The Gatekeepers and the Kingdom of Heaven

The Gatekeepers and the Kingdom of Heaven

The Old Testament Law and Covenant were good, as the Scriptures testify. Yet, many a person in the Old Testament abused the good revelation of God to Moses on Sinai for their own means and ends. Numerous books of the Prophets clearly address this issue.

Sometimes the trappings of the Kingdom of Heaven are misused to construct an empire dedicated to oneself (or a group).

One of the reasons the Pharisees rejected their Messiah, Jesus, was precisely due to this. Using the trappings of the Law, they built for themselves a place of power and control over others. They built for themselves a place of influence and prestige. They had constructed their own little empire. For them, the Law was not so much a life-giving revelation as it was a tool by which they could lord it over others and bring them into submission. Their empire was of greater value to them than the Kingdom of Heaven.

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The Antiphons: Hymns of Holy Delight

Below the reader will find my translation of sermon 11 in the series of sermons by St. Seraphim on the Div. Liturgy. May his inspired words of explanation on the Div. Liturgy continue to stir up in us a deeper love for God and a greater zeal to worship Him. (All titles are my own for the purposes of my blog).  Previous sermons may be found here.

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On Truth and Love

Below the reader will find the work of St. Theophan the Recluse, “On Truth and Love.” On some of my social media accounts, I posted the recent statement from the Synod of the OCA, “On Same-Sex Relations and Sexual Identity.” In it, Glory to God, the Synod upholds Orthodox teaching. It was striking to me how a number of folks “Online,” even those claiming to be Orthodox, were decrying the statement as “unloving” and such. St. Theophan addressed the modern miss application of “love.” Sadly, many who would be Christians have put their faith in the message of the world over that of the Gospel and Holy Fathers. Everyone will choose to believe something. The modern message of “love” is not truly more loving, rather those who claim to be Christians and who accept it have made a willful choice. They have made a choice to believe the world over Christ and His Church. The type of “love” they champion is not Chrisitan Love but a false love that St. Theophan calls “indifferentism.”

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Joyful Light: A Sermon by St. Sebastian Dabovich

Below the reader will find a sermon by one of the few American-born Orthodox saints, Sebastian Dabovich (1863-1940). The sermon was originally printed in the 1966 September – October issue of the Orthodox Word, pp. 129-132. All end notes are from the original article.V

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The Life of the Holy New Hieromartyr Pavel of the Russian Far East

1886 saw a terrible cholera epidemic in the city of Kolyvan, Siberia when young Pavel (Paul) Lasareff was 6 years old. Days passed while the family watched wagons carrying many bodies to be buried. From the Orthodox Church, the sound of the mournful bells rang out day after day. On Trinity Sunday, young Pavel clung to his mother in fear, and that evening, he refused to eat.

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Little By Little

We often become frustrated with ourselves, wanting to change bad behavior, but seemingly incapable of making the changes we desire. Each week we confess the same sins over and over. We know the priest has heard the same confession, week after week, and we’re aware that he could probably say our confession for us, having heard it that often. What we don’t seem to know is that there is a simple reason for our repetition. These bad behaviors only seem to be unchangeable because we don’t really struggle with the passions in a way that will bring about successful change.

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Christ Empowers Us

Some time ago I was listening to one of the last songs recorded by Johnny Cash, probably the best country western singer of all time. The line in his song, “put me in my box on the 309”, is coming from a man who was facing his own imminent death. With the loss of his beloved wife, June Carter Cash still heavy on his heart, Johnny was ready to go to God.

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Piety and Hypocrisy

How easy it is to worship with all piety and correctness while standing in a service within an Orthodox temple, yet make no effort to live Orthodoxy during the rest of our week. If we are abusive towards our spouse, abrasive with a coworker, and short tempered with a neighbor, all the piety and liturgical correctness of our Sunday morning is of no value.

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