Weapons of Righteousness: Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost & Third Sunday of Luke

2 Corinthians 6:1-10; Isaiah 59:15-17; Wisdom 5:17-20; Isaiah 11:3-5 Today in public American discourse, one can (in many circles) only with great difficulty use the words “weapons” and “righteousness” in the same sentence. This was not always the case, of course. In past ages, those who bore weapons for the public good were honored as righteous. Even Orthodox Christians, though ambivalent about the tragedies associated with war, celebrated without embarrassment the martyrdom…

Fear, Enemies and Fishermen: First Sunday of Luke Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Luke 5:1-11; 2 Cor 1: 21-2:4; Col 1:13-23; Isaiah 11:1-9 The prophet Isaiah was given, many centuries before the coming of the God-Man, insight into a time that God had appointed, when the Messiah would guide God’s people in wisdom and righteousness. Speaking of that hope, and helping the Jewish people to anticipate it more clearly, he wrote this: There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a…

“Blessed Rather?” Contemplating Blessing, Honor and Humility on the Nativity of the Theotokos

Readings: Phil. 2:5-11, Luke 10: 38-42, Luke 11: 27-28, Isaiah 45 Both the readings for Western Christian communities for this coming Sunday, and our readings for today in the Orthodox Church have to do with humility. On Sunday, many Western Christians who follow the Common lectionary will be reading the words of the apostle concerning St. Paul’s rescue from degradation: “And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy (1Tim…

Fathers, Fools, Faith and Fragility: Tenth Sunday After Pentecost

1 Cor. 4:9-16; Matthew 17:14-23;1 Samuel (1 Kingdoms)16:1-13; Micah 5:2-4 “Straighter when we bend and taller when we bow:” this was G. K. Chesterton’s understanding of the mystery of the gospel. Though he was not “Orthodox” (with a big O), he surely cared passionately about doctrinal orthodoxy and authentic Christian practice.  And his paradoxical saying sums up God’s way of working in the world—the ‘foolishness” of God is surely stronger than human…

Eighth Sunday of Matthew: Loaves, Fish and Family

Readings: Matthew 14:14-22; 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, Ezekiel 34:11-23, 2 Kings 40-44, Psalm 23. All four gospels tell the story—or actually, the stories about how Jesus multiplied loaves and fishes, and fed multitudes.  The Orthodox Church gives the same weight to this action of Jesus, since we read not only the version from Matthew 14:14-22 this Sunday, but also  that of Mark 6:30-45 on the 15th Thursday after Pentecost, Mark 8:1-10 on the…

Forgiveness and the Authority of God’s Children: Sixth Sunday of Matthew

Readings: Matthew 9:1-8; Romans 12:6-14; Jeremiah 31:27-34; Jonah 3:1-10 “To err is human; to forgive is divine.” Indeed! Our Lord and God Jesus Christ both fulfills and breaks down this dichotomy, as we follow him through many episodes in his earthly life. He was the one human being who did not err—at least, in terms of morals, which is the focus of this well-known saying.  We are told by the apostle Paul…

Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

Feast of St. Mary Magdalene This Friday coming is the feast day, both in the Western and Eastern Church, of St. Mary Magdalene. It is a particularly poignant time for me, since it is the name-day of my  firstborn daughter, Meredith (Mary Magdalene), who was the first of our family to be chrismated and received into Orthodoxy, years before the rest of us followed.  This year, it is even more meaningful, since…