Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, 2019

Our Lord is the Life-giver. The gospels record Jesus’ presence at baptisms and weddings, but never at a funeral, for death cannot remain in the presence of the Giver of Life.

Today Jesus comes upon a funeral in the village of Nain, it seems almost accidently and by chance, though nothing ever happens totally by chance. Jesus stops the funeral and raises up the young man, the only son of a grieving widow. The Gospel continues the theme of last Sunday, “Be merciful, as your heavenly Father is merciful, for today Jesus raises the young man, “When the Lord saw (the widow), he was moved with pity for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you, arise!’ (Luke 7:13-14)” Here Jesus has compassion on the love of a mother for her child.

Introducing the NEW “God With Us Online”

Our parishioner John Burger writes on a NEW institute designed especially for those interested in knowing more about Eastern Christianity. John’s article:
The first FREE webinar is Wednesday, September 11, 8pm.
Register for the first webinar, “The Face of God: An Introduction to Byzantine Faith and Spirituality” —

How to celebrate the New Year in Faith

The previous post (see below) speaks of the new liturgical year. It’s a new year of Grace. Here are some suggestions as to “dig into our new year.”

~Build and/or grow the icon corner in your home

~Make it church frequently as possible

~Pray with Scripture, start with the Gospel of Matthew, reading only a paragraph at a time

~Give yourself an hour of quiet time —without cell phone or TV/radio/computer

~Engage in Byzantine prayer practices

  • pray before and after meals
  • say the Jesus prayer several times a day: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”
  • say thank you to God upon waking and before closing your eyes at bedtime
  • get a Byzantine Hours prayer book and use it

~Do spiritual reading

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Read: 1 Corinthians 9:2-12; Matthew 18:23-35

This Sunday’s gospel is about forgiveness. How God forgives is compared to how we forgive one another. Jesus’ teaching is in answer to Peter’s question: “if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him.” This implies that there is a limit to forgiveness. Jesus does not reply “always,” but “seven times seventy-seven times” In Aramaic, the answers would always be concrete, and this was in reply to Peter’s suggestion of “seven.” You could keep track of seven, but not 7 x 77. It was a virtual “always.” The same is true of the parable. The king forgives his servant 10,000 talents, which was roughly 20 years of daily wages. This was translated “a huge amount,” but again the sum is concrete, it may as well have been “infinite.” Then the forgiven man refuses to forgive his brother one denarius, a day’s wages, again easily countable.

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Read: Romans 15:1-7; Matthew 9:27-35

The Gospel for this Sunday can be summarized: Jesus went about doing good, healing the sick and revealing God’s love for all. St. Paul tells us the Jesus did this out of his goodness, not to please himself, not to glorify himself. From love for us, he took insults upon us upon himself. St. Paul concludes, “Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7). In this way, we can heal one another’s spirit. Today’s epistle and gospel, then, tell us what love for one another really is. There is a condition, though, we must be open to God’s love. What does Jesus ask the blind men? “Do you believe I can do this?” If they believed they could be healed, then they also believed they needed healing, unlike the hypocritical Pharisees, to whom Jesus says, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains” (John 9:41). They, in bitterness and unfaithfulness, hurl the insult at Jesus, “He drives out demons by the prince of demons” (Matthew 9:34).

Second Sunday after Pentecost

Read: Romans 2:10-16; Matthew 4:18-23

My favorite poet is a Jesuit priest who lived in the 19th century, and wrote about our faith. His name is Gerard Manley Hopkins, and though he was unknown in his lifetime, he changed English poetry. He wrote of our life in Christ:

In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.

This is what happens in today’s Gospel. Jesus calls Peter and Andrew and John and James, ordinary fishermen, and they IMMEDIATELY follow him. They become “immortal diamond,” oh —after one weakness when they run away at Jesus’ arrest, but then finally “in a flash” by the coming of the Holy Spirit.

All Saints Sunday

The Greek Church celebrates the great company of saints today. The Latin Church celebrates All Saints on November 1.

“The Church of Christ honors even after their death those who have lived a truly godly life. Every day of the year it commemorates the saints who departed hence on that day, leaving this mortal life. It sets the life of each of them before us for our benefit, and also shows us how each died, whether they fell asleep in peace or ended their lives in martyrdom. On this day, however, the Church gathers them all together and sends up a common hymn in their honor.”

(By St. Gregory Palamas – 1296-1358)

Sunday of the First Ecumenical Council: The Gospel of Unity

“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. (John 17:11)”

After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to his followers for forty days. He did not live with them on a day to day basis, as he did before his crucifixion and death, but he rose now into glory, giving us also the hope of resurrection to eternal life. His appearances had a particular goal, as he explained later in the Gospel of John, but in the same discourse we have heard today, “As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. (John 17:18): The Gospel today begins, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him” (John 17:1-2). In the Gospel of St. Matthew, as Jesus leaves his followers, he give them this commission, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18-19). After his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus is glorified, he has all power and authority, and he passes on his mission to us by giving us the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.