Homily – Prejudice, Objectivity, and Grit
St. Matthew 15.21-28

Gospel: Then Jesus left and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried; “have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; for my daughter is severely possessed by a devil.” But Jesus did not answer her at all. So his disciples came and pleaded; “send her away, for she is crying after us.” Jesus replied; “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then she came and knelt before him saying; “Lord, help me.” And Jesus answered; “it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Then she said; “yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that moment.

Are we ashamed of the Christ? Should we be?

If you were not jarred by the language of this Gospel lesson, then I am not sure that you were paying attention. Did you hear what Jesus said to this poor woman? She came to him with a terrible problem, and how did he respond? First, he ignored her! Then, as if that was not bad enough, he told her that he did not come to help “her kind.” And then, to top it off, he pretty much called her a “dog” and told her that she was not worthy of his help! How can we deal with this? How are we to understand the rudeness that Christ exhibited to this brokenhearted and suffering mother?

It is a point of fact that when the Scriptures surprise or offend us (and it often does… or should!), that we should react with joy rather than sadness, anger, or disbelief – for we are about to have our understanding enlarged! That is certainly the case with today’s lesson. The fact that Christ’s words are so offensive is part of the point, part of the lesson. So what are we to learn from it?

Some theologians would explain that we have to look at the cultural context of the reading: Jesus was a Jew, and that this was how Jews thought about and treated the Gentiles. This is what some theologians say, but they are wrong. In charity, I should give them more credit: they are only mostly wrong. They are right in teaching that we should look at the cultural context of scripture, but they are completely wrong in believing that Jesus was shaped by it: Christ is utterly BEYOND culture. Remember: he was the Logos before time began. As a human, he was affected by his time and place, but as the source of wisdom he transcended the bigotries and prejudices of the world. Ironically, it was this very transcendence that led to his offensive treatment of the Canaanite woman. Let me explain.

Jesus recognized that there were aspects of worldly cultures that were literally demonic (e.g. Psalm 81; Psalm 95:5 1 Corinthians 10:20) and, as such, they were a serious obstacle to satisfying his desire that all men be saved. Through his language, he was awakening his audience to the absurdity of treating people based on their group rather than as unique persons in need of our love and attention. The disciples could not help but notice the huge gulf between what morality required and the way their prejudices would have them act. There is no room for prejudice or division in God’s love. Those who serve him must rise above their worldviews and see the world in the light of pure love and objectivity.

Again, Christ was using this encounter to teach his audience that love requires that we serve everyone who comes into our midst, regardless of the color of their skin, where they or their babas were born, or how much money they make.

So what about the poor woman? What if she had given up? Remember, we are not dealing with a common man here, but with the eternal God incarnate. He knew the woman’s heart in its entirety; not just the love she had for her daughter or the trust she had in the power of God to heal her, but also her grit. He knew that she would do anything within her power to save her daughter. She would persevere. She would overcome.

This is the second lesson I would have you learn today: the virtue of perseverance and grit.

On perseverance.

[Persistence – examples from regular life (including studies on the relative importance of “grit”)]

If perseverance matters for all these other parts of our lives, why shouldn’t we expect it to affect our spiritual life?

If we are persistent, if we persevere, then the changes we make in our lives – eating well, exercising, being more patient with our families, dealing properly with our addictions, praying and worshipping more, being more serious in our Orthodoxy – will become less about the goals we want to achieve and more an expression of who we are.

  • We would no longer eat well because we wanted to become healthy, we would eat well because we WERE healthy.
  • We would no longer exercise regularly because we wanted to become more fit, we would exercise regularly because we WERE fit.
  • We would no longer be more patient and loving with our families because we wanted our family life to be more enjoyable, we would be patient and loving with our families because our family life WAS more enjoyable.
  • We would no longer be more diligent in our prayer and worship life because we wanted to reduce stress and help others, but because we WERE LIVING stress-free and helpful lives.
  • We would no longer be more serious in our Orthodoxy in order to get into heaven or to become more holy, but because, through Holy Orthodoxy, we WERE ALREADY BECOMING holy and more worthy of a place in heaven.

Then we will have been transformed:

  • From dieters to health eaters.
  • From out of shape to fit.
  • From casualties of broken families to beneficiaries of healthy ones.
  • From stressed out and powerless, to peaceful and powerful.
  • From part-time Christians into saints.

While each of these begins with a single decision, a decision on its own is not enough. In order to change our habits we have to exhibit enough grit and determination to make our decisions real in our lives. People who are serious about making changes rededicate themselves to their decisions every morning, then take stock of their efforts every evening. Moreover, they constantly ask God for his strength and support and that he remove the stains their weakness has caused. This is true whether we are talking about food and exercise or the even more important decision to give our lives over to The Way Christ established for the healing and salvation of all his people; it takes grit to make it real. It takes determination.

A Warning

We have to be careful: the world is full of snake-oil salesmen who will try to sell us shortcuts to health and perfection, and our egos are the most convincing charlatans of the lot. But there are no shortcuts. A pill cannot make up for laziness. We cannot eat junk and lay around all the time and expect to be healthy. We cannot ignore your family and be a blessing to them. We cannot skip prayer and find lasting peace. We cannot forsake The Way of Orthodoxy and live a holy life. And we cannot do anything worth doing without grounding ourselves completely in Jesus Christ, the very source of all power and perfection. Anyone who tells us differently – to include our own egos or “consciences” – is setting us up for failure. We have to ignore them, roll up our sleeves, and get serious.


It takes a lot of effort to gain anything worthwhile. In his interaction with the Gentile woman in today’s Gospel, Christ was showing us that salvation and the qualities needed to obtain it are not limited to any race, class, or nationality. It is ours to take no matter the color of our skin or where we were born. Christ came to save us all. In him and his love – that is to say, in his Holy Orthodox Church – there are no Gentiles or Jews, no Americans or Syrians, no rich or poor. Only those who are alive in Christ. Remember, God is not a respecter of persons. He desires that all be saved. He is knocking at the door of every heart. We must all let him in. We must accept him as our Lord, God, and Savior. And this is more than a one time promise. We cannot just say a “sinners prayer” and expect to be saved. The kingdom of heaven is taken by force and we must constantly strive – dare I say “work!” for our salvation. But do not despair: through Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we all have access to the strength we need to persevere.

And the road that we must walk, the very “Way” that the persistent must follow is found in its fullness here at this parish and in this community of Christ the Savior in Anderson, SC.


Direct download: 20240218-PrejudiceandGrit.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 6:49pm EDT

Bible Study – Job
Class Five: Job 2:16-7:14
The trial of ideas begins. 

Direct download: 20240214-Job02_16-07_14.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 6:35pm EDT

Homily on the Talents

Main point: What do we with the riches God has given us? Multiply them! How? By investing all those riches in spiritual activities that provide a strong return on investment and having enough self-discipline not to waste them on activities that cause spiritual harm.

There are many kinds of riches that the Bible and Tradition teach about; today we’ll talk about spiritual and monetary riches.

How to Get a Good Return on Spiritual Riches

   Baptized Christians have all received riches (the grace of Baptism – a life in Christ!): what do we do with them?

   We do not all start with the same – we all have abilities and weaknesses

   But all are called to grow that which God has planted in our hearts

How do we grow them? It’s all about Orthopraxis. Discipleship. Evangelism. Everyone has to be involved in the ministries of the Church – and our parish must be set up to enable and encourage this.

How do we bury our talents? Not just by squandering them, but by refusing to develop and use them. By sitting on our hands. By seeking the minimum standard.

We need to grow the grace God has put into our hearts so that it overflows and brings comfort, joy, and healing to all those around us. We have to grow the investment of grace God made within our hearts. Orthodoxy is not about rules – Americans hate rules – it’s about getting a good return on the spiritual investment God made in us. Americans understand investments (and, while it may seem crass, it follows from the parable that Christ gave us). So…

   Encouraging us to pray in the morning and evening and at every meal time is sound spiritual investment advice;

   Encouraging us to come to services every Sunday and Feast Dayis sound spiritual investment advice;

   Encouraging us to read scripture and edifying literature everyday is sound spiritual investment advice.

   Encouraging every parish member should offer up their time in both worship AND ministry is sound spiritual investment advice.

   Extolling the benefits of tithing is giving us sound spiritual advice.

   Warning us that things like gossip, pornography, self-indulgence, hard-heartedness, and adultery are wicked sins and to be avoided, is sound spiritual investment advice.

Some people hear this – and I mean good people! – and they say “but Father… I don’t need to do all these things to be good. I’m nice. I already love people. I know that it is my duty to help my friends and my family and that is what I do. It comes naturally. I don’t need fasting and all that other stuff.” I LOVE hearing this! It is great to meet people who are born with such wonderful gifts. But being born with gifts doesn’t get them off the hook. My response to the way they rationalize their slothfulness goes something like this; “wonderful! God gave you FIVE TALENTS instead of just one or two – now you need to fast and do all that other stuff to invest those five and get five more!”

No one should mistake a naturally pleasant disposition or other natural attributes as some kind of grace they earned: these things are gifts from God and they must be developed. That’s what he is telling us today about getting into heaven. God expects more from those to whom He has given more – so get to work!

How to Get the Best (Spiritual Return) on Monetary Riches

But the Lord isn’t just teaching us about how to grow the grace He has given us. There is a lot to learn here and throughout the scriptures about what to do with our money. He tells us that everything that we have was given to us is for one purpose: growth in perfection. Growth in Christ. The healing of this world. The spreading of the Gospel. The increasing and superabundance of grace in our lives, our parish, and this world. As with spiritual gifts, not all of us are given the same gifts … but we are all called to grow what we have been given to the glory of God.

   Ten talents: These people have the possibility/ability to give up all their money and possessions and follow Christ. (e.g. the holy disciples and apostles). Not everyone has the ability to do this. Not everyone is strong enough. Thank God that some are. The witness of monks.

   Five talents: These people have too many God-blessed responsibilities to give up all their money and possessions, but they can offer up a large proportion of their income. Not everyone is strong enough to do this. This is only possible for people who have made a discipline of simplicity and budgeted towards giving and either have a large salary proportional to their needs or – much less likely - who have come into a windfall (joke about the lottery). Examples: Saint Joachim – 2/3; Zacheous: half plus; (and lest we think this is just for the rich) the widow’s mite.

   One talent – done right!!!: “what must I do to be saved” Orthopraxis! Follow the law and live a life a love. Give proportionally according to your income. Make sacrifices for the Gospel. Offer what you can and grow that grace!

 Important caveat: for most of us, Orthodoxy requires balancing competing commitments. When it comes to money, it really comes down budgeting and making every dollar count. Family responsibilities and paying debts are Christian obligations.  Duty done well is done to the glory of God. Our God is not a God of irresponsibility. We have to find the balance – but in finding that balance, we need to let Christian morality – and not vices like laziness, self-indulgence, or fear – be our guides. Saint Paul makes this clear in his second letter to the Corinthians (8:8-12 & 9:6-9; glossed a bit):

Now I want to tell you what God in his grace has done for the churches in Macedonia. Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, they have mixed their wonderful joy with their deep poverty, and the result has been an overflow of giving to others. They gave not only what they could afford but far more; and I can testify that they did it because they wanted to and not because of nagging on my part. They begged us to take the money so they could share in the joy of helping the Christians in Jerusalem. Best of all, they went beyond our highest hopes, for their first action was to dedicate themselves to the Lord and to us, for whatever directions God might give to them through us.

 [This reminds me of the statistics that show no correlations between wealth and the proportion that is given to charity – just look at the faithfulness of the people in “poor” churches!]

 The people in this other church were so enthusiastic about helping out through sacrificial giving that we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to visit you and encourage you to complete your share in this same ministry of giving. You people there are leaders in so many ways—you have so much faith, so many good preachers, so much learning, so much enthusiasm, so much love… Now I want you to be leaders also in the spirit of cheerful giving.

 I am not giving you an order; I am not saying you must do it or how much you should give … But this is one way to show that your love and dedication is real, that it goes beyond mere words.

 You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus was: though he was so very rich, yet to help you he became so very poor, so that by being poor he could make you rich.

You were enthusiastic when you started down this path. Now let your early enthusiasm be equaled by your realistic action now. But hear this: if you are really eager to give, then it isn’t important how much you have to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you haven’t.

 But remember this—if you give little, you will get little. A farmer who plants just a few seeds will get only a small crop, but if he plants much, he will reap much. Everyone must make up his own mind as to how much he should give. Don’t force anyone to give more than he really wants to, for God loves the cheerful giver. God is able to make it up to you by giving you everything you need and more so that there will not only be enough for your own needs but plenty left over to give joyfully to others. It is as the Scriptures say: “The godly man gives generously to the poor. His good deeds will be an honor to him forever.”

God loves a cheerful giver, one who offers up gifts of his own free will – without compulsion. Our lives – and the life of our parish – have to be modeled around this fact. We don’t do dues.  Dues are compulsory, whether they are a few hundred dollars or an imposition of the more biblical tithe. The extortion of income is the work of highway robbers and governments – not the parish.  So while some of us have the ability, discipline, and JOY to budget around a tithe, not everyone can. The command is to offer up what you can to the glory of God and building up of joy in your life.

Let me conclude:

The point is that all we have been given – both our spiritual and material gifts – has been given to us one purpose: the one thing needful.

 If we invest all those things that have been put into our care: our time, our abilities, and yes, our monetary treasures, into the service of the Most High, then in the day when we are called to account for the way we lived lives here on earth, we will hear those words that we know so well, “well done good and faithful servant – receive now your crown!’

And if not? God cannot force us into paradise against our will. If we decided in our lifetime to follow the example of the servant who hid his talent, then we will receive the same reward he did.  That’s the Gospel.

No matter how much – or little - we have been entrusted with, we have a choice; it is the same choice all people of all places and times are given. Here is how Joshua put back in his day (Joshua 24:14-15; with glosses):

So revere the One True God and serve Him in sincerity and truth. Put away forever the idols of your ancestors. Worship the One True God and Him alone.  But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the false gods your ancestors served or the false gods of the land in which you now live. It is your choice. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

The Christian parish must be full of men and women – no matter their station, sinfulness, or abilities – who have made that same choice.  

 “As for me and my household – that is to say, as for me and all of you – I know that we will serve the Lord.”


Direct download: 20240211-Talents.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 7:35pm EDT

In this episode of "Father, Speak a Word," Fr. Gregory Jensen, PhD and Fr. Anthony talk about why we should celebrate our shortcomings (as we repent of our sin).  The conversation is based on Fr. Gregory's substack article "It's Complicated; Thoughts On Falling Short of the Glory of God."  [The audio has been corrected.]

Direct download: 20240208-FSAW-Sin.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 6:00pm EDT

Bible Study – Job
Class Four: Job 1:13 – 2:15

From the Orthodox Study Bible.

Job Loses His Children and Property

13.  Now there was a day when Job’s sons and daughters were drinking wine in the house of their elder brother,

14.  and behold, a messenger came to Job and said, “The yokes of oxen were plowing, and the female donkeys were feeding beside them.

15.  Then raiders came and took them captive and killed the servants with the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

16.  While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said to Job, “Fire fell from heaven and burned up the sheep, and likewise consumed the shepherds; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

17.  While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “Horsemen formed three bands against us, surrounded the camels, took them captive, and killed the servants with the sword.  I alone have escaped to tell you!”

18.  While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “Your sone and daughters were eating and drinking wine with their elder brother,

19.  and suddenly a great wind came from the desert and struck the hour corners of the house; and it fell on your children, and they died; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”

20.  Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved off the hair of his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped, saying,

21. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.  The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.  As it seemed good to the Lord, so also it came to pass.  Blessed by the name of the Lord.”

22.  In all these things that happened, Job did not sin against the Lord or charge God with folly.


Let’s break this down.

St. Gregory the Great.

On the compounding of affliction.
Lo again, lest any thing should be wanting to his grief for the adversity that came of man, he brings tidings that bands of the Chaldeans had broken in, and lest the calamity that came from above should strike him with too little force, he shews that wrath is repeated in the heavens…
He who is not laid low by one wound is in consequence stricken twice and thrice, that at one time or another he may be struck to the very core. Thus the blow from the Sabeans had been reported, the Divine visitation by fire from heaven had been reported, tidings are brought of the plundering of the camels, by man again, and of the slaughter of his servants, and the fury of God’s displeasure is repeated, in that a fierce wind is shewn to have smitten the corners of the house, and to have overwhelmed his children. For because it is certain that without the Sovereign dictate the elements can never be put in motion, it is covertly implied that He, Who let them be stirred, did Himself stir up the elements against him, though, when Satan has once received the power from the Lord, he is able even to put the elements into commotion to serve his wicked designs.

On the timing of the attacks
We ought to observe what times are suited for temptations; for the devil chose that as the time for tempting, when he found the sons of the blessed Job engaged in feasting; for the adversary does not only cast about what to do, but also when to do it. Then though he had gotten the power, yet he sought a fitting season to work his overthrow, to this end, that by God’s disposal it might be recorded for our benefit, that the delight of full enjoyment is the forerunner of woe.

On Job’s response.
But in that it is added that he worshipped, it is plainly shewn that even in the midst of pain, he did not break forth against the decree of the Smiter. He was not altogether unmoved, lest by his very insensibility he should shew a contempt of God; nor was he completely in commotion, lest by excess of grief he should commit sin. But because there are two commandments of love, i. e. the love of God, and of our neighbour; that he might discharge the love of our neighbour, he paid the debt of mourning to his sons; that he might not forego the love of God, he performed the office of prayer amidst his groans. There are some that use to love God in prosperity, but in adversity to abate their love of Him from whom the stroke comes. But blessed Job, by that sign which he outwardly shewed in his distress, proved that he acknowledged the correction of his Father, but herein, that he continued humbly worshipping, he shewed that even under pain he did not give over the love of that Father.

But be it observed, that our enemy strikes us with as many darts as he afflicts us with temptations; for it is in a field of battle that we stand every day, every day we receive the weapons of his temptations. But we ourselves too send our javelins against him, if, when pierced with woes, we answer humbly.

Christological Interpretation
When his sons were destroyed in the ruin of the house, Job arose, because when Judæa was lost in unbelief, and when the Preachers were fallen in the death of fear, the Redeemer of mankind raised Himself from the death of His carnal nature; He shewed in what judgment He abandoned His persecutors to themselves. For His rising is the shewing with what severity he forsakes sinners, just as His lying down is the patient endurance of ills inflicted. He rises then, when He executes the decrees of justice against the reprobate. And hence He is rightly described to have rent his mantle. For what stood as the mantle of the Lord, but the Synagogue, which by the preaching of the Prophets clung to the expectation of His Incarnation? For in the same way that He is now clothed with those by whom He is loved, as Paul is witness, who says, That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot nor wrinkle; (for that which is described as having neither spot or wrinkle; ALLEG. Eph. 5:27. is surely made appear as a spiritual robe; and at once clean in practice, and stretched in hope;) so when Judæa believed Him as yet to be made Incarnate, it was no less a garment through its clinging to Him.



Job Loses His Health

2.1.  Then again as it so happened another day, the angels of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and the devil also came among them to present himself before the Lord.

2.  The Lord said to the devil, “Where did you come from?”  Then the devil said before the Lord, “I came here from walking around under heaven and going about all the earth.”

3.  Then the Lord said to the devil, “Have you considered my servant Job, since there is none like him on earth: an innocent, true, blameless, and God-fearing man, and one who abstains from every evil thing: Moreover he still holds fast to his integrity, though you told me to destroy his possessions without cause.”

4.  Then the devil answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin.  Whatever a man has he will pay in full for his life. 

5. Yet truly, stretch out Your hand and touch his bones and his flesh, and see if he will bless You to Your face.” 

6. So the Lord said to the devil, “Behold, I give him over to you; only spare his life.”

7. Thus the devil went out from the Lord and struck Job with malignant sores from head to foot.

8.  So he took a potsherd to scrape away the discharge and sat on a dunghill outside the city.

9.  When a period of time passed, his wife said to him, “How long will you hold out, saying,

10. ‘Behold, I will wait a little longer, looking for the hope of my salvation’?

11. Listen, your memory is wiped out from the earth; your sons and daughters, the pangs and pains of my womb, which I suffered in vain and with hardships.

12. You yourself are sitting down, spending the nights in the open air among the rottenness of worms;

13. and I go about. As a wanderer and a handmaid from place to place and from house to house waiting for the setting of the sun, so as to rest from my labors and pains that now beset me.

14. But say a word against the Lord and die!”

15.  Then Job looked at her and said, “You have spoken as one of the foolish women speaks.  If we accepted good things from the Lord’s hand, shall we not endure evil things?”  In all these things that happened to him, Job did not sin with his lips against God.


Let’s break this down.

St. John Chrysostom.  The angels.  Why does the author describe the angels in the act of presenting themselves daily before the Lord? He does so that we might learn no actual event is overlooked by God’s providence, and that the angels report what happens every day. Every day they are sent to settle some question, even though we ignore all this. That is the reason why they were created; that is their task, as the blessed Paul says, “They are sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation.” “And the devil,” the text says, “also came among them.” You know why the angels are present. But why is the devil present? The latter is present to tempt Job; the former, in order to regulate our matters. Why is the devil questioned again before the angels themselves? Because he had said before them, “He will curse you to your face.” What a shameless nature! He has dared come back!

St. John Chrysostom.  On the wife.  Notes that a long time passed, and she was not able to handle the temptations.  The devil hopes this will be like Eve. 

Fr. Patrick Reardon. 
Indeed, we do perceive a change in Job at this point. If he does not curse God, Job also does not explicitly bless God as he had done in his first affliction (1:21). Instead, he humbly submits to God’s will (2:10).  In each case, nonetheless, God’s confidence in Job is vindicated. Satan has done his worst to Job, but Job has not succumbed. Like Abraham in Genesis 22, Job has met the trial successfully. Having done his worst, Satan disappears and is never again mentioned in the book. The rest of the story concerns only God and human beings.

St. Gregory the Great.  On temptation.
The old adversary is wont to tempt mankind in two ways; viz. so as either to break the hearts of the steadfast by tribulation, or to melt them by persuasion. Against blessed Job then he strenuously exerted himself in both; for first upon the householder he brought loss of substance; the father he bereaved by the death of his children; the man that was in health he smote with putrid sores. But forasmuch as him, that was outwardly corrupt, he saw still to hold on sound within, and because he grudged him, whom he had stripped naked outwardly, to be inwardly enriched by the setting forth of his Maker’s praise, in his cunning he reflects and considers, that the champion of God is only raised up against him by the very means whereby he is pressed down, and being defeated he betakes himself to subtle appliances of temptations. For he has recourse again to his arts of ancient contrivance, and because he knows by what means Adam is prone to be deceived, he has recourse to Eve. For he saw that blessed Job amidst the repeated loss of his goods, the countless wounds of his strokes, stood unconquered, as it were, in a kind of fortress of virtues.

On the nature of evil.
See the enemy is every where broken, every where overcome, in all his appliances of temptation he has been brought to the ground, in that he has even lost that accustomed consolation which he derived from the woman. Amid these circumstances it is good to contemplate the holy man, without, void of goods, within, filled with God. When Paul viewed in himself the riches of internal wisdom, yet saw himself outwardly a corruptible body, he says, We have this treasure in earthen vessels. 2 Cor. 4:7. You see, the earthen vessel in blessed Job felt those gaping sores without, but this treasure remained entire within. For without he cracked in his wounds, but the treasure of wisdom unfailingly springing up within issued forth in words of holy instruction, saying, If we have received good at the hand of the Lord, shall we not receive evil? meaning by the good, either the temporal or the eternal gifts of God, and by the evil, denoting the strokes of the present time, of which the Lord saith by the Prophet, I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. Is. 45:6, 7. Not that evil, which does not subsist by its own nature, is created by the Lord, but the Lord shews Himself as creating evil, when He turns into a scourge the things that have been created good for us, upon our doing evil, that the very same things should at the same time both by the pain which they inflict be to transgressors evil, and yet good by the nature whereby they have their being.

On how the Church responds to both kinds of “evil”
Holy men, when fastened upon by the war of afflictions, when at one and the same moment they are exposed to this party dealing them blows and to that urging persuasions, present to the one sort the shield of patience, at the other they launch the darts of instruction, and lift themselves up to either mode of warfare with a wonderful skill in virtue, so that they should at the same time both instruct with wisdom the froward counsels within, and contemn with courage the adverse events without; that by their instructions they may amend the one sort, and by their endurance put down the other. For the assailing foes they contemn by bearing them, and the crippled citizens they recover to a state of soundness, by sympathizing with them. Those they resist, that they may not draw off others also; they alarm themselves for these, lest they should wholly lose the life of righteousness.

And more on this
Holy men, when fastened upon by the war of afflictions, when at one and the same moment they are exposed to this party dealing them blows and to that urging persuasions, present to the one sort the shield of patience, at the other they launch the darts of instruction, and lift themselves up to either mode of warfare with a wonderful skill in virtue, so that they should at the same time both instruct with wisdom the froward counsels within, and contemn with courage the adverse events without; that by their instructions they may amend the one sort, and by their endurance put down the other. For the assailing foes they contemn by bearing them, and the crippled citizens they recover to a state of soundness, by sympathizing with them. Those they resist, that they may not draw off others also; they alarm themselves for these, lest they should wholly lose the life of righteousness.


Saint Gregory the Great, Morals on the Book of Job, vol. 1 (Oxford; London: John Henry Parker; J. G. F. and J. Rivington, 1844), 83.

Robert Charles Hill.  St. John Chrysostom Commentaries on the Sages, Volume One – Commentary on Job.  Holy Cross Orthodox Press.

Patrick Henry Reardon, The Trial of Job: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Job (Chesterton, IN: Ancient Faith Publishing, 2005), 22.

Manlio Simonetti and Marco Conti, eds., Job, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 4–5.


What we will cover next week:

The trial of ideas begins.  Job 2:16-7:14

Direct download: 20240207-Job01_13-02_9.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:53am EDT

Homily Notes on Zacchaeus Sunday:
What makes a home?

Walk in – can you tell (that a place is a home)?

The feeling?

·       Feelings and intuition are unreliable; generally, they are the way the subconscious mind puts together other indicators

·       But to the sense our feelings are reliable, some places are haunted by memories of being home 

The clutter?” There is something to this.

·       Imperfect indicator (museums have lots of stuff… & I hear there are homes with no clutter)

·       Points to something else that is often associated with clutter

The rituals? There is something to this, as well.

·       All homes do have rituals, but they are similar to clutter (they ARE clutters of habits… and these habits form character)

·       Imperfect indicator

*** A home is where love lives. ***

Zacchaeus had a nice house.

·       But it wasn’t until Christ came that it was a place of love

·       “Today salvation has come to this house”

·       From the blessing of homes after Theophany; “O GOD OUR SAVIOR, the True Light, who wast baptized in the Jordan by John to renew all men by the laver of regeneration, and who didst deign to enter under the roof of Zacchaeus, thereby bringing salvation to him and to all his house: do thou, the same Lord, keep safe from harm all who dwell here; grant them thy blessing, purification, and bodily health; grant all their petitions which are unto salvation and life everlasting. For blessed art thou, O Lord, together with thy Father who is without beginning, and thy most holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.” 

Lesson here

·       Love blesses all things when it is present; friendships, teachers and students, workplace relationships…

·       Why is this? Why aren’t the kind of relationships Zaccheaus had – ones based on exploitation – blessed?

·       Because the God who created the rules is the One who is the source and animator of all love.

·       This is why intentionally invoking Him in our relationships makes them so much stronger. Marriages, families, friendships… they are strengthened when they are done IN THE NAME OF CHRIST.

Most especially true of us here. This is THE place of power.

·       Let us continue to bask in it.

·       As Christ grows in our midst and remakes us into perfect bearers of that love.


Direct download: 20240204-WhatisaHome.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:50am EDT