YOU’RE A KEEPER!

I like fishing! In all the times I have been fishing there have always been rules and guidelines I needed to follow. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries enforces rules and regulations concerning every aspect of fishing. This includes permits, seasons, limits and sizes for all types of fish. I have never been a great fish catcher but I do enjoy fishing. I love being out in nature and away from noise and the distractions of my smart-phone and the loud and noisy world.

 

In all the fishing adventures I have had, I don’t remember ever catching my limit but I do seem to be gifted in attracting really small fish, you know the ones you have to throw back. Some of these little guys have such small mouths I am really shocked they were even able to swallow the hook. And as I release them I usually give the small fish a few encouraging words like: come back when you’re a little bigger, or go tell your big brothers and sisters to come over for a bite! But even if the fish is too small, I really enjoyed the excitement of catching it.

 

In the Gospel reading today, the professional fisherman had an awful day fishing. The disciples had worked all night and had been unsuccessful. Not only did they not catch any keepers but they did not catch a thing! And then by the grace of our Lord and their obedience, although exhausted, they went right back to work and caught more fish than their nets could hold and just about sank their ships from all the weight of the fish they had caught.

 

I know as for me, when I am exhausted and have had a bad day at work or fed up with life in general, the last thing I want to do is be obedient to my Orthodox lifestyle. I prefer to selfishly set aside my salvific struggle and neglect church and prayer. I turn my back on my fishing net and leave my boat beached without any attempt to be productive in the waters of life. I disappear into the darkness of doubt and seek comfort from the world. Poor ole me!

 

After all, what benefit do I get from being obedient? St. Nikodemos tells us: “If a Christian obeys the commandments of the Lord more, grace acts with him more, while if he obeys them less, grace acts within him less. Just as a spark, when covered in the ashes of fire becomes increasingly manifest as one removes the ashes, and the more firewood you put the more the fire burns, so the grace that has been given to every Christian through Holy Baptism is hidden in the heart and covered up by the passions and sins, and the more a man acts in accordance with the commandments of Christ, the more he is cleansed of the passions and the more the fire of Divine grace lights in his heart, illumines and deifies him.” ~ St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain

 

We pray Thy will be done but you see it takes an effort on our parts. We have to be willing to cast our nets back into the stormy waters even when we are tired or we seem to be losing our battles in life! We have to be ready to work and our nets must be in good repair, ready and able to love our neighbors. We must shove our vessels out into the water trusting in the great commandments that hold our mighty ship afloat! And in the end when the Masters net is cast, we want to measure up and be a keeper! Glory To Thee!!!

And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. (Luke 5:10)

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-7-2018

GOOD MEDICINE

I can still hear the words from my mother’s mouth “OPEN WIDE”. I was not sure what it was I was going to be receiving but I knew it wasn’t going to be candy, but then I also trusted that my mother wanted what was best for me. In her quest to keep me healthy, I on occasion had to swallow some distasteful medicine, and on occasion some fried liver and cold Brussels sprouts but that is another story! Mom didn’t want me to suffer and trusted the good doctor’s prescription and only needed my cooperation, open wide and swallow!

 

When it comes to suffering, sometimes I feel like a tall lightning rod rising up touching the sky in the midst of a violent electrical storm! Yes, at times my struggles seem to be more than I can possibly bear! But any good lightning rod is well grounded and able to take an enormous amount of violent attacks. And we Christians are to be well grounded anchoring our souls to the Lord of Creation cooperating with His efforts in our salvation. St. John of Kronstadt wrote: “God is always stronger than evil, and therefore always conquers. Everything is possible unto those who believe and trust. We must struggle and conquer.”

 

We pray in our evening prayers: “Help Orthodox Christians to struggle” and what we are really asking for is to be a taller lightning rod amidst our storms with a better connection to ground though our trust in our risen Lord, open wide! We in the Russian church hear the word “podvig” and it is difficult to fully define. But mostly podvig means a spiritual struggle or a battle between our earthly scarred sinful bodies and our salvation seeking souls.

 

Saint Theophan the Recluse defines our total Christian life as αγώνας (agonas) (struggle). He says that the spirit hates sin, while the flesh dwells in it. How is this battle within ourselves to be won? Through αγώνα (agonas-spiritual struggle) of bringing the soul into mastery over the body and according to Saint Theophan “all the Saints accept the only true path to virtue to be pain and hard work…lightness and ease are a sign of a false path. Anyone who is not struggling, not in an agona, is in spiritual delusion” (The Path to Salvation).

 

Sometimes we find the path to being a well grounded lightning rod as a bit distasteful. St. John of Kronstadt reminds us: “Do not fear the conflict, and do not flee from it: where there is no struggle, there is no virtue; where there are no temptations for faithfulness and love, it is uncertain whether there is really any faithfulness and love for the Lord. Our faith, trust, and love are proved and revealed in adversities, that is, in difficult and grievous outward and inward circumstances, during sickness, sorrow, and privations.”

So then we find that in order to stay spiritually healthy we are to open our hearts widely and trustingly swallow the good medicine that God has sent our way. Remembering the Gospel reading we heard this morning; “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] Open wide!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-9-2018

Autumn Olive (thorn in my flesh)

Up on the mountain we have a thorny bush that grows faster than church gossip. It is the kind of plant that spreads quickly and chokes out all the good vegetation in its path. Their leafy branch shadows the ground and suppresses growth from everything else. Its thorny undergrowth inflicts wounds on those that oppose its path or try to uproot its branches. This wicked bush or weed has many names; Autumn Olive, Japanese Silverberry, and Spreading Oleaster are just a few, and it is akin to the Russian Olive as well. It is even considered to be a noxious plant by the USDA. And every time I try removing one of these wild unwanted plants, besides the thorns digging into my flesh I usually find a blood-sucking tick hanging on to my skin as well!

 

It seems as though this unwanted plant flourishes and the beautiful lush plantings we have made seem to struggle. And then there are the deer that leave the wild olive alone while they buffet-line the flowers and bushes we have planted. Needless to say, it is with great effort and sacrifice that we will hopefully conquer our landscaping up on the mountain and yet the thorny olive will continue to reestablish itself every chance it gets!

 

It takes a tremendous effort to be a good gardener or landscaper. With the battle we wage against rocks, tree roots and that ornery Autumn Olive we find ourselves downtrodden at times! And on our journey to salvation, it also requires a tremendous effort and at times we feel a bit whipped as well. You and I are the workers here in the vineyard of our Lord. We are to remove thorny, noxious weeds of hatred, selfishness and self-righteousness from choking the fruitful life out of His vineyard. The vineyard requires a lot of loving care from willing workers to produce salvific fruit!

 

We all connected in love by the Cornerstone of the vineyard which is Christ, and every Sunday we here the clear-cut method we have been given to care for His precious harvest: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” (Mt 5.2–12; cf. Lk 6.20–26)

 

And each and every day we repeat that process against all obstacles, weather, varmints or thorny bushes! St. Anatoly of Optina writes: “Wherever God is — there is peace. And the opposite is self-evident: where there is envy, hostility, impatience, self-love — there is the devil. Wherever the devil is — there, everything is ruinous, proud and hostile.” + St. Anatoly of Optina, quoted from Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina. Loving each other through action and remembering: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that everyone who believeth in Him should not perish, but may have everlasting life.” [Jn. 3:16] May our work in His vineyard be fruitful and blessed!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 8-26-2018

IF ONLY

If Only, I had all the health and material things a man could want, would I make time to know a merciful God or would I place all my hope for eternity on things that rot? If only I could win the lottery and assure my family a comfortable mostly effortless life as well as taking care of as many hurting people as my surplus would allow, would I be at peace, would I come to know true joy? If only we could eliminate all physical and mental suffering, would we still have a need to seek the great Physician to heal our soul or would we allow the evil serpent to separate us once again?

 

And if only everyone was cured, would we completely deny sin from bringing back all forms of illness and suffering to mankind, would we? If only I could hear the voice of God or place my fingers in His pierced side, maybe then I would work harder, sin less and trust Him more! If only I was as loveable to everyone as my dog thinks I am could I bring more people

 to Christ? If Only I would stop dreaming my life away and buckle down on the here and now, after all we all are always one second closer to our Earthly death! How can I change the “If Only” into graciously accepting the gifts I have and long for changing the illness I continue to feed my soul? After all, He has given me more than I need!

Today we bless the transfigured fruit that grew from the vine with the nutrients from the Creator. The fruit lay in the sun and ripened to perfection, just as we “If Only’s” are supposed to change by being nurtured in the traditions and scriptures of the Creator and perfectly ripened by bathing in His Son. On the Feast of Transfiguration we do not bless the rotten or diseased fruits culled by the farmer and left to decay back in the orchard. We Christians are to cull our disease of sin and restore our soul back to health before our earthly harvest time nears. St. Anthony the Great wrote: “If we make every effort to avoid death of the body, still more should it be our endeavor to avoid death of the soul. There is no obstacle for a man who wants to be saved other than negligence and laziness of soul.” + St. Anthony the Great, “On the Character of Men and on the Virtuous Life: One Hundred and Seventy Texts,” Text 45, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1)

 

Back on the farm, Granddad Rufus would always say you had to make hay when the sun was shining, and for us Christians, the Son is always shining!! No excuses, no more “If Only’s” just get busy! St. John of Kronstadt said: “Do not help the Devil to spread his kingdom. Hallow the name of your Heavenly Father by your actions; help Him to spread His Kingdom on earth, for we are laborers together with God.”’ (St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ) Glory to Thee!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 8-19-18

ONE FOR ALL and ALL FOR ONE

One for all and all for One we shouted joyfully as we kids went off on our banana bikes and our very next adventure. Maybe trying to somewhat mimic the Three Musketeers in our time together, but definitely claiming to be inseparable and watching out for each other! We were brothers of some type of order or a secret promise made and solidified with our blood brother hand shake laced with spittle and dirt. We were discovering the unknown and trying to comprehend our existence. And folks knew if you messed with one of us you would be surrounded by all of us!

 

We here at Holy Myrrhbearers are also blood brothers and sisters, minus the spittle! Our group of believers supports each other with service and prayer. Here in the church we all have the same God and it is through the sacrifice of His Blood that we all should be one in love and spirituality through Jesus Christ our Lord. We are in the same mind or the same truth: “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (John 14-15-18)

 

We heard in the Epistle reading this morning: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all be speaking the same thing, and that schisms may not be among you, but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same sentiment.” [1 Cor. 1:10]

 

It is against our blood brother and sister commitment or our promise to the ancient tradition of the church to divide this body of believers by any means as we find in the instructions written to the church in Corinth: “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace” [1 Cor. 14:33]. The Apostle calls us to be about the same purpose and understanding or as St. John Chrysostom says: “united both in mind and in judgment.” We trust our spiritual improvement to the proven tradition given to us, protected by the lives of the martyrs and through the wisdom and teachings of our forefathers and foremothers.  And we follow the proven rubics of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia as our bishops direct. We do not allow or encourage schisms to grow among us as unwanted weeds of conflict sucking away the nutrients that mystically sustain our fellowship.

 

And it is in the practice of all these things that we find oneness and the perfecting of love. It is a sacrifice we make to separate ourselves and our families from the world and to strengthen our bond in spiritual growth and be a valued part of our family here at Holy Myrrhbearers. “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to Whom be the glory to the ages.”[Rom. 11:36] ONE for all, and all for ONE!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 7-22-18

IT’S A FAMILY TRADITION

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Ex 20:2-5) … for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God.

 

We here that echoed from the Apostle Matthew: “The one who loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and the one who loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” [Mt 10:37] Some of us parents sometime struggle to remember that our kids are His kids first and ours just for a short time and we shouldn’t put them on a king’s throne but instead on a path to righteousness. And by setting God as our true Father, we are to honor our human mother and father with respect but with the realization that we do not belong to this world. And in all of our busyness we and our family need to continue to snuggle closer to God, our refuge and fortress. (Psalm 91:2)

 

We set a tradition for our children by the way we prioritize our faith practice at home and here in the church. They see how we stand fast during the storms of life and how we practice forgiveness and forbearance in all of our relationships with other icons of Christ. They hear how we lift up our brothers and sisters who are struggling and not gossip about them. We take time to sit down and eat as a family and to begin before each meal with a prayer offering of thanksgiving? A family that prays together stays together! We set God as a priority when we study our bible more than our social media devises, and we make time to help our neighbors in need.

 

“Lord, I am not fit that Thou shouldest come under my roof.” [Mt. 8:8] How to we become holy? For me, that is a huge task! A sales person once asked me:”How do you eat an elephant?” And as I contemplated that enormous task, they responded: “One bite at a time!” And so it is with our becoming a saint and a bright reflection of the Christ who showed us how to be saintly. We need to continue moving in the direction of holiness one bite at a time, decreasing in our self-centeredness out of our love for Christ. It is a decision to seek after an eternal life and not the death of sin.

 

 

You and I are sales people for the Kingdom of God! You know I have never purchased anything from a salesperson who did not believe in what they were selling. How convincing are you? It takes practice to close the deal: prayer, fasting, study, attendance, tithing, and loving. It takes us realizing that our time in this body is short lived and we had better get busy!

 

The Maker of heaven and earth puts people on our path every day; close the deal! I am not asking you to drag them to church but I am asking you to love them in a Godly way. That effort will build His church! You don’t need to be a scholar or a people-person but all you need is to take time in your busyness to share a little of your light with another person. You have to care! Love thy neighbor as thyself! It’s our path to becoming a Saint! It’s another one of our Family’s Tradition!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-20-18

DOWNCAST

And at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God; and the prisoners were listening to them. And suddenly there occurred a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and the bonds of all were loosed. [Acts 16:25-26]

 

The world didn’t want to tolerate followers of Jesus Christ. Paul and Silas were publicly beaten with rods then locked up in chains and cast into prison for doing the work of the Lord. They were unsure of their outcome but even in their dejected predicament, they continued to praise the Lord, praying and chanting hymns. And in their faithfulness, the Earth quaked and released their imprisonment without collapsing the prison walls in on them. And if that was not enough, the jailer after seeing all these miracles asked to be saved. And so he and his whole family were baptized, men, women, children and servants!

 

What seemed to be an impossible circumstance became an opportunity to share the love of God, bringing the lost into the Light. Isn’t it better to fail at succeeding than to succeed in failing? Why not expect good things to happen even when things seem impossible? Doesn’t St. James say that everything good comes from above? (Jas 1:17) Paul knew his time on Earth was short but he chose to press on, no matter the cost! Paul and Silas clinged to the truth, the life and the way. (John 14:6) When you have something that great, you want to share it! You have to let the love of Christ ooze out from you like fog rolling through the valley!

 

Most of us seem to get weighted down when our burdens seem heavy. Prayers become an unwanted task as we feel abandoned and self pity becomes a heavy familiar friend as we imprison ourselves by our own lack of faith. Our eyes turn from the Light and look for isolation in our darkness. “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matt 8:26)

 

A great friend and protestant pastor who inspired me to change would quote from John Wesley and say to me: “Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.” Orthodox folks call that radiant consuming passion incorruptible joy! A burning fire rooted deep in the crevices of everything that we are! In his letter to the church in Philippians, Saint Paul writes: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”(Phil 4:4-7)

 

Be about your Father’s Business! (Luke 2:49) Everything That Is, Is His! Are You? What in the WORLD is more important?

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 5/13/18

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