GO FISHING!

In the summers when the sun was leaving the open room and the crickets began to chant their praises, Grandma Hazel would get the spade shovel, a small bucket, her catgut thread and some fish hooks and head out to her secret earthworm stash. We kids would gather the worms quickly as Grandma overturned blocks, boards and mulch and after we had gathered enough bait, through the gates and barnyard and down to the fishing pond we would go!

Along the bank of the pond, Grandma had planted towering Weeping Willow trees which danced in the breeze and also supplied us with ample willow fishing poles. The Willow sticks had plenty of flexibility in them just in case we latched onto a big fish. She would tie the catgut thread onto the willow and attach a hook to the thread with a special knot, one that would hold firmly. We always had fun and caught fish, mostly sun perch. I also usually caught a tree branch or two and found that this behavior also continued later in life as I hung many a fishing lure on a tree branch or on the living flesh of a fishing companion. Nothing says you are hooked better than a triple hook attached to somewhere to your hide!  

Maybe there should be a sense of fear or a fair warning to go fishing with me or at least it would it be a good idea to be very alert as my aim of casting has probably become even less accurate. The fishermen in the Gospel reading this morning were not so accurate either (Luke 5:1-11), they had fished all night and not caught a thing but our Lord filled their nets and then asked them to come and fish in His waters for the salvation of the world. And that they did! You too should put away your nets, fishing rods, tools and laptops and spend time casting His nets into the stream of life. There are plenty of hungry souls needing to be fed!

Don’t hesitate do go fishing for our Lord. As He clearly stated: “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) St. Barsanuphius writes: Having God, fear nothing, but cast all of your care upon Him, and He will take care of you. Believe undoubtingly, and God will help you according to His mercy. (St. Barsanuphius the Great, Instructions, 166)

Back when I didn’t know our Lord I was skeptical of being caught in the net of church-going folks promising something that seemed not true to me or at least not yet. My life reeked of free-will but finally and after escaping many a hook and net I willingly decided to seek a life in our Lord. Many attempts had been made and folks didn’t give up, they kept fishing. They cared! That’s why Jesus calls it fishing instead of catching! He will provide you with everything you need when you are filling His nets and building His church. And the mighty gates of hell will be plundered by Christ in us. The gates of hell cannot block this army of His fishermen from sharing the Love of Christ. He is Triumphant. “Cease being afraid; from henceforth thou shalt be taking men alive.” [Lk. 5:10]

GO FISHING!

 

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-6-2019

S-P-A-N-D-E-X

I have heard over the years that when it is nearing time for a wedding, folks fast and try to lose some weight. This is a routine we all do so we will fit our fatter-selves into our wedding garments, less carbs, more fruit, more exercise! Even scientist have developed a fabric to help us with this problem called Lycra or Spandex. We find this fabric woven in to a lot of our clothing these days to allow for weight fluctuation or fat redistribution!

In the parable this morning, the king was angry first in that the chosen people did not come. This wedding was not a priority for them; they obviously were not truly his friends. The king then invited more people, anybody! Folks did come but one man came wearing his filthy Wal-Mart spandex shopping attire instead of a festive wedding garment, he probably had not even bathed! He did not make an effort to prepare himself for this wedding and banquet. The king cast this man out into the outer darkness. [Mt. 22:13] Saint Gregory the Great comments: “It is correctly said that this man is to be cast forth into the darkness, the outer one. We call blindness of heart inner darkness, and the everlasting night of condemnation outer darkness. The condemned are cast into outer, not inner, darkness, because one who fell willingly into blindness of heart in this life will be cast forth unwillingly into the night of condemnation in the next.” [Ib., 350, 351.]

We heard: “The kingdom of the heavens hath been likened to a man, a king, who made wedding festivities for his son. [Mt. 22:2] A great banquet has been prepared for you today by your great King, have you prepared? We hear from Saint Chrysostom: “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. For the meaning of filthy garments is this: to depart hence having an unclean life.” [Ib., P.G. 58:681, 682 (cols. 650, 651).]

Many folks today tell me they are Orthodox but they do not come to the wedding banquet, they always have more important plans! Maybe these folks are more of a friend of the world than they are a true friend of our beckoning King? And when you are consumed with the world you are deathly bloated and in need of Spandex! Where is there any room left for God?  Shower off your earthly dirt in confession and repentance, prepare your heart by reading the pre-communion prayers, prepare your soul by fasting, and cloth yourself in a garment fitting for a great banquet with our King, and most of all, come! You have been invited and He is expecting you to be here!


Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-22-2019

SECURITY BREACH

I have always been fascinated with technology. I enjoy that ever-changing part of my job in the electronic security business. Electronic security has many levels and normally the more money you spend, the higher amount of security you have. Higher levels of security are necessary if you are protecting something of great value or you are in an area with a lot of crime. I can remember a time when even at our home when we didn’t lock the door but now we even plant thorny bushes around accessible windows and bolt lock the doors, arm our professionally installed electronic security system and wave good-bye to my surveillance cameras as I leave the house!

The man in the parable this morning wanted to protect his vineyard. It is a vineyard of great value and lacking nothing. (Matt 21:33-42) He planted a hedge around it to keep the wild animals from destroying his vines and I can picture the wall of greenery and thorns in my mind. We don’t know what type of a hedge our Lord is referring too but Blessed Theophylact abstractly describes this great wall as the Law given to Moses. Saint Ambrose then writes: “Isaiah clearly stated that the vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel [Is. 5:7]. Who else but God founded this vineyard?” [Ib., Bk. IX, § 23.]

God has also given us a vineyard to labor in, lacking nothing! We gentiles have been grafted onto His life-saving vine. It is truly a treasure beyond measure. St. Paul writes: “For I speak to you Gentiles…if the root is holy, so are the branches.  And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.” (Romans 11:13,16-18)

We wild gentile branches need plenty of water, pruning, protection from the cold and wild animals, fertilizing and many willing workers. The church is His vineyard and we have been given everything necessary for an enormous harvest. As King David says: ‘Perfect for Thyself this vine which Thy right hand did plant’ [Ps. 79(80):15, 16(14, 15)]. We do not want to be wicked vine-keepers neglecting this most precious gift. We want to nurture ourselves and protect that which is holy through transforming our freedom in the world to a freedom from death and decay.  

A security breach happens when we fail to protect His vineyard and some of our plants die to the frost of coldness of heart, lacking to love each other as Christ loves us! Some vines are ripped from the fertile soil by wild beasts of worldly seduction and self-satisfaction. Some of His fruit are baked in the heat, thirsting for His nourishing Word but yet our Bibles remained closed, gathering dust and we then make excuses not to come to church. We neglect to stomp out all of our passions that act like wretched insects devouring our greenery. It is a necessary process to perfect His vine so that it will yield a heavy crop, protecting it with a divine rampart of protection. There of course is a great expense for this high level of protection, you have to surrender your life and all that you are. You then have to enlist in His army of prayer warriors and be diligent with the time you have left seeking first the Kingdom of heaven! And remember, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matt 7:19-20)

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-15-2019

BLUE RIBBON

At the recent county fair, there are several buildings dedicated to house the blue ribbon award winning pickles, pies, quilts, sewing, photographs, paintings, pigs, cattle, chickens, woodworking, you name it!! Folks from all around the area bring their best animal, works or crafts to the fair to compete with their neighbors to see who has entered the most prized works and will be judged the most perfect! These folks worked hard to achieve their blue ribbon.

We heard in the Gospel this morning about an even greater prize: “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” [Mt. 19:16] The rich young man asks our Lord if he is doing enough to be awarded the ultimate prize of heaven. There is a difference being a rich man rather than a good steward. Blessed Theophylact makes a clear distinction between thetwo. A rich man is one who has funds, and properties, and lands, and houses, and he gives to no one. He steals: He is a thief, because he is stealing from the poor. A steward is a person who has substance also. He has money; He might have land and have houses, but he also has mercy and shares his riches with the poor. Then he is a good steward of his wealth.

The young man had virtues and a strong inclination to abide by the law and he had worked hard. But he also had a love of things more than his love for God. He did not understand that everything he had is God’s and seemed to covet his possessions! There is certainly not a thing wrong with having wealth, but there is a thing wrong with being stingy!  If we chose to be comfortable and have all kinds of toys but we chose not to tithe our church and help the poor and those suffering from tragedies, we will briefly enjoy the wealth of the world but our soul will sink in the depth of poverty where the worms never cease. (Mark 9:48)

Some of us also struggle with attachment to things. We over extend our budgets in pursuit of material things we believe will bring us happiness and starve the poor and the needy and only give what is left-over to our church and His ministry. We have trained ourselves to serve an idol, a demi-god which is increasing our vanity in the world and making our salvation harder to obtain. We have become rich with stuff but lost the ultimate prize! Sometimes we get so obsessed with stuff and that buzz we get when we purchase something; it seems almost as an award for ourselves, for our efforts. Some of these demi-gods of stuff consume our precious time as well replacing our prayer time with hell. The thief uses our attachment to things to get his foot wedged squarely in the door as an unwanted intruder, ready to harm us and our families and steal our salvation!

We remember the profit Malachi saying: “Bring the entire tithe into the storehouse so that there may be food in my temple. Test me in this matter,” says the Lord who rules over all, “to see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until there is no room for it all. (Malachi 3:10) And also our Lord’s parable in St. Luke: And he spoke a parable to them, saying, “The land of a certain rich man produced well. “And he was considering within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, because I have no room where I shall gather together my fruit?’ “And he said, ‘This will I do: I will take down my storehouses and build greater ones; and there will I gather together all my produce and my good things. “‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, thou hast many good things being laid up for many years; be taking thy rest; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘Fool, this night they demand thy soul from thee; and what thou didst prepare, for whom shall it be?’ “Thus is the one who treasureth up for himself, and is not rich toward God.” [Lk 12:16-21]

So where is that line of division that separates putting away for our future retirement and being a poor steward? The ability to define the difference between ownership and stewardship is one of the hardest lessons to understand. Each and every one of us is unique and has been given free will of all of God’s creation. But our time here is limited and everything here is on loan from the Creator. Give Him His tithe and prove that you can be a good steward of talents and He will increase you. Our tithe is our best offering first, our blue ribbon achievement, with total trust in He who created it all, and we will always have enough for our families and for our future. And in that pursuit with our very best effort and His abundant grace we remember: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” [Mt. 19:26]

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-7-2019

MUSTARD SEED

Faith, where is it when you need it? Or maybe, we do not use faith enough and have forgotten where we left it lay. It seems when the title waves of life crash ashore, I look for anything to cling onto and I often find faith when I realize just how powerless I am in the midst of a fierce storm. Where do you find your faith?  Saint Bede: “Blessed St. Jude advises us to build ourselves up on the foundation of our holy faith, so to join ourselves as living stones to the house of God which is the Church.” [Jude 20.] [Commentary on Jude, 251.] 

A Belorussian Monk once said: “You Americans, you talk about miracles like you don’t believe in God!” We seem to want an instant way out of the trap we are caught in without daily practicing fasting and prayer without daily seeking God! Saint Bede the Venerable writes: “In the love of God we need to have true faith and the purity of good actions, for without faith it is impossible to please God, and faith without works is dead [Jas. 2:26].”

Faith springs from our soul if we are in a healthy relationship with God. The first commandment is first and foremost “I am the Lord thy God…. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”  Pray, fast, worship, commune and seek God, putting God first in all things. Faith comes from that steady communication with our Creator and God and energizes our faith through prayer and obedience. All of our paths in life, seeing, thinking, believing, choosing and our actions, are distorted when we break that chain of communication. James 2:24:Ye see then that by works a man is justified and not by faith only”. Blessed Theophylact defines that scripture as: “When he says, ‘by works,’ he does not mean by the law, such as circumcision and such things, but works of virtue, righteousness, and the like.” [P.G. 125:335A (col. 1161).]

Our warmth and love toward God become clearer and stronger as we pray and worship together. Our faith becomes a living faith, a spiritual force that breaks through the normal disciplines of religious life when we act as a servant in His name, for His glory. With God providing the guidance and power for us, His creation, the possibilities are immense as long as we continue to be prayerful and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit which feed and nourish our dry thirsting mustard seed. God gives us living faith, miracle faith, “mountain moving” faith! The kind of faith that provides us with clarity to see the mountain in us that needs to be moved. The mountain preventing us from surrendering all that we are for all that He is!

We just need a mustard seed of faith and with our practice and His grace we can overcome death. Listen to the words of our Savior: “Because of your unbelief. For verily I say to you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard, ye shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you.”  [Mt. 17:20] And even human life begins with a tiny seed, even much smaller than the size of a mustard seed and do you see the enormous possibilities that tiny seed creates. Do you see what gigantic possibilities you have with the tiny seed He planted in you? Our Lord and Savior began His life’s ministry as a tiny seed and look and see what He did with His opportunity, and His death gave abundant life and spread more seeds of God’s love and salvation to all the world. (John 12:24)

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia expressed his conviction earlier this week that believers shouldn’t cease to be Orthodox when they go to work and when they return to their families. And especially when they find themselves in conflict situations that test their loyalty to the Lord. He says if believers stay Orthodox in these situations their lives will change for the better.

“And this is possible only if we live a genuine religious life. If we, having got a feel for the ascent to Mount Tabor during the service and step down into this world, continue to bear in our minds and hearts the memory of these wonderful moments of presence in the church, communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ and contact with the grace of God, then our faith will be actualized, and become living and effective. And we will gain the ability to solve our life problems – both large and small— family, social, state, all that is important for a person. If we solve these problems on the basis of our Christian calling, relying on our faith, strengthened by the power of the grace of God, then our world will change. We ourselves will change, and by our faith, we will undoubtedly have the hope of realizing a genuine and real meeting with the Lord and the Savior in that transfigured world, which everyone will enter at the end of their earthly life.” (Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in the sermon for the holiday of the Transfiguration of the Savior on August 19, 2019)

 

 

 

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 8-25-2019

TAGGED

Many years ago I attended a weekend men’s retreat back when I was a protestant. I was encouraged to attend by my pastor Don Skinner. He knew I was struggling and life had been beating up on me. I was reluctant but thirsty for our Lord because something in life needed to change, so I went. I was a very inward man, hiding behind my pain. I kept my guard up to protect my heart and had felt a huge distrust for folks. Everyone seemed to have a selfish agenda, is that love?

Father John Moses was serving as a Methodist pastor at a local church in Mt. Crawford and was the spiritual director for that weekend retreat. It was then that I met him. He was an open book and jokester and I soon lowered my guard just enough for him to give me glimpse of what I was thirsting for. Fr. John had a taste of Orthodoxy when he was studying Methodism in England and baptized into ROCOR soon after this weekend men’s retreat.

Many years later being dissatisfied with Protestantism I too became Orthodox and I traveled a good bit with him on mission trips and spiritual retreats. Fr. John would be napping, telling jokes or on the phone with someone seeking his help as I navigated him on his missions. As we traveled up and down the bland highways of asphalt, concrete and steel the roads were dull and dreary. Every now and then as we traveled under a bridge we would notice someone had tagged or spray painted something onto all that dullness. It may say “Class of 1980” or “Bigfoot Lives” or maybe even tagged by a gang member”PG-13” or whatever they identify as. Now rest assured I am not encouraging defacing public property in anyway but I am drawing attention to the bright colorful paint that pierced through all that blandness.

Back at that weekend retreat while binding my wounds and trying to blend into the wall, I met Fr. John. He joked with me and showed me warmth. And when I lowered my guard just a wee-little bit, he tagged me like bright spray paint on a dull concrete wall. And the words he wrote were: “I LOVE YOU”. He didn’t say it from his mouth; it came noetically from his soul, I sensed it, it seemed foreign. I immediately challenged it because what I had experienced of love thus far as a man caused concern for the safety of my heart and I also certainly didn’t deserve God’s love either. But you see the LOVE he was sharing with me was a perfect kind of LOVE that can come only from God. We humans are broken and wounded and struggle to love as our Creator Loves. God’s LOVE is perfect and Fr. John has some to share.

Archpriest John wasn’t a perfect man, he struggled just like you and I. And as a child he was severely abused, as a young parent he struggled with his children’s illnesses, as a shepherd he loved deeply and selfishly struggled and wept as folks moved or left the church, and in these later days he struggled with his own infirmities hiding most of his struggles from all of us. But every day he prayed. He prayed for all of us, day after day. And he worked on his salvation day after day, amidst the storms of life!

As I look around this room and across the world of social media I can clearly see many other folks with Fr. John’s brilliant spray paint tagged on their hearts as well. And perhaps there are some folks still safely hiding behind darkness and afraid to trust. That darkness is a cancer that will rob you of your precious time here on this Earth. Fr. John didn’t know the exact time of his repose. He was walking into the kitchen with the TV remote in his hand and probably heading to the fridge to get a Diet Coke. But if you hear or read these words you still have time! Come to the Lord in repentance and allow the Great Physician to cut that deathly painful cancer away that is keeping you from LOVING others as a true servant and that darkness that is separating you from the warm chalice that contains the most precious healing body and blood of our Risen Lord, the Great Physician.   

Our church is a hospital full of broken and wounded people including me; I am still working on my own healing. At Holy Myyrhbearers we lift each other up and practice serving one another. And here at our infirmary we have plenty of beds available. We have available beds in the emergency room, in the psych ward and plenty of vacancy in the maternity ward as well! I don’t know whatever it is that is keeping you away, I don’t know what ugly dreary roads you have been traveling down or whatever it is that you are ashamed of and hiding behind, or what raw cancer is eating away at your salvation. But I do know that if you hear or read these words, you still have some time. Don’t wait, come. Won’t you come! We will be praying and waiting! When you let go completely and surrender your life and all of your will to the one who formed you in His hands and breathed His breath of life into you, it is then that you too will experience true LOVE and be able to share it, just like Fr. John!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 7-28-2019

Plenty of Time

This past week Matushka and I were able to get out of town for a short bit and spend some time away from all of life’s troubles and distractions.  We were blessed to get to spend a day on the beach, my wife’s happy place. Friends had been telling me that we should take a break and get out of town, a time to get away from all the responsibilities we have shouldered, a time to take a breath and an opportunity to take time for our marriage, team Weller!

Time is such a precious thing for us. I think it is the most valuable choice our Creator has given us and we have total free reign how we choose to spend it. As we took some time to walk on the shoreline in the splendor of His creation, we noticed that the tide had washed up a large amount of shell fragments. There were all shapes, sizes and colors but all the shells were small pieces of what they once were. I guess they too had been caught in the essence of time, losing control and being tossed to and fro and spit out of the ocean and onto the shore. Time was up for them as they continue to fragment and now find themselves out of the water and baking in the hot sun.

As I reflect upon the readings this morning time comes to my mind again. I bet these two Gentiles that were fiercely possessed wish they had some of their lost time back. The demon possessed men in the Gospel of Saint Matthew had lost control and the demons were calling the shots and occupying their life. “What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Son of God? Art Thou come here to torment us before the time?” [Mt. 8:29] St. John Chrysostom enlightens us that the demons were speaking of the final judgment, they thought they had more time to torment these helpless men, it was way too soon for their confrontation with Christ! (The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 28.2) We don’t know how these two men came to be enslaved to the demons but by the teachings of the church that had obviously not taken time to know God and to make His priorities their preferences.

It seems that the further we get away from the church in our inattention and listlessness, the less aware we are of our vulnerabilities. St. Sebastian said it like this: “If you continue to drowse, you will imperceptibly (unnoticeably) fall under the influence of the evil spirits.” (St. Sebastian Dabovich) You see, our precious time has limits! St. Macarius the Great explains it this way: “When the soul of a man departs from the body, a certain great mystery is there enacted. If a person is under the guilt of sin, bands of demons and fallen angels approach along with the powers of darkness which capture the soul and drag it as a captive to their place. No one should be surprised by this fact. For if, while a man lived in this life, he was subject to them and was their obedient slave, how much more, when he leaves this world, is he captured and controlled by them?” (St. Macarius the Great, The Fifty Spiritual Homilies, Homily 22)

I know that some of us have been crushed and fragmented by the currents and crashing waves in life but I pray that before we too are out of time, we can come back to the Omnipotent Potter and surrender to Him all of our broken pieces that have washed up on the shoreline. “Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand,” Thus saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 18:6) For only He can restore life and free us from all of this bondage if we only surrender to Him our most precious time!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 7-21-2019

FISHING, not CATCHING

It has regrettably been awhile since I have taken time to go fishing. It is not the cheapest hobby to have with the cost of licenses, tackle and bait, and then not to mention my precious time! But it is something I enjoy and find relaxing. And now that I am Orthodox, I have plenty of reasons to eat fish!

In the past I have fished the ponds, lakes and rivers around where we live and taken a trip or two out on the big pond out of Oregon Inlet where the fish and waves are bigger as well as the cost. I have had the opportunity to fish with a lot of different folks over the years and you gotta know, being outdoors is much better than staring at a flat screen or being at work!

Some of the expeditions I have been on we have been “skunked” or fishless! We had the tackle, bait and the time but we didn’t catch a thing. After all, that is why they call it fishing and not catching! Now we may have had a bite or two and maybe even cranked one into the shore but the slippery thing got off the hook and swam away or the fish was too small to keep. And so it is with fishing, but each cast brings a new adventure and new possibilities!

Jesus is calling all of us to be good WILLING fishers!  Not the fish in the waters but His fish in the streams of life where you frequent. Look down and where your feet are planted is in His stream; and that is where you should be fishing! Some folks struggle to remember scripture and therefore believe they can’t fish, they pull their feet up out of His stream and try to blend in with the dumb rocks or the dry shore, sort of a camouflage in life, wasting precious harvest time. But how wrong they are!

Some folks continue to reflect upon their own failures and think they shouldn’t be fishing at all. But humility is a great asset to a fisher of men. And the greatest bait we have been given to attract all of these schools of fish, is love. Help people, invite folks to church, and pray for everyone you meet! Most folks are slippery and clever and only one thing will keep them coming back into the net of salvation, and that one thing is love. We’ll do the fishing; He’ll do the catching! The sacraments will help do the cleaning with through the work of the Holy Spirit!

We heard in the Gospel this morning at the doorway of the Apostles fast: “And He saith to them, “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” [Mt. 4:19] We should not be disappointed when folks jump out of our boat or discouraged when we think the hook is set firmly and yet they somehow swim away wagging their tail as they spit out the hook. That’s why they call it fishing and not catching! After all, they are His fish and He alone can grant them salvation. If they chose to swallow the bait and swim safely into His net, the church, they are on their way to salvation and will through growth, become a keeper.

Looking around I notice that we have plenty of room here in His net for more fish! Take some time this week to help with the harvest and cast some bait into His stream wherever you are, and know that you are never fishing alone. Hs is with you and will help you attract fish, even the slippery ones!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-30-2019

FRIED TATERS

When I was of the age of being indestructible, I needed plenty of fuel to burn in my human high-output, workhorse engine. The fuel that seemed to make my engine run at its peak performance was any kind of meat and of course, fried potatoes. We had a rule at the farm table; you take it, you had better eat it! And most of the time, the serving bowl didn’t make it around the table twice! So when the serving bowl came around, I heaped it on! I was of the age where I could out work anyone and everyone, and still have a little throttle left to kick in if the need be. Being last was never in my wheelhouse and eating more than my share of fried potatoes was an extremely common occurrence.

Perhaps by God’s design as I have aged I have been less concerned about being first and maybe more concerned about just finishing as my high-performance human engine is showing signs of wear and tear. The view from the front seems to limit the view of those behind you and those who are struggling or less able, or those whom wounds continue to bleed and need binding. Over the years my priorities have changed from comfort to being un-comfortable. If you would have told me 20 years ago that I would be in a position to love and teach about God’s love I would have called you a liar! There was no time for that! I had to want and care about others salvation as I trained to express how great the love of God is! As we heard in the Gospel this morning: “But whosoever shall deny Me before men.” [Mt. 10:33] Something this good has to be shared! Nonparticipation, results in denial of Christ!

 

But it is that simple! Do you know that everyone is struggling? The weakest link in the chain needs reinforcing not isolation! “And whosoever taketh not his cross and followeth after Me is not worthy of Me. [Mt. 10:38] How can we love God and decide to ignore some of His creation, you know the folks that are BIG sinners and HELL-bent? Those who are not here with us today and maybe never will be or maybe we just have been too selfish with our hoarding of those fried potatoes and not cared enough about others? The serving bowl of opportunity only comes around occasionally for most of us and we should make that effort to care, deny ourselves and pick up our cross! I truly believe that there are no single passenger vehicles on the highway to the bosom of Abraham, but only high occupancy vehicles full of self-less souls. Less of my needs and more of others is that narrow path that leads to salvation.

“And everyone who leaveth houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, on account of My name, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit life everlasting. But many who are first shall be last, and the last first.”  [Mt. 19:27-30]

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-23-2019

EXACT REPLICA

Some years ago in my early teens, we had recently moved into a rental with a large yard of grass that always needed mowing. That was my job; I was the guy who could keep the push mower running in the humid beach weather and let me tell you, grass grows quickly in that climate! Granddad told me he had an old 5 hp Simplicity riding mower he would give me if I could make some repairs and get it running. After spending a number of days fixing it and just when I had things running as smooth as a used-car salesman’s tongue, the main drive pulley guide broke. I didn’t have the money to order a new one and I was really frustrated. Granddad said: “Why don’t you make one?” Now this part was made out of heavy 8 gauge wire with several bends and 5/16 bolt eyelets on each end.

Make one? Me? “There is no way one can be made” as I snapped back at him. I was leaving that weekend heading back home and had really hoped this 5 hp Simplicity riding mower was going to be a blessing in that large field of grass. After my snappy response I heard the screen door shut and saw Granddad heading out and I was thankful he didn’t thump me on his way out the door! Some two hours later, much to my disbelief, Granddad returned to the house with this belt guide he had made with his old arthritic hands, an exact replica!

Here in the Gospel this morning we hear another story about someone who can make the impossible, possible. We know that “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground.” (Gen 2:7) and it was from this dust that the blind man was thus healed, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return!” (Gen 3:19) St. Basil the Great wrote: “We should understand in the creation the original cause of the Father as a founding cause, the cause of the Son as a creative, and the cause of the Spirit as an implementing one.” Thus God the Father is the “Creator of all things”, the Son is the one “through whom all things were made”, and the Holy Spirit is the one “in whom are all things”. “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.”(Gen. 1:31) “First He conceived, and His conception was a work carried out by His Word, and perfectly by His Spirit.” Now after his encounter with Christ, the man born without eyes gained vision and recognized Jesus the Nazarene carpenter as truly the Son of God.

Now days, folks whose eyes seem to be functioning in this world are still blind from the eyes of their soul. When we see ourselves as inclined towards sin and everything in the world as God’s creation, our eyes are rinsed in the “pool of Siloam” [Jn. 9:7] and our soul gains a glimpse of light! If we fully acknowledge that we are need of repentance and act in love towards others as Christ has shown us, the Divine carpenter can bend and mold us into an exact replica of the One who walked on Earth and made the impossible, possible! Christ Is Risen!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-2-2019