Behold the Bridegroom Comes (Tues. April 27)

The word of the day is “compassion.”  Today’s reading of Exodus 2:5-10 tells the story of how the deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt began..  It started with compassion.  An Egyptian princess discovers a basket made of bulrushes floating on the Nile.  She opens the ark.  Her heart goes out to the baby inside, who is crying.  She knows that the infant is a Hebrew boy who should have been killed at birth.  But she saves the child and intends to raise him in the palace.  The baby’s sister is standing by and runs to fetch the child’s mother.  The princess will pay her to nurse the child.  In this way, by compassion, Moses is delivered from death…

On Bearing the Fruits of Repentance (Mon. April 26)

The word of the day is “fruit.” Today in Matthew 21:18-43, we read of another astonishing act of the Lord.  We think of the Lord as merciful and longsuffering, and He is.  Yet as He returns from Bethany to the Holy City, He stops to pick figs from a tree on the side of the road.  But the tree was bearing only leaves. In response, Jesus says, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again” (OSB vs. 18).  Immediately the tree withers. The Gospel of Mark makes this seemingly spiteful action is even more puzzling.  Mark says that figs were not in season at that time (Mark 11:13).  Why then should Jesus expect to find fruit on it? And why…

As It is Written (Sun. April 25)

Palm Sunday (John 12:1-18) The word for today is “fulfill.”  Today we follow the Lord as He enters the Holy City of Jerusalem.  The multitudes greet Him as the King who “comes in the name of the Lord” (OSB John 12:13).  The crowd praises Him as the Son and successor to King David.  And the throng shouts, “Hosanna.”  This term is a Hebrew word of prayer and praise that means “Save, we implore you!” (Strong’s, #5614, 277).  Thus, in today’s Gospel (John 12:1-18), the Gospel writer John quotes the Prophet Zechariah, “Fear not daughter of Zion, Behold your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt (OSB vs. 15). The Kind of Kingdom He Comes to Establish Today we join…

New Topics Will Study the Core of Our Faith

Today on April 24 (Lazarus Saturday), we begin a series of readings that are crucial to the Orthodox celebration of Holy Week.  Our study of the work of our salvation will enhance the understanding of the core of the Christian faith of the Orthodox as well as those who are of other Christian backgrounds. My comments intend to give a deeper insight into the way of the Cross.  Our resource will be the Scriptures.  But we will also use the Orthodox resource for the services and hymnody of Holy Week, The Lenten Triodion.   References to this worship guidebook will give our Orthodox followers insights about the observance of Holy Week from Holy Tradition.  They will also enrich our readings for…

The Threshold to Holy Week: The Raising of Lazarus (Saturday, April 24)

The word for today is “sign.” Today the Orthodox stand at the doorway to Holy Week.  At this threshold is the story of the raising of Lazarus John 11:1-45.  Most of us have gone through so many observances of Christ’s passion that the events of this week might have lost their edge.  However, if we take a second look at the story of Lazarus, we will learn to participate in the events as if we were there following the Lord to His Cross and the the appearance as the Risen Christ for the first time.  At every step, the Lord speaks and acts in surprising ways.  The Scriptures foretold everything that was to occur.  And yet, from our point of…

Called to Be the Voice of the Voiceless (Fri, April 23)

The word of the day is “speechless.”  Can those who have no voice get justice?  If they cannot speak, they cannot be heard.  Therefore, if their cause is to be considered, then someone must speak for them.  In keeping with this thought, in our reading of Proverbs 31:8-31, the sage writes, “Open your mouth for the speechless… Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (NKJV vs. 31:8).  Today we learn that the Almighty expects us to defend those whose cause would otherwise be unnoticed or even purposely overlooked. The sage of Proverbs writes, “The righteous considers the cause of the poor, But the wicked does not understand such knowledge” (NKJV Proverbs 29:7).  The…

The Poisonous Passion of Envy (Thurs. April 22)

The word of the day is “envy.”  The first death of a human being happened because of murder when Cain killed his brother Able.  Why did Cain do such an awful thing?  Because of envy.  In our reading of Proverbs 23:15-24:5, the wise sage of Proverbs writes, “Do not let your heart envy sinners but be zealous for fear of the Lord all the day (NKJV vs. 7).  The sage cautions us about envy not only because it is a passion, that is, an unholy desire.  But the sage warns us to guard against it because of its result. Today we learn that when envy is fully mature, it bears the fruit of hatred. Envy grows from seemingly mild and…

Overcoming Temptation: We Wage the Battle but God Gives the Victory (Wed. April 21)

The word of the day is “horse.”  What strength can we rely on when we are face temptation?  In our reading of Proverbs 21:23-22:4, the wise sage of Proverbs writes, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord” (NKJV vs. 31).  If temptation engages us in a battle, we might depend on our strength as ancient peoples counted on their chariots.  However, the sage states that rescue from our foes is in the hands of God, not warhorses.  Today we highlight the importance of trusting the Lord and not our own devices. The ancient Israelites did not have horses or chariots until the reign of Solomon.  Therefore, for the Chosen People, the warhorse was a source of terror…

Righteousness and Justice Are Better Than Sacrifice (Tues. April 20)

The word of the day is “better.” Our secular society tucks religion away in a separate compartment. Our citizens can worship as they choose. But their faith is not supposed to have any bearing outside the sphere of their private “spirituality.” But in our reading of Proverbs 21:3-21, the wise sage writes, “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (NKJV vs. 3).  To apply this proverb to our time, let’s suppose that righteousness and justice are matters that apply to our life in society. And let’s consider that sacrifices have to do with religious practices. If that is the case, then righteousness and justice are matters of public concern. They apply to our life…

Keeping Our Souls by Keeping the Commandments (April 19)

The word of the day is “keep.”  It is possible to lose one’s soul.  The Lord said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul (NKJV Mark 8:36)?  But how does one keep the soul safe from loss?  In our reading of Proverbs 19:16-25, the wise sage says, “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die” (NKJV vs. 16).  Today we will consider  how we might “keep” our soul instead of losing it. The Hebrew Term for Soul The Hebrew term for “soul” is derived from the thought of the animation of creatures that live and breathe.  As a result,…