Grace Overcomes Shame: Homily for the 12th Sunday After Pentecost and the 12th Sunday of Matthew in the Orthodox Church

1 Corinthians. 15:1-11; Matthew 19:16-26           We all need a good wake-up call from time to time.  It is easy to shut our eyes to the truth and to become blind to what is actually going on in our lives.  On the question of where we stand in relation to God, it sometimes takes a real shock to wake us up.  And once our eyes are opened a…

Transfigured in Humility: Homily for the 10th Sunday After Pentecost and the 10th Sunday of Matthew in the Orthodox Church

1 Corinthians 4:9-16; Matthew 17:14-23             It is always easier to identify other people’s weaknesses than to take a close look at our own.  That is primarily because of our pride, our addiction to self-centeredness that makes us not want to give up whatever exalted illusions about ourselves have taken root in our souls.  It is perhaps the most subtle of temptations, for we can become proud even…

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.…