Displaying episodes 1 - 30 of 103 in total

The Beloved Disciple & Jesus' Napkin

In discussing our reading from John 20, we highlighted the importance of understanding Scripture as literature, and clarified this does not imply that Scripture is not divinely-inspired. We then discussed why we should want to relate to "the beloved disciple," John, and his reaction at the empty tomb. We concluded by highlighting the implication of Jesus' "napkin" at the tomb being "rolled up."

Church Hierarchy as "Overseers"

Based on our reading from 1 Timothy 3:1-13, we discussed the qualifications of the clergy, and how their primarily role is as "overseers," who themselves have no authority unless they maintain fidelity to the Gospel teaching. Accordingly, the clergy should function as St Paul did, as the "economos," the chief slave. While functioning as an overseer or economos, the clergy should remember they must give account to the one Master, the God and Father of us all.

The Importance of Endurance

Jesus said: "By your endurance you will gain your lives." We discussed the importance and value of endurance in the Christian spiritual life. We also highlighted what Jesus meant when He told His disciples they would "bear testimony" to Him, and that at that time He would "give [them] a mouth to speak."

The Importance of Thanksgiving

With most Americans celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, we discussed the central theme of thanksgiving as part of the Divine Liturgy. We then discussed the need for Christians to avoid self-righteousness through our good deeds by acknowledging that those good deeds are done in response to God’s goodness and mercy towards us. In this way we can show our thankfulness for God and spread that same grace, love and mercy that He first gave us.

Leave The Dead To Bury Their Own Dead

Today we discuss three different men who wish to follow Jesus and Jesus' comments to them. We note the similarities to the Parable of the Great Supper, and how the excuses these men had were actually, under almost all circumstances, reasonable excuses. However, in the case of following Him, Jesus is stressing that nothing--no excuse--should come between us and our decision to follow in His path.

To Whom Much Is Given, Much Will Be Required

“Everyone to whom much is given, of him will much be required.” We discussed this passage from two angles. First, those who have been given much in this life have a great responsibility to serve and uplift others. But if we frame this idea in the context of mercy, we can see that if we have been given great mercy, we must extend this to others as well. We concluded by discussing Jesus noting He came to "bring division to the earth," and His admonition to "settle accounts" before going to court.

No Pain, No Gain: Suffering for Christ

We discuss the implications of what it means to "have been granted for the sake of Christ to suffer." In short, if we never suffer, then we do not have the opportunity to examine ourselves to see if we are truly following Christ. Suffering presents an opportunity for us to learn about ourselves, to see in what areas we need to improve and to correct ourselves before the final judgement.

The Sending of the Seventy

In today’s episode we discussed the significance of the seventy apostles that are mentioned explicitly in Luke’s Gospel and how they also relate to the twelve disciples. Fr Aaron explained that they symbolize the dual mission of Jesus: the mission to the Jews, as well as to the Gentiles. We then discussed Jesus emphasis that we cannot allow power to corrupt us, but rather must use it for the benefit of others.

God's Commandments vs. Our Natural Instincts

We discuss the sharp contrasts between God's commandments as taught by Jesus and our natural human instincts. We explored how the acts of initiation (i.e. circumcision and baptism) into God's covenant community symbolize this dichotomy, and the practical implications for daily living.

The Sermon on the Plain

We discuss several key aspects of the sermon on the plain, including the deeper meaning of the location of the sermon, the use of the term Son of Man, and the number (four) of blessings and woes. We then turned to the anti-imperial nature of the blessings and woes given by Jesus, viewing them in light of that general anti-imperial theme found throughout Scripture.

Galilee & The Great Commission

Jesus gave the "Great Commission" to go forth and baptize the nations from Galilee. Today, we discussed why it is significant that Jesus gave this command in the same place where He started His public ministry. In addition, we spoke of the importance of the second half of that commandment, to "teach" and "observe" all Jesus commanded.

Godly Grief vs. Worldly Grief

Today’s episode briefly recounted I Corinthians, in which Paul attempts to deal with the notion that salvation has been fully received without recognizing that repentance is essential and that the judgment still lies ahead. In II Corinthians we find Paul commending the church in Corinth for listening and exhibiting some signs of repentance. We then discussed what distinguishes worldly grief from godly grief. As Fr Aaron explained, worldly grief causes us to lose hope, leads to despair and leads us to concentrate on our past mistakes. In contrast, Godly grief leads us to repentance and gives us hope. Godly grief recognizes our mistakes but views them as an opportunity to learn and grow, and thus provides hope for a better future.

What Is "The Acceptable Year of the Lord"?

Today we discuss Jesus' reading in the synagogue from Isaiah, proclaiming "the acceptable year of the Lord." We highlighted how this saying relates to the Year of Jubilee, and then delved into the meaning and application of the Jubilee. Specifically, we discussed how the Year of Jubilee is a "re-setting" of society, with the land re-distributed to the original owners, debts being forgiven, and the slaves being freed. We concluded by noting how the Year of Jubilee was to be observed in both letter and spirit, and how ignoring the spirit of the Year of Jubilee was cited by Jeremiah as a reason for Israel being punished via the Babylonian captivity.

The Hymn to the Philippians: Jesus Is A Different Type of King

We opened today’s episode with a brief background on the epistle to the Philippians and how Paul likely viewed it as his last will/testament, and how Philippi served as a strategic outpost whereby he could spread the Gospel message throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. In addition, we discussed the significance of the “hymn of the Philippians” and how Jesus was entirely unlike any prior kings or rulers, and how He sets the example for us to follow.

Is The Gospel Fair?

Today’s parable led us into a discussion surrounding fairness and justice. We are taught from an early age about the importance of these concepts, and often these ideas of fairness and justice are good for society. But when considering the working out of our salvation, these concepts can become problematic. Here we see that God is not simply a just God, but that He exceeds justice and emphasizes higher virtues of mercy and compassion. Fr Aaron reminded us of the notion of viewing our salvation like an inheritance, which is something that cannot be earned but can be lost. We discussed this metaphor in light of the parable of the workers in vineyard, and how we should apply the teaching to our own lives.

What Is The Sign of Jonah?

We began our discussion today by reviewing the events of the three chapters leading up to Jesus’ statement about His only sign being the sign of Jonah. This review helps us understand the full meaning of Jesus’ statement. In the end, we learn that not only is Jesus referring to His death and third-day resurrection; but like Jonah who came forth from the whale to preach God’s message of repentance and salvation to his enemies, so too will Christ rise triumphantly, taking His message to Jew and Gentile alike, and will call His disciples to go forth and spread the Gospel over all the world, and most especially to the occupying enemy, the Romans.

Faith & Science

Today’s reading from Mark 5 led us into a discussion of faith and science and how a Christian should understand the relationship between the two. While the relationship between faith and science has changed over the centuries, in more recent history the pendulum continues to swing. Fr Aaron explained that he views the current state of this debate as moving back toward a recognition by academics that there is value to be found in Christianity. And while their rationale for the value of our faith is certainly incomplete and lacking in fullness, nevertheless we can see there is greater potential for understanding between those who align themselves with one position or the other in this debate. As for Christians and how we should understand and apply science and faith, we must first recognize that these things should co-exist. For in the study of science we find that God’s creative power is revealed to us; as the Psalm says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.”

Offering Meat to Idols & A Global Pandemic

Offering meat to idols and a global health pandemic: what on earth could these two things have in common? We discussed 1 Corinthians 8-9 today, where Paul highlights the believer may have a right to do something, but nonetheless has a duty as a Christian to abstain from exercising that right in order to not offend or scandalize a weaker brother. We then showed how the situation Paul addressed to 1st century Corinthian Christians applies today amidst a pandemic.

The Problem With "Predestination"

Today we discussed a section of Romans 9 often used to support a theology called “predestination.” This erroneous theology applies Paul’s words to support the idea that God has chosen some for heaven and others for hell. That approach creates an exclusive club among those who believe they have been chosen to be saved. But in reviewing the context of Romans 9, we see that Paul is doing the exact opposite, creating an inclusive community of people from all nations, tribes, and tongues. In fact, in Romans 9, Paul is shaming those among the Jews who were so bold as to question God’s plan to save the Gentiles. We concluded by discussing the similarities between Romans 9 and other familiar stories like that of Jonah and the parable of the Prodigal Son.

Paul's Internal Struggle With Sin

Today we discussed Paul’s conundrum regarding the struggle of sin vs. the will to do what is right. Ultimately, this internal battle, together with the revelation on the road to Damascus, leads Paul to conclude that the only way to attain righteousness is outside the Mosaic Law itself, and through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We then discussed two terms used by Paul, the flesh and the mind, and how through the use of these terms Paul is challenging us to rise above the limitations of nature and serve the law of Christ.

Simon? Peter? Son of Jonah? Why So Many Names?

In today’s episode we discussed the names that Christ uses for Peter and how an understanding of the meaning of these names helps us to understand more deeply these stories from Scripture. More importantly, this understanding of the names helps teach us how this narrative impacts the way we should live our lives.

Circumcision of the Heart

Today we discussed why Paul was so critical of the Jews in Romans 2. Fr Aaron provided context by reminding us the Jews had an advantage over the Gentiles, namely the Mosaic Law. And yet, even with the Law of God they continued to behave as though they were Gentiles. We then moved on to discussing what St. Paul means when he says, “For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical.” Fr Aaron showed from the Mosaic Law itself that the true purpose of circumcision is not the physical aspect, but to cut off sin from your life.

That They May Be One

Fr Aaron explained that the famous verse of Jesus praying that His disciples would “be one” should not primarily be understood as a reference to ecumenism. Rather, we should recognize that Jesus is praying that we would be perfectly united to God’s will. For centuries, Christians have been separated into many different denominations and branches, and we arrived at this place because of our sin which often expresses itself in pride. These divisions were present even in the early Church prior to Constantine, and they became even more prevalent in the centuries thereafter. But to put ourselves at the center of the universe and interpret that these verses speak to our current situation would take Christ’s words far from the context in which he spoke. His comments reflected His desire that we, just like Him, would be united to God’s will.

Evangelism's Role in the Christian Life

Based on our reading of Acts 17:1-9, we discussed the role of evangelism in the Christian life. We distinguished between the overt evangelism of St Paul and other apostles and evangelists, and the evangelism all Christians should show through loving their neighbor. We also discussed how the evangelical movement has overemphasized the role of each individual Christian to be an evangelist, noting that most Christians have been given other gifts to help the Body of Christ, which should not be minimized.

Your Father is the Devil?

We discuss why Jesus told the Pharisees there father is the devil. Ultimately, what we find is that the teaching of the devil leads us to accept God's grace for ourselves, while at the same time applying the law and judgment to others. In this context, Father Aaron showed how John 8 and Matthew 25 are intertwined, with the Mount of Olives (John 8) and the oil used in the lamps of the Five Wise Virgins (Matthew 25) connecting these two passages.

Teaching & Holy Communion

Based on our reading today, we discussed what Christ is referring to when He says that, “He who eats this bread will live forever.” Here, Christ not only refers to Holy Communion, but also to His teaching. A broader understanding of Scripture is helpful here, showing how the reception of the Word of God equips us to go forth and spread the Gospel. Prior to that, we also discussed how we should teach; namely, to equip others to become independent, giving them the ability to apply in their own lives the broader concepts we are able to convey

The Practical Application of Scripture

We began with questions regarding the Trinity and other theological questions, highlighting the importance that we guard against placing too much emphasis on these intellectual concepts at the expense of neglecting the practical teaching of Scripture. If our primary focus is on theology, and our faith is merely something that we believe in our head, we will likely live our lives in stark contrast to the teachings of Scripture. Jesus’ statement in today’s reading teaches us about the importance of submitting ourselves to the will of God. And if we keep this as our primary focus, we will not concern ourselves so much with the ability to verbalize complex theological concepts; instead we will devote ourselves to living according to God’s will.

Resurrection First Announced to the Women

Today we discussed the significance of the myrrh-bearing women as the first witnesses to the resurrection. This was fitting since it was the woman, Eve, who had first tasted of the forbidden fruit. And as Eve “evangelized” Adam about the fruit, so the myrrh-bearing women evangelized the disciples. We then turned our attention to the significance of this announcement being made to women, who were viewed as “lesser” and “weaker” than men, concluding with a good discussion about why Christ did not explicitly overturn cultural norms such as the role of men and women, free and slave, despite His teachings on these matters being clearly counter-cultural.

Proverbs & The Nature of Fasting

From Proverbs today, we discussed the foundational teaching of the Bible of caring for the poor and needy. We went on to discuss how this central teaching is so often overlooked by Christians. And this is especially true during the season of Great Lent, where our focus can so easily turn inward, to obsess over rules, to keep track of our attendance at services, to become fixated on our own spiritual growth. But we see in Isaiah 58 that God mocks this notion that He desires our outward piety. Rather, God desires that we relieve the hunger in others. We concluded, then, with a discussion of why it is important for us to be part of the church community.

God as the Great Shepherd

Today we discussed briefly an overview of Isaiah and his emphasis of caring for the poor and needy. We also discussed the idea of God and images or idols and how they all relate. Specific to today’s reading, God mocks the idols of the nations; for these idols are made, altered and destroyed by human hands. But the biblical God is uncontrollable and uncreated. Finally, how God is the great shepherd and the fact that the sheep do not need to see their shepherd, but simply need to hear His voice.

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