Seeing is Believing: Homily for the Feast of the Transfiguration in the Orthodox Church

2 Peter 1:10-19; Matthew 17:1-9            Seeing is believing.  It is one thing to hear an interesting story or to entertain a bright idea. It is far different, however, to encounter an event or to participate in a situation such that we know its truth and are changed as a result.  That is precisely what the apostles Peter, James, and John experienced on Mount Tabor when they were…

The Eucharistic Context of Pastoral Response to Contemporary Challenges in Marriage, Family, and Sexuality

[Introductory Note:  The short paper below was my presentation at a recent symposium on contemporary pastoral issues in sexuality held in the Netherlands.] The celebration of the Eucharist provides a necessary context for understanding the pastoral response of the Orthodox Church to contemporary challenges in marriage, family, and sexuality.  As St. Nicholas Cabasilas commented on the Eucharist, “its aim is the sanctification of the faithful.”[1]   Likewise, the aim of the union of husband…

Offering Ourselves Despite our Inadequacy: Homily for the Eighth Sunday After Pentecost and the Eighth Sunday of Matthew in the Orthodox Church

1 Corinthians 1:10-17; Matthew 14:14-22           Most of us are pretty good at finding ways to avoid acknowledging uncomfortable truths about ourselves, such as our weaknesses and failings.  We know how to distract ourselves from focusing on them in order to preserve our illusions of self-sufficiency and perhaps even perfection. The problem with that approach, however, is that avoiding the truth inevitably weakens us and those around us.…

Mercy Beyond National Boundaries: Homily for the 7th Sunday of Matthew and “St. Timon Sunday” in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America

Romans 15:1-7; Matthew 9:27-35           So much of what passes for religion in our culture is very self-centered.  Some develop a spirituality to help them feel a certain way, while others want to use God to promote political and moral agendas in their own image.  Their nation or their people then becomes the highest good. Regardless of the particulars, those who make their faith all about themselves will end…

Shining with His Light: Homily for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council in the Orthodox Church

Titus 3:8-15; Matthew 5:14-19               In just about anything we do in life, it is helpful at times to sit back and ask ourselves what we are trying to achieve.  Unless we have a clear purpose in mind, we are probably not going to get very far in anything.  By taking a hard look at ourselves, we may find that there is a disconnect between our…