Sacred Signs: Pointing the Way to Heaven

Many Christians tend to think of the spiritual life as something entirely opposed to physical reality. This can translate into Christian practice today in the form of plain churches and simple services, especially among Protestant denominations.

In contrast, apostolic Christianity is incarnational and sacramental, incorporating many physical things into worship: not just in the art and music accompanying the liturgy, but in the very liturgy itself we make use of fire and water, bread and oil, gestures and postures. Are these merely relics of a more religious era, or does the Church recognize there is something fundamental to our human nature that needs such signs and symbols?

Third Sunday after Pentecost

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life.” Only after Jesus has shown the hurt to be unspeakable, then and not before does he make the instruction stricter. He not only asks us to cast away what we have but also forbids us to take thought even for the food we need, saying, “Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat,” not because the soul needs food, for it is incorporeal. He spoke figuratively. For though the soul as such needs no food, it cannot endure to remain in the body unless the body is fed. (St. John Chrysostom)

As always, God With Us Online, there are several things to help us go deeper in knowing and following the Scripture we hear at the Divine Liturgy. So, at the link above for the resources there is a very brief piece on the Domestic Church (the church at home) by Melkite Deacon Thomas Moses. Most importantly listen to the Gospel reflection.

Parish Mission 2021 Part II

On Saturday, March 27, at the 9:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy we will have part II of the Parish Mission given by Father Gregory Lozinskyy, pastor of St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, Trumbull. Father Gregory will preach in both Ukrainian and English.

Part I of the parish mission happened at last Sunday’s 10:30 a.m. Liturgy.

Does God really change you?

Often we can take the designation ‘child of God’ as a metaphor, as a nice thought, but not something that reaches down to our very core. Yet the communion that Jesus invites us into is no metaphor, but a reality that changes our inner landscape. In Jesus, we become part of his risen body, sharing his inheritance as sons and daughters of God. (NS)

The Sunday Before Christmas: The Genealogy of Jesus

The Gospel this Sunday presents us with an abundance of names, all those who were the ancestors of Christ. By this we see that on this feast, the Son and Word of God becomes a part of the human family and a part of human history. In this Gospel Jesus is also given a name, the final verse tells us that the child will be known as Jesus – Savior. In verse 22, though, he is given the name “Immanuel,” “God with us.” This gives us the theological meaning of the feast, the incarnation signifies our deification.

We all have names, but for the ancients, names had meanings, they did not simply give us an identification tag, but told us something of who we were. In that sense, we do not name ourselves, but we are given a name, we are all “called by name” by God, and so we enter into the ancestry of Jesus. The names are the forefathers of Jesus, but also the foremothers are mentioned: Tamar, who bore a son by trickery of Judah; Ruth, the grandmother of David, who left her people to follow Naomi; the unnamed wife of David, Bathsheba, who David married by arranging for the death of Uriah. We see, then, that even trough questionable and evil actions, as well as by faithfulness, Jesus becomes “the son given to us.” The greatest of the woman in his genealogy is, of course, Mary, his mother, who by her obedience cancelled the curse of Eve, and united God with humanity in her womb.

Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost 2019

Read: Ephesians 2:14-22
Luke 13:10-17

This Sunday, Jesus heals a woman bent over so she could not walk straight. “And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity. (Luke 13:11-12)” Being bent over, the woman could see only the dirt before her, she could not lift up her eyes and see the trees, the towns, the horizon or the sky. She was not guilty of her infirmity, and Jesus had mercy.

Again, however, the Pharisees could not see the true moral horizon, putting the Sabbath law above the woman’s health, and so Jesus brands them, “Hypocrites. (Luke 13:15)” We all are that woman, but is it because of illness or our own will? We are short-sighted, we see only the dirt in front of us, and we do not see the horizon. We see only what we want to see, and hear only what we want to hear. We need the gift of wisdom to see the horizon, to see what is true.

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

Read: Luke 8:26-39

The idea this gospel is addressing is fear. Jesus comes to the land of the Gerasenes and casts out a legion of demons from a possessed man. The gospel of Luke is succinct on this point and only notes that he lived among the tombs (that is, among the dead).

In the gospel of Matthew, we read the detail that “they were so savage that no one could travel by that road” (Matthew 8:28). Jesus’ cure is like a resurrection to life, making him free from the tombs. The demons are sent into unclean animals, the pigs, and this evil is promptly destroyed. The townspeople come out to see what had happened, and rather than welcoming Jesus as a healer and the conqueror of evil, the gospel says “they were seized with fear,” and St. Luke repeats, they “asked Jesus to leave them because they were seized with great fear” (Luke 8:35.37).