Forgiveness and the Journey Back to Paradise in Lent: Homily for the Sunday of Forgiveness (Cheese Fare) in the Orthodox Church

Romans 13:11-14:4; Matthew 6:14-21              As we prepare to begin our Lenten journey tomorrow, we remember today how Adam and Eve stripped themselves naked of the divine glory and were cast out of Paradise into a world enslaved by death.  They used God’s great blessings to fulfill their self-centered desires, and made themselves miserable as a result.  The murder of their son by Abel by his brother Cain provides a vivid portrait…

Fasting in Lent is a Tool, Not an End in Itself: Homily for the Sunday of the Last Judgment (Meat Fare) in the Orthodox Church

1 Corinthians 8:8-9:2; Matthew 25:31-46             On this Sunday of the Last Judgment, the Church calls us to see ourselves clearly in light of our ultimate calling to share in the life of Christ.  As we begin the last week before Great Lent, the Savior reminds us in today’s gospel reading that the path to life eternal through personal union with Him runs through our neighbors, especially those we are inclined to…

Don’t Be a Pharisee This Lent: Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican in the Orthodox Church

2 Timothy 3:10-15; Luke 18:10-14             There is no doubt that we live today in a celebrity culture in which we idolize people whose images are available to us through the various forms of mass media.  Whether through social media or simply in the imagination of our own minds, it is tempting today to see ourselves as people who should be celebrated and praised by others.  Of course, the more we think…

Preparing to Present Ourselves to Christ: Homily for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple in the Orthodox Church

Hebrews 7:7-17; Luke 2:22-40            Today we celebrate a great feast of the Church that speaks directly to the spiritual challenges that we all face on a daily basis.  For today we celebrate the Presentation of Christ, forty days after His birth, in the Temple in Jerusalem.  The Theotokos and St. Joseph bring the young Savior there in compliance with the Old Testament law, making the offering of…

Repent Like Zacchaeus: Homily for the Fifteenth Sunday of Luke in the Orthodox Church

1 Timothy 4:9-15; Luke 19:1-10           In every time and place, there are people who take advantage of others.  When they align themselves with the rulers of a society and choose victims who have no power to resist, they usually get away with it.  Zacchaeus had done precisely that.  He was a Jew who collected taxes for the Roman Empire which occupied Palestine.  As a chief tax collector,…