Sermons

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Publican and Pharisee

Luke 18:10-14

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today we hear a Gospel about pride and humility - about judgment and self-condemnation. If we are to speak about pride, we may do so in the context of humility, for one stands completely opposed to the other. In today's Gospel, we hear the familiar story of the Publican (or tax collector), and the Pharisee. We know from the Holy Fathers that the Pharisee thinks himself to be something great. And anyone who thinks himself something great, loses grace and is distanced from God, as it is said: “The Lord resists the proud; but he gives grace unto the lowly.” Pride, dear brothers and sisters, is a powerful force, and it can also be a subtle one.

Zacchaeus Sunday

Luke 19:1-9

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sometimes when we are working on a project, for example planting a garden, or drawing a picture, it is helpful to walk around the project, view it from a different perspective, a different vantage point. Sometimes, just by doing this, we gain a broader and more full understanding. We may also apply this to our spiritual life. As Christians we must war continually against the temptation to become spiritually stale and apathetic towards our own state, towards our own personal relationship with Christ, and our attitude toward the church. Many times, we can become comfortable with our state, because we lack a certain perspective, that of eternity, what we will face after our death. If we have fallen prey to this, we should remember that the tools and gifts of the Church may help us to gain a new perspective and a fresh start. We may always being anew. This is one of the greatest gifts of the Orthodox Church.

Theophany

Matthew 3:13-17

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ! There is so much we can learn from this glorious feast of Christ’s Baptism by John the Forerunner in the River Jordan. First, in the early Church, the feasts of Christmas and Theophany or Epiphany, as it is sometimes called, were celebrated together on the same day – that is on the day of Christmas. In the fourth century, the feasts were separated, and Christmas was transferred to December 25. Theophany is called by St. Gregory the Theologian, “the feast of lights” because of the baptism and the illumination of the catechumens. How glorious that on this day we can witness this in a tangible way, with our catechumen, Joe, receiving the grace of Holy Baptism and Chrismation. We are truly blessed in this way today!

Sunday 33 after Pentecost

Matthew 2:13-23

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Christ is Born! The Holy Feast of Christmas is a joyous feast that we still continue to celebrate this week, and we also begin to anticipate the great feast of Christ’s Holy Baptism in the Jordan. We spend many weeks preparing for the Nativity of our Lord, by fasting, by intensified prayer, by confession of our sins, choir practices, buying gifts and preparing food. For us Orthodox Christians, the day of Christ’s birth arrives, and when it does, the rest of life stands still as we immerse ourselves in the feast. But then, like every feast, it comes to an end, and our normal schedule begins again, and we begin to anticipate other fasts and feasts in the Church’s cycle.

Nativity of Christ

Matthew 2:1-12

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, AMEN.
CHRIST IS BORN!

Our Savior, dearly Beloved was born this day. Let us rejoice! Sadness is not becoming upon this day for the fear of death is ended by the Incarnation of our Lord. Let no one be excluded from sharing in this cheerfulness, for we have fasted and prepared our hearts for the coming of Christ as a newborn babe.

Sunday 30 after Pentecost

Luke 18:18-27

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

“Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”

The story of the rich young ruler is in all three synoptic gospels, and addresses a very important question that all of us must ask for ourselves to Christ: "What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" This is a very serious question from a man whom some of the Holy Fathers say is very sincere, and his question requires a serious answer.

Sunday 29 after Pentecost

Luke 17:12-19

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today’s Gospel reading teaches us the importance of being truly grateful for the help that we receive from God and from others. As we see in today’s lesson only one out of the ten Lepers who received help from Christ went back to thank Him. That ratio is something we should grieve over. Jesus Christ is using this example of the ten lepers, to show us that we are often like the nine thankless men in today’s Gospel.

Sunday 28 after Pentecost

Matthew 23:1-36

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, Amen.

In today’s Gospel, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ calls the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites. This is because outwardly they appeared righteous to men but inside they were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. The Pharisees and scribes were being judged by Christ because they set up buildings and monuments, not in honor of the prophets who were slain, but rather to make a show of the murderers and to say “we would not have been partakers with them.” As our Holy Father Saint John Chrysostom says, “The scribes and Pharisees spoke out of vain glory and were practicing virtue in words only, but in their works doing the contrary”. Their whole atmosphere, their whole way of life, and their mind set or phronima was unhealthy. They viewed the law as a rigid set of rules that judged one’s actions for the sole purpose of punishment, rather than viewing the law as a boundary, or spiritual aid for our salvation. In other words, the scribes and the Pharisees did not have the mind of Christ, or the mind of the Church, but had their mind set on earthly things.

Sunday 27 after Pentecost

Luke 13:10-17

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the holy Spirit. Amen.

There are few things in life more difficult to bear than a prolonged illness or permanent condition. In the Gospel today, we meet a woman who probably expected a lifetime of physical pain and struggle. She had been contorted not just for a week or a month or a year, but for a full eighteen years. There was no reason to believe her situation would change. She was bent over at the waist – contorted, the Fathers say, by an evil spirit. She had a most abnormal crease in the middle of her body. She couldn't straighten up. The Lover of mankind looked with concern and sympathy on this miserable human creature, and saw in her not a withered and twisted animal, but a daughter of Abraham, a soul created by God and deserving of His mercy.

Sunday 26 after Pentecost

Luke 12:16-21

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“I will say to myself:
Take life easy, eat, drink, and be merry”

At the first reading of this parable, one could say that the rich man does not seem to be such a fool, as our Lord calls him. This man is obviously wealthy, successful, and a good manager of his possessions. Within the parable it does not mention that this man was harming others or even committing certain sins. So why did the Lord call this man a fool?

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