Displaying episodes 1 - 30 of 61 in total

Enter By The Narrow Door

In today’s episode we began with a discussion of the mustard seed and the leaven from Jesus’ parable, and how we learn from this teaching that no Christian work is too small. And as Christians, we should never concern ourselves with the outcome of our work for the Lord: we are called to plant the seeds, but we cannot produce. It is God alone who gives the growth. We then examined Jesus’ warning to “strive to enter by the narrow door” and discussed its implications.

Exposing Darkness and Redeeming the Time

Today we discussed how to juggle various ideals, namely our exposure of darkness while avoiding condemnation by our judgement of others. Father Aaron explained that we must first begin by exposing the darkness within ourselves. By repairing the darkness within ourselves and living by example, we become a light to others and expose the darkness. We also discussed what is meant by “redeeming the time.” Our liturgical tradition can help to provide meaning to our daily lives and aid us in avoiding the many distractions of the world. This enables us to keep our focus on doing the daily work of Christ, to serve others and help reconcile them to God and to all mankind.

Delivering People to Satan and Forbidding Women to Speak?

In today's passage Paul speaks of delivering people to Satan and forbids women to speak: what on earth does that mean and why does he say those things? Fr Aaron explains how the "delivering to Satan" is ultimately meant to instruct the sinners so that they would repent and be saved. During this discussion we touched on the common misconception that Satan has more power and influence than he truly has. And in regard to the concluding verses in today’s reading concerning women, it was stressed that the Church has never taken these passages literally, or rather applied them universally. St. Paul himself had female assistants and there were many women in the community who were very prominent and active in ministry. Fr. Aaron discussed some examples of why Paul might have said these words in a very limited and narrow context to Timothy.

You Must Hate Your Father and Mother???

Why does Jesus say we must hate our father and mother?!!! To better understand this statement, we considered the preceding Parable of the Great Banquet, and the excuses offered by the three invited guests. Through this parable, Jesus is teaching that while there are credible excuses for avoiding the call to defend Israel in war, these do not apply as credible excuses for the higher calling of Christ’s heavenly banquet. When applied to our reading today, we can see clearly that Jesus is telling us nothing should come between us and His invitation to live out the Gospel.

Weddings, Adultery, and Stripes

Today we discussed the common theme of a wedding or marriage to teach us about deeper biblical concepts. One example given was that of Christ and the Church in which Christ is the groom and the Church is His bride. Even relationships outside of marriage can be instructive, as is found in numerous examples throughout Scripture. One such example cited by Fr Aaron was that of Paul’s instruction on spiritual unfaithfulness in which the Gentile communities he converted were warned against seeking after other gods or turning back to idol worship. Then, specific to today’s reading, we concluded by examining the difference between those who Jesus says will receive many stripes and those who will receive few. As Christians, we should understand this to mean that as people of God, we have a greater responsibility to live our lives as we have been instructed by Scripture.

The Rich Man & Lazarus

Today’s episode explored the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. On the surface, this parable is about wealth and poverty, but Fr Aaron argued that there is much more to this story and highlighted a deeper understanding. Namely, he showed how the rich man represents the Jewish religious establishment, who have the Law and the Prophets and are therefore spiritually wealthy. Lazarus, on the other hand, represents the Gentiles and the Jewish outcasts, who were outside the Jewish religious establishment and were ritually unclean. Those within the establishment hoarded God’s mercy for themselves, resulting in their condemnation. On the other hand, the angels, who represent the apostles, the messengers of the Gospel, bring the Gentiles and Jewish outcasts under God’s covenant.

He Who Is Not With Me Is Against Me

In today’s episode we went back to Genesis 10 to help us properly understand Jesus’ statement in Luke 11: “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” Through this statement, Jesus is telling us we cannot claim to accept His message while also excluding those we do not respect or those who we despise. We must be willing to gather the harvest with Jesus to be part of the authentic community of God. Finally, we noted the acceptance of Jesus’ teaching and way of life is not a singular act on our part—it must be a continuous choice we make throughout our lives.

Just Say The Word

We discussed the biblical theme that sinners and outsiders are the ones who recognize God’s Messiah rather than those who are viewed as righteous. We examined this theme in light of the Roman centurion whose faith in Jesus led to the healing of his slave. This centurion, a Gentile, demonstrated his complete trust in the Lord with these words, “Just say the word, and let my servant be healed.” This healing of the slave from afar also demonstrates another common theme of Scripture; that God is not seen, but is heard and to be obeyed. Our job is to heed His word, because through His Word, God is present.

Paul's Warning to the Corinthians

Today we discussed the context of the Epistles to the Corinthians, noting the community was predominantly Gentile, one made up of Roman converts to the faith. We then discussed the similarities in the Bible of both Jews and Gentiles in that Scripture is critical of both communities. Later in today’s reading, we hear Paul address the Corinthians with a bit of sarcasm, to offer a warning: If we expect that being a Christian will bring us an easy life, and that we can be viewed as honorable by a corrupt world, then we are doing something very wrong. Jesus teaches us that a servant is not greater than his master. If Jesus was persecuted, so too will His servants. To live the Christian life properly means that our ways will not be popular with those in society, and at times, even among other Christians.

Jesus' Appearance to His Unbelieving Disciples

We discuss Jesus’ appearance to His disciples and his questioning of why they did not believe in Him. We evaluate this appearance and “proof” of the Resurrection in light of Jesus’ teaching in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in which Jesus taught if people did not believe in the teaching of Moses, neither would they be convinced if one rose from the dead. Fr Aaron explained that ultimately Christ was rebuking His disciples by appearing to them. Like the Roman centurion (soldier), we should be able to recognize the crucified Messiah as the Son of God. In addition to this topic, we explore the meaning of different liturgical customs and practices in the Orthodox Church related to the reading of the Resurrection Gospels.

Justification Is Just the Beginning

In this episode we discuss what it means to be “justified.” Fr Aaron explained that the Greek word that is often translated as “justified” can also be translated as “declared righteous.” And so, we can understand that to be justified means that we have been declared righteous. With this legal terminology in mind, we then discussed that while part of salvation is legal or juridical, salvation goes beyond a mere legal process. St. Paul is telling us in Galatians that to be declared righteous means that we have been freed from the Mosaic Law which allows us to avoid the curse of the Law. This leads to the opportunity for us to find salvation, healing, and restoration. Thus, to be declared righteous is not the end, but rather the beginning of our walk as a Christian.

The Pharisees & Self-Righteousness

We began by focusing on the problem of self-righteousness addressed in the Gospel. It is important to note that while the Pharisees were often portrayed in a negative light because of their consistent condemnation by Christ, the Pharisees were viewed by the the people of their time as respectable and pious. However, as evidenced by the Gospel teaching, if we are to avoid judgement by Christ as a Pharisee on the Day of Judgement, we must recognize ourselves as Pharisees so that we might change our attitude and the way we live our lives. If we live humbly, we will not focus on the sins of others as did the Pharisee in today’s reading, but rather we will focus on our own sins and the change that is necessary in our own heart.

Why Does Jesus Teach in Parables?

Today we examined the role of parables in Scripture. We began by stressing the importance of viewing the entirety of Scripture as parable, as well as the value of parables as guiding principles in our lives, since we are wired to better understand moral and spiritual lessons when they are told in story form. Christ Himself used parables to penetrate more deeply; to engrain the lesson on our heart. We also discussed the modern idea of the Bible as a scientific or historical book, pointing out the flaw in both positions that those of us living in the 21st century are at the center of the universe. By reducing the Bible to a science text or a history book, we cheapen its impact. As Christians, we are not allowed to define Scripture, for Scripture defines us. We are beneath Scripture and must submit to it.

The Unforgivable Sin

We begin with an examination of the so-called “unforgivable sin.” From a thorough understanding of the preceding verses in Mark’s Gospel, we see this blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an accusation that the work of Jesus is the work of demons. Father Aaron used the example of St. Paul to illustrate that this particular sin, as with all sin, can be forgiven if we repent. Only in persisting and dying in this sin against the Holy Spirit will we not receive forgiveness. We concluded with a discussion that Jesus’ true family is not based on biology or genealogy, but on faith. Put another way, to be part of God’s family is not based on our DNA, but on doing the will of God.

The Meaning of Fasting

We discuss the tradition of fasting, dating back to pre-Christian Judaism. This helps us better understand why Jesus was questioned by the disciples of John as to His disciples not fasting. Jesus’ response, together with Isaiah 58, shows that the true purpose of fasting is not to make ourselves hungry, but to relieve the hunger in others and to relieve their burdens. Jesus shows how the most religious people are too often focused on their own self-righteousness rather than this biblical meaning of fasting.

The Abomination of Desolation

Today we discussed whether the “abomination of desolation” has already taken place or whether it is still yet to come. While many people today have become obsessed with the End Times, the Gospel tells us that we are not to be predicting or pontificating about when the End will be, but rather to remain vigilant and prepared. Our main concern should be in how we live our lives according to the Gospel message, so that we are ready for the Final Judgment whenever it comes. To conclude the episode, Fr Aaron provided insight into the Greek word “eklektos” that has been translated into English as “elect.” He showed how this word is ultimately used as a reflection of the Church.

Talk Is Cheap (Matthew 21:28-32)

Today we discussed the significance of Jesus’ movement in and out of the great city of Jerusalem, and His spending the evenings in Bethany. We also highlighted a parable Jesus spoke while visiting the Temple, calling out the religious people of His time. In stark contrast to how Jesus lived His earthly life—ministering to the poor and the outcast—these “pious” people condemned and disassociated from them. In the end, Fr Aaron pointed out the teaching of Scripture: talk is cheap. What ultimately matters is not what we claim to believe, but if we live according to God’s will.

The Transfiguration of Christ

In this episode we examined the significance of the events of the Transfiguration of Christ. We explored the historical/Old Testament connection between the Transfiguration and the Feast of Booths. We further discussed the implications of the Transfiguration for us as followers of Christ. One additional connection we stressed is the importance of the “anamnesis” or “remembrance” of Scriptural events.

What It Means to "Canonize" Scripture

In discussing the canonization of Scripture, we discussed how this recognition of Scripture confirms that everything from Church doctrine to the practice of living a Christian life must be measured against Scripture to ensure we are on the correct path. Fr Aaron emphasized the importance of Scripture by reminding us of St. Paul’s words in his letter to the Galatians where he tells that that we should not accept anything other than the Gospel that he preached. Paul then goes on to detail that very Gospel in his writings. We concluded by discussing how we, as Christians, must be fully committed to the Gospel message and live our lives accordingly.

Confession and the Epistle of James

We began today’s episode by discussing the universal nature of the New Testament Epistles. We then discussed how our reading from the Epistle of James today communicates our goal to live simply, with honesty and integrity. We then turned to the sacrament of confession and the reasons behind the changes and development of this sacrament throughout the history of the Church. What once was a public sacrament has now become private due to practical issues we discussed in depth. We concluded by noting the importance of developing relationships with one another in the Church—not to replace the sacrament of confession—but to nurture these relationships so that we might trust one another enough to share our joys, our struggles, and even our sins.

A Righteousness Based on Faith

Today, we compare the Gentiles with Israel, in that Israel seeks to achieve righteousness by their works, while the Gentiles find righteousness by their faith. Father Aaron helps illumine a difficult passage to understand, showing that the passage is indicating we cannot force God’s hand. We cannot become righteous in a way that forces God to act, for He will act in His own way and in His own time. Jason then highlighted a passage from today’s reading that, at first glance, may seem to contradict Father Aaron’s teaching from a previous episode. But when presented with supporting examples, we can see clearly that the broader biblical teaching stands. Specifically, Father Aaron expressed how our salvation, like an inheritance, cannot be earned; but it can be lost if we do not extend the same mercy to others that God first gave to us.

The Body of Christ and Its Members

Today's episode was a "rapid-fire" Q&A between Jason & Father Aaron. We were reminded of the importance of all members of the body of Christ. All are needed for the fullness of the Church to be realized. Also, we should be joyful in the success of others, not finding jealously in our hearts. And finally, we were reminded to never to seek vengeance, for Christ alone is the judge.

Freedom & Slavery According to the Gospel

Father Aaron and Jason discuss the concepts of freedom and slavery as presented in the Gospel. Fr Aaron highlights how, in Christ, we are set free from the law and from our slavery to sin. And yet, we remain a slave, a slave of Christ, bound to His teachings; to love our enemy, to work through our forgiveness of those who have harmed us and to refrain from judging our fellow slaves. In our earthly life, we are all slaves; we choose whether to be bound to sin, or to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hearers vs Doers of the Law

We discuss the use of the term “Greek” in New Testament translations and if or how it applies to other Gentiles who are not ethnically Greek. We then discussed the reality that while many people are uncomfortable with the idea of God’s final judgment, perhaps an even more unpopular idea regarding the judgment is how it will take place. In today’s reading from Romans we hear, “God shows no partiality.” While this sounds ideal, those who do not receive a favorable judgment will no doubt feel that the judge did not apply the law in an impartial manner. But today’s reading is clear—that God will impartially judge whether or not we lived according to His commandments. Simply hearing or even speaking His message is of no defense for us before the fearful judgment seat of Christ.

A Call to All Nations: The Epistle to the Romans

Today we began by discussing an alternative theory on the authorship of Romans (i.e. that it was written not by Paul himself, but by his disciple, Luke). Father stressed that, ultimately, the authorship is not of as much importance as the substance of the epistle. It can be helpful, however, to view Luke’s Gospel, the book of Acts, and Romans as a trilogy. Through this lens we can plainly see the progression in Jesus’ life and teaching, culminating in an invitation to all people and all nations to accept the Gospel message. We then turned to the tension between the Law and faith. Father Aaron explained that tension exists only because some place the Law as being equal to or higher than faith. But Paul’s teaching is explicit: that faith as the means towards righteousness both precedes the Law and is greater than the Law. Ultimately, Paul shows that even as early as Abraham the Scriptural message conveyed that the path to salvation is provided only by God’s mercy, which He in turn requires us to extend to others.

The Feast of Weeks and Pentecost

In today’s episode, we began with a discussion of Pentecost and its history in the Jewish tradition. Father Aaron explained the significance of this pilgrimage feast and its connection to our understanding of Pentecost as Christians. First, the Feast of Pentecost commemorates the giving of the Mosaic Law in the wilderness. More broadly, this includes the Torah—the first five books of the Old Testament—which is the foundation of all of Scripture. Second, there is a connection between the Jewish observance of going into the Diaspora and the Christian expectation of taking God’s message to the nations.

Christian Hope in the Resurrection

Today we examined the epistle reading that is designated for the Saturday of Souls services as well as the funeral service. Our discussion began with the theme of hope. As Christians, our hope is that we will be found as St. Paul says, “in Christ.” Here again, we were reminded that faith is not just an intellectual concept, but one that requires a trust in God to reverse the judgment of this world. Properly understood, we see that our hope as Christians is intimately connected to the judgement. Finally, in discussing the importance of the Saturday of Souls services, Father Aaron explained that the purpose of the services goes beyond our prayers for all the departed since the beginning of time. The Church places these services as bookends to the season of Great Lent, reminding all of us that we will die, we will be raised, and we will be judged.

Theophilus & The Ascension

Today’s discussion began with Theophilos, to whom St. Luke addresses both his Gospel and the Book of Acts. This opening address shows that St. Luke’s writings were not intended for any one individual, but for the broader community. Next, in examining the importance of the Ascension, we were given a few points to remember. Father Aaron explained that we should heed Christ’s words and get to work sharing His message. We concluded the discussion by noting the meaning and significance of Jesus being seated at the right hand of God.

From Saul to Paul

We began today’s podcast with a discussion around the significance of the name change of the great Apostle to the Nations, from Saul to Paul. These names provide us with clarity on the role they play in the biblical story. We also highlighted the conversion story of Paul and how it mirrors the calling of the twelve disciples during Jesus’ life. We concluded by noting we, too, should respond to God’s call by planting the seed of the Gospel.

The Spirit Blows Where It Wishes

We begin by discussing why the Jews were amazed when the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentiles, as well as what exactly that means from a practical perspective. We then turned our attention to the fact that no one, including the Church, "controls" the Holy Spirit. Instead, we must learn to discern and submit to the Holy Spirit. We conclude by discussing how this phenomenon is expressed in the service of chrismation/confirmation.

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