SUNDAY SCRIPTURES

Sunday Scriptures

When we pray we speak to God; when we read the Scriptures God speaks to us. When we read the Scriptures in the Liturgy God speaks to the Church. These reflections on themes in the Sunday readings help point the way to hearing God speak to our Church today.

At every Divine Liturgy there are two readings from the New Testament (Old Testament readings are often heard at Vespers). The second reading, from one of the Gospels, often is the source of the Sunday’s title (for example, the Sunday of the Blind Man) and the subject of the priest’s homily. The first reading, from an Epistle or the Acts of the Apostles, is often overlooked. These reflections may be drawn from either reading.

The references for these readings are on the Church calendar. You may enhance your hearing of God’s Word at the Liturgy by reading the Scriptural texts and the corresponding reflection before the Liturgy.

Great Fast & Holy Week

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Prepare for the Great Fast

TOMORROW IS THE FIRST DAY of the Great Fast. As a reminder, we hear once more these words of St Paul: “You know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep” (Romans 13:11). Each year the Church calls us to four fasting periods – four wake-up...

The Food of Paradise

SAY GOODBYE TO MEAT. In the fasting practice common to all Byzantine Churches Meatfare Sunday is the last day on which meat would be eaten until Pascha. This is the first step towards the fuller discipline of the Great Fast when dairy products would not be eaten as...

Repentance: the Way Home

DURING THIS PRE-FAST PERIOD and during the Great Fast itself this hymn is sung at Sunday Orthros: “Open to me the doors of repentance, O Giver of life, for my soul comes early to Your Holy Temple, bearing the temple of my body all defiled; but since You are merciful,...

Look at Me –I’m Fasting!

BEGINNING TODAY, the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the Church calls on us to start preparing for the Great Fast. And how does it tell us to ready ourselves? – by telling us not to fast! Since the beginnings of the Church Christians have fasted on Wednesdays...

Pentecostarian

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“I AM the Life of the Dead”

NO ONE SAW JESUS RISE from the dead. The Scriptures simply say that the tomb was found to be empty early on that Sunday morning. Later the risen Christ appeared to His disciples, as we read in the Gospels, the Acts, and the Epistles. This is why the Byzantine rules...

The Other Paraclete

AS THE TIME FOR THE Lord’s passion neared, Jesus tried to prepare His followers for what was to happen. He warned them about His impending arrest, their flight, and about His ultimate death. He also made a promise: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you...

Who Is the Blind Man?

WHO IS THE BLIND MAN? This question is not about the name of the man the Lord Jesus heals of blindness in John 9 (in Christian lore he is given the name Celidonius). He is not named in the Gospel account because his name is irrelevant to the meaning of the passage....

Paralyzed by Sins and Thoughtless Acts

THE SCRIPTURES READ on the remaining Sundays in the Paschal season present us with some of life’s most debilitating hardships: blindness, isolation, and, today, paralysis. In the passage from the Acts of the Apostles read today we hear about the healing of a man named...

Meditations

Fulfilled in Your Hearing

WHAT LANGUAGE WAS SPOKEN by the first Christians? On one level, we can say it was Aramaic or Hebrew with a sprinkling of Greek. On another level – the level of spiritual thought – we must say that the first Christians spoke the language of the Torah, what Christians...

“Expel by Your awesome name”

IN EASTERN ICONS, such as the traditional representation of the Gergasene demoniacs, demons are often portrayed as little winged black men. In the medieval art of the West the horned, bat-winged and fork-tailed red giant was the most popular representation of the...

“O Lord, save Your people”

THE YEAR 1938 SAW AN ESCALATION of warlike activities in Nazi Germany. In March Hitler invaded Austria and began to move against Czechoslovakia. Attacks on synagogues and Jewish businesses increased and thousands of German Jews were arrested. The response of one...

The Apostolic Tradition

WHEN CHRIST SENT THE HOLY SPIRIT upon the Apostles and their followers on the first Pentecost, He gave them the divine help to fulfill the command He had given them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:19). As we read in the Gospels, they...

“To Caesar You Shall Go”

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, which our Church reads publicly from Pascha to Pentecost, climaxes with the trial of St Paul and his journey to Rome where he would ultimately be beheaded. The story of his conflict with the Jewish leadership, his arrest and the various...

“Brethren who are of the Gentiles”

WHEN THE LORD JESUS was passing through the region of Tyre and Sidon a Canaanite woman begged Him to heal her daughter. “But He answered and said, ‘I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’” (Matthew 15:24). Although He went to areas where...

Orders of Widows and Deaconesses

OUR SOCIETY IS VERY DIFFERENT from the first-century world in which the Church began. Older people relied on their families to care for them; there were no social programs to assist them. Widowed women were required to rely on their sons or other male relative for...

In the Fullness of Time

ON THIS SUNDAY, April 23, our Church observes two feasts. The first, in the Paschal cycle, is Thomas Sunday, the remembrance of the risen Lord’s appearance to Thomas. The second, from the monthly calendar, is the Feast of the Great Martyr George. When two such...

Continue in What You Have Learned

ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL CITIES in Asia Minor, Ephesus was an important commercial hub in the ancient world. A Jewish colony had prospered there long before St Paul preached there in the first century ad. The community he established was significant enough for him to...

How to Be a Bishop

PERHAPS IT WAS AN ATHLETIC ENTHUSIAST who deleted from our liturgical books the verse which introduces today’s passage from the First Epistle to Timothy. It reads as follows: “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having...

“In thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light.”

IN 1868 REV PHILIPS BROOKS, rector of an Episcopal church in Philadelphia, wrote “O Little Town of Bethlehem” for his Sunday School. He had visited the Holy Land a few years earlier and he wanted to share something of that trip with his young parishioners....

Theotokos – She Who Bore God

CHURCHES AND INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIANS of many traditions are displaying Nativity scenes this season. All of them will include an image of the Virgin Mary, although there are serious differences in how these Christians view her. The historic Churches, Eastern and Western,...

Icons in the Bible

FROM TIME TO TIME Eastern Christians are reproached for venerating icons because “icons are not in the Bible.” St John of Damascus, whose treatises on icons were instrumental in defeating iconoclasm, taught that the Church’s icons are “in the Bible” because...

Enough vs. Abundance

DAY AFTER DAY Christians say the Lord’s Prayer, asking God to “give us this day our daily bread,” that is, to provide us with what we need for today. The rich man in Christ’s parable (Luke 12:16-22) clearly has a different perspective. He is not just concerned...

Priesthood in God’s Plan

THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF PRIESTS in the world. Most Eastern religions (e.g. Hindu, Shinto or Buddhist religions) have priests, generally for the performance of their temple rituals. What is the Christian priesthood and is it different from these examples or from the...

The Choir of the Holy Unmercenaries

ON THE FIRST SUNDAY in November a number of Byzantine Churches keep a special remembrance (Synaxis) for All the Unmercenary Healers: those who cared for the sick or aged in the spirit of Christ, without concern for gain. These physicians and other medical workers...

“The Gospel I Received”

POOR ST PAUL! Analysts from Muhammad to Dan Brown have blamed him for corrupting Jesus' message and “turning it into” Christianity. Paul is reproached as being the first to turn Jesus from being a humble Galilean rabbi into a god. This approach became...

The Bridal Chamber of Christ

OF ALL THE SHRINES and cathedrals throughout the Christian world there is nothing to equal the Anastasis, the Church of the Resurrection, in Jerusalem, known in the West as the Holy Sepulchre. The church complex includes the hill of Calvary, the place of Christ’s...

To the Church of God at Corinth

CONTEMPORARY READERS of certain New Testament passages may be lulled into thinking that the first century was a “Golden Age” for the Church. We read, for example, that the first Christian converts in Jerusalem “… continued steadfastly in the apostles’...

Praising the Holy Maccabees

WHEN WE READ THE GOSPELS we regularly come across stories of the Lord Jesus contesting with the Pharisees about observance of the Sabbath and other precepts of the Law. What we may not know is that the Jews themselves had come close to abolishing the Law...

Radiating the Light of Christ

WE CAN SAY THAT THE GOSPELS are woven around a string of images describing rather than defining how Christ relates to us. Some of these images are drawn from the temple worship (“the Lamb of God” – John 1:29). Others are taken from the history of Israel (“the...

By Whose Spirit?

WE ARE CONTINUALLY TALKING about Christ’s merciful love. At every service in Byzantine churches we say that Christ is “gracious and the Lover of mankind.” We frequently refer to Him as the One who gives us the “Great Mercy” of union with God. When Pope Francis...

The End of Slavery to Sin

WHEN WE THINK OF SLAVERY it is the American experience which automatically comes to mind. America’s slaves were mostly Africans who were captured, bought and sold as a commodity. Slavery was permanent (you could not be freed), hereditary (the children of slaves were...

“Today my soul eats twice”

ON THE DAY BEFORE the Great Fast began we heard these words from St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: “Now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on...

Shining the Light of Knowledge

IN THE SERVICES PREPARING US for the Feast of the Nativity and on the feast itself there are frequent readings from or references to the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. On the Saturday after the feast we read a passage from the Gospel of St...

Signs, Wonders and Wonder Workers

A FEW WEEKS AGO our Saturday Gospel reading from Luke 10 told how the Lord Jesus sent out His disciples to proclaim that the Kingdom of God was at hand. On the tenth Saturday of the Cycle of St Luke we continue our reading of this chapter with the disciples’ return:...

Laborers for the Harvest

OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS we will hear a sequence of narratives that follow one after another in Luke, chapters 9 through 11. Christ gathers His first twelve followers and sends them forth “to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:1). In the...

When God Works in Us

POLITICIANS ARE OFTEN ACCUSED of committing doublespeak: contradicting themselves as occasion demands. St Paul seems to do the same thing in his teaching on justification. He seems to contradict himself in teaching how we are justified. On one occasion he teaches that...

Dominating or Leading from Within?

A FEW YEARS ago an Orthodox priest quipped, on being ordained a bishop, that his spiritual life had been challenged as never before. “You put me on a throne, dress me up like the Byzantine emperor, call me ‘Master’ and expect me to be humble!” When the Ottoman Turks...

The Church in Your House

St Paul wrote most of his epistles to communities rather than individuals. Often, however, he would end an epistle by extending greetings to people whom he knew in that community and from people known to them. Among the latter mentioned in 1 Corinthians are Priscilla...

Offerings to God’s Servants

READERS OF ST PAUL’S EPISTLES are used to his discussions of doctrine or moral issues. This passage, however, sheds light on a specific area of church practice and on Paul’s own custom in that regard. We know from the Acts of the Apostles that, in response to Christ’s...

Remembering Our Leaders

ONE OF THE EPISTLE READINGS often heard at the Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of the Council Fathers, Hebrews 13:7-16, begins with these words: “Remember those who preside over you, who have spoken the word of God to you. Follow their faith, considering the outcome of...

The Son of Man Forgives Sins

WE READ IN Matthew 9:1-8 that, when people brought a paralyzed man to the Lord Jesus, He healed the man’s paralysis, but not before telling him, “Your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2). The bystanders’ initial thought that Jesus had blasphemed was replaced by wonder....

Galilee of the Gentiles

The passage from St Matthew’s Gospel describing the healing of the demoniac begins with the words, “When Jesus had come to the other side…” (Matthew 8:28). “The other side of what?” we may ask, raising questions of where Jesus went and what it meant for His ministry....

Revealed Guidance and Conscience

IN HIS EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS St. Paul speaks of a distinction between Jews and Gentiles. Jews, he indicates, have the Law (the Torah), the record of God’s revelation to Moses, as their guide, unlike the Gentiles. This does not make them superior or holier in any way,...

The Saints of Antioch

IN THE BYZANTINE CHURCHES the Sunday after Pentecost is observed as the Feast of All Saints. This is to proclaim that the presence of saints in the Church points to the presence of the Spirit who enlivens the Church and transforms those who cherish its life. On this...

Everywhere Present, Filling All Things

FIFTY DAYS AFTER PASSOVER Jews observe the Feast of Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks, which originated as the conclusion of the Spring harvest season in Israel. Between Passover and Shavuot barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, dates and lastly wheat would be...

Devoutly Glorifying the Mystery

“HOLY FATHER, KEEP THROUGH YOUR NAME those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are” (John 17:11). As His earthly life was approaching its end the Lord Jesus offered this prayer for His disciples. The questions it raises have preoccupied the Church for...

“Let Him Who Thirsts Come”

WATER IS CENTRAL TO LIFE everywhere, but especially in places like the Middle East where it is in short supply. We do not know when people began supplementing the rainwater they collected by digging water from shallow pools. When metal tools came into use, wells 100...

Why Are There Two Paschas?

A sore point in the relationship between the Churches concerns the date on which we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Often one group of Christians is observing Pascha while their neighbors may have up to a month to go before they do the same. While some people...

The Seal on Our Repentance

DURING THE FORTY DAYS of the Great Fast the Church urges us to ascetic effort as a preparation for the observances of Holy Week and Pascha. We know that, by His death and resurrection, Christ has achieved the restoration of our human nature in Himself and has enabled...

Singing in the Midst of the Flames

ONE OF THE LAST BOOKS in the Old Testament – and perhaps the most intriguing – is the Book of Daniel. Written in the second century bc, it tells the adventures of the godly Jewish nobles Daniel and his companions Ananiah, Azariah and Mishael who were taken captive by...

Christ in Prophetic Song

WHEN THE RISEN CHRIST joined the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the Gospel says that, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). Where and how did Moses and the prophets speak of...

“See, see that I am God”

PEOPLE FAMILIAR WITH the Church’s morning service (Matins or Orthros) would recognize the term “Ninth Ode.” It refers to the Biblical canticle of the Theotokos which begins, “My soul magnifies the Lord…” (cf., )...

“N” Is for Nazarene

WHEN THE “ISLAMIC STATE” FIGHTERS seized Mosul in northern Iraq they marked Christian properties for seizure by painting the Arabic letter ﻦ (“N”) for “Nasrani” on the buildings. Muslims do not use the Arabic word for “Christian” (Maseehi – followers of the Messiah)...

Another Lazarus at Your Gate

BEFORE JESUS BEGAN HIS PUBLIC MINISTRY, He prayed and fasted for forty days (see Matthew 4:1-11). The Church’s ascetics look to His experience as the model for their spiritual life. They devote themselves to prayer throughout the night and fasting every day. But even...

Wonderworking Ascetics

WE ARE AT THE END of the Fast of the Apostles and many who have observed this Fast will be happy that it is over. We prefer feasts to fasts and look forward to any fast-free days observed during the year. There are some, however, who make every day a fast day. They...

Into the Wilderness

IN THE CHRISTIAN EAST, the fasting seasons are always periods in which the practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are observed in a heightened way. The particular rules for augmenting the services and for fasting vary from one Local Church to another (eg Greek,...

Confronting Sin and Sinners

SOME CHRISTIANS TODAY seem to believe that Jesus never judged anyone. They feel that He welcomed everyone, without calling them to turn from their sin. This “live and let live” attitude hardly describes the Jesus we see depicted in the Gospels. Rather, these...

Scriptural Reflections

Challenge of the Sabbath

MODERN MEDICINE HAS FOUND treatments for a number of diseases that had plagued mankind for centuries. Some have even been eradicated, at least in the developed world. This is not the case with scoliosis (curvature of the spine), such as afflicted the woman in St...

“Depart from Me, O Lord.”

ST. LUKE'S GOSPEL an interesting insight into the character of St Peter. We read there that, meeting the disciples - who had spent a fruitless night fishing - the Lord Jesus encouraged them to throw their nets in again. “Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all...

The First Athenian to Believe

WHEN WE READ the Acts of the Apostles we may feel that the apostles had success after success. That wasn’t always the case. St Paul had the following experience in Athens, the intellectual capital of the Greek world, recorded in Acts 17:16-34. He was waiting for Silas...

He Who Descended

THE LORD JESUS' PUBLIC MINISTRY begins, as it were, where John the Forerunner left off. He travels through Galilee, the Gospels assert, preaching like John, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). “News of Him went out throughout the surrounding...

Feasting with the Forefathers

The liturgical preparation for the feast of Christ’s Nativity begins today with the Sunday of the Forefathers, which commemorates all those whose lives set the stage for the coming of the Messiah. Next week we observe the Sunday of the Ancestors of Christ,...

Christ Calls a Demoniac

THE GOSPELS RECORD SEVERAL INSTANCES when the Lord Jesus called people to be His followers. At times He called people to leave their homes and livelihoods and follow Him. He called Peter and Andrew, James and John as they were busy fishing “and immediately they left...

The Sower of All that is Good

AS A RULE, JESUS DID NOT EXPLAIN His parables in detail. He left His hearers to interpret their meaning for themselves. The parable of the sower (Luke 8:5-15) is an exception. The Lord assigns a meaning to each item in it: the seed is the word of God, it...

The True Glory of God

THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST was manifested to Moses on Sinai in great power. The prophet Elias, trusting in the Almighty One, called down fire from heaven to consume his offerings. The leaders of Israel, seeking to glorify this God of power and might, built one temple...

Taking Up the Cross

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF PASSAGES that we find in one of the Gospels but not in the others. The raising of Lazarus, for example, is recorded only in John. The birth of John the Baptist, certain of the Lord’s parables, such as the Good Samaritan, and Jesus’ washing of the...

Are You Invited?

THE GOSPEL PARABLE READ at today’s Divine Liturgy is actually two stories with two different if complementary points. The first concerns those invited to the banquet and those who finally came. The second is the issue of the so-called “wedding garment.” The Gospel of...

Who is able to walk on the sea?

The story of Christ coming to His disciples in the midst of the sea is found in all the Gospels except for Luke. The version in Matthew, however, is the only one containing the disciples’ confession: “Truly You are the Son of God!” (Matthew 14:33). John describes the...

The Hope of Glory

RECENTLY THE WEBSITE “Ship of Fools” reported the following list of support group meetings for the week at a Lutheran church in Ohio: Mon – Alcoholics Anonymous Tues – Abused Spouses Wed – Eating Disorders Thu – Say No to Drugs Fri – Teen Suicide Watch Sat – Soup...

The Gospel is Proclaimed

One feature of the Paschal season in Byzantine Churches is the reading of the Acts of the Apostles. Every day, beginning with Pascha itself, this story of the early Church is read at the Divine Liturgy. While the text of Acts itself begins with Christ’s ascension, our...

God With Us, Deifying Us

OUR NATURE HAS BEEN TRANSFORMED in Christ… our nature is being transformed in Christ… our nature will be transformed in Christ. At first glance this may seem like a grammar exercise about verbs. In fact it is a summary of theology: exploring the magnitude of the...

Singing a New Song

“SING TO THE LORD A NEW SONG: His praise in the assembly of saints. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King” (Psalm 149:1-2). This psalm is heard at every Orthros service throughout the year. We may know the words by heart,...

From Stone Rejected to Lord of Glory

THE CHURCH IS “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,” according to the teaching of St. Paul (Ephesians 2:20). What seems wrong with his image? In our experience a cornerstone is an ornamental piece,...

Let Down in a Basket

ST. PAUL THE APOSTLE IS THE MOST TOWERING FIGURE of the first century Church. Much of the Acts of the Apostles is devoted to telling his story and his own writings account for more than 30% of the entire New Testament. He was directly involved in Christian...

Holy Ground

THE FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE CROSS is the occasion for us to begin the reading of St. Luke’s Gospel. As we have seen, Pascha begins the reading of John and with Pentecost we start to read Matthew. At the same time we continue the cycle of Epistle...

Asking the Wrong Question

OKAY, OKAY – SO WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO to get an A in your super course, prof? … Is it too farfetched to see the young man in as an exuberant adolescent bursting upon the scene who wants to sew up this heaven...

A Table in the Wilderness

THE MIRACULOUS FEEDING OF 5000 with five loaves and two fish is reported in each of the four Gospels. In both the earliest and latest Gospels there is an unusual unanimity in the details they relate: more than most other Gospel narratives including the resurrection....

Of Demons and Pigs

JUST WHAT IS IT ABOUT PORK? Any contact with it is prohibited in the Torah. There we read: “Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying, “These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the...

Signs of the Messiah

THE GOSPELS PRESENT A PICTURE of the world in which Christ lived which is not always understood. While they focus on His interaction with the leaders of Israel, the Gospels also show us how many other groups and peoples He encountered. Official Judaism, centered on...

The One Who Gives Life to the World

“THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT” () is the name given to the first of the five Discourses of Jesus in Mathew’s Gospel. The term – from its introductory phrase, “Seeing the multitudes He went up on a mountain” (Matthew 5:1)...

Our Radiant Light

THE BAPTISM OF CATECHUMENS ON PASCHA was one of the most widespread practices of the early Church. Speaking of baptism, St. Paul had written, “We were buried with [Christ] through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the...

On the Mountain or in Jerusalem?

ARGUMENTS ABOUT RELIGION are a favorite Middle Eastern pastime. Some are simply talk for talk’s sake: my faith is the oldest, the truest or the best. Sometimes these disagreements have become causes for acrimonious divisions between believers as the number of Jewish,...

A Priest Like Melchizedek

WHEN THE RISEN CHRIST APPEARED to His disciples He reminded them “…that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44). When we think of the Old Testament prophecies we naturally look to...

You Will See Angels

WE ARE ALL FAMILIAR WITH THE IMAGE of the eight-ounce glass containing four ounces of liquid. Is it half full or half empty? The way we see it reveals more about the viewers than about the glass. The Church numbers the Sundays during the Great Fast in successive...

The Son of Man Will Come

“I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE; no one comes to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6). The incarnate Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the only one through whom we have access to God, to live the divine life in this world and in the age to come. Many...

Seeking What Is Above

“BLESSED IS HE WHO HAS COME AND WILL COME in the name of the Lord.” This verse from the Syriac liturgies sums up the entire Church’s approach to the feasts of the Nativity of Christ and His Theophany at the Jordan. Both feasts celebrate the coming of Christ hidden in...

Striving for Parish Unity

EVERY CALLING HAS A CODE of conduct – written or unwritten – which sets out the principles for functioning ethically in that vocation. Some professional standards set limits to govern the practitioner’s exercise of his or her craft while others outline directions or...

Our True Riches

WHAT DOES IT MEAN to be “rich toward God” (Lk 12:21)? Many of us may remember the concept of spiritual bouquets promoted by many Roman Catholic religious orders in schools and churches, particularly before Vatican II. A person accomplished so many Masses, so many...

On Touching the Hem of His Garment

WE LIVE IN A SPEED-DRIVEN AGE. We look for faster ways to accomplish every task: in the office, in the kitchen, in the classroom. In our economy, speed is a source of competitive advantage. In the workplace higher speed means greater efficiency. Today “to build a...

Christ our Healer

THE MINISTRY OF THE LORD JESUS BEGINS with instances of physical healing. The Gospels present this as fulfilling a well-attested messianic prophecy. In Luke 4:16 and following we read how Jesus read such a prophecy from Isaiah in the synagogue service at Nazareth. He...

The Leprous Nature Of Man

CHRIST'S ENCOUNTER WITH THE TEN LEPERS offers several points on which we can reflect. We see that Christ heals, that He heals foreigners as well as Israelites, and that the only one who glorifies God is that foreigner, a Samaritan. Christ’s response to the Samaritan,...

What is the Armor of God?

PEOPLE WHO FOLLOW the world news reports in the media have become familiar with the Arabic word jihad describing certain radical movements in Islam. What the news reports don’t mention is that jihad, or struggle, is also a fundamental dynamic in Christian...

Tale of the Rich Man and Lazarus

THERE SEEM TO BE MORE QUESTIONS than answers in the Gospel parable of the rich man and Lazarus. We are told that, when the beggar died, he was carried to Abraham’s bosom. We are not told why. We are also told that, when the rich man died, he was “in torment in Hades”...

The Church as Darkness and Light

IN HIS PREACHING OF CHRIST to the Gentiles St Paul was challenging the heart of Jewish practice in his day: the necessity of observing the Law. What was required, he taught, was faith in Christ. In writing to the Galatians, St Paul mentioned an objection which he...

Feast Days

January

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February

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March

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April

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May

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June

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July

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August

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September

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October

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November

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December

The Virgin Has Conceived

WITH THE FIRST SCENT of cooler weather in the air, merchants begin marketing potential Christmas gifts. As the holiday nears, the shopping frenzy intensifies with music, parties and decorations all telling us “Hurry up and buy something.” Our Church, on the other...

The Sprout from Israel’s Root

FROM DECEMBER 20 TO 24 we observe a five-day “holy week” during which Christ’s birth seems ever closer. This fore-feast of the Nativity culminates on December 24, the Paramony of the feast. During these days we focus on how the birth of the long-expected Messiah is at...

December Saints

DURING THE FIRST WEEKS of December the Byzantine Churches commemorate several important saints in Christian history: The Great Martyr St Barbara (Dec. 4) St John of Damascus (Dec. 4) St Sabbas the Sanctified (Dec. 5) St Nicholas of Myra (Dec. 6) St Ambrose of Milan...

Feasts of St. Anne (December 9)

AT EVERY DIVINE LITURGY as well as at Vespers and Matins (Orthros) the priest mentions in the dismissal “the holy ancestors of God Joachim and Anne.” They are Christ’s ancestors because they are the parents of the Theotokos: not just His ancestors but His only...

The Burning Bush Now Blossoms

THE CHURCHES OF EAST AND WEST generally commemorate the saints on the day of their death, their “heavenly birthday,” as some describe it. In addition the Church remembers three conceptions: that of Christ (the Annunciation, March 25), His Mother (December 9), and St...