Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory to Him forever!
Saints of the Day
January 15 / 28. St. Paul of Thebes in Egypt, and St. John Calabytes (Hut-dweller), monks [Gal 5:22-6:2; Matt 11:27-30].Monk-martyr Pansophius of Alexandria. St. Gabriel, founder of Lesnov Monastery in Bulgaria. St. Prochorus, abbot in Vranski desert on the river Pshina in Bulgaria. St. Maximus of Nola.
Scripture Readings for the Day
1 Peter 4:1-11 (New King James Version)
1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
Serving for God’s Glory
7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Mark 12:28-37 (New King James Version)
The Scribes: Which Is the First Commandment of All?
28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”
29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
But after that no one dared question Him.
Jesus: How Can David Call His Descendant Lord?
35 Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Spirit:
‘The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”‘
37 Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?”
And the common people heard Him gladly.
Thought for the Day
An old friend emailed the following video to me. Father Joe is my oldest friend, having known each other since our Roman Catholic seminary days, back in 1966-7. Father Joe serves as a parish priest in Eastern Montana, and holds a Doctorate in Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. Many an American Jesuit has flunked out of this program, but not this diocesan priest! Father Joe is one of the most gifted linguists I’ve ever met. The last time I heard a count, he knew sixteen languages. I remember when he taught himself German, after finding out that it was the only language he did not know, of the required languages for his doctorate. A year or so later, Father Joe decided to learn Arabic, and did just that, on his own! He condescended to take a summer class in Arabic, just to make sure he had the accent down. He did!
I, on the other hand, was never gifted in foreign languages. No one, I’m sure, would take greater pleasure in knowing the languages of other people, communicating in a way that honored their language.
When in Moscow, Russia, for the Unification of the Two Parts of the Russian Church, I treasured every moment among the people. When I didn’t have a translator standing next to me, the communication exchanged was done with smiles, bows, expressions of joy on our faces. They were Russians, I was a Norwegian American, and we were immersed in our common humanity, and shared Orthodoxy. Oh, such joy I hadn’t experience since making a holy pilgrimage to Mount Athos, too many years ago. It is my hearts desire to return to Moscow, for a second time, and stay in a monastery long enough to form friendships, and establish a formal bond between my monastery and theirs (and perhaps learn Russian). I’d even prayed that I would be chosen as a voting delegate, and be in Christ the Saviour Cathedral for the election and enthronement of the new Patriarch. Although this was not God’s will for me, but I’ll be united with all those in the great cathedral of Moscow, when I celebrate the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, in our own Protection of the Holy Virgin Monastery Church.
Back to the video (you thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?). The video is an early film of the folk singer, Bob Dylan. Watching this brought back a flood of memories for me, for he and his music were the center of my musical life, way back when. Like many of my contemporaries, I had immersed myself in the counter culture. My hair grew out, the beard covered a good portion of my face (my great aunt accused me of hiding), and I wore strange cloths and smelled of incense (I know what you’re thinking). We were an innocent generation (although our parents looked upon us with shock and horror) for we longed for the Age of Aquarius, where peace would reign, hair would grow, and the whole world would eventually join us in one BIG ROCK CONCERT.
None of us, I can assure you, ever thought that the future would bring arthritis (oh ya), thinning hair (my great aunt’s curse, I’m sure), and one war after another. A world on the brink, it would seem, of total melt down and financial collapse, and, most fearsome, the real possibility of World War III.
Back to the video……….I hope none of you think me worldly (or perhaps a bit mad), for suggesting you watch this video of the early Bob Dylan, but please do so. It is truly the age of innocence.
Innocence lost……….for this world is NOT the better place we’d hoped for. Wars did not cease, hair stopped growing, and the “rock concert” turned into one big financial melt down, in a sea of secular humanism. We’d become “the man”. Dangerous times……….the age of Anti-Christ, I fear.
Many pilgrims to the monastery have been sharing their fears, wondering how they will stand up to the possible hardships and deprivations, and asking me what I think they should do in preparation for the apparent bleak times ahead. We, as a species, have gone through many a “bleak” time. Yet, when one looks closely at human history, and especially in relation to man’s quest for God, one can see the spiritual benefits of struggle. Running in fear takes us no where but down; whereas, staying the course, and uniting our struggles and pain to God, bring an eternal treasure, a lasting heritage. Who among us can not remember a terribly painful period of struggle in our lives, which ultimately brought about an ubundance of spiritual growth , and where we felt a sence of peace abound, as a result?
I like the prayer, “Glory to God for all things”, because in this prayer we give thanks to God for EVERYTHING that comes our way. We don’t cheapen the gift that is salvation, with a theology of abundance and prosperity, where many will loose their faith, thinking God powerless, or absent, because their reward wasn’t there, now, as they’d been lead to believe. Ultimately, all the hardships, pain, suffering, deprivation, and hunger, do more for eternal longevity, than all the prosperity and toys we could ever want.
When joy enters the soul, and one is confounded by grace, nothing else matters. Only that which is eternal is of value, and all else is just distraction. It is only from this vantage, that the true Age of Innocence emerges, for the Age of Innocence is to be found within. The Kingdom of God is within!
So, go ahead and watch the video, and for those of you who are old like me, be young, if only for this one moment. And remember, when the video is finished, and you’ve remembered that “innocent”, distant moment in your own past, know that the true age of innocence is still to come! This age of innocence will be eternal.
Photo of the Day
Our monastery temple, as seen from the highest point on the grounds of the monastery, with a view of the Puget Sound, and Seattle off in the distance. This is personally my favorite place to sit.