June 27, 2009

Third Sunday after Pentecost

The Eye is the Lamp of the Body
Matthew 6:22-33
From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Matthew
by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

22-23. The eye is the lamp of the body: if therefore thine eye be sound, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness.
This means, if you fill your mind with worries over money, you have extinguished the lamp and darkened your soul. Just as the eye that is sound, or "healthy" brings light to the body, and the eye that is evil, or "diseased" brings darkness, so also does the state of the mind affect the soul. If the mind is blinded by these worries, it is cast into darkness; then the soul becomes dark, and how much more so the body as well?

24. No man can serve two lords. What He means is this: no man can serve two lords who command things that are opposed to each other. Such lords are God and mammon. We make the devil our lord when we make the belly our god. But by nature and in truth God is the Lord, and mammon is unrighteousness. For either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Do you see that it is not possible for a rich man and unrighteous man to serve God? His love of money drives him away from God.

25. For this reason I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. For this reason—for what reason? Because concern over money drives a man away from God. The soul does not eat, for it is bodiless, but Jesus said this according to the common use of the word (1) For it is obvious that the soul does not consent to remain in a body if the flesh is not fed. Jesus does not forbid us to work, but rather He forbids us to give ourselves over entirely to our cares and to neglect God. Hence we must work for our livelihood while not neglecting the soul. Is not life more than food, and the body more than raiment? This means: He gave us much greater things, life itself, and formed our bodies—will He not give us food and clothing?

26. Behold the birds of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much more than they? Although He could have given the example of Elijah and John the Baptist, instead He mentions the birds in order to shame us, for we are even more witless than these creatures. God feeds them by having given them the instinctive knowledge for finding food.

27. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? This means: Even if you take the utmost care, you can do nothing if God does not will it. Why then do you drive yourself to exhaustion with futile worries?

28-29. And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. He shames us not only by the birds, which lack reason, but also by the lilies, that wither. If God adorned the lilies in such a manner, without any necessity to do so, how much more will He fulfill our own need for clothing? He shows that though you go to great lengths, you are not able to be adorned as beautifully as the lilies. Even Solomon the most wise and splendid, with all his kingdom at his disposal, could not array himself in such a manner.

30. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
We learn from this that we ought not to be concerned with beautifying ourselves, for our adornments wither like the fading flowers. Therefore one who beautifies himself is like grass. But you, He says, are creatures endowed with reason, whom God fashioned with both soul and body. Those "of little faith" are all those who concern themselves with such thoughts. If they had perfect faith in God, they would not give such anxious thoughts to these things.

31-32. Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek. He does not forbid us to eat, but to say, What shall we eat? The rich say in the evening, "What shall we eat tomorrow?" Luxury and excess are what He forbids.

32-33. For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. The kingdom of God is the enjoyment of all that is good. This comes through righteousness. To him who seeks after spiritual things God in His generosity adds what is needed for physical life.


1. Take no thought for your life [psyche] Psyche can also mean "soul": here Blessed Theophylact has both meanings in mind.

June 25, 2009


If you are ever asked by an Evangelical Protestant "Are you saved?" Let them know I am working on it. The Orthodox concept of salvation is that of "Theosis," in which we as individuals grow in holiness becoming closer to God's likeness. This is a life long process that often goes beyond the grave. Evangelical teaching will have you believe that you are saved through a single profession to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and then you a are good to go. This is a false understanding of Christ's Grace and Mercy. While God can save whomever he chooses, we are not guaranteed salvation by a profession of faith. We need to continue to struggle in our faith daily so that by the grace of God we will be saved on the day of judgment. Christ came into this world to show us how to live a Godly life and then died on the cross in order to open the gates of Hades, insuring all of us the opportunity for salvation. However, we must act! We must actively live out our faith! For God can do all things accept one, make us pick up our cross and love Him. That is our choice through free will.

"God became man that we might become God." - St. Athanasius

Enjoy this wonderful video!

June 20, 2009

Second Sunday after Pentecost

Come Follow Me
Matthew 4:18-23

From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Matthew
by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

18-19. As He was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishermen; and He saith unto them. These two had been disciples of John, and while John was still living they had approached Christ. But when they saw John arrested, they returned again to their fishing, and so Christ comes, fishing for them, and says:

19-20. Come follow Me and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him. Behold obedient men, who followed Him immediately. From this it is clear that this is the second time that He called them. For they had been taught by Christ on a previous occasion [see Jn. 1:35-42], then left Him, and when they saw Him again followed Him readily.

21. And going on from thence, He saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a boat with Zebedee their father. It is the greatest of virtues to care for one’s father in his old age, and for the father to be supported by the just labors of his sons. Mending their nets. They were poor and as they were unable to buy new nets, they were stitching together their old ones.

22. And they immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Him. It appears that Zebedee did not believe and it is for this reason that they left him. Do you see when it becomes necessary to leave one’s father? When the father becomes an impediment to virtue and reverence for God. When James and John saw the first two follow Christ, they rightly followed Christ as well, imitating their good example.

23. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. Jesus enters the synagogues of the Hebrews to show that He is not opposed to the law. And healing every disease and every infirmity among the people. He begins with miracles, to give credibility to what He teaches. By disease is meant chronic illness, and by infirmity, a temporary bodily disorder.

June 19, 2009

How To Be A Good Father?

In honor of Fathers day here is a little advice from scripture for your vocation.


Ephesians 5:28 – “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.”

A. If they see you show disrespect for your wife … your son will carry that into his marriage.
B. If you verbally or mentally or physically abuse your wife … your daughter will expect that in her marriage.
C. If you treat their mother like she isn’t worth very much … you are degrading the home, the family, and marriage … which they will carry into their future homes, families & marriages.

A. If they visibly see you show love and respect to their mother … your son will learn how to be a good husband and father himself.
B. If you honor your wife … your daughter will never be satisfied with a man who dishonors her.


Col. 3:21 – “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”

A. Fathers, don’t EXPECT your children to be perfect.
B. Don’t expect them to meet all of your expectations.
C. Don’t expect them to fulfill all of your goals for them.
D. Don’t expect them to be what you want them to be.
E. Too many fathers try to live out their own lives through their children.
F. They want their sons to be the football stars that they could never be.
G. They want their daughters to marry into money & success that they never achieved.
H. Every child is different … they are not a clone of you (Thank God!).
I. It’s natural for a child to make mistakes … spill their milk … accidentally break things … do poorly on a test … & get angry.
J. Instead of constantly criticizing their imperfections, acknowledge their imperfections … and love them.
K. They aren’t perfect … they will never be perfect … don’t expect them to be perfect.


Psalm 127:3 – “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

A. Children are given to us to ENJOY … not to be a burden … not to avoid … not to ignore … BUT TO ENJOY!
B. In order to ENJOY them, you’ve got to be with them … have fun with them … share your life with them.
C. Enjoy being a father … and make sure that they enjoy having you as their father.
D. Spend some time on the floor with them, giving them horsy rides … take them to fun places, doing fun things … laugh … play … give them some memories of Dad being FUN to be around.


Proverbs 1:5 – “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning;…”

A. Give them your undivided attention … not with one eye on the TV and the other eye on them.
B. When they have a problem … when they are worried … when they are sad … when they are lonely … they don’t need cartoons, or a video game, or their best friends Dad … they need YOU!
C. Get involved with your children, and know what’s going on in their everyday life.
D. Listen to them … even when they‘re not saying anything, they are speaking.
E. Be the kind of father that they can come to and say anything that’s on their mind … without being criticized for it.
F. If you listen to them when they’re small and their problems are small. They come to you when they’re bigger, and their problems are bigger.


1 Tim. 5:8 – “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

A. Even the LOST provide for their families.
B. You can’t be a GOOD FATHER and not provide for your children.
C. I don’t mean that you have to give them everything they want … that’s one of the WORST things you can do.
D. We are living in a generation of children whose parents have robbed their children of the blessing of WANTING, WORKING & WAITING for material things.
E. We have spoiled our children by giving them INSTANT SATISFACTION … and they will carry on this tradition by charging whatever they want and accumulating enormous credit card debt.
F. Too many fathers think they can BUY OFF their children with THINGS … and thus relieve themselves of the guilt for not being the kind of father they ought to be … that they can BUY their way out of Biblical fatherhood.


Ephesians 6:4 – “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

A. We must teach and train our children to respect authority in the home … or they won’t respect authority at school or in the world.
B. We need to teach our children that there are BOUNDARIES … rules & regulations.
C. Your children are going to test you.
D. They are going to see how much they can get away with.
E. They are going to see if you mean what you say … if you’re going to take a stand, or if it’s just an idle threat.


1 Chron. 16:11 – “Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.”

A. You don’t have all the answers to their questions …
B. You can’t solve all their problems.
C. You don’t have all the wisdom, love and patience to be the father you ought to be.
D. Without God’s help, you can never be the father God wants you to be.
E. You need help! You can’t do it by yourself …


Psalm 55:17 – “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”

A. You can’t be with your children all the time … God can.
B. You can’t protect them wherever they go … God can.
C. You can teach them right from wrong, but you can’t be there when it’s put to the test … God can.
D. Pray for your children! Lift them up to God to do for them what you can’t do.


Proverbs 22:6 - “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

A. You are a role model for your children … like it or not … good or bad … they will, to one degree or another, model their lives after you.
B. You have inherited some of your father’s characteristics … your children are inheriting some of yours.
C. Whether you know it or not you are influencing the lives of your children, and your children’s children.
D. You ARE a role model … a good father will be a GOOD role model.


Proverbs 23:24 - “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.”

A. You are preparing your children to leave home.
B. Some day, they’ll take what they’ve learned from you, and begin to apply it out in the real world.
C. You’ve only got approximately 18 years to get them ready.
D. Preparing them for life away from you is only part of the picture.
E. If you haven’t spent your time preparing them for eternity, you have failed as a father.
F. You can’t choose which eternal path they will take … but you CAN choose to show them the way to Heaven … OR … you can choose to just ignore their spiritual destiny.
G. They have to decide for themselves the path they’ll take … but you can have a Godly influence on their choice.


June 12, 2009

First Sunday after Pentecost

Whosoever Shall Confess Me Before Men
Matthew 10:32-33, 37-38; 19:27-30
From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Matthew
by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

Ch. 10:32-33. Whosoever therefore shall confess in Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father Who is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father Who is in heaven. He exhorts them to bear witness even unto martyrdom. For belief only within one’s soul does not suffice; He desires also the belief confessed with the tongue. He did not say, "Whosoever shall confess Me," but in me, that is, in My strength. For he who confesses does so aided by the grace which is from above. But as for him who denies, Christ did not say "in Me," but whosoever shall deny Me, showing that he denies because he does not have the aid from above. Therefore everyone who confesses that Christ is God will find Christ giving confession of him to the Father, that he is a true servant. But those who deny will hear the words, "I do not know you."

37. He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Do you see when it is that we must hate our parents and children? When they want us to love them more than Christ. And why should I speak of father, mother, and children? Hear what is even greater than this:

38. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me.
Whoever, He says, does not renounce this present life and give himself over to shameful death, for this is what the cross signified to the ancients, is not worthy of Me. But since there are many who are crucified, such as robbers and thieves, He added, and followeth after Me, that is, live according to My laws.

Ch. 19:27. Then answered Peter and said unto Him, Behold, we have forsaken all and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
Even though it seems that Peter had not forsaken very much, as he was poor, understand that in actuality he, too, forsook much. For the fewer possessions we have, the greater the attachment. But Peter also rejected every worldly pleasure, even natural affection for his parents. For these passions war against the poor as well as the rich (1) What then does the Lord answer?

28. And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Surely they will not be seated? (2)

Of course not, but He indicated by means of a throne the great honor they will enjoy. Will Judas also be seated? No; for Christ said, which have followed Me, that is, "followed Me to the end," but Judas did not follow to the end. By a different interpretation, God often promises good things to those who are worthy. But if they should change and become unworthy, as Judas did, those good things are denied. Similarly with more menacing things, He often threatens but does not carry out the threat, because we have repented. By regeneration understand the resurrection of the dead at the Last Judgement.

29. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. So that no one would think that what was said applied only to the disciples, Christ broadened the promise to include everyone who does likewise. They will have, instead of family of the flesh, intimacy and brotherhood with God; instead of lands, Paradise; instead of houses of stone, the heavenly Jerusalem; instead of a mother, the venerable mothers in the Church; instead of a father, the priests; instead of a wife, all the faithful women, not in marriage—far from it!—but in affection and spiritual relation and compassionate care for them. The Lord does not bid us simply to separate from our families, but only when they impede our piety. In the same manner, He bids us to despise even our own life and body, but not with the result that we slay ourselves. See how good God is: He not only gives us these good things, but adds to them eternal life. You, then, O reader, hasten to sell your possessions and give to the poor. Possessions are, to the wrathful man, his anger; to the fornicator, his disposition for debauchery; to the resentful, his remembrance of wrongs. Sell these things and give them to the poor demons who are in want of every good thing. Return the passions to the creators of the passions, and then you will have treasure, which is Christ, in your heaven, that is, in your mind which has been exalted above this world. For he who becomes like the heavenly One has heaven within himself.

30. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
Christ is suggesting here the Jews and the Gentiles. For the Jews, who were first, became last, while the Gentiles, who were last, were put first.

1. Natural affection for one’s family becomes a passion when it is placed before love of God.

2. In the ancient world, the privilege to sit in the presence of others indicates a high office or rank such as that of a king or one representing him, or of the father in the presence of his children.

June 10, 2009

Russian Orthodox Church opposed the secular monopoly for social world order

Moscow, June 10, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate believes that the secular humanistic society model should not be imposed on the world as the only correct and forward-looking.

"In my view, the secular project has been exhausted. It gives people no vigor, it fails to inspire them in emergency, and it is unable to teach them self-denial and self-control," head of the Synodal Church and Society Department Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said at a Moscow conference dedicated to relationships between religion and the state.

According to him, demographic data, psychological tests and sociological research "convincingly show that secular ideology deprives the society of many benefits inherent to a society with a strong religious motivation."

"Today, there are many examples when a society with a strong religious motivation proves to be no less, and even much more efficient than a society based on its secular identity," Father Vsevolod said.

"In fact, today we can see that the pursuit of "civil religion" and "universal human values", and the priority of material life over the end purpose of existence proved to be a failure for many people, in particular, in the West."
Father Vsevolod stated that "the existence of groups with different attitudes which put the main emphasis on their worldview, different models of society, family, and local communities based on different attitudes is a real fact."

He thinks that this trend in society development should be given a special focus and "it would be reckless for both politicians and intellectuals to ignore this phenomenon."

Fr. Vsevolod believes that today we need "to proceed from attempting to unify the humanity", impose a single model of state and society and the relations of the state, society and religion as the only correct, we need to proceed from all the above to the situation where different models of society, family and local communities "are considered equal".

"Both in Russia and in the world, there are communities which live under the Islam law which they consider the supreme law. Orthodox believers treat the religious law as supreme which they cannot deny even under death threat. This is evidenced by the lives of Russia's New Martyrs and Confessors and the history of the early Christian years. This kind of law is also supreme for the followers of Judaism," Fr. Vsevolod said.

At the same time, "only a minor part of the world's population treats as the most important the priorities of material life and worldly comfort which form the basis of humanist ideology."

"The secular humanistic model of social structure is just one model, one system of law, and its followers can no longer explain why it should become universal," the priest said. According to him, the current economic crisis has raised serious doubts about the last argument of secularism adepts, i.e., its eternal economic efficiency.

In closing, Fr. Vsevolod said that none of the social models, neither Orthodox, nor Islamic, should become a ground for dialogues.

"Today's ground for dialog is the willingness of different models representatives to discuss future without any precedent conditions and claiming progressiveness," the priest said.