A Challenge that Reveals the Truth: Homily for the 4th Sunday of Lent and the Leavetaking of the Annunciation in the Orthodox Church

Hebrews 6:13-20; Mark 9:16-30             We have all fantasized about what we would say or do in certain situations, and we probably all know that we often respond differently in real life than we do in our imaginations.  In fact, we never really know how we will act until we actually face the test. Reality has a way of revealing the truth in ways that surprise us.…

Killing the Fear of Death: Homily for the Third Sunday of Lent (Adoration of the Cross) in the Orthodox Church

Hebrews 4:14-5:6; Mark 8:34-9:1            Today we do something that goes against the strongest inclinations of fallen humanity:  We adore and celebrate the Cross.  Absolutely no one rejoiced about crosses in the first century, for crucifixion was the most horrible form of execution the Romans could devise.  When the Lord told Peter plainly that He would be killed, the head disciple was horrified and tried to correct Him. …

Overcoming Paralysis Through Humility: Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent in the Orthodox Church

Mark 2:1-12 If we were not aware already that we have much in common with the paralyzed man in today’s gospel reading, the first two weeks of Lent have surely opened our eyes a bit to that truth.  The struggle to embrace spiritual disciplines quickly shows us that we typically do not control ourselves very well at all.  We find it so hard to turn away from our usual self-centered habits when…

Restoration, Not Escape: Homily for the First Sunday of Lent in the Orthodox Church

Hebrews 11:24-26, 32-40; John 1:43-51           We are all tempted at times to think how nice it would be to run away from all our problems. We would like to leave behind our jobs, annoying people, or difficult circumstances of whatever kind. We would like to escape all that weighs us down in order to find peace and happiness. In one way or another, we have all fantasized…

Putting on the Armor of Light for Lent: Homily for Forgiveness Sunday in the Orthodox Church

Romans 13:11-14:4; Matthew 6:14-21 There are some lines of work in which people who are on duty have to dress in distinctive ways.  The uniforms of police officers, firemen, and members of the military, for example, reflect their unique vocations, responsibilities, and authority.   Athletes, employees in many businesses, and some students must wear clothes that identify them in terms of the larger organization of which they are a part.  Whether we like…