Thoughtful homilies of an Orthodox priest who serves a small parish and teaches Religion full-time at McMurry University in Abilene, TX. Fr. Philip LeMasters draws on his scholarly work in Christian theology and ethics, but most of all, these are the homilies of a pastor guiding his flock with insightful, practical suggestions on how to share more fully in the life of Jesus Christ.
Overcoming “the Dividing Wall of Hostility” as the Living Temple of God
Joachim, Anna, and the Theotokos were the complete opposites of the rich man in today’s gospel reading. His only concern was to eat, drink, and enjoy himself because he had become so wealthy. He was addicted to earthly pleasure, power, and success, and saw the meaning and purpose of his life only in those terms. In stark contrast, the Theotokos followed the righteous example of her parents. She was prepared by a life of holiness to agree freely to become our Lord’s mother.
Loving Our Neighbors as Christ Has Loved Us
The Lord used the story of the Good Samaritan to show us who we must become if we are truly uniting ourselves to Him in faith.
Hope for Jairus, the Bleeding Woman, and Other People at the End of Their Rope
Both the bleeding woman and Jairus were at the end of their rope. They faced circumstances so dark that they could not imagine how they would be delivered from them. The gravity of their challenges is reflected by how little these characters speak in their encounters with Christ. They did not use many words to show whatever level of faith they had in Him, perhaps because what was at stake was beyond their ability to name.
To Receive Mercy, We Must Become Merciful
There is simply no way around the basic truth that how we relate to our neighbors reveals how we relate to our Lord. What we do for even the most miserable and difficult people we encounter in life, we do for Christ. And what we refuse to do for them, we refuse to do for our Savior. Our salvation is in becoming more like Him as we find the healing of our souls by cooperating with His grace. While we do not save ourselves any more than we can rise up by our own power from the grave, we must obey His commandments in order to open our souls to receive His healing mercy and participate in His eternal life.
What Truly Satisfies Those Who Bear the Image and Likeness of God?
Instead of obsessing over how we measure up, we should simply focus all our energies on finding healing for our passions as we reorient our disordered desires for fulfillment in God. If we persist in doing so and call out for the Lord’s mercy whenever we stumble and fall, we will come to know the joy of those liberated from the tomb, clothed in the divine glory, and finally in our right minds.
The Last in This World Will Often Be the First in the Kingdom of Heaven
On this feast day of the Holy, Glorious, All-Laudable Apostle and Evangelist Luke, we have an opportunity to celebrate the great witness to the Lord made by the patron saint of our parish. Our small community is named in his honor and memory. We see his image on our iconostasis and regularly ask him to pray for us in the Divine Liturgy. Author of both a gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, as well as an iconographer and a physician, St. Luke died a martyr’s death at the age of 84.