God Is Not to Blame for Human Fault (Mon. June 12)

The word of the day is “blame.” Today’s reading from Romans 2:28-3:18 involves us in Paul’s complex discussion about the rejection of many Jews to the Gospel. The question is who is to blame for the unfaithfulness of the Jews? God had given them his “oracles,” that is, His words (Strong’s 3051, 152). In these messages, the Almighty had shown them special favor. St. John Chrysostom says that “the honor that God treated them was so great that even when He saw what would come thereof, He withheld not His goodwill toward them” (NfPf1:11, 373). Thus, God’s forbearance demonstrated His faithfulness. Unbelief Does not Nullify the Faithfulness of God Yet, according to Chrysostom, the Jews “made the honors bestowed on them a…

Wondrous In His Saints (Sun. June 11)

The word for today is “wondrous.” Today on All Saints Sunday we commemorate the saints who have gone before us. And during Matins (Morning Prayer), we sing “God is wondrous in His saints.”[i] From a worldly viewpoint, we might ask what is “wondrous” about the trials of the saints? What is so glorious about the suffering that we read about in today’s reading of Hebrews 11:33-12:2? Our commentary will explain how the saints are wonderful as they give glory to God. The Glories of the Saints In this well-known passage from Hebrews 11, the apostle recounts the astounding examples of the saints of the Old Testament. Through faith these holy ones subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched…

Blessings Multiplied by Meeting Together (Sat. June 10)

The word for today is “mutual.” Before the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us had a casual attitude toward attending worship with others. But now that the Lord has fulfilled our longing to gather together with others in worship and fellowship, we have a deeper appreciation of the blessing of sharing together in the Holy Communion of the Church. In today’s s reading Romans 1:7-12, we find that Paul expresses his eager hope to meet in person with the believers in Rome. We learn from him as we ave learned from our own experience that mutual encouragement is one of the most precious blessings of joining with others in worship, study, and fellowship. Today’s passage takes us back to the beginning of…

God Shows No Favoritism (Fri. June 9)

The word for today is “alike.” Justice is blind. It does not discriminate but treats all alike. That is our ideal. But does it apply to the judgments of God? In today’s reading of Romans 2:14-24, Paul answers the Jews who “rest on the law.” They boast that they “know His will” and are “instructed out of the law” (OSB vs. 18). Therefore, they think that the Almighty Creator of the world treats them differently. His promises are for them and not others who are outside the covenant. If the Gentiles want a share in these promises, they must be circumcised and become Jews. Then they would be qualified to be part of God’s Chosen People to whom God sent…

God Does Not Want Excuses: He Desires Repentance (Thurs. June 8)

The word of the day is “repentance.” It is the nature of sin that it not only committed transgressions but excuses them. Humans have various ways of rationalizing, overlooking, and trivializing their sins even while they judge others who do the same things. But in our reading of Romans 1:28-2:9 today, Paul declares unequivocally, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself” (OSB vs. 2:1). Today we find that Paul cuts through all the ways that humans dismiss the seriousness of their sins and disregard the inevitable divine judgment against them. We learn that if we have escaped the anger of God for our transgressions, it is only…

All Believers Are Called to Be Priests (Wed. June 7)

The word of the day is “worship.”  What is sin? What is so wrong in God’s sight that it merits His judgment, even His wrath. Some might answer killing, stealing, sexual immorality, lying, and coveting. Others might say it is hated, prejudice, and injustice. Still others might answer sloth, lust, despair, and idle talk. But note what St. Paul says in our reading of Romans 1:18-27, [They] exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. All People Are Called to Be Priests The sins that deserve the judgment of God have to do with worship. They are not sins against our neighbor but sins against what is Almighty God…

Making Good Out of Evil Days (Mon. June 5)

The word of the day is “days.”  As our world staggers from one crisis to another, we are tempted to despair. We might say to ourselves that there is nothing that we can do about the turmoil of our times. Yet, our reading of Ephesians 5:9-19 encourages us that we can respond faithfully to the chaos surrounding us. Thus, Paul exhorts us “to walk circumspectly… redeeming the time because the days are evil” (vs. 15). Today we consider what it means to “redeem” what otherwise is an evil time. The Day is Not Evil by Nature Why does Paul call the day in which we live “evil”? Are things that bad? The Greek term “evil” refers to the effect or influence of…

The Holy Spirit Is Given to All but Received by Each (Sun. June 4)

The word of the day is “each.” As we celebrate the Day of Pentecost, we might ask who received the gift of the Holy Spirit at that festival? Just the twelve disciples? And we might ask who is given the Holy Spirit today? Only those whom we call the saints? Today in our reading of Acts 2:1-11, Luke records that when a mighty wind blew, “there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them” (OSB vs. 3). Today we emphasize that all who are baptized are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. He does not belong to selected believers as their possession while the rest of us must do without the “power from on high.” The Spirit Poured Out on…

Understanding the Ending of Acts: The Gospel Unhindered (Sat. June 3)

The word of the day is “unhindered.” In the Divine Liturgy, we pray for our civic leaders “that we in their tranquility may lead a calm and peaceful life in all godliness and sanctity” (St-Tikhon’s 1984, 71). In other words, we pray for equilibrium in our lives, free of contention, strife and discord. In such a balanced situation, we can grow in what is godly and holy.[i] Today, in our reading of Acts 28:1-31, Luke, the writer of Acts, closes his early church history with such a sense of stability. He says that Paul lived in a rented house in Rome for two years, “preaching… and teaching…with all confidence, no one forbidding him” (OSB vs. 31). We might ask, “Is that all?” Since…

The Resurrection of Christ: Proclaimed But Not Explained (Thursday June 1)

The word of the day is “alive.”  What does it mean to say that Jesus Christ is alive? We take its meaning for granted. But how would we explain it to someone who was not raised in the faith? In our reading of Acts 25:13-19, a pagan Roman governor has questions about a “certain Jesus” who “had died whom Paul affirmed to be alive” (OSB vs. 19). Today we look at the testimony that Jesus is alive with fresh eyes to discover the meaning of His resurrection anew. In today’s reading, we find Romans soldiers have rescued St. Paul from a mob and taken him to Caesarea. He has been imprisoned there for two years. Now a new governor has arrived. The Jewish authorities…