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

County Fair

This past Monday afternoon Matushka made plans to gather up the grandchildren and head to the county fair. There was a gentle breeze blowing and it was dollar night for all the amusement rides or so they are called, and we figured after the boys were shaken and jerked this way and that, we would only be in for a limited number of rides. Much to our surprise the grandsons enjoyed having their brains jostled and their stomachs twisted and we finally had to make a decision after two hours to close the dollar-bank.

Maybe it is my age or knowledge I have gained over the years that seems not to excite me when it comes to shaking my organs out of sorts, up and down and all around! In my latter years if I was on a ride, I would long for the amusement ride to be nearing its end, slowing down and the brief time of excitement to be over. I don’t enjoy being at the mercy of a crazy machine or even natures violent winds and waters. These days, I tend to prefer a much calmer flow in life, although they did get Matushka on a ride or two at least until she got a little dizzy!

In the Gospel reading today from St. Matthew I can imagine the disciples being tossed around in the ship in the midst of the mighty and contrary winds. They had no control! And after the forth watch, between 3 and 6 in the early morning, came the Creator to stabilize the ship and the amused disciples!  [Mt. 14:25]

In the storms in life we all go through we often ask why and for how long. We feel a quite bit out of control and at the mercy of the contrary winds. Blessed Theophylact has an answer about this waiting. He says that we should “not ask for a swift resolution to our misfortunes but to endure them bravely.” (The Explanation by Blessed Theophylact of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew, Chrysostom Press, 2000) Okay, well that is easier said than done! In Matthew we read: But when he saw the strong wind, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me.” And straightway Jesus stretched forth His hand and laid hold of him, and said to him, “O thou of little faith! Why didst thou doubt?” [Mt. 14:30-31]

Saint Kyril of Alexandria writes: “The Church is frequently assailed by violent storms, and countless trials agitate her, and the cruelty of unclean spirits rages against her, and fill her with the fear of death. But Christ is among them, and while in His wisdom He permits that they suffer persecution, He seems to sleep. But when the storm is at its fiercest, and those in the ark can endure no more, then ought we to cry out, ‘Rise up, why sleepest Thou, O Lord [Ps. 43(44):23]?’ Without delay He will awaken and take away all thy fear.” [Commentary on Matthew, in Toal, I:326, 327.] Just as in the Gospel reading this morning, there it is! When Christ came into the ship, the wind ceased. [Mt. 14:31-32]

Don’t willingly get on those dollar rides of life for amusement whirled about in the abyss of sin, board the mighty ship with Christ and trust your existence to the tamer of the storms. 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)

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 8-18-2019