Staying connected to family
It is always sad to lose a family member in death, but it is also sad that it often takes a funeral to bring together relatives who haven’t seen each other in years. It is from this perspective that I realize I, as the oldest of the cousins, am perhaps the one family member who remembers how important family reunions were to my maternal grandmother. Grandma Haraldson, with whom I was very close, often recounted her late sisters (who were all gone by the time I was born), her parents, and other long lost relatives, as though they were simply across town. Her vivid descriptions of what life was like when she was a child, and the love that bound the extended family together, were spoken of as though the events had taken place in the here and now.
An early memory for me were those picnics in Manito Park, where my grandmother would take all the cousins for a day of food and play. The large and exquisite Victorian park, located in the heart of the South Hill neighborhood of old Spokane, was a magical place where we kids could connect with our long deceased relatives who had played in that very park. My great grandmother lived in a large Victorian mansion near the park, as did numerous other relatives, so my sojourns to this park, whenever I find myself in Spokane, flood my mind with wonderful memories of a happy childhood.
Family, for me, are more than blood connections, for much of whom I am today is all about the boy who grew up in a loving environment, where faith and family intertwined. It was from this extended family that I learned the importance of accepting people just the way they are, and without any expectation that any of them should first be required to conform to my own standards or expectations. It was from this loving family that I grew to accept myself as a worthy person, and learned how to love other people.
I will forever be grateful to God for having blessed me with such an extended family, wherein I learn lessons that have stayed with me into old age. These lessons prepared me to be a monk and priest who is driven to reach out with love to everyone I meet, and ultimately become a Christian who desires that all come to the knowledge of the Truth, and be saved.
With love in Christ,
Thursday December 19, 2019 / December 6, 2019
27th Week after Pentecost. Tone one.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). Fish Allowed
St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, archbishop of Myra in Lycia (345).
Blessed Maximus, metropolitan of Kiev (1305).
New Martyr Nicholas of Karamanos in Asia Minor (1657) (Greek).
St. Nicholas, bishop of Patara.
St. Theophilus, bishop of Antioch (181).
St. Abramius, bishop of Cratea in Bithynia (6th c.).
The Scripture Readings
9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep,and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
18 Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. 19 But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.
Benediction, Final Exhortation, Farewell
20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Jesus Heals a Great Multitude
17 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, 18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. 19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.
20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you poor,
For yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
For you shall be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now,
For you shall laugh.
22 Blessed are you when men hate you,
And when they exclude you,
And revile you, and cast out your name as evil,
For the Son of Man’s sake.
23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!
For indeed your reward is great in heaven,
For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.