UNIQUE

We have all heard the phrase; God sure broke the mold when He made her! That has been used usually to describe some one that is a huge blessing in people’s lives, or occasionally describes someone just the opposite of a good blessing! If we take a minute to ponder on that statement, life sure would be boring if we were all the same or made identically from the same mold! We would have the same job, same hair, same clothes, same aches and pains, and same attitude and ambitions. Think about the traffic jams! And it sure would be hard to get a word in amongst ourselves, wouldn’t it?

As I boy I was given a set of metal molds that I poured goop in and then cooked this mold in an oven. Once cooked, I had made my very own plastic spiders and creepy crawlers. They were always identical in shape, size and the number of legs, and only differed in the color variations of the goop. Then of course once the creepy crawlers were done as any active loving boy would do, I hid the spiders and bugs around the house to await a surprise reaction from my older sisters!  

Thanks be to God, it is a safe assumption that we humans are all unique. Yes, He has made us either male or female with some basic similar needs but we are all created differently. After all, I am going to tell you right now, some of you would look kind of funny with a long, grey beard like mine! Now rest assured, we all have the very same Father and we have all received a gift of grace, but our gifts differ and are unique to us. [Eph. 4:7] This gift is given freely but it is geared towards building His Church and restoring everything to its incorrupt and natural state! (Eph 4:7-13) We are created to bring holiness into our little part of the world.

When our Lord entered the River of Jordan, He restored the water to its right relationship with God, pure as the Garden of Eden. His baptism was not to cleanse the Sinless One but to make the waters Holy! When we have our homes blessed with the water of Theophany, we too join our homes and families into a correct relationship seeking after the Kingdom of Heaven, cleansing it from all impurities. We drink the Holy Water to cleanse our bodies from the rancid world and everything that separates us from Christ!

In our baptism, Christ shares life eternal with us as He scrubs away our stains. Death for us has been defeated! Our Earthly death is now an entrance into life eternal. It is not what we deserve; it is what He desires for us. We seek to just make our daily lives a liturgy, glorifying our Creator.

St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco writes: Now the Church consists of both her earthly and heavenly parts, for the Son of God came to earth and became man that He might lead man into heaven and make him once again a citizen of Paradise, returning to him his original state of sinlessness and wholeness and uniting him unto Himself. This is accomplished by the action of Divine grace granted through the Church, but man’s effort is also required. God saves His fallen creature by His own love for him, but man’s love for his Creator is also necessary; without it he cannot by saved. Striving towards God and cleaving unto the Lord by its humble love, the human soul obtains power to cleanse itself from sin and to strengthen itself for the struggle to complete victory over sin. “The Church as the Body of Christ,” Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco

Fr. Gabriel Weller 1-24-2021

Boy, Are You Coming?

Sitting at the supper table many moons ago, Grandma informed Granddad that there was a big wasp nest above the brooder house door. She had been busy that day making her newly arrived chicks happy, warm and safe. Granddad hurriedly finished his supper and looked at me asked: “Boy, are you coming?” He liked to call me “boy” to my Grandma’s disapprovement, but it made me feel like family, and loved with deep affection. We moved quickly to the chicken yard trying to beat sundown to the draw. Granddad stopped along the way and grabbed a ladder. I asked him if he needed some gas or diesel or hornet spray but he grinned and headed for the brooder house. He spotted the nest and climbed the rungs of the ladder and took his big, powerful hand and squished the nest and pulled it down. I know from the way my eyes felt that they were stretched wide open, from ear to ear. Swallowing hard, I asked if he had been stung because he was calm and did not flinch and inch! He grinned and said: “Yes, a time or two, but it was good for my arthritis! “

Granddad was focused and motivated to overcome the impediment that was tempting Grandma. He had many struggles in life including the Great Depression and loss of his first wife after the birth of his third child. He toiled the Earth by day and milked his Holsteins before sunup and again before dark each and every day, and then spent his evening reading his bible and preparing a lesson for his Men’s Sunday school class that he taught for 40 years.

If we take time to think about our parents and grandparents and the enormous challenges they faced with the 10 year depression, world wars, new diseases and oppression, just to name a few,  we should find hope in that they may have been wounded or bruised by life, but they stayed focused and moved forward. It was their time, life has a limit! Granddad would tell you, you have to make hay when the sun is shining. Every single day, the cows had to be milked twice and all the animals had to be fed and watered, there were no excuses. It didn’t matter how life had beat you up that day, these things had to be done!   

We heard ringing in our ears today with these clear inductions in the Gospel reading: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Mark 1:3) This should be our daily routine! No matter what else is in your path, each and every day you must enrich your heart with His living blood, transforming yourself into a temple of God. I ask you, are you satisfied with whom you have become or are you remodeling your life to be more like His? Remodeling is hard work; sometimes you need the sledgehammer and a lot of perspiration and blisters!  It is your time, life has a limit!

Sometimes it takes climbing the ladder rungs amongst the stingers, and squishing the obstacles that hinder your progress. We cannot become complacent and allow our guard to drop. We are taught by our forefathers of our Holy Church: that the devil always takes advantage of times of challenge to sow discord and confusion, which lead man into yet greater sorrows and further away from the bosom of Abraham. (1 Peter 5:8, Luke 16:19-31) We simply forget to daily supply our animal its’ nourishment. We starve our soul and dehydrate our brains with worldly cares. We allow the plagues of anger and laziness to rot away at our eternity, placing us in years of depression. We allow the stinger, the fear, to be powerful and crippling instead of a blessing. I pray that you too are focused and motivated and that you will be wide-eyed enough to see His glory, and each and every day, pick up your cross and follow Him!

Boy, Are You Coming?

Fr. Gabriel Weller 1-17-2021

Christmas Wish

Around this time, here in the Valley as we live and breathe the American dream often times you will hear folks ask: what do you want for Christmas? My endorphin hormones enjoy new and shinny things but now as I achingly realize my age, I am more concerned about other things like the wellbeing of my love ones and the challenges they are facing and will face in the near future. And I think I now should spend more time reflecting on my sinfulness and things I still need to improve on in the limited days I have left. Perhaps the Christmas Wish I most desperately need is answered with a bold statement like: Death to the world that still exists within me! [Col. 3:5-6]

Well, that’s easier said than done! I simply alone cannot rid myself of these addictions! I am weak and slothful and easily distracted! And then of course there are my scars and deep wounds that at times get agitated accidently by folks in my day to day walk in life. I am still in need of a Great Healer and Physician. I am in great need of a love that is so pure and unpolluted. I am in great need of a Savior because I can’t seem to cure myself despite my many thirsting attempts.  

Christ is Born so that we may lose the chains of death and lay aside all earthly cares! But we must accept His invitation to come closer! We have to cooperate with His grace by removing all of the obstacles we have surrounded ourselves with that block His Light from penetrating our hearts! St. Paul lists the following obstacles today in his letter to the Church in Colossians: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience”. [Col 3:5-6] He then mentions “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth.” St. Paul follows that up with a warning not to “lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature.” (Col 3:8-9)

These are the pollutants that contaminate our bodies and souls and steal our true joy. They may at times seem small and minuscule but when rot is allowed to remain, deterioration comes to the whole body as it slowly encumbers our eternity. There is no happiness in damnation. Over the years I have found that the things of the Earth that are shinny and new require our attention to preserve them or keep them sparkling. We become their slaves. And over time, they tarnish or rust away anyway. True happiness can only come from above!

“Come; let us seize Paradise hidden in the cave! There the unwatered Root has appeared, blossoming with forgiveness.” (Cannon of the Nativity) He formed us from clay and carefully placed us in the womb and He wishes to restore blessedness to all of mankind. Christ is born at Christmas and hopes we chose Him as our Christmas Wish. Less of us and much more of Him! Glory to Thee who has showed us the Light! (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Fr. Gabriel Weller 12-27-2020

Are You Where You Are Supposed To Be?

Are you where you are supposed to be? We have heard the phrase “I was in the right place at the right time”. So, where is this place, because I want to be there! And I am certain you do too! We all heard the answer to this very question today, in the reading of the Gospel of Luke Chapter 13. A Good Jew was in the synagogue because it was the Sabbath and on this day Christ was there and He was teaching.

What we heard in this reading today was that this woman who was bent over in crippling pain was there as well. You see, she was in the right place, but we believe this was her custom; she managed to bring her broken body to the temple. So for 18 years, she made her way to the temple, despite her infirmity, she was there! But on this day, Christ saw her and had compassion on her laying His hands on her. He physically touched her! Think about it, how powerful is that? Not just to be in His presence but to have the Son of God touch you! Saint Gregory the Great: writes “He called her and straightened her up, because He enlightened and helped her. He calls us, but does not straighten us up….Our repeated sins bind our hearts, so that we cannot rise to an upright condition. They try, but then slip back. Of necessity they fall even when they do not want to, since they have so long acted according to their own wills. “[Ib., 253, 254.]

So I ask, are you in the right place? Where should a Good Christian be? Over the few years I have been here on Earth, I have known some folks that simply have severe physical infirmities and are just unable to make a weekly pilgrimage to the church. I have also known some folks that make choices that block their weekly trip and then others that think they have plenty of time left to work on their salvation. Are you where you are supposed to be?  

Well, we know that our Lord is All-Present (Psalm 33:13-14) but there is something really special here at the church waiting for you. The church is a place where we escape the world and its’ grip and find true worship. And here at the church, the Body of our Risen Lord can physically and mystically touches your tongue when you receive Holy Communion. By eating and drinking the bread and wine which are mystically consecrated by the Holy Spirit, we have indisputable communion with God through Christ who himself is “the bread of life(Jn 6.34, 41).I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”(Jn 6:51)

Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco writes: “Communion of the holy Body and Blood of Christ, which strengthens our contact with Him and refreshes us with the living streams of the grace of the Holy Spirit flowing through the Body of the Church, is necessary for everyone.” St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, “The Church as the Body of Christ”( Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco‘ border=0 v:shapes=”_x0000_i1025″>)  You need to be here, you are deeply thirsting for Him. (Psalm 33:13-14)  You need that physical touch from the One who suffered and died and defeated death and yearns to touch your crippled body and soul for that which is beneficial for your salvation. Won’t you come?

Fr. Gabriel Weller 12-13-2020

BLOWIN IN THE WIND

The fall time of the year is such a colorful time in our lives. The green lush spring is now infused with trees of many fall colors as they will soon start to turn brown and litter the ground reminding us of just how short life is. Scientist say that leaves change color as the daylight hours draw shorter and it becomes cooler in the night. A biochemical processes in the leaves begin to paint the landscape with Nature’s autumn palette. Pretty soon the drab and the now deadened leafs will fall to the ground and blow like chaff in the wind. But it wasn’t that long ago that the days began to get longer and the brown and gray vegetation became vibrant and green with life and that time will soon come again! Cultivators will go out to work preparing and planting. Warmth will come with insects and pollination and gentle rain for nourishment. But for now, the season of growth nearing its end, and we look for nature’s lifeless period in its’ next season, a season of dormancy.


Our earthly life also has seasons. At times there is newness of life and also at times a bit drab or demise. Newness of life is at its peak when we Christians find repentance and forgiveness. This is our cultivating season and our Lord sends His grace for pollination which for us repentant is the spreading of His love through our acts of love. And His mercy rains down on us quenching our Godless drought of our self-love and self-pity. And in this time of spiritual growth, we move closer to the Divine and our healthy lush colors are full of life.


Forgetting to put God first in all things brings darkness over our souls and we begin our decent into the drab colorless dormant seasons in our lives. Turning from God severs our eternal nutrient supply. In the last number of years my wife has noticed another color change in me. On occasion, she sees a color change in my face. Redness appears in my checks if my blood pressure is elevated. Sometimes this redness occurs if I am hustling about doing tasks but mostly if I am experiencing anger with my fellow man or my loving wife. As far as my health is concerned, I am getting older but I do not make much time to stay in shape and I do not always take into consideration the nutritional foods that I need to eat. However, the fast will be here soon to help me with this! Maybe with all the leaves arriving in my yard I can gain some exercise by raking and gathering them. And as far as my spiritual health, I continue to be angered by my fellow man instead of looking inward, blowing like a dead leaf in the wind. My type “A” personality blinds me and my world at times only contains little ole me! I fail to exercise my soul as I forget my salvation and His love for creation. Saint John of Damaskos says: “Without practice and preparation it is not possible for anyone to attain deification (theosis) and communion with God.”


In my busyness, I don’t take ample time to help my brother, Lazarus (Lk 16:29). Maybe if I knew when my earthly expiration date was, I would spend more time being about my Father’s business. Maybe if I spend more time reading about Moses and the prophets rather than wasting my life away on electronic entertainment or worrying about COVID or the election, I would be better prepared for the next life and the judgment in which all my deeds will surely be made known. Rest assured, our days on this Earth are numbered and the pursuit of purple and fine linen takes away the time we have been given to be the church. We cannot allow the winds of time to blow us around where the winds will take us! We need to put our salvation as the most important task in our lives! We need to stay in the season of lush growth springing our souls to be more like God, finding out salvific nutrients in the deep fertile soil of Orthodoxy, and becoming more vibrant and alive in the Holy Sacraments of the church. Less of me, More of Him! May our color be one of vibrance through the life-sustaining blood of our Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 11-2020 / 11-5-17

He’s Alive! Are YOU?

Hope is such a powerful word! I actually come from a little town in Virginia named New Hope. Some people over the years have made fun of this little town by proclaiming No Hope for New Hope! But I prefer to be a positive thinker and always leave the door and the window open for hope to come and blanket me like a fog consuming Afton Mountain! The more hope the better! I feel like my tank would be empty without hope!

Sometime ago, I was disagreeing with a scientist friend of mine who needs to be able to explain things within the confined boundaries of science. It is sad because he has no grasp of hope! He may believe in lady luck but that seems to be his only acknowledgement of positive thinking. Everything has a reason for him based on the limitation of human knowledge.

In our Christian faith, we believe in the power of prayer and things unseen. We hope that our Creator will hear our supplication and take action on our behalf. And it is important that we always conclude our petitions with “Thine will be done” for we have no idea at times what are really asking for and we do not know what will unfold for us in the future. We are also reminded with Scripture such as: “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”[Mt. 19:26]  And then in the Scripture today, Christ restores life to the young dead son of a widow. There is always hope!    

We are reminded that we are in a fallen world, evil is mistaken for good. Mankind was booted out of the garden because of for our thirst for greed. Our life now has an age limit and the evil one is here amongst us, enticing our greed and wanting to separate us from our hope. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”[Rom. 8:20-21] Saint Symeon the New Theologian writes: “This is the reason why, when God saw from before the creation of the world that Adam would be saved through re-birth, He subjected creation to him, and put it under a curse so that, having been created for the sake of man who had fallen into corruption, it should itself become corrupt and provide him annually with corrupted food. But then, when God makes man anew again and renders him immortal, incorruptible, and spiritual, at that time, I say, He will change all of creation itself together with man, and will bring it to completion as immaterial and everlasting.”

 It is easy to live as if we are god but the reality will overcome us on our death beds. Just like the dead son in the scripture today, I also am dead! My stench of death is not physical but spiritual! My greed forgets about my mortality and my need of God, and I chose to make decisions and seek things selfishly. Blessed Theophylact tells us: “The bier which carries the dead mind is the body. And indeed the body is like a tomb, as the ancient Greeks said, calling the body a burial mound, which means a tomb. Having touched the body, the Lord then raises the mind, restoring its youth and vigor. And after the young man, meaning the mind, has sat up, raised from the tomb of sin, he will begin to speak, that is, to teach others. While he is in the grip of sin, he cannot speak or teach; who would believe him?” (Blessed Theophylact)

But I have hope. “My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my shelter is the Holy Spirit, O Holy Trinity, Glory to Thee.” (Venerable Joannicius the Great) I hope that through my continued effort and God’s grace He will remove my selfish scars from my darkened eyes and enable my vision of the Incarnate. Our hope is a submission that we need a Savior and a that He is still working in our lives. Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, in order for you to abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.” [Rom. 15:13]

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-25-2020

EMPTY WoRdS

Have you been crucified with Christ? [Gal. 2:20] What exactly does that mean for us here in 2020? St. Theophan tells us: “True, one may know man’s final goal: communion with God. And one may describe the path to it: faith, and walking in the commandments, with the aid of divine grace. One need only say in addition: here is the path-start walking!” St. Theophan The Recluse, The Path to Salvation: A Manual of Spiritual Transformation

Many folks today say they are Christian and yet they fail to regularly attend church (there is usually something more important preventing them from attending), they fail to set aside their first fruit as their tithe (bills, bills, and more bills), they allow their selfishness to navigate their lives (excuses, excuses, excuses), and they always promise to make great strides next week, month or year and get back on the narrow path (tic-tock, tic-tock). They waste their breath slobbering out empty words while lying through their teeth! Simply put, you are either here or you’re not.

I wish I knew what I could do to help people commit to a more righteous path for their salvation. I wish I had an evident cure for anything and everything that is keeping people away from living the true faith! I wish my poor, poor prayers could heal everyone and give them a bountiful life, but it takes cooperation. Unlike many folks in the West, the true teaching of our salvation is faith and works! You need to attend the meetings; it is a step process as we ascend the Divine Ladder! There are no shortcuts! You are either here, or you’re not!

That towering ant hill we are building in all of our busyness is going to be flattened by the big footprint of life, it just won’t matter! Our existence here is temporary! What really matters is our soul! Where will it reside when it leaves our body? Will you be prepared for Judgment Day? We are not God, He is! We need to wipe that slobbering excuse off our face and get busy, our afterlife depends on it!

Our combination of faith and action helps mold us into being myrrhbearers. Salivation would be extremely hard existing in this world without the supportive structure of the church. There are too many temptations and heartaches in life to be separated from the support of the church. She needs you and you need her. This is a place where broken wounded people come for healing. Which path are you on? You are either here, or you’re not!

“I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live in faith, in that of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.   [Gal. 2:20]

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-4-2020

PATCHES

Of all the dirty jobs I have had over the years, I would have to say harvesting hay and straw is at the top of my dirty job list. Not only was that job a real workout in the heat of the summer, the amount of dust, dirt and allergens circulating around me was like an intense fog rolling down the mountain moistening my skin. Handling the hay bales gave me thorns in my hands and arms and holes in my Wrangler Jeans. Usually by the end of summer my clothes had patches on top of patches!

At the end of the day, I had dirt where my eyes couldn’t see and Grandma Hazel would have to visually check my clothing and see if I was even allowed in the house. And then of course when it was time to eat, Grandma would send me back to the sink again, where another heavy application of soap was necessary before I could sit at the table next to Granddad, the ear thumper! Yes sir, manners were taught at that table.

Clothes and skin come clean with some strong soap and heavy scrubbing. Holes in our clothing can be repaired and I am sure patches will be popular again real soon as I have noticed a lot of torn clothes being worn by our youth in much need of repair. You may want to stock up now on patches now as they may fly off the shelf like toilet paper when the patches wave hits!

We all have been invited to the table of our Lord, won’t you come? Won’t you put on your wedding garment by revisiting your Holy Baptism where you were clothed in the garment of salvation, laying aside the filthy old man? In the confessional the dirt of sin is removed and then washed by the blood of the Lamb which awaits you at the chalice in celebration of our mystical union with our Savior Jesus Christ. After all, that is why we are here!

If you come today to bring your children to receive these precious gifts mystically found here in the chalice, thank you. Glory be to God! It is important for them to be here and truly a blessing, but why not you? Do you really think the dirt and holes in your baptismal garment have made you unworthy? Our Lord offered His most precious life for you! Won’t you come? Come to confession and let those deep wounds begin to heal. Our Father will bind your rotting flesh and patch your life back together as only He can do, if you will allow Him in. We need you, we are family!   

A new day is coming, get out of you death bed and come to the wedding. St. John Chrysostom adds this warning: “Great is the punishment for those who have been idle, indifferent, and lazy. For even as those who showed insolence and gave injury by not coming, so also dost thou by thus reclining with a life corrupted.” [Mt. 22:12.] [Ib., P.G. 58:681, 682 (cols. 650, 651)

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-13-2020

You Can Build His Church!

I hear every now and then, how can this small group of believers build a church? The task is enormous and the cost seems to be beyond our grasp. And now we can add the COVID-19 as another stumbling block or reason to question moving forward with this project. Has Fr. Gabriel lost his ever so limited connection with sanity?

Well, first of all, tithing is a spiritual discipline we all need to practice if we profess to be Christians. Simply put, if we don’t tithe now, why should God entrust us with more? I hear every now and then someone say that we just can’t afford to support the church as their bills are so high! This can mean that they have chosen to live beyond their means and not put God first, or they have truly been overwhelmed with unforeseen expenses! However, tithing is a necessary tool that we need to align our financial decisions with our spiritual growth. You can either choose to put your faith in God or in the paper dollar.

Secondly, you must know that our Father is very wealthy! We hear again and again these true words chanted: Everything that is, is His! (1 Corinthians 10:26) “For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.” (Psalm 49/50:10-12) You see, money simply is not a problem.  So I ask, is everything His?

As a group of believers living in this community for decades, it is frankly our duty. We must plant our roots here in this fertile soil.  We must provide a proper space to worship God correctly. We desperately need a correct space for Worship, Communion, Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals. We need a place to rear our children in the ways of God. We need a mighty fortress to weather the storms with a hedge around it to protect His fruit! (Mt 21:33) The church building is a sacred place where man can offer himself fully. The church building is the heart of Christian life and it is where God offers Himself to man and man offers himself to God. The buildings architecture reflects this truth and helps our deification process. St. Athanasius the Great says: “God became man so that man might become god.” “Let the Christian consider well when he enters the church that he is entering another heaven. That same majesty of God which is in heaven is also in his church, and on this account the Christian must enter with reverence and awe.”

So then how do you eat an elephant, one fundraiser at a time? Yes, we need projects and many willing hands, don’t expect others to do all the work! After all, we are instructed to tithe our valuable time as well! Don’t sit back and miss this opportunity, we need you! God is calling you and we need your talents! We need folks that can organize a fundraiser and include help from the church family, and include our neighbors. It will be a blessing for you and for them! This is a time of growth!  This is a time to grow spiritually and grow deeper into the community by inviting our neighbors. As we remember: “Let all your things be done in love.” [1 Cor. 16:14]

Here the words of St. John Chrysostom: “The church is an enclosure, if you are within, the wolf cannot enter, but if you stray outside, the wild beasts will get you… Do not wander from the Church; there is nothing more impregnable than the Church. She is your hope and your salvation. She is higher than the heavens, firmer than rock, wider than the world; she never grows old, but is forever renewing her youth.” (St. John Chrysostom)

Next week, we will break ground! Glory to God! Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan is coming to break the ground and prepare it for spiritual fruit! There will be plenty of opportunities to help in the near future! But we need sweat-equity, don’t be lazy! We need a thousand small money-making projects. We need continuous prayers. We each need to attend to the body of our Lord, His people!

With faith, we will not only take a bite out of this elephant, but with thanksgiving we will keep on chewing until this beast is consumed, ears, tail and toenails! Through the prayers of the Holy Myrrhbearers, who sacrificed so they could attend to the body of our Lord, pray to God for us!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-6-2020

1, 2 Skip a Few

I think one of the greatest inventions in the last decade has been spray paint! I probably have six or eight cans myself just waiting for the next project! Spray paint arrived on the market in 1945 by the hands of Ed Seymour in Sycamore, Illinois. It is a faster way to paint with less cleanup time, although it seems to be a bit thinner and may require a second spraying but I think spray paint is an important product for most folks. Paint can be used to help prevent decay and weathering from the natural elements. Some people put a new coat of paint on something they are preparing to sell so that it sells easier and real estate agents will tell you, a home with fresh paint sells faster and for more money.

I have also seen some folks misuse spray paint by covering up problems before they sell their item or home and hide defects or rotten wood, or as we say around here, they put lipstick on a hog! Instead of doing the work and making the necessary repairs, they spray over it, masking over the defects and taking advantage of any potential new owner, buyer beware!  

I am writing about spray paint today because it is just as easy for us to spray over weathering and rot as it is as we sometimes do the very same thing with the Law of God. For starters, our Good Lord has given us 10 Commandments to live by. Over the years, I have heard them referred to as the 10 suggestions and I can only imagine that these folks own a lot of spray paint as well. I think if you struggle like me, you are a gold-medal holder on most of the Commandments but struggle with one or two! And it is easier to see other folks failing as if we have masked over our sinfulness like spraying paint over our imperfection so we appear flashy of almost sparkling new.

The young man in the Gospel reading this morning seemed to be masking over the commandments. The young man saith to Him, “All these I kept for myself from my youth; what lack I yet?” [Mt. 19:20] And our Lord quickly points out his attachment to gluttony as he has starved the poor with what he was entrusted with. St. Basil writes: “But now your money sticks to you closer than the limbs of your body, and he who would separate you from it grieves you more than someone who would cut off your vital parts. For if you had clothed the naked, if you had given your bread to the hungry, if you had opened your doors to every stranger, if you’d become a father to orphans, if you had suffered together with all the powerless, what possessions would now be causing you despondency?” When wealth is dispersed, in the way the Lord advises, it naturally stays put; but when held back it is transferred to another. If you hoard it, you won’t keep it; if you scatter, you won’t lose. For (says the scripture), “He has dispersed, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever” [Ps 112:9]. (St. Basil the Great: Sermon to the Rich)

Our Creator has given us rules to live by that are for our own benefit. We can freely choose another path in life if we want, but those other paths do not lead us to Him. With our limited view of our life and the future awaiting us, there are consequences for our choices. Who do you trust? The next time I reach up on the shelf for a can of spray paint, maybe I will reflect upon my choices of masking over my sinfulness because skipping over one or two leads to more than a few as the door of sin if opened, the deceiver will usher many more demons in. Sin loves company or as it is written in Proverbs: A violent man entices his neighbor, And leads him in a way that is not good. [Proverbs 16:29] We were not created for Earth, but for heaven.  I need to stop masking my shortcomings and work harder on my salvation! Please forgive me a sinner!

I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me (Ex. 20:2–3). You shall not make for yourselves a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them (20:4–5). You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain (20:7). Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work (20:8–10). Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you (20:12). You shall not kill (20:13).  You shall not commit adultery (20:14). You shall not steal (20:15). You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (20:16). You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s (20:17).

Fr. Gabriel Weller 8-30-2020