Category Archives: Sunday Homilies

Jesus Christ heals the Centurian’s sick servant

FOURTH SUNDAY OF MATTHEW, Matthew 8: 5-13

So much in our world today seems to boil down to money and power. So many will sacrifice everything for those false gods. But today we are reminded that God’s ways are not our ways, that His love, mercy, and blessing are not the prisoners of the false boundaries that we have constructed be- tween ourselves and others – and between ourselves and Him. That was shocking news to the Jews of first century Palestine and it still challenges us all today. Continue reading

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The Birds of the Air and the Lilies of the Field

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!
Today, on this Sunday, the Gospel reading is about what we really need in life, about what our real requirements are. In this Gospel, the Lord offers several images or comparisons, saying: The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thy eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness (Matthew 6:22-23).
Here the Lord offers us three images. Continue reading

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“Follow Me” Applies to Us All

SECOND SUNDAY OF MATTHEW, Matthew 4: 18-23

In some ways, we may envy Peter, Andrew, James, and John for the clarity of their call. On the day that Jesus Christ called them to leave everything behind and follow Him, there was no question what He wanted them to do. The message was clear and they did as they were told. Continue reading

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Sunday of All Saints

Matthew 10: 32-33, 37-38, 19: 27-30

Saints are models of transformation. They are people just like all of us, who lived in this world. They show us it is possible to follow Christ, to be a Christian, even fully united to and transformed by Christ in this world, in our lifetime – despite the world and the times we live in! Continue reading

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The Holy Spirit Comes Down as Fire on All People

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:1-4  Leave-Taking of the Ascension

Many of us are familiar with the Old Testament story of the Tower of Babel, as told in Genesis 11. We read in that account that all of the people of the earth had one language and few words. And they decided to come together to build a tower to the heavens. So, God descended on Babel and created languages, in order to confuse the people so that they could not build a tower to heaven. Because the way to heaven was not going to be a man-made tower, it was going to be our Lord Jesus Christ. The Tower of Babel marked the creation of all the languages of the world, and with the diversity of languages also came a division of peoples, for people only associated with those who spoke the same language.

In the time of Christ, there was a great division of languages and cultures. Jews and Samaritans did not like one another. No one liked the Romans. And Gentiles were considered barbarians by the Jews. So, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Disciples on Pentecost, He gave them the ability to speak in all the languages of the earth. And all those who were gathered in Jerusalem heard the Good News of Christ in their own language.

At the time of the Ascension, when Jesus “commissioned” the Disciples to “baptize all nations,” (Matthew 28:16-20) they must have felt very inadequate when thinking about this daunting task. For not only would they need to travel to foreign lands and encounter foreign customs, but they would also have to be able to articulate the Gospel in foreign languages. The grace of the Holy Spirit, again defined as that which heals what is infirm and completes what is lacking, the Godly quality that makes ordinary extraordinary, empowered the simple fishermen to be able to speak in all the languages known to men. Not only were they able to utter words in these languages, they were able to speak with eloquence and conviction. Think about that. These men who had had doubts and fears throughout the earthly ministry of Christ, were not only enabled to speak in all the languages but to speak with such boldness and confidence that three thousand people converted to the faith on that very first day. (Acts 2:41) The Lord, who had once divided the nations at Babel, now through the Holy Spirit, united the world by allowing every person of every nation to hear the Gospel in his or her own language.

The Holy Spirit comes into each of us, as He did for each of the disciples. As the flames came on each disciple, bringing them a specific language to speak and eloquence with which to speak it, the Holy Spirit has come into each of us. The Spirit comes into each of us. He gives to each of us a talent by which to glorify Him and to serve one another. Some are doctors, some are farmers, some are mechanics and others are teachers. There are thousands upon thousands of different and unique talents, all of which are needed for our world to work.

The other thing that the Spirit does is that it gives each of us a unique and special way to proclaim the Gospel. A few are called to be priests and serve the church as their life’s work. But it is not just the priests who are called to share the Gospel. Each of us has a talent to proclaim the Gospel. Some can do it as Sunday school teachers, others can sing in the choir, some can be greeters, and others can visit the sick. Any and all of us should cultivate the ability to pray for others and to pray with them. There are hundreds of way to express the Gospel.

As important as it is to cultivate our talents so that we can maintain a vocation, it is equally as important to cultivate our unique talent by which we further the message of the Gospel. And it is really important that we remember this as we prepare for our careers and as we advance in our careers. It is important that we also continually advance in our knowledge of the Gospel and of spiritual things, and it is important that we strive continually in ways large and small to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit. None of us are likely to see tongues of fire on our heads, the way that the Holy Spirit came on the Apostles. But all of us have tongues of fire in our hearts, the light of the Holy Spirit burning in us. It is up to us to stoke the fire and spread the message.

When the Most High God came down and confused the tongues, He divided the nations. When He distributed the tongues of fire, He called all to unity. And with one voice we glorify the all-Holy Spirit.
(Kontakion, Pentecost, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)

Let the “fire” of the Holy Spirit burn in your heart and inspire your life today!

Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

 

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On Not Escaping the World, But Being Holy in It

Homily for Sunday of the First Council, John 17: 1-13

It is so easy to diminish ourselves by serving the false gods of pleasure, power, and pride. It is so tempting to allow our pursuit of these passions to obscure the holy calling that we have as those created in the image and likeness of God. Our Lord’s Ascension into heaven, forty days after His resurrection, makes clear that we find true fulfilment as human beings by participating in His blessed, eternal life. Anything else falls well short. Continue reading

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We Must Obey in Order to See

 Sunday of the Blind Man, John 9: 1-38

Christ is Risen!
 
Seeing is believing. There are many things in life that we will not accept unless we see them with our own eyes. And there are some things that we have to learn how to see because they are not obvious to the untrained eye. It often takes experience to see something rightly, to understand its true significance. If that is true in everyday life, it is all the more the case in how we know God.

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Regular Water vs. Living Water

Homily for Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, John 4: 5-42

What do the words Perrier, Evian, Dasani, Aquafina, Poland Springs and Fiji bring to mind? They’re all bottled waters. When many of us were young, no one heard of bottled or filtered water. In the last two decades there has been a growing emphasis on purified water that supposedly improves and maintains physical health as opposed to soda, alcohol caffeinated coffees and drinks. In fact, purified and bottled waters have been around so long now they are starting to wear out their welcome as many people are beginning to question if they are indeed more healthy than regular tap water. Continue reading

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Sunday of the Paralytic, John 5: 1-15

The Paralytic: Hoping, Healing, and Heralding

On the third Sunday after Holy Pascha, we hear the story of Jesus healing the Paralytic at Bethsaida (John 5:1-15). This passage is taken from what Biblical scholars have designated as “The Book of Signs,” i.e. John 1:19 through John 12. It precedes “The Book of Glory,” which deals with Christ’s Paschal Mystery (His passion, death and rising). The Book of Signs occupies much of John’s Gospel because, as Fr Joseph Fitzmeyer notes: “It is the part of the Gospel where the Word reveals Himself to the world and is not accepted other than by His own.” Continue reading

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Serving Even When We Do Not Get What We Want

Homily for the Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearers, Mark 15: 43– 16:8

Christ is Risen!

We live in a time in which it is easy to think of ourselves as isolated individuals whose purpose in life is to get whatever we happen to want. Personal freedom is a great blessing from God, but since Adam and Eve we have abused it by thinking and acting as though fulfilling our immediate desires is the only thing that really matters. Our Lord Jesus Christ conquered the corrupting consequences of that prideful, selfish attitude in His glorious resurrection. Raising us up with him from slavery to all the distortions of our souls that root in the fear of death, He has restored our true identity as His beloved sons and daughters, making us members of His own Body. Continue reading

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