RIP

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 was lifeless, his very heart had stopped beating. His future plans were now in shambles, his mother was grieving for her considerable loss. And then into the darkness of death walked the brilliance of Eternity. And those members of the young man’s body that were dead were now restored to life.

 

In the future both the mother and son would repose in their mortality because this life that we now struggle with is only 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. Bede wrote: “Whoever will not guard his senses, leaves open a way for death to enter!”

 

Our body will one day 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]  The following ideas are recorded 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.” According to the Eastern Church the soul can exist in only one of two states after the particular judgment; it thus rejects the Roman Catholic teaching of purgatory as a third state. (The Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs on the Orthodox Faith, paragraph 18)

 

Perhaps there is some deathly darkness in your life and you are needing the Great Healers touch. “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) Be not afraid for God is working in our lives to save us from our own destruction. His grace is an invisible action in our lives with visible life-changing results. His grace is the love of your Father longing for you to come home. Let go of this world and its death and thirst for the next! Do not be troubled and hold on to Christ who is waiting for you to come home!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10/20/13-18

YOU’RE STUPID!

In these polarized times in our country, it is often a common sight to see folks on opposite sides of topics show so little love and respect for each other. We all seem to surround ourselves with like-minded folks since in these days disagreement leads to hate and intolerance. Just look at my friend list on FACEBOOK and you will see a large majority of my “friends” share most of the common views I share. Social media is taking away an important aspect of communication which is reading someone’s body language and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and present. We are not taking time to love each other and lift each other up in prayer! True caring is taking some of our precious time and freely donating it to others, even those not on our “friends” list!

 

Written words are often misinterpreted, just look at the ever fracturing Protestant Church and the self-interpretation of scripture alone path it has taken. We constantly see things someone says or writes being recreated by someone else’s viewpoint or a group of folks that have lost their ability to love across lines of differences and just looking for a way to inflict division and hurt. After all we are right and everyone else is wrong!

 

We learn a lot from people with different stories and viewpoints. We can only learn from them if we openly communicate and not from behind the keyboards of our laptops or screaming at each other across the lines of protest! And when we get to the point of telling someone to go to hell that is exactly what we are giving them, instead of the love of Christ we have allowed our hearts to slam the doors of loving our neighbor closed like a prison door entrapping us to a sentence of judgment. Absence of God is pure Gehenna.

 

Many of the folks we strongly disagree with are also in their churches this morning, worshipping the same God. How do we defuse this political time bomb? It is a 4 letter word of action that we have forgotten how to practice. It is a 4 letter word that has offered all a way to salvation. It is a 4 letter word that is the exact opposite of the 4 letter word “hate” that we continually see in these times and at times even practice ourselves!

 

St. Paul tells the church in Rome: “Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” (Romans 12:10) And we hear these instructions from our Lord in the Gospel reading today: “But keep on loving your enemies and doing good, and lending, hoping to receive back nothing; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Highest; for He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil. [Lk. 6:35]

 

And for those folks who ardently deny the authority and existence of our God we need to remember that the seed for salvation has been planted in their hearts by the Creator and just maybe by our actions, we can show them an example of Christ that is supposed to be beaming from us like a morning sunrise breaking through a cry of darkness, and maybe they will see something they just cannot live without!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-14-18

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