Praying to God or to Ourselves?: Homily for the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee in the Orthodox Church

2 Timothy 3:10-15;   Luke 18:10-14           The most dangerous temptations are usually the most subtle ones.  Most people have the good sense to see that murder, for example, is obviously wrong and to avoid it.  But when we do not sense the danger of falling into evil at all, we are more likely to let down our guard.  That is usually when we are most susceptible to spiritual…

In Communion with Christ and One Another: Homily for the Leave-Taking of and the Sunday After Theophany (Epiphany) in the Orthodox Church

Ephesians 4:7-13; Matthew 4:12-17            It is certainly possible to have a letdown after the holiday season.  Though it has its own stresses, a time of year filled with parties, rich food, and visiting with loved ones appeals to most people, if only as a cultural observance. The same is surely true for those of us who celebrated the Savior’s birth at Christmas and His baptism at Theophany. …

Homily for the Synaxis of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John in the Orthodox Church

Acts 19:1-8; John 1:29-34             In one way or another, we all struggle with the temptation to be self-centered.  Even helping others can become primarily a way to draw attention to ourselves or to meet our own emotional needs.  Many view religion in this way, trying to use even God to help them get what they want.  That, of course, is simply a form of idolatry. Today we commemorate someone who completely…

Born to Raise the Image that Had Fallen: Homily for the Sunday Before Christmas in the Orthodox Church

Hebrews 11:9-10, 32-40; Matthew 1:1-25            In spite of what we may like to think, the story of our lives did not begin on the day of our birth, but extends back across the generations to those from whom we have inherited so many traits that make us who we are.  Knowing about the heritage of our families can give us a sense of rootedness, a healthy acceptance…

Choosing to Enter the Banquet: Homily for the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers of Christ in the Orthodox Church

Colossians 3:4-11; Luke 14:16-24             Think for a moment about the choices that we make.   Each day of our lives, we decide to do this instead of that.  Sometimes we are pleased with our choices, but other times we look back on our decisions and wonder what we could possibly have been thinking at the time.  All too often, we choose poorly and end up the worse…