Homily on St. Luke 24:13-35

Acts 2:14, 36-41; Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19; I Peter 1:17-23; St. Luke 24:13-35


Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

On the Road to Emmaus

This incident on the road to Emmaus  takes place on Resurrection Day. We might think our Saviour would be busy or, doing something else, but He makes a priority to strengthen the Church with this particular teaching.  Then later He appears to the eleven and others gathered.

Who are They?

First question I get about this is…which of the Apostles are these…These two “Emmaus disciples” are not part the Eleven.  However, they could well be from among the seventy.

Just so you know, The assumption of the early church’s tradition, (cited by Eusebius), is that Cleopas is Clopas, brother of St Joseph, making Cleopas the uncle of Jesus, and that the other unnamed disciple is Cleopas’ son Simeon, who later would become the second bishop of Jerusalem, the leader of the Jerusalem church after 70.  Simeon died a vicious martyr’s death. Certainly this experience not only gave him strength but understanding to lead the Church during a particularly terrible time.

Seeing but not Seeing

Of course they could see Him – he was physically with them, but their recognition of him is held until there is time for more catechesis or teaching on the road.  Jesus enters their conversation in order to hear from them what they think about his death.  But it is precisely the facts, as they saw them, that caused these Emmaus disciples to stand there in sorrow, they were scandalized by the crucifixion, even though Jesus had predicted he would die.

Christ in the Old Testament

The Emmaus disciples respond with their interpretation of the events of Jesus’ life, confessing to Jesus their despair, and their doubts, showing that, like Moses, they do not fully understand God’s ways.  Jesus must open the Scriptures for these disciples to show them that unless he suffered and died, He could not be the Messiah.  The implication is that the very fabric of the entire Old Testament is Christological, for every thread and theme leads to and centres in the crucified and risen Christ.

They were discouraged and confused. He’s dead!  This is why Jesus shows them the “scarlet thread” – the fact of His required death and resurrection – exactly what we celebrate today.  Because the didn’t have eyes to see, They had lost hope.  Grace was yet required … They needed the ability to see.

What a lesson they got!  He brings forward, therefore, Moses and the prophets, interpreting their hidden meaning and making plain to the worthy what to the unworthy was obscure.  In this way he settles in them the ancient and hereditary faith taught them by the sacred books which they possessed.

He’s connecting their faith with it’s completion. They had it in every part of their lives.  What to eat, how to work, – really, it’s all laid out in the law – and our Saviour points it out for them.  Too bad it is not recorded, eh!

Word and Table

Still, they didn’t know it was Jesus … until…Let’s not miss this – I ask you to intentionally engage your mind here, don’t get troubled by the surroundings.  Yes, we’re stuck at home, having church in our homes – kinda like it began, eh – from house to house…Anyway, please don’t let this bumbling messenger or the circumstances keep you from “seeing”.

From the very beginning – We have The Word and the Table – together. Not “just the Bible” and in this case, the Old Testament!  Recognition of God, Christ in our hearts – does not come merely by the teaching or reading of the Word.

Think for a minute – I’m sure our Saviour shared with these dear brothers and connected all the dots.  There is no better teacher – ever!  He explains, How everything in the old testament points to Him, still – they didn’t recognize Him. – no.  All the greatest preaching, study or any other activity, does not reveal Christ to our hearts, even if He’s walking with you for a whole days journey – as He was with them!

Christ Recognized in the Eucharist

The eyes of the these disciples are kept from recognizing Jesus – because He is now recognized in the breaking of the bread, as He told them.  The same way we recognize Him today. Our souls and spirits receive from Him while our bodies take Him in.

“Ah yes, brothers and sisters, but where did the Lord wish to be recognized? In the breaking of bread. We’re all right, nothing to worry about—we break bread, and we recognize the Lord. It was for our sake that he didn’t want to be recognized anywhere but there, because we weren’t going to see him in the flesh, and yet we were going to eat his flesh. So if you’re a believer, any of you, if you’re not called a Christian for nothing, if you don’t come to church pointlessly, if you listen to the Word of God in fear and hope, you may take comfort in the breaking of bread. The Lord’s absence is not an absence. Have faith, and the one you cannot see is with you. Those two, even when the Lord was talking to them, did not have faith, because they didn’t believe he had risen. Nor did they have any hope that he could rise again. They had lost faith, lost hope. They were walking along, dead, with Christ alive. They were walking along, dead, with life itself. Life was walking along with them, but in their hearts life had not yet been restored.”1

~ St. Augustin

You go ahead and read on … St. Luke 24:28–35 and you see the recognition of Christ in the breaking of the bread.  This Emmaus meal is pivotal because it continues Jesus’ pre-resurrection table fellowship and begins the church’s table fellowship in the celebration of Easter through the sacrament.

Jesus continues to reveal himself in the breaking of the bread that has received his blessing

~ St. Augustine

Christ’s Instruction on the Eucharist

So – He blinds their eyes, until he breaks the bread with them.  This is how the Lord Jesus desires to be recognized – in the breaking of the Bread.  After breaking the bread and feeding thousands, the Lord says this very interesting instruction:

St John 6:47-58

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

I am that bread of life.

Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

Real Presence in the Sacrament

These two events and others, are not simply a nice thing to say that doesn’t make sense.  The Church teaches the “real presence” of Christ in the Sacrament.  The Holy Meal is that which brings God into our lives.  We eat His flesh and drink his blood – as He told us we must or, we will not have His life in us.

Then …He blessed the bread, broke it, and they recognized Him.  That’s how you recognize Christ—those of us who believe He is the Christ.  Sacramental orthodoxy is required. The next few events continue the Fellowship at the Table…BBQ on the beach is the next time.

Acts 2:42 – “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

A Real Body

He does not need food but only uses it show that he has risen in his body.

~ St John of Damascus

Thus Jesus eats before them to confirm their faith and to show that he is alive and that the body that appears before them is just like their body, with flesh and bones.

Christ is in Our Midst

Just as the disciples were gathered together, we are now. Christ is in our midst.  In our homes and in this place, we come today to celebrate the Resurrection. This is done through the teaching, fellowship, breaking of the bread and prayers.

We do that, From house to house – Acts 2:46.  We are following very closely – well, 6 feet apart – the true gathering of the Church as the Apostles gave it to us.

Acts 20:7 – “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread”

We can’t just listen to a message, or just pray, or be alone, or take the Holy Elements. The pattern clear – all of these are part of true Christian orthodox Sacramental worship.  The life of the Body of Christ is fed and strengthened in this way.


Finally – Back to the meal… Jesus disappears from them, for from now on, he will be possessed by faith in word and meal.  Jesus continues to be recognized today in the breaking of the bread ~ St. Augustine.  They experienced burning hearts from the teaching of Jesus through the action of the Holy Spirit.

Athanasius Yohan I’s book the Eucharist is a useful tool especially as some have said, the return to normal is only a few weeks away.  So in those few weeks, very few I hope, life may begin to return to a normal. Granted a new normal … nothing will be the same.  I plead with you in the name of God, don’t slip back into the same old, pre-intentional life.  Make sure you keep your practices of praying at home.  Gather your family or housemates daily for fellowship – as the early disciples did.

Find a place to worship that does or figure out how you can celebrate the fullness of Christian worship.  Participate in the wholeness of Sacramental life – hourly, daily and weekly.  So many people around the world have set a new normal for their worship practice and experience. Many of us will have a difficult time giving up the intimacy of our Church at Home.  Now we all have home altars, a new normal. They won’t be put away. We can carry on daily as we have …

If you want help, look at our websites, or contact the church [email protected].  You’ve experienced it – don’t give it up!  That same burning in you can only we quenched by the wholeness of Sacramental Worship.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

~ Rev. Fr. Pat



1 https://catenabible.com/lk/24/13

Melone, Altobello, 1490-1543. Road to Emmaus, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54932 [retrieved June 25, 2020]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Altobello_Melone_-_The_Road_to_Emmaus_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg.

Homily on St. Matthew 4:12-23

St. Matthew 4:12-23; Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 4-9; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Barekmor! Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen!

The Arrest of St. John the Forerunner

Here we have the account of the start of our Saviour’s earthly ministry.  St John the Forerunner has been arrested and the last of the Law has been completed with Christ’s baptism.  In His baptism He fulfilled all righteousness.  He was the  1st human to do so.  Remember, the law was not given to save but to discipline, shape their character, and make them humble.

Here persecution has begun again, just as all the prophets have been persecuted.  We, as humans, don’t want to hear that righteousness is required.

Christ Begins His Ministry

Our Lord picks up the very same call as St. John the Forerunner, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”.  The first words of the New Covenant are to put off the flesh and look to spiritual things.  It is not just a matter of  stopping to sin, but rather a turning away from earthly things as well.  Wealth, power and even family should have no attraction for we know we will receive 100 fold more in the age to come – St Mark 10:30

“shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”

John Had Borne Witness of Him

St John bore witness of Jesus saying, “This is the Lamb of God”.  The voice from Heaven also bore witness.  Jesus didn’t start any ministry until John’s was completed.  There was no competition and  no confusion, it was simply a continuance of the ministry.  Furthermore, Jesus did not bare witness of Himself, which they accused Him of in any case – St John 8:13.  Right after forgiving the women caught in adultery, He spoke again to the people. Saying He was the light of the world.

13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

Christ Goes First to Gentiles

The Lord goes to the land of the Gentiles which is across the Jordan.  Those who were the first to see the “Great Light” were not the Jews.  Salvation comes by the Jews, but as we know, they refused.  We see here it was a battle from the very beginning.

Furthermore, we know that these two (Zebulun and Naphtali) were the first to go into captivity.  So it is fitting that they are the first to receive the Good News.  Quite a bit is written about both Zebulun and Naphtali.  One of the Father’s says,

“This was the light about which the just man Simeon in the Gospel declared, “A light of revelation to the Gentiles and a glory for your people Israel.”1

Avoid Troubles if Possible

Just as in the prophets; David, Isaiah, Daniel, the Lord withdrew because He knows the hearts of men and all situations.  He is in complete control of all circumstances and He was choosing the time of His suffering.  Furthermore, He taught us here, that we are not to seek out troubles, but be wise in all things.

He could have easily rearranged the days, but He did not for our sakes.  For when His time would come, He did not shrink back.  Here we learn to stand and to turn away as needed for the sake of the Kingdom, not for the sake of our own safety.

The Calling of the Apostles


Verses 20 & 22 … Let’s understand a bit more about this …

20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

The very first thing He does is to call the Apostles, they must be witnesses of all that He intends to do.  Well, they weren’t Apostles yet, but He knew that they would be.

Leave Everything

They left everything, although they did not have huge fortunes, but it was all they had hopes for in this life.  Poor fisherman don’t have much, but they turned away from everything they did have.  We also will leave everything behind, if we follow our Lord.  This is what every Christian is called to, not just missionaries & clergy.

Whatever we try to hold on to will become a snare and hindrance.  We mustn’t covet what we give up, nor what others have, that’s their own problem.  Partaking of true abandonment is what our Saviour calls us to.  How much we give up isn’t the issue, the Lord is looking at the heart.  We remember the judgement on Ananias…how much we hold back becomes our trouble.Upon being called by Jesus, the disciples left their nets immediately.

For Christ seeks this kind of obedience from us, such that we delay not even for a moment, though something absolutely most necessary should fervently press in on us.

~ St. John Chrysostom2

Leave Immediately

Both times it says, “Immediately”…they didn’t have to weigh the possibilities or the cost of leaving all behind.  There was no questions from them about where, or what they were going to do.  Nothing about, but I wonder what my dad thinks because he was right there with them.  This is a pattern throughout the Church and the Bible; Abraham, Moses, Elisha and so on and so forth.

We have a similar call as we follow.  Once the decision is made to obey, then it gets tough.  We find out the decision was the easy part.  Every morning and night through living by the grace of God is how we make it.  Through actively thanking God for grace for the day and trusting Him with our life through the night

Threefold process of Following Christ

In the lesson today we learn a three-fold process of intentionally following our Saviour through acts of abandonment of our own will, or ways.

  1. Earthly acts – things we do, often can be the most damaging and easy to give up
  2. Earthly goods – things we have, they can consume our desire to obey
  3. Earthly parents – joining the family of God can often cost us earthly relationships

Chosen For His Glory

Another of the Fathers says,

“He chose illiterate, unskilled and untutored fishermen, that God’s grace might be all the more apparent.”

Just like you and I. None of us can claim anything of ourselves.  He picked us out of the myriads of smarter more capable people.  Therefore, whatever happens will be a glory to him.

St John 15:8 “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit”

To Bear Fruit

What fruit? – here’s a few, there are many more…

The peaceable fruit of righteousness – Heb 12:11

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

This is through the discipline of God, He is  refining our earthly lives by His hand to remove all ties to it.

Fruit of the Spirit – Gal 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, longsuffering, gentleness, faithfulness, 23 meekness temperance: against such there is no law.

Receive God’s Grace

None of these things will be ours, without systematically removing the things of the world from our lives.  As we journey into a fuller life and understanding of the Faith, let’s avail ourselves of as much of God’s grace as we can.

Eph 4:7 & similar in Rom 12:3

“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ”

What is grace?  It is the ability from God to do what He has asked.  It is the mystery available that is the life of God in you through receiving His supernatural power.

Ways to Receive Grace

Here are three ways of receiving grace among many others.

  1. Grace is given in the Eucharist, partake as often as possible
  2. Grace is given in Confession, be ruthless with yourself and be humble, God will lift you up.
  3. Grace is given in meeting together, we both learn and challenge each other when we live as the Body of Christ.

We experience the life of God or Theosis, by reducing our earthly connections and increasingly relying on the grace of God.  The more we rely on Him, the more He makes us able.

Final Application

So, I’m not asking you to make a list of items to remove from your life, but rather to do all you can to receive the grace of God.  I am saying, that when the opportunity comes to choose the narrow path, you should take it, even though the cost will be high. Those of this world will not approve and will likely cause you trouble.

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. We must not choose personal comfort over our eternal unity with Christ.  Only you know where the Holy Spirit is highlighting the next steps for you.  Please, don’t delay, the blessing that comes from obedience, far out weighs the common things of this world.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen!

~ Fr. Pat

1 Thomas C. Oden and Manlio Simonetti, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture New Testament Ia (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), ?

2 Ibid, ?

Duccio, di Buoninsegna, d. 1319. Christ Calling the Apostles Peter and Andrew, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=49261 [retrieved May 5, 2020]. Original source: www.yorckproject.de.

Homily on St. Matthew 3:13-17

St. Matthew 3:13-17; Isaiah 42:1-9; Psalm 29; Acts 10:34-43


Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit

Christ’s Baptism


As we have begun journeying through the life of Christ this year, we have come to His baptism.  Our Orthodox brothers and sisters have celebrated this on the sixth of January.  As we look at this event this morning, a crucial question to ask is why was He baptised?

Two Types of Baptism

The baptism of John was one of repentance and the baptism we practise is one of regeneration.  For both of these purposes, Jesus was not in need of baptism.  He was a complete man.  In His incarnation, the body that He assumed had fulfilled every sacrament of our salvation.  He had committed no sin therefore a baptism repentance would be needless.

Reason’s for Christ’s Baptism

There are three reasons that the Fathers give to us for our Saviour choosing to be baptised.  First, to completely fulfill both the law and the instructions of the prophets.  Jesus had fulfilled everything and now there was just one last instruction to fulfill.  John the Baptist had come as the final prophet instructing the people to repentance and baptism.  Jesus is the complete man is the one who would fulfill all the prophecies and instructions concluding with John the Baptist’s ministry.  He completed all the demands of the old covenant in the baptism.

Second, He was baptised to give credence to the ministry and baptism of John.  Through His being baptised by John the Baptist, He was placing divine approval upon John’s ministry.

Third, He was baptised for us.  John the Baptist’s baptism was merely one of repentance while the baptism that we practise in the church today and the one that the Apostles practised was one of regeneration.  What made the difference?

A New Baptism

When Christ entered the waters as the sinless one, as the one who had fulfilled all the demands of the old covenant, He hallowed or sanctified the waters of His baptism.  Today, when the church baptises a new believer, we understand that in a mystery that the baptismal water becomes the water in which Christ was baptised.  In much the same way as bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ for us in the Eucharist.  It is something beyond our comprehension, but we know that it happens.

The water becomes the water of Christ’s baptism, but what difference does that make?  Without the sanctifying presence of Christ in the baptismal water, baptism can accomplish nothing.  It is water.  Water can’t wash away sins or raise us up to newness of life.  We must have the hallowing, the sanctifying presence of the Lord in the waters.

This fulfills all righteousness as Jesus said to John all those years ago.  He not only completed all that was needed for a single man to be righteous, Him, but He also opened the way that all men could become righteous through Him.  He fulfilled all righteousness for us.

A New Life After Baptism

Verse sixteen of St. Matthew 3 states that Jesus came up immediately from the water.  In a spiritual sense this teaches us how we are to live after our own baptism.  We are to immediately come up from the water and advance in virtue, then we are to put to death the deeds of the flesh and seek to live according to the Spirit.  Having been washed from our sin and raised to new life in the Spirit, we are now to continue to walk in this manner of life.  We went down into the water as carnal children of Adam, but  we come out of the water transformed into the spiritual children of God.  Let us praise God for this wonderful mystery of transformation.

The Holy Spirit Fills us

The dove descends upon Christ after His baptism prefiguring to us that the Holy Spirit will descend upon us after we are raised to new life through baptism.  We become God’s children through adoption, and we are sealed by the Holy Spirit.  In the actual event we see the Trinity.  The Lord is baptised, the Spirit descends, and the Father speaks giving testimony of His Son.

God Desires Salvation For All

Let us now take a look at our first testament reading.  We see that the servant of God, who is God the Son, desires to bring justice to the nations.  He desires to save all people.  We have been born anew through the Holy Spirit regenerating us and God desires this for all people.  This is why he came to us and united himself to our flesh.

The fathers tell us that Christ not only did not break a bruised reed or snuff out a smouldering wick, but he also bound up and healed the bruised and broken.  He healed the sick and did not bruise the repentant.  Even those who were content to remain in their wickedness, he allowed them to follow their own choice.  As long as they are in this world, he withholds judgement from them.  They will not receive judgement until the Great Judgement on the last day.  Until then our Lord treats them with compassion and allows them their choice.  We must follow our Lord in showing compassion.

He Brings Restoration

He has given sight to the blind.  While he did physically give sight to many blind men during his lifetime, Christ has also restored spiritual sight.  All of us with whom he has treated gently and have turned to Him have had our sight restored.  He has broken the bonds of sin that have held us and led us to the light of truth.

We are to Share His Salvation

Just as he has led us out of darkness into light, out of bondage into freedom, in our Psalm reading He has commissioned us to share this wonderful news.  We are the means through which the whole world can give to the Lord glory.  It is through the Gospel being spread to the ends of the earth that they can give him glory.

Christ’s Baptism Prophesied

In verse three we see a prophecy of our Lord’s baptism.  The voice of the Lord is over the waters.  God’s voice was heard from heaven over the waters of our Saviour’s baptism.

Waters also figuratively speaks of the nations.  we have seen that the waters of Christ’s baptism are also the waters of our own baptism.  He speaks over the nations that have and will be baptised in those waters so that they will be made complete in virtue and the greatness of Christ.

The Church Prophesied

Furthermore, it is a prophecy of the first apostles and all those who have carried the message of Christ to the ends of the earth.   The voice speaks figuratively of the Holy Spirit and the grace that fell at Pentecost giving those first apostles the power and the might to lead many to Christ.  They have passed that grace onto many succeeding generations through the laying on of hands.

We see also the creation of the Church in verse eight.  The desert or wilderness of Kadesh was shaken.  The desert or the church originally had no children and was barren, but through the preaching of Christ it was shaken and gave birth and in a single day an entire nation was born.  It was an empty wilderness and now the deer dance in it by his voice.  The church rushes throughout the world unmindful of the opposition and persecution proclaiming the Gospel of Christ so that all in His Temple can say, “Glory”.

Salvation is for All

Finally, as we look at our epistle reading we see that salvation is for all or in the words of St. Peter, “I see that God shows no partiality”.  God is no respecter of persons, whether the person is a Jew or a Gentile like us, he is looking to see if that person is doing what pleases him.  He will show more concern and care for the one who has chosen the way of virtue at a time when many are determined to do evil.

Cornelius up to this time had been seeking to worship God as best he knew.  He did not have the revelation that Jesus Christ was the same God as the God of the Old Testament.  St. Peter was sent to instruct him that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament.

God had anointed Jesus with grace.  In our baptism we remember that both God anointed Jesus with grace and that we are anointed with oil signifying that we receive His grace as well.


Let us praise our Lord and Saviour that he has fulfilled all righteousness and made the way for us to be holy as well.  We have been raised to new life, let us seek the things above.  Let us endeavour to acquire all the virtues of the Christian life – love, joy, peace etc.

We must also have the compassion our Saviour has for all men.  If we do not desire that all men to be saved, let us take some time to pray this week that God would change our hearts.  Let us seek to as full of compassion as our blessed Saviour.  God has commissioned us to spread his gospel to the ends of the earth.  We can do that as a Church by sponsoring the church missionary.  On our own we can commit to praying for the work of missionaries and Christian workers throughout the world.  We can share with our friends and neighbours who do not know Christ.  We can give to the cause of spreading his name abroad.

Finally, we have received grace through baptism to live Godly.  In a few moments we will also receive grace through the Eucharist.  Let us partake and receive from the Lord the grace to pursue Him with all of our hearts.

In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,

~ Fr. Matthew


Xačʿatur. Baptism of Christ, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56383 [retrieved April 17, 2020]. Original source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/medmss/8614784984.

Homily on St. Matthew 11:2-11

St. Matthew 11:2-11; Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10; James 5:7-10

St. John the forerunner hope


Glory be to the Father, and to the son and to the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Prophecy Fulfilled

Isaiah 35:1-10  – this prophesy was fulfilled in Christ…The hot sand and deserted desolate places, will blossom and flourish…a deserted place called Bethsaida – means “house of fruitfulness.”  The northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee is a fertile plain where the feeding of the 5,000 likely took place.  Peter, Andrew and Philip were from there – ¼ of the Apostles

Eusebius (260/263–340). Bishop of Cæsarea, the first historian of the Christian church explains

“And the prophecy here disguises under the name of “desert”, the church of the Gentiles, which for long years, deserted of God, is being evangelized by those of whom we are speaking, and it says that besides other blessings, the glory of Lebanon will be given to the desert. Now it is customary to call Jerusalem, Lebanon, allegorically… This prophecy before us, therefore, teaches that by God’s presence with men, the glory of Lebanon, will be given to that which is called “desert,” that is to say, the church of the Gentiles.”1

Christ Fulfills the Prophecies

Concerning all these healings and renewal, there are more than ½ a dozen of the Fathers who say, Christ’s miracles were the literal fulfillment of prophecy.  Judah was even more awestruck by this grace of the Gentiles’ new conversion, a grace that it believed pertained only to itself and to those who were received in its rite through the mystery of circumcision, as the Acts of the Apostles made abundantly clear.

Hope Enables Endurance

Hope enables us to endure until we are delivered

~ St. Augustin2

Suicide Takes the Hopeless

Hopeless people can’t survive.  An average of 10 people die by suicide each day in Canada, or approx. 4000 deaths by suicide each year.  It is the 9th leading cause of death in Canada and the 2nd leading cause of death for Ages 10-29.  This is the tragedy of youth who give up!  “There is hope” – that is the tagline for suicide prevention.  There is hope… We Have hope – we look forward – both for the Advent or arrival of our Saviour, but also for us. – it will be better, later.3

35:9 No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:
35:10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Hope for the Future

The other life brings the absence of all pain and sorrow – we have hope in the future, not in this life.  We are to live as a people with a future, having a destination that is not this world.

In the Psalm we also have reason to hope for our souls in the future…We should never doubt that the Holy Trinity, the only true God, is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible— as we read today.

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God:

Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is:

As long as there is life, there is no cause to give up on salvation for life is open to all, until their last breath.  These promises and truths give us hope – both for now and also the next life.

Our Hope is in God

St John Cassian … late 4th century, his writings are on the nature of the spiritual life which were highly influential in the development of Western monasticism, says,

“For it is not free will but the Lord who “looses those who are bound.”

It is not our strength, but the Lord who “raises those who have fallen.”

It is not our diligence in reading, but “the Lord who enlightens the blind”

It is not our care, but “the Lord who cares for the stranger.”

It is not our courage, but “the Lord who assists (or supports) all those who are down.”4

We hope in God!

Remember and Be Diligent

Be patient then, St James 5:7-10, His coming is near and Prepare, be looking to the prophets – those who’ve gone before.  We must follow their lives as examples.  Our Icons are a snapshot of our hope and destiny.  There are records of their lives…Reading their own words can go a long way to strengthening your stamina.  In the library there are countless works of and about the saints who’ve gone before.

Here you have the cousin of our Lord, St James, the first leader of the Church – who wrote the first liturgy of the Church saying,

Now is no time to be slacking off.  Look up – your redemption is near, as our Saviour says in St Luke 21:28 The second Advent is upon us … anytime.

Christ Different than the Prophets

Even in the prison, word gets to St John the Forerunner – surely the town was in an uproar.  A spectacle like none other – who raises the dead and give sight to the blind?  Who restores lepers and makes the lamb walk or opens deaf ears?  Not St John the forerunner … and he had been the first prophet for hundreds of years and was in prison already.

We can’t allow ourselves to think that the days of Christ on earth were “ho hum”  Each day God was alive on earth was a spectacle for the angels and demons.  There was nothing was untouched by his life. The word of Him had travelled far – Spain, Africa and beyond.  It wasn’t like some guy, living unknown in Stoney Creek.  I lived here for 10 years – very, very few took any notice.

Not Doubting but Confirming

I’ve heard, as you may have, incorrectly, that St John had been doubting Christ was actually the Messiah…What rubbish – that kind of teaching shows a lack, my own lack, of following our Apostolic faith.  I would read it, think about it a bit and then tell others my own interpretation,  of completely inaccurate things.

In doing so, I defame St John, making him out to be a backslider …  The greatest born of woman.  If he was such a tail turner – why would our Saviour take so much effort to tell of his glories?  Certainly St John knew Jesus was the Christ – of course, he’d grown up on the same stories.  Elizabeth was his mother – surely she’d have raised him along with his devout father on the events taking place in their lives.

He wasn’t doubting, but confirming.  Having heard God from heaven declare that Jesus was His Son and having talked about Him for years – now he show’s his own followers that Jesus is the Messiah.  For them, he was able to say, “Behold the Lamb of God …”

Take No Offence in Christ

Christ conversely – tells St John’s disciples, you have seen for yourself.  Go and tell John that you believe – and take no offence in Me.  St John would not be offended, he was about to die for what he knew about Christ.  His words and actions were offensive – he had said many strong things.  Christ’s cross, death and burial were an offence to many.

And then he added pointedly, as St John Chrysostom says, “And blessed is the one who takes no offence at me.”  By saying this Jesus implied that he knew even his questioners’ unuttered thoughts.  For if he had said simply “I am he,” this would have fallen short of overcoming their unstated sense of being offended.

What happens? They’re converted…They go back and tell of Jesus’ words, the proof of healed people and the testimony of peace from those who had been set free from demons.  Real things happening, lives are changed, now they are walking and praising God.

Christ Explains John’s Ministry

They go back to St John and then our Saviour declares to those remaining, the meaning of St John’s mission.  He defends John to those gathered and explains what his life was about, how he was to be sent before Christ to make the way straight.

It wouldn’t be too much longer and St John will be killed and precede our Lord to explain to the dead that He is coming and thus continue his mission even after death.  He was much more than a prophet for in the womb he was filled with the Holy Spirit and bore witness.

The Ministry of John the Baptist

God actually gave prophesies about St John.  He didn’t just say Christ was coming, he pointed Him out.  Actually baptising God, in the flesh.  Not a mere man, not simply a prophet, but none greater was born of women, he was the messenger (or angel) that would announce the coming of the Lord.

Likewise, we have a spirit filled, miraculous promise of life.  God has come, in the flesh – through the blessed mother Mary.  We have salvation because she submitted to God with her whole life.  She gave up her own way – everything is about Christ in her life, even all the icons of her are only pointing to Christ.

The beginning of His humanity is just like ours.  John was always be pointing to His divinity – as we will one day share, becoming one with Him, as Mother Mary was, we will be, with The Trinity and each other – the one Body of Christ.

The Incarnation

We have the incarnation because God planned her to be His vessel.  She was the only woman to ever be graced with such an honour from God.  All women will call me blessed, she said. We have the example of simple obedience from her.  She wasn’t seen often – but her Son is on every page.  We don’t have to receive notoriety for our Saviour to receive glory.


He has promised that His own Body and Blood is for our healing and strength.  As He commanded – do this as often as you eat it, we receive our sustaining bread, is the Manna from heaven – literally taken into our bodies.  We have been filled with resurrection life by the Holy Spirit and we have been sent before the Lord’s second return.

To do what …?  It is simple.  We are to do unto others as we would have them do to us, help the needy, cure the sick, open blind eye, comfort those who weep etc.  We all know the lists.  So while we are getting ready to celebrate the first Advent, we have also to think about the next.  Am I ready, am I following orders or just talking about them. There are very simple things to simply saying “Merry Christmas” every chance you get …

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

~ Fr. Pat


1 Thomas C. Oden and Steven A. McKinion, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture Old Testament X (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 239-240

2 Ibid, 239

3 See: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/suicide-canada-infographic.html

4 Thomas C. Oden and Quentin F. Wesselschmidt, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture Old Testament VIII (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007), ?

Van Eyck, Jan, 1390-1440. John the Baptist, Ghent Altarpiece, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=56708 [retrieved April 1, 2020]. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jan_van_Eyck_-_The_Ghent_Altarpiece_-_St_John_the_Baptist_(detail)_-_WGA07634.jpg.

Homily on St. Luke 19:1-10

St. Luke 19:1-10; Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4; Psalm 119:137-144; II Thessalonians 1:1-4


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

Complaint and Prayer

In the first reading today, we hear the prophet complaining to God, “when will you do something” – we’re stuck in this perverse world with no peace.  In the Psalm – we pray as with Christ.  We have faith in God, (His faithfulness) even with them turmoil all around us. People are looking for our lives, taking our possessions and peace.

Faith is a Gift


The Gospel lesson –  is a mirror of our own lives.  We have Zacchaeus – much like most of us before the gift of faith is received.  All of us are willfull sinners and we are drowning in a sea of lies, deceit and our own frailty.

He is afraid of the crowd, his sins are too well known and he fears what would they do to him.  We don’t have to wonder …We have learned that by the accusations they made of Jesus.  The leaders dared to berate him for simply eating with Zacchaeus.

Faith Produces Action

But once an opening is made by the Holy Spirit we respond in faith.  His heart was to see Christ this gave him disregard for his own person.  He, being the chief tax collector – climbed up into a tree.  I’m sure that he had servants and was mature.  However, he still climbed the tree – I don’t think that I could have.  He took action outside of his station to see the Lord.  He lost his life, in order to reclaim it.

Proof of His Faith

Notice, the proof of his faith, was to give away his riches – but he’s a smart guy.  He was not being foolish, he kept ½ so that he would have funds to pay the fourfold promise.

Giving is Part of the Apostolic Faith

Stop here a minute – ever think about why so many people don’t want to hear teaching about how to be responsible with money?  There’s an allergy to pleas for help and fear to talk about it, can cause preachers to skip those whole passages.  The greasy Devil has gotten us so confused about Biblical teaching and practice, eh.

Anyway – there’s aversion in our Apostolic faith.  The acts of helping the poor are the demonstrations of faith.  Jesus, himself says so here.  We have a heavenly obligation to help the helpless.  It’s not just a good idea, not for tax credit – no, there is even a link between wealth and difficulty to enter the Kingdom  It’s hard for a camel to go through the needle – not impossible, but hard.

Example of the Saints

So many saints, once they experience an awakening by the Holy Spirit – give away all they have Saint Anthony and St. Francis and many many others upon entering a monastic life.  In more recent times – Saint Katherine Drexel founded a religious order and gave away twenty million dollars of her fortune.

The monk I met at the monastery in Saskatchewan, explained how upon entering, all possessions are given away, usually to the monastery.  This is how the monks and the mission have been sustained for 200 years or more.

Generosity needed for Baptism

One of the prerequisites for baptism is that the life of the candidate is examined.  Is he humble, forgiving, a help to the poor – not greedy.  Often each one was examined for a long time (up to 3 years in many cases) to see if they really have had a change of life.  This before they would be admitted to the church through baptism.

Christ Came to Seek and Save the Lost

There were religious people all around Him, that didn’t want Jesus, and He seeks out the one who did.  None of them were willing to suffer loss to their reputation, wealth, or power.  Again we see sacrifice is needed for true worship and we have to give to gain.

Our Saviour came to seek and save that which was lost.  This is how he ended up in this tax collectors house.  He came looking for Zacchaeus.  He still comes looking today – He’s here today looking for you, if you need Him.  The result will be – love, joy and peace by the Holy Spirit and  not ease and comfort.  These are not the same things.

How Does Faith Increase?

St Chrysostom:

And how, you say, can faith increase? It does so when we suffer something horrible for the sake of faith.1

St Paul starts right off in his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians telling them that because of their endurance in trouble their faith is growing …

1:3 We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing.
1:4 Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.

Faith Grows in Difficulty

St Paul, ever mindful that he could be disqualified strove to persevere to the end. It is wonderful that our faith isn’t shaken when some argument comes to us, but that’s a very small thing.  There was a time we were tossed about by every wind…described in Eph 4.  However, even more importantly, when we stand in the midst of hard trials or circumstances, forcing our deep rootedness in God’s faithfulness, our ability to stand proves that our faith is growing…We are a house upon a rock…Matt 7.

Faith Grows in Obedience

As we obey, like Father Abraham, faith will grow in us.  For the love of Christ, we will then obey our Saviour, who asked us to prove our love for him by doing what He commanded us.  Here daily, and in the face of any challenge we can stand together as one man contending for the Gospel.  Our faith is stronger today than last year, and the year before that.  This really good, because we’re not done.


Let us then feed on the Body and Blood, as often as we can thereby receiving grace.  Let us look out for each other and be a help and strength and a grace for them from God.  Finally, let us practice a life as those who’ve gone before us.

St. Clement

Such as St. Clement the Fourth Bishop of Rome, following St Peter, who was third – from 88 to 99.  He is the first Apostolic Father of the Church – mentioned in Phil. 4:3.  Who was said to be martyred by being tied to an anchor chain and cast into the sea, for miraculously helping poor prisoners get water to drink.  We’ll close with a portion of his “Prayer for all needs”.

We beg you, Lord,
to help and defend us.
Deliver the oppressed,
pity the insignificant,
raise the fallen,
show yourself to the needy,
heal the sick,
bring back those of your people who have gone astray,
feed the hungry,
lift up the weak,
take off the prisoners’ chains.
May every nation come to know
that you alone are God,
that Jesus Christ is your Child,
that we are your people, the sheep that you pasture.2

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Fr. Pat


1 Thomas C. Oden and Peter J. Gorday, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture New Testament IX (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 103

2 http://www.strobertbellarmine.net/books/Hamman–Prayers.pdf


Duccio, di Buoninsegna, -1319?. Zacchaeus, detail from Entry into Jerusalem, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57182 [retrieved March 27, 2020]. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Duccio_di_Buoninsegna_-_Entry_into_Jerusalem_(detail)_-_WGA06784.jpg.