Accepting the Tension Between Our Expectations and God’s Fulfillment : Homily for Palm Sunday in the Orthodox Church

Philippians 4:4-9; John 12:1-18           In religion or anything else, we get used to whatever we get used to.  We tend to take for granted whatever becomes normal, expected, and routine in our lives.   Once we learn to see ourselves and the world in a certain way, it is easy to become blind to even the most obvious truths that challenge our perspective. The chief priests and Pharisees…

There is No Shame in Repentance: Homily for the Commemoration of St. Mary of Egypt and the 5th Sunday of Great Lent in the Orthodox Church

Hebrews 9:11-14; Mark 10:32-45           It has never been hard to find examples of people using religion to get what they want in this world.  It is usually easy to see when others do that, but much harder to recognize when we fall prey to the temptation of trying to use God to fulfill our self-centered desires.  The harsh truth is that doing so is simply a way…

Brutally Honest Humility, Not Self-Reliance: Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent in the Orthodox Church

Hebrews 6:13-20; Mark 9:17-31               Self-reliance has its place, but also its limits.  Deep problems that we cannot overcome by our own abilities show us that we are not as powerful as we had imagined.  The father in today’s gospel reading had learned through bitter experience that he could not relieve his son’s suffering, which was why he asked Jesus Christ to cast out the demon. The man was apparently not sure…

Embracing the Struggle for Faithfulness: Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Great Lent and the Veneration of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross in the Orthodox Church

Hebrews 4:14-5:6; Mark 8:34-9:1            Today we venerate the precious and life-giving Cross upon which Jesus Christ offered Himself for the salvation of the world.  By entering into death through the Cross and rising in glory on the third day, He has enabled us to become participants by grace in His eternal life.  To honor the Lord’s Cross requires much more than simply conducting a religious service on a particular day.  It requires…

It Takes a Person to Overcome Paralysis: Homily for the Second Sunday of Great Lent and the Forefeast of the Annunciation in the Orthodox Church

Hebrews 1:10-2:3; Mark 2:1-12           Even as we continue our Lenten journey, we prepare to celebrate tomorrow the Feast of the Annunciation, which commemorates the Archangel Gabriel’s announcement to the Virgin Mary that God had called her to become the Theotokos, the Mother of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ.  When she said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your…