, we would prefer to celebrate the resurrection and the glorification of the saints. But the Holy City to come, we are told, is built on the foundation…

The Dormition and Translation of the Holy Theotokos

Readings: Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 10:38-42; Luke 11:27-28; Genesis 5:22-24; 2 Kings (4 Kingdoms) 2:1-12. As a response to my last “bonus” blog on the Transfiguration of our Lord, one of my writers asked me if I might consider writing on the Old Testament background not only to the readings for Sunday’s Divine Liturgy (which I have been doing every other week), but also for the major feasts. This week’s offering is a…

The Transfiguration: Transforming Light

The Transfiguration, found in Mark 9:1-13, Matthew 17:1-13 and Luke 9:28-36, is both a key moment in Jesus’ own ministry, and in the apprenticeship of his disciples. Meditation upon this scene, both in word and through icon, has been a powerful source of spiritual growth for Christians throughout the ages. The following is an excerpt from my book Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit, available both in…

God’s Signs: Building on the Foundation, Walking the Sea

1 Corinthians 3:9-17; Matthew 14:22-34 Isaiah 8:13-18; Psalm 107:23-31 Our Scripture passages for this Sunday’s Divine Liturgy are well known. The epistle reading speaks of our identity together as the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The gospel reading narrates that marvelous story of Jesus encouraging the apostle Peter to walk upon the water. At first there seems to be no relationship between the two: and then, we see the common denominator! It…