Blessings Demand Self-Denial: Homily for the Conception of the Forerunner and Baptist John and the 1st Sunday of Luke in the Orthodox Church

Galatians 4:22-27; Luke 5:1-11            It is a heavy burden for married couples not to be able to conceive and bear children.  That is true today in our society, and it was certainly the case for Jewish couples in the first century.  Zechariah and Elizabeth had waited a very long time for God to bless them with children, and they had likely given up hope at their advanced…

The Struggle to Take Up the Cross: Homily for the Sunday After the Exaltation of the Cross in the Orthodox Church

Galatians 2:16-20; Mark 8:34-9:1           In some ways, people today are too familiar with the image of the cross.  Some wear it as just another a piece of jewelry or otherwise use it to symbolize values or organizations that have nothing to do with the cross through which our Lord conquered death.  Unfortunately, those who confess its true spiritual significance can easily rest content with beliefs about the…

A New Creation Through the Cross: Homily for the After-Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos and the Sunday Before the Elevation of the Cross in the Orthodox Church

Galatians 6:11-18; John 3:13-17   Our worst arguments are often with the people closest to us, especially members of our own family.  Perhaps the more we have in common with others, the easier it is to disagree about how things should be done and about what is really most important.  That is true not only in our families and marriages, but also when it comes to religion. In today’s epistle reading, St.…

How to Accept an Invitation to a Great Wedding Feast: Homily for the 14th Sunday of Matthew and the 14th Sunday After Pentecost in the Orthodox Church

2 Corinthians 1:21-2:4; Matthew 22:2-14   It is entirely possible to view participation in the life of the Church as a burden, as just another obligation that we have to fulfill. When we think that way, just about everything else in life seems more appealing than worshiping God.  Of course, the more we neglect the spiritual life, the less interest we will have in it.   Before we know it, we can easily…

On Tending the Vineyards of our Lives: Homily for the 13th Sunday After Pentecost and the 13th Sunday of Matthew in the Orthodox Church

1 Corinthians 16:13-24; Matthew 21:33-42           I sometimes hear from my students that they think that Jesus Christ was a very nice person who never said anything harsh or critical about anyone.  Those who say that are certainly poor students, for the gospels make quite clear that our Lord spoke prophetic words of judgment to those who corrupted the faith of Israel in their quest for worldly power…