Can You Keep A Secret?

Some folks have said that they would lay down their life for their best friend. What is the definition of a best friend? Is it someone who enjoys the same best friendsthings as you? Is it someone who is has always been there for you? Is it someone who can keep a secret? Or is it someone who will try to defend you against insults? Perhaps an inclusive definition of a best friend would be someone who loves you and truly cares about you?

 
At a time when being a follower of Jesus was not popular and accepted, Christ charged his friends with the following command: “The harvest indeed is great, but the workers are few. Entreat therefore the Lord of the harvest that He would send out workers into His harvest. Go; behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves.” [Lk. 10:2,3]

 
Today, your good friend Jesus is asking you to share His love with others. But not only that, He has asked to you leave your walls of protection behind, lay aside your body piercing armor and go as a defenseless sheep amongst the starving unbelievers, the clever protesters and the infidels of deception. Everything you need will be provided! Christ is your great Shepherd and He says: “I will be with you and aid you, and deliver you from all evil. I will tame the savage beasts; I will change wolves into sheep. I will make the persecutors become the helpers of the persecuted….For I will make and unmake all things, and there is nothing that can resist My will.” [Saint Kyril: Hom. 61, Commentary, Ch. 10, 264.]

 
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). A true friend is someone you will share a secret with. As we share our woundedness and failures and our living faith with someone it will create a bond and allow Christ-like love to blossom. My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) St. John Chrysostom says: “That is to say, it is I that have made you to be what ye are.”

 
If you have felt the love of Christ, you cannot keep it a secret! Our faith walk in life must be shared! There is so much brokenness and suffering in this world and the great Sheppard needs you! A sheep by itself is vulnerable to the trickery of the savage beast so it is important that we all cling together. A good sheep follows his Sheppard, giving up this life in the world for the everlasting life in Christ!
How many best friends do you have? Perhaps the measure will be how many friends we have, not on Facebook, but friends recorded in the Book of Life!
He said to him, “Feed My Lambs.” He said to him, “Tend My Sheep.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My Sheep.” (John 21:15-17)

Fr. Gabriel Weller 1-17-16

NEXT OF KIN

family2Folks say that blood is thicker than water. I am reminded of this with each feast day or each holiday as we gather with the fruit of our an
cestor’s lineage. As branches of our family tree, we are here today because of the successes and failures of our kinfolk. We are connected and bound to their history and in the old days even our surname identified us as having a skill or a particular lifestyle.

 
And as we near the manger the church reminds us of where this Child, this Messiah, this King, this Great Servant of all came from. Today, the Apostle Matthew traces Jesus’ lineage with a focus on His Jewish heritage. This lineage includes kings, scholars, prophets, warriors, and patriarchs. But His kinfolk also include prostitutes, fornicators, murderers, liars, and charlatans. Much of Jesus’ next of kin loved God and God’s mercy and grace was bestowed upon them.

 
The infant was born in a town named Bethlehem and its’ name was derived from Arabic meaning “house of flesh.” This week, we will travel vividly chanting and reading the Holy Scripture with Joseph and Mary to this town of Bethlehem where once Samuel anointed (1 Sam. 16:1-13) Israel’s first kings, Saul and David, (1 Sam. 9:1; 1 Sam. 16:1-13) who were born there, and this town where Jacob’s wife Rachel was buried.

 
Our Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem in meekness. His family tree was not one full of nobility but one balanced with folks that struggled in life just like you and me. He was not born in a castle fit for a king but rather in a cave where animals lived. He was bound in swaddling clothes instead of fine silk and laid in a manger, used to feed the animals.

 
An obedient lowly virgin had a temple formed in her womb. This temple encompassed the Alpha and the Omega! Our Creator was contained in the “house of flesh” and then thrust into the darkness of the night and into the world strangling in the darkness of sin. Our Light and our salvation were born unto us!

 
And as for your next of kin, every saint has a past and every sinner has a brighter future! The salvation of mankind cannot happen against our own will. It cannot be forced upon us. But when we allow Christ to dwell in our hearts, He cannot be contained. Just as yeast rises, our hearts overflow with radiance and love oozes out and consumes our surroundings! Our future becomes brighter and the darkness of our past is loosed and by the birth of this little one, we have inexhaustible hope! We are loved! God has chosen you, won’t you chose Him? Glorify Him!!!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 1/3/16