BILLY GRAHAM

“The thief does not come except that he might steal, and slay, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” [Jn. 10:10]

 

In today’s world, information travels instantly. We have seen and heard live posts from an event or tragedy within seconds after they happened. We, as a nation, have never become so callused by the loss of innocent life as we are now. We literally see it hourly all around the world. Some of us have seemed to have formed a since of detachment from things that do not have a physical or financial affect directly on us. It is a coping skill to continue on with our tasks and lives and for some a realization that God will somehow bring about good, even out of the worst scenarios. But how can we make a difference?

 

In our daily struggles we find two choices. We can live every minute serving God, or we can choose to serve the thief! Saint Gregory Palamas writes: “…we are not without hope of salvation, nor is it at all the right time for us to despair. All our life is a season of repentance, for God ‘desires not the death of the sinner’, as it is written, ‘but that the wicked turn from his way and live’ (cf. Ez. 33:11 LXX). For, if there were no hope of turning back, why would death not have followed immediately on disobedience, and why would we not be deprived of life as soon as we sin? For where there is hope of turning back, there is no room for despair.”

 

Earlier this week we lay to rest a great example of someone who helped a lot of people into the Light of Christ, he made a difference! He spoke to me personally in a loving manor from across the arena at the Norfolk Scope when I was a preteen and touched a cancerous darkness that was hiding in my heart. Although as I matured, we did not agree on everything to do concerning God, but Billy Graham helped me realize that something was missing in my life and I needed Christ to conquer the darkness storming around inside me.

 

And as I remember the Orthodox Saints of the Church, I reflect upon all the times I could have helped someone but instead kept the light of Christ selfishly hidden, allowing the thief to steal, slay and destroy. And we all see the results daily of that selfishness in the news and social media. Helping one person seek the Light can literally affect millions of people. For we who believe, a genuine response to God involves faith, repentance and obedience. “Let not your heart be troubled; keep on believing in God, and believing in Me.” [Jn. 14:1] And we here: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” [Mt. 28:19] Why are you here on this Earth? “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”(James 2:17) Make a difference!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 3-4-18

SORRY or NOT

I’m sorry, was the response I murmured as I stood before my parental unit, saying the words, but not fully owning the repentance. I realized that in their eyes I had crossed the line of right and wrong by the look of displeasure on their faces; now aware, and now replaying my actions within my mind to decide wither I wanted to modify my behavior in the future or choose to accept the consequences!

 

I begin here with this reflection as we embrace the season of repentance and forgiveness. As Orthodox Christians, we need to self examine our behaviors and practice methods that help us modify our actions to increase our humility, loving our neighbors will never be easy. If we seek to a change a behavioral pattern to help us improve our flaws, we realize a since of discomfort, or a new unfamiliar behavioral pattern. And one way we help accomplish this is by fasting! We know that just within the contents of the four Gospels, fasting is spoken of in a constructive way, over twenty times.

 

From the Cheesefare Synaxarion we read: Since we have so suffered from Adam’s failure to keep the fast, this event is commemorated today at the beginning of Great Lent, so that keeping in mind the enormous evil brought about by Adam’s intemperance, we may make joyful haste to accept and keep the fast. And as Adam sinned in his desire to become godlike, we may thereby receive godliness through fasting, tears and humility until God visits us; for without these it is impossible to regain that which we have lost. For the sake of Adam’s greed the Lord fasted for forty days and was obedient. It was for this reason that the holy Apostles conceived this present forty-day fast, so that as Adam forfeited incorruption through his gluttony, we may regain it through abstinence. It was the intent of the Holy Fathers through the Triodion to relate in a condensed form all of God’s acts from the beginning to the end of the world. Since Adam’s transgression and fall through the eating of the fruit of the tree is the principal cause of the state of mankind, the Fathers urge us who are observing this remembrance to avoid Adam’s sin and to shun overindulgence in all things.

 

The church recognizes that some people have health concerns that prevent them from practicing a vegan fast and they are then expected to fast in other meaningful ways, giving up things that have become worldly distractions in their everyday life or lessening their earthly footprint and increasing their since of self-awareness! Perhaps we can consider these few healthy behaviors to improve on: time for morning and evening prayers, daily scripture reading and or daily readings of the lives of the saints, visiting the shut-ins and retirement homes, feeding the homeless, cleaning and volunteering at church, increasing our tithe and alms, more frequent confession and communion and self-examination.

 

In this Lenten season, it is also important that we turn our attention to the Cross, where our Savior died for our sins. We must admit that we choose to sin. Saint Simeon the New Theologian states: “let no one invent excuses for his sins and say that we, by virtue of the transgression of Adam, are entirely subject to the action of the devil and are dragged by force into sin.” In our course in life there are choices, and we have the freedom to be God-Seekers or stuck in the muck where the maggots never die. (Mark 9:44-48) All things of this world shall perish, but a relationship with God will remain. [Mt. 11:29-30] And Blessed Theophylact writes that:”The yoke of Christ is humility and meekness. For he who humbles himself before all men has rest and remains untroubled.”

 

Forgive me a sinner! Forgive me in the ways that I have failed as a man with my lack of love for mankind and forgive me in the ways I have failed you as a priest!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 2-18-18

“I’M A GONNA”

“Every tree which produceth not good fruit is cut off and cast into the fire.” [Mt. 7:19] The story of the stingy tax collector Zacchaeus begins our journey towards lent. There in the ancient Canaanite city of Jericho, a man that was dead in sin crawled up out of his rut into a tree and embraced the Lord, no more hiding, no more excuses!

 
We visited this tree in 2010 in Jericho and discovered that a Sycamore tree in the Middle Eastern region is a type of fig tree, ficus sycomorus. This species is well known to have a massive root system to sustain it. And then I am reminded that when Christ begins His journey to Jerusalem to His crucifixion, he curses a similar fig tree for not bearing good fruit. In the Gospel of St. Matthew: “Let there be no more fruit from thee forever.” And forthwith the tree was withered.” [Mt. 21:19] That was a different tree at a different time but this fig tree in Jericho in our Gospel reading today bore good fruit! Repentance had come to Zacchaeus. Saint Ephraim the Syrian says: “The fig that cast its fruit, that refused fruit, offered Zacchaeos as fruit; the fruit of its own nature it gave not, but it yielded one reasonable fruit!” [Hymn III on the Nativity, in Nicene, 2nd Ser., XIII:230.]

 
Zacchaeus tells Jesus that he is GONNA CHANGE! Zacchæus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, the half of my possessions, Lord, I give to the poor; and if I extorted anything of anyone by false charges, I give back fourfold.” [Lk. 19:8]

 
We have read the scripture: “But let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and ‘no,’ ‘no’.[Mt. 5:37] And we know that Zaachaeus did what he said he was going to do and found repentance. He was even later made one of the Seventy Apostles. And after the Lord Ascended; he traveled with Peter and later became Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine.

 
Saint Gregory the Great writes: “Each of you, in his own way, inasmuch as he has a place in this present life, takes up the ground like a barren tree, if he does not produce the fruit of good works….A person who troubles the hearts of others is taking up the ground; a person who does not use the place he holds for good works is taking up the ground. But it is our duty to make intercession for people like this.” [Hom. 31, Forty Gospel Homilies, 251; Hom. 31, P.L. 76 (col. 1228).] We are to pray for each other to be fruity! We are to serve each other in love and action. Don’t be stingy, seek life in Christ!

 
Taste and see that the Lord is good! Climb that fig tree; pull yourselves up out of the sinful ruts that seem all too familiar and say to the Lord: “I’M A GONNA CHANGE”! And let your very existence thirst for the Lord like that invasive rooted sycamore tree seeking life-sustaining water, bearing good fruit in the middle of your desert!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 1-21-18

I BELIEVE IN PRAYER!

Boy, we have had a busy week!! My wife was released from the hospital Friday. Her sister, after have been given this kidney on Tuesday was going to have to have it removed two days later. The kidney was not working. It was not a good fit! Something was wrong! And her sister Sophia would need to stay at the hospital for several more days with the hope of a somewhat normal life being postponed, in wait of another matching kidney donor!

 
Where was God? After all, we prayed and prayed and prayed. We literally had folks all over the world praying, thanks to social media. The two sisters had confession and communion days earlier. We did akathist to the Great Surgeon and Healer St. Luke, Archbishop of Crimea (1877-1961). We anointed the two sisters with oil from the lampadas of St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr and Healer, and the healer Saint Matrona, the Wonderworker of Moscow (1881-1952).

 

 
My wife offered this sacrifice knowing full well the risks to her life and health and the slight possibility that her kidney may not work for her sister. She is a very giving person, unless of course you are asking her to hand you the TV remote while she is watching her Hallmark Christmas Movies or her WWE Wrestling Divas. Don’t cross that line! But there were so many tests done and redone in the past several months to ensure success. Why then, why did we have this outcome? Where was the Great Surgeon Luke? Did he take a knee? What went wrong with our holy oil and our fervent prayers?

 

People know us by our love! They will know you by your love! We read in the Gospel this morning: “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” [Lk. 12:20-21] Our prayers for others are a sacrifice of our precious time helping us to be less self-centered. Sacrifice for one another is riches. Let God be in control and allow His love through your actions to encompass those around you! And that action through your prayers was like a warm blanket wrapped around them this week! We are family!

 
Hear the words of St. John of Kronstadt: “Do not let pass any opportunity to pray for anyone, either at his request or at the request of his relatives, friends, of those who esteem him, or of his acquaintances. The Lord looks favorably upon the prayer of our love, and upon our boldness before him. Besides this, prayer for others is very beneficial to the one himself who prays for others; it purifies the heart, strengthens faith and hope in God, and enkindles our love for God and our neighbor. When praying, say thus: ‘Lord, it is possible for Thee to do this or that to this servant of Thine; do this for him, for Thy name is the Merciful Love of Men and the Almighty.’” (St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ)

 
I believe without hesitation that Blessed St. Luke was all over that hospital at the time of the surgeries helping and guiding. I believe all your prayers were heard and the lampada oil is aiding in the healing! We all remember the words of St. Paul: “And we know that to those who love God all things work together for good.” [Rom. 8:28] The results we selfishly asked for may not have all been granted but God is in control, and I trust Him! He loves Tatiana and Sophia and He wants what is best for their salvation. And He loves you too!! Everything that is, is His! Thanks be to God in all things!

 
Fr. Gabriel Weller 12-3-17

THE RECIPE

Some of my fondest childhood memories were made by Follywood, I mean Hollywood, yep, believe it or not. Back in the day, quality television programs that taught morals and values were plentiful. Some of my early formation came from Ben Cartwright of the Bonanza,  Sheriff Taylor from The Andy Griffith Show, and Grandpa and Grandma Walton from the show entitled The Waltons, just to name a few.

 

One evening as I was watching an episode of The Waltons, Grandpa Walton was going over to visit the Baldwin sisters and hoped to sample some of their secret recipe. I wasn’t quite sure what the recipe was at that age but the characters on the show were convincing that there was something really special about this secret recipe. In today’s times, it might be compared to the secret recipe that the Irish-Setter knows about those delicious Bush Beans that we see advertised.

 

My childhood experiences created in me a longing to uncover hidden treasures and made me eager to find the secret recipe, the one right mixture of just the exact amounts of “this and that.” And to seek in life a mixture that is not lacking in anything, the blue-ribbon holder of recipes, the one recipe people yearn for.

 

Being molded into a bible thumping Pro-test-ant in my formable years, Orthodoxy was quite a pill to swallow. It was not the normal flavor I had become use to. I was trained to discount Holy Tradition because of the heresies of some of the faithful. I was equipped with the Bible with over two thousand translations and interpretations of truth to pick from, which would give me the answers to all my questions and struggles in life. I was taught that the Inspired Word was living and adapting or changing with the current social and economic conditions. These defenses and so many more made me very cautious when I peeped in the window of Orthodoxy.

 

Rest assured that the lessons I had been taught came from people that truly love the Lord. But when it comes to religion, I like my faith as thick as gravy! Finding Orthodoxy has convinced me that I had been settling for a watered down recipe of what Christ offers His faithful, one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. I am no longer a seeker. I am not hungering for the latest translation or the most recent buzz word or desert unearthing stirring up this Protestant nation. I have found true satisfaction with ancient interpretations and I do not worry if the path I am on is leading me down twisted roads that misdirect me away from the Father.

 

Saint Ambrose says that the woman that touched Christ in the Gospel reading today: “Heard the people of the Jews were sick, and began to hope for the remedy of her own salvation.” [Ib., Bk. VI, §57.] [Lk. 8:46a.] I know the church I belong to is built on a solid foundation and it will continue to stand strong against the storms of time. You and I have found the blue ribbon awarded recipe. It is truly something we need to share. Saint Symeon the New Theologian said: “that all the nations from east to west are invited…. So shall the two become one, one body with Christ, His co-participants, brothers, and co-heirs with Him.” [“The Church and the Last Things,” On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses, Vol. I, Second Discourse,  II:95.]

 

You see, the recipe for our salvation is not a secret; it is by the sharing of the recipe that we may obtain unity. “Until we all might come to the unity of the faith, and of the full knowledge of the Son of God.” [Eph. 4:13]  Saint Chrysostom wrote: “Until we shall be shown to have all one faith. For this is unity of faith…. Till then thou must labor to this end. If for this thou hast received a gift, that thou mightest build up others….For tell me not of the difference of the spiritual gifts, but that all had one work. Now when we shall all believe alike then shall there be unity; for that this is what he calls perfect knowledge.” [Hom. 11, P.G. 62:83, 84 (col. 83).]  The gifts you have been given are the necessary ingredients or the “this and that” Christ needs to complete His recipe, the perfect recipe. All brothers and sisters hand in hand. Theosis of the faithful, thick as gravy!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 11/19/17

MORTALITY

And He approached and touched the bier, and those bearing it stood still. And He said: “Young man, I say to thee, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to talk. And He gave him to his mother. [Lk.7:14-15]

 
The young man in the Gospel reading this morning was lifeless; his very heart had stopped beating. His future earthly plans were now in shambles; his mother was grieving for her great loss. And then into the emptiness of death walked the brilliance of everything that is. And those lifeless members of his body that were dead were now restored to life and humanity.

 
Both the mother and son would eventually repose in their mortality because this life that we now struggle with is just temporary. But there is another kind of death that we wrestle with that is even greater than mortality. If we spend our days and hours without Christ we will truly learn what it means to suffer. Venerable St. Bade says: “Whoever will not guard his senses, leaves open a way for death to enter!” And St. Ambrose writes: “You must not be greatly troubled about many things, but you should care for the main thing — preparing yourself for death.” St. Ambrose of Optina, quoted from Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

 

 

Our body will return to the earth but not be lost, and our soul will embrace judgment. Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believeth in Me, though he die, he shall live; “and everyone who liveth and believeth in Me, in no wise shall ever die. Believest thou this?” [Jn. 11:25-26] These ideas are captured in the Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs on the Orthodox Faith: “We believe that the souls of the dead are in a state of blessedness or torment according to their deeds. After being separated from the body they immediately pass over either to joy or into sorrow and grief; however, they do not feel either complete blessedness or complete torment. For complete blessedness or complete torment each one receives after the general resurrection, when the soul is reunited with the body in which it lived in virtue or vice.” (The Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs on the Orthodox Faith, paragraph 18)

 
Be not afraid for God is working in our lives to save us from our destruction. His grace is an invisible element in the air we breathe with visible results. His grace is the love of your Heavenly Father longing for you to come home. Christ touches our deathly bier at the Sacrament of Holy Communion, restoring that which was confessed to newness. “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

 
St. Dorotheos of Gaza writes: “A man obtains the fear of God if he has the remembrance of his unavoidable death and of the eternal torments that await sinners; If he tests himself every evening as to how he has spent the day, and every morning as to how he has spent the night, and if he is not sharp in his relations with others.” (St. Dorotheos, Soul-Profiting Teachings, 4)

 
Let go of this world and its death and thirst for the next! Do not be troubled and hold on to Christ who has defeated death with death and is waiting for you to come home!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10/22/17

Music-On-Hold

At work and at home as I try to contact manufacturers and customer service folks, they have me press some buttons on the phone for English and some more buttons to try to route my call to the correct person. The computer answering the phone may probe me for more in-depth information about the nature of my call. Most of the time while I try to patiently wait, the companies and organizations play music or some infomercial as I hold the line. After a couple of minutes, I normally get irritated with the wait and began erratically pushing buttons, trying to circumvent the higher level of intelligence processing my call and connect with a human to converse with. Sometimes the silicone creature routing my call hangs up on me and I have to begin the process of pressing the correct buttons and begin my wait all over!

 
Why do people today need to be constantly distracted? After all isn’t that what music-on-hold is? This entertainment is taking my mind off the amount of time I am spending waiting. I remember some 25 years ago when my young son was sitting in the back seat of our Ford Tempo and he began to cry. I asked him what was wrong because he usually would nap while I drove and he said; “I don’t have anything in my hands”! He thought if he could entertain himself he would be able to stay awake! And now today everywhere we go we see things on sale to keep us entertained. I believe the latest distraction is a thing called a spinner and I am sure for folks with kids with very active minds the spinner helps keep them occupied and allows their parents some sanity.

 
Does your mind wander and seek out “music-on-hold”? We Orthodox can use the “Jesus Prayer” as a filler rather than filling that space with junk noise. And as we recite those salvific words, we draw closer to Christ we then remember our brothers and sisters and their struggles, lifting them up in prayer. Are our lives in need of constant entertaining or can we be still and move close to God? Saint Mathew recounted: And Jesus said to him, “‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’ [Mt. 22:37] “All thy mind” seems to be constant battle!

 
The Russian Bishop and Saint, Ignatius Brianchaninov wrote: The distracted person is like a house without doors or gates. No treasure whatsoever can be kept in such a house. It is open for thieves, robbers, and harlots. The distracted life, completely full of earthly cares, gains for a person heaviness just as gluttony and surfeiting do (cf. Luke 21: 34). Such a person is attached to the earth. He is occupied with only the temporary and vain. The service of God becomes for the distracted person an irrelevant subject. The very thought about this service is something for him wild, full of darkness, and unbearably heavy…. Divine Ascent: A Journal of Orthodox Faith, No. 7, Presentation of the Theotokos, November 2001, pp. 123-4

 
Our minds are an empty void waiting to be filled. Feed your mind with spiritual things! Don’t allow your life to breeze by, tolerating music-on-hold and the distractions of life that rot away your pursuit of holiness. And don’t allow your artificially intelligent phone to constantly distract you and fill that void either! Time is precious. Be about your Father’s business!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 7-23-17

Happily Tormented in the Pig Pen

Today we recount the story of the demon possessed men and the swine drowning in the sea. This account from the Gospel of Saint Matthew is also echoed in the Gospels of Mark and Luke as well. Swine have a vivid memory in my life! My aunt and uncle raised hogs and their home was sandwiched between a pig-pen where table scraps were often cast, and the farrowing or birthing house where little piggies played and squealed. I remember the sight and the smell all too well!

 
Let’s dive if we shall into the pig-pen! Raising swine for food is against the Jewish law so the mostly Gentile townsfolk were not welcoming a Jew sent by God. I don’t want You here in my darkness, go away. I do not want to change, go away! We don’t want to abide by the law, go away! The hogs, unlike the possessed men chose to drown themselves in the ocean rather than live with this demon. What a waste of port chops but after all, maybe the swine should not have been there in the first place amongst the Jews.

 
Most of us Christians eat pork with a few exceptions including our Eritrean and Ethiopian friends next door. Old Testament restrictions against eating pork were rules specifically governing ritual cleanliness and were intended to be applied only to the Jews. St. Paul and the Jerusalem council decided this and in Acts 21, St. Paul states that circumcision was not necessary for the Gentiles nor was the restrictions against eating pork and shellfish. Bacon, bacon, bacon!

 
We all have some things in common with the possessed tribesmen. At times we tend to keep our sins in the comfort of darkness, bathing in the rich fertile mud enticed with manure, rather than exposing our temptations to the correction and healing of Christ. St. Theophan writes: “When a man is given over to the passions, he does not see them in himself and does not fight against them, because he lives in them and by them. But when the grace of God becomes active in him, he begins to discern the passionate and sinful in himself, acknowledge them, and to repent and decide to guard against them. A struggle begins. At first, the struggle begins with deeds, but when is released from shameful deeds, then the struggle begins with shameful thoughts and feelings. And here the struggle encounters many steps … The struggle continues. The passions increasingly are torn out of the heart. It even happens that they are entirely torn out … The sign that the passions are torn out of the heart is that the soul begins to feel repulsion and hatred for the passions.” (St. Theophan the Recluse, How the Spiritual Life Proceeds)

 

We come to church with judgment and anger and look for ways to be irritated! Do we really want God or do we want the demons? Do we really want Jesus coming into our home exposing our sins and telling us what to do? Go away! I’ll cozy up to Christ when it is convenient for me.
We all say the prayer: “Forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one!” Saint James writes in his first chapter: “Let no one when he is tempted be saying, “I am tempted of God”; for God is incapable of being tempted of evils, and He Himself tempteth no one. But each is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own desire. Then after he conceiveth the desire, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, after it is fully formed, bringeth forth death. Cease being led astray, my beloved brethren; every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the lights, with Whom is no alternation or a shadow cast by turning. [Jas. 1:13-17]

 
If we chose to continue wallowing in the darkness of sin telling the Lord to Go Away, we must be happily tormented in the pig pen of sin!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 7/9/17

NOT-ME

I am sure that we all grew up with someone that usually was blamed when mom or dad recognized a bad behavior or a mess that appeared out of thin air. In early years, it usually is the youngest or most defenseless and then tends to change as we grow older. In my family, we usually blamed NOT-ME. NOT-ME never confessed to any of the malefactions and our authorities were never convinced of his guilt either. But on occasion we, the guilty ones, came clean and accepted the responsibility for our actions.

 
Blaming others for our conduct and transgressions is a very common occurrence, “If they hadn’t….” or “If only….” We certainly are shaped by our environment but we are given the ability to improve and the free-will to move towards the light. We read in Proverbs: “Iniquities ensnare a man, and everyone is bound in the chains of his own sins.” (Prov.5:22) Without an effort to become more like Christ, we chose to die “Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mk 9:48)

 
Taking responsibility for our wrongs is part of growing towards the Light. A good many of our prayers are written in a way to help us reflect upon our worldliness and expose opportunities for improvement. Repentance means a true change of heart and life. Saint Ambrose wrote: “What is the outer darkness? Surely, there is not there a prison and stone cells to be endured? By no means. But whoever are outside the promises of the heavenly commandments are in the outer darkness, because God’s ordinances are light, and whoever is without Christ is in darkness, because Christ is the inner light.”

 
NOT-ME has been around since the beginning of time. He was there lurking in the Garden of Eden and he was even there with the disciples at the last supper: “And as they were eating, He said, “Verily I say to you, that one of you shall deliver Me up.” And being exceedingly grieved, they began to say to Him, each of them, “I am not the one, am I, Lord?”[Mt. 26:21-22] NOT-ME LORD, no, NOT-ME!

 

NOT-ME is a part of my programming and still taking the blame in my marriage, at work and even here in the Temple of the Lord! Perhaps I am a better habitat for the worms than a beacon of Theosis! But thanks be to God that He has not given up on me and hopefully I am not the man I used to be. I pray I can stay pliable in the hands of the Great Sculptor of life. And through the powerful prescription implemented by church tradition, release NOT-ME from his contract with the deceiver, and help me to be renewed in the Light of Christ.

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 7/2/2017

A CHIP OFF THE OLE BLOCK

I wish we could pick and choose what habits and behaviors we pass on to the next generation. We all adapt and mimic our surroundings and we learn behaviors from our parents and mentors. In our formative years we tend to be very keen and aware, observing, adapting and learning. I remember as a young parent my children repeating words and phrases I had said, at times awakening me to the cold hard fact that I needed to make some changes! And I can still hear Grandparents telling my children that they are a “chip off the ole block” not realizing wither they were complimenting or scolding them.

 

In Genesis we remember: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. [Gen 1:26-27] That’s my goal, for folks to see God in me, to be a chip off the Divine Block! Now that would be something I would want my children and grandchildren to imitate!

 

How to we become more like our heavenly Father? We all have the examples set by the saints of the church! And we have these instructions found in the Gospel reading today: “And He saith to them, “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” [Mt. 4:19] We have the remedy and call to action found in Mathew 5:44-48: “But I say to you, keep on loving your enemies, blessing those who curse you, doing well to those who hate you, and keep on praying for those who despitefully use you and are persecuting you, “so that ye might become sons of your Father Who is in the heavens; for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. “For if ye love those who love you, what reward are ye having? Even the tax collectors are doing the same, are they not? “And if ye greet your brethren only, what extraordinary thing are ye doing? Even the tax collectors are so doing, are they not? “Ye shall be perfect, even as your Father who is in the heavens is perfect.” [Mt. 5:44-48]

 

Today we dedicate the liturgy to the great saints of the church and we hear the words of St. John Chrysostom: “The memory of those saints establishes and recovers the soul, which has been exhausted by ills, as a cloud that provides shade from the most flaming heat of the sun’s rays.” [Hom. 28, P.G. 63:256 (col. 193).] May the teachings given to us by our Heavenly Father help us all be an icon of Christ, and our families will be blessed to be a chip off of the ole block!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6/18/2017