Being of One Accord: Control Your Anger 


For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me. Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 1:30-2:4)

St Paul wished that all Christians would be willing to work for concord, peace and unity within their communities. Peace, however, is not achieved by being passive, but requires a great amount of energy on the part of each member to control their own passions, particularly that of anger or ambition. He advocated that each member of a community learn humility and to defer to their fellow members rather than demanding their own way. In this, Paul wished for us to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ.


St John Cassian (one of my favorite Patristic writers) comments:

If therefore we are to follow the divine laws, we must struggle with all our strength against the demon of anger and against the sickness which lies hidden within us. When we are angry with others we should not seek solitude on the grounds that there, at least, no one will provoke us to anger, and that in solitude the virtue of long-suffering can easily be acquired. Our desire to leave our brethren is because of our pride, and because we do not wish to blame ourselves and describe to our own laxity the cause of our unruliness. So long as we assign the causes for our weaknesses to others, we cannot attain perfection in long-suffering.


[Cassian is clear that the cause of anger lies within each of us, it is not caused by the behavior of others. He would certainly advocate that when it comes to anger we have to think in terms of “I” rather than “you.” This is the difference between saying “I get angry when I feel I am …” as versus saying “you make me angry.” When I can acknowledge that I own the anger in me, rather than blaming those around me for my anger, then I have opportunity to overcome the sin of anger in me. Then I don’t try to blame or accuse others of being the problem, but recognize the passion of anger in me causes me to react badly to what others do. So Cassian doesn’t think living by yourself is anyway to overcome your anger – it is still raging in your heart but you think you are controlling it because others aren’t around you to disturb you. He doesn’t advocate solitude as the cure for anger, for it only masks it. Anger is only overcome when we actively strive to control it within our selves. We don’t become less angry if others tolerate our anger as that only tends to feed the monster in us.]


Self-reform and peace are not achieved through the patience which others show us, but through our own long-suffering towards our neighbor. When we try to escape the struggle for long-suffering by retreating into solitude, those unhealed passions we take there with us are merely hidden, not erased; for unless our passions are first purged, solitude and withdrawal from the world not only foster them but also keep them concealed, no longer allowing us to perceive what passion it is that enslaves us. On the contrary, they impose on us an illusion of virtue and persuade us to believe that we have achieved long-suffering and humility, because there is no one present to provoke and test us. But as soon as something happens which does arouse and challenge us, our hidden and previously unnoticed passions immediately break out like uncontrolled horses that have long been kept unexercised and idle, dragging their driver all the more violently and wildly to destruction.


Our passions grow fiercer when left idle through lack of contact with other people. Even that shadow of patience and long-suffering which we thought we possessed while we mixed with our brethren is lost in our isolation through not being exercised. Poisonous creatures that live quietly in their layers in the desert display their fury only when they detect someone approaching; and likewise passion-filled men, who live quietly not because of their virtuous disposition but because of their solitude, spit forth their venom whenever someone approaches and provokes them. This is why those seeking perfect gentleness must make every effort to avoid anger not only towards men, but also towards animals and even inanimate objects. (THE PHILOKALIA Vol 1, p 85)


St John Cassian’s words are very meaningful to me as I realize that anger abides in my heart always waiting for opportunity to raise its ugly head. I live a fairly hermit-like existence by choice. I am shy and an introvert and find solitude to be comforting, but social situations are a constant battery drain for me. When I’m alone I can imagine I am a man of peace and patience, but the reality is all kinds of little setbacks and problems, readily upset, frustrate and anger me. The anger is there, waiting to explode or be tamed, if I’m willing to engage in the spiritual warfare to contain it. It doesn’t disappear because I’m not around people, but hides itself in my heart, lurking like a ferocious tiger in ambush, just waiting for me to trigger its attack.  To be truly at peace requires me to tackle my anger head on, not ignore it or suppress it or pretend it no longer is there.

Mortality as Mercy 


For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. (Philippians 1:21-24)

4263451771_bd9643df8d_wThe epistles of St Paul are written over a number of years, responding to different questions at different points in his own life as a disciple of Christ as he ages. There are moments at which he seems to believe Christ’s second coming in imminent and other moments at which Paul accepts that the return of Christ may not happen in his lifetime. In the above Philippians passage, St Paul is wrestling with his own death, which he interprets to mean he will then be with Christ and thus a preferred outcome, or, alternatively, carrying on in this world to continue to build up (edify) the fledgling Christian movement. Because he is dealing with his own aging as well as the changes occurring in the Christian communities due to the growth of the Church, it is not always possible to make a consistent dogmatic interpretation of Paul on some issues. Paul’s thoughts about his own death vary between believing Christ will return before he dies or Christ will not return soon and so he has to prepare for his own death, yet realizing he may still have work to do in this world.

The wonderful Roman Catholic scripture scholar Jean Danielou comments on the biblical claim that mortality resulted from sin, noting that numerous Church Fathers actually thought death was a form of God’s mercy to limit the effect of sin on humans, rather than a punishment from God.

8292671260_cb77e5facd_wEven the consequences of sin seem to Irenaeus to have been inspired more by the compassion than by the wrath of God –as, for example, when he explains why God deprived Man of the Tree of Life: ‘For this reason also he casts him out of Paradise, and set him far away from the Tree of Life –not in order to deprive him of that tree through jealousy, but in pity toward him, so that he should not continue forever as a transgressor, and that the sin which surrounded him should not be immortal, an interminable and incurable evil. Instead he checked his transgression by interposing death and causing sin to cease, putting an end to it by the dissolution of the flesh’ (Adv. haer. III, 23, 6). The Tree of Life would have made Man immortal; hence death is an act of divine grace, which sets a limit to the life of sin, and allows God to recreate Man in the resurrection. This idea later became a major theme in Athanasius, and was also adopted by Gregory of Nyssa.”


[Numerous Eastern Church Fathers interpreted the events of the fall and its consequences in a more positive light than Western Fathers who saw sin dominating humans, almost taking away free will from us. The Eastern Fathers saw free will as a positive gift from God – we would not be human without it. Free will means we choose between good and evil but they are often equally attractive to us – there is a real choice. God did not intend us to be automatons obeying Him because we could do nothing else. God created us capable of love, which means capable of choice. God did not create us to be robots doing His will automatically. His love for us is that we choose what we want to do and our choices make a difference. God is not angry with us for choosing since He gifted us with this ability. God even understood we might at times choose badly, that is the risk of giving creatures freewill. Freewill is not a curse, nor an excuse for God to judge us.]


But Irenaeus goes even further farther than this. Not only is original sin excusable, it is bound up with the very exercise of freedom. For what God desires is that Man should freely choose the good. Human freedom is another essential element in Irenaeus’ thought, and one which he was led to define in response to the position of the Gnostics, who held that men are good or bad by nature. Irenaeus sets out to prove that such an arrangement would be unworthy of God: ‘If some are by nature good and others by nature bad, neither are the good worthy of praise nor the bad of blame’ (Adv. haer. IV, 37, 2). What then of the obvious objection that God ought not to have created men who would immediately behave so ill toward him (Adv. haer. IV, 37, 6)? Irenaeus replies that if God had made men such that they could not behave in this way, then they would also have lacked all the highest and best attributes of human nature:


For they (sc. men) were made capable of reason and deliberation and judgment, and not –like irrational or inanimate things, which can do nothing of their own will, but are drawn to the good by force and necessity, having but one idea, and one pattern of behavior –inflexible and without judgment, able to be nothing except what they were made. In such circumstances neither would what is good be pleasant to them, nor would the gift of God be precious, nor would the good be something to be greatly sought after, if it came about without any effort or care or zeal of their own, but innately of its own accord and without effort.  . . .   In that case they would neither understand that the good is beautiful, nor would they enjoy it. For what enjoyment of the good can there be in those who are ignorant of the good? Or what glory can there be for those who have not sought it with zeal? (Adv. haer. IV, 37, 6)  (GOSPEL MESSAGE AND HELLENISTIC CULTURE, p 406)


Irenaeus rejects any notion that humans are predestined to good or evil. We are created with free will and we choose our destiny. God is not interested in mere obedience as God wants us to choose and live a life of love. God created us capable of knowing the difference between good and evil, and gives glory to those who choose the good. If God had predestined our behavior, or made us automatons incapable of choice, then we would not know what is good nor would we be able to love. God was willing to risk everything by giving us freewill as God, including the incarnation and the crucifixion.

Holy Prophet Joel 


“Yet even now,” says the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil. (Joel 2:12-13)


While for many Orthodox, repentance implies going to confession and enumerating one’s sins, the Prophet Joel (who the Orthodox Church commemorates today) gives us a much broader sense of what repentance implies. For Joel, repentance means returning to God when one has strayed away from the Lord. It is a re-orienting of one’s life and priorities, restoring God as Lord of one’s life. This goes beyond just admitting to certain sins or showing remorse for one’s errors. It is more akin to changing one’s perspective, a paradigm shift in one’s thinking and orientation.


Fr Alexander Schmemann comments:

For repentance is not in the formal enumeration of one’s shortcomings, mistakes, or even crimes. Repentance is born, first of all, of the experience of estrangement from God, from the joy of fellowship with him, from the original life that God created and with which he endowed us. It is comparatively easy to admit one’s minor mistakes and shortcomings. But how much more difficult it is to suddenly find out that I have destroyed, wasted, and betrayed my spiritual beauty—that I have drifted so far from my true home, from my true life, that something priceless has been damaged in the very fabric of my life. And yet this is precisely what repentance is, which necessarily includes a deep desire to return, to regain once more the home that was lost. (A Voice For Our Time: Radio Liberty Talks, Volume 2 , Kindle Loc  933-938)


Repentance is what the Prodigal Son experienced after turning his back on his father to pursue his own self-will and self-centered interests. He doesn’t enumerate his specific sins, rather, he reorients his life and immediately begins his return to his father. He isn’t even seeking to restore his filial relationship to his father which he himself had broken. However, he realizes that a relationship with his father, even one of servitude, is better than a life with no relationship to him. This is what true repentance means, a change in one’s heart, a change in the direction of one’s life, a re-orienting of one’s mind in which one recognizes the essential importance of God in all that one does. It is an orientation that is personal but also the correct orientation of the entire world.


Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ (Luke 15:13-19)

Because repentance was understood to be not a mere listing of one’s sins, but a re-orienting of one’s life to God, some church fathers thought there were two ways a sinner could achieve this return to God.  One was to approach God confessing one’s sins and seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness. The other was to approach God enumerating all the things for which one is thankful.  In both cases the person orients their life toward God in humility – one giving full recognition to God as the giver of every good and perfect gift and the other recognizing God’s holiness and how one falls short of holiness and so needs the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy.  Both have the same end – the person’s life is fully oriented toward God, which is the goal of repentance.

Ode to Autumn


Nobody lives on a bridge, they say, 

It simply connects two points. 


Autum: mistreated as mere bridge 

Whereas its beauty is worth the stay. 


Autumn blossoms earthtone hues

An abundant sensory harvest.

Slow down, take a walk  

In a woods or a park or your neighborhood. 


Rejoice in God’s autumnal gift to you. 

Though perennial, it peaks. 

Midas leaves his touch. 


Stop, look, listen, breathe in . . . 

Seasonal scents abound 

Hear the rustling beneath your feet. 


Feel the chill and the breeze. 

Colors, floating, free falling from the trees 

Adding a touch to the ground. 


Beauty for no reason but to enjoy 

No evolutionary benefit for the trees. 


From the beginning, God enjoys the colors 

As He does the Bow in the sky. 

He sees from above what we see from below.


Not a dying season –

Vivid and vibrant inviting us to see 


The change that means new life, 

Renewal and a joyful rest

Enabling the next burst of life. 


Autumn shaped by the year that passed 

Heralds the one to come, 


Still, not mere transition – 

A season to be fully present. 


Not the beginning of the end, 

Rather time to experience  

The unique – in all its gorgeous glory. 


And Job again took up his discourse, and said: . . . “I was in my autumn days, when the friendship of God was upon my tent; when the Almighty was yet with me…” (Job 29:1… 4-5)

You can see more of my autumn photos at 2022 Autumn Photos  or any of my photos at Ted’s Flickr Page.

St Luke: The Evangelist of Seeing Salvation 

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:6 quoting Isaiah 52:10)


St Luke, whose memory is honored today in the Orthodox Church, is clear that salvation is something plainly visible – salvation can be seen by all humans. Salvation is thus not merely a theological concept or something experienced by the heart or mind or even an event to be experienced by the many. Salvation is visible because it is a relationship with the Son of God. This is what St Simeon expresses in his prayer when he encounters the infant Christ in the Temple.- an event found only in the Gospel according to St Luke. Simeon sees Jesus and knows he is looking at God’s salvation. His prayer is sung at every Vespers in which the setting sun reminds us of the Son that never sets:


Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, 

according to your word; 

for my eyes have seen your salvation 

that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 

a light for revelation to the Gentiles, 

and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32)

8062390079_f3ebff8e95_wSt Luke is clear that everyone in the world can see God’s salvation, both Jew and Gentile. And we are always to be seeking and searching for God because with the Lord we have a relationship that never ends, never grows old, never fades. Rather, we continually grow and come to see more and more of the infinite and eternal God.

This truly is the vision of God: never to be satisfied in the desire to see him. But one must always, by looking at what he can see, rekindle his desire to see more. Thus, no limit would interrupt growth in the ascent to God, since no limit to the Good can be found nor is the increasing of desire for the Good brought to an end because it is satisfied.” (St Gregory of Nyssa, THE LIFE OF MOSES, p 116)

We are enabled to see salvation because we have a natural relationship with God – we each are created in God’s image and likeness. God is not completely unknown to us for God has placed within each of us His image so that we can constantly see God if we have the eyes of faith to see.

We are ‘called to see God only because God is already present in us in a particular way by reason of our kinship with the Word, the perfect image.’ (B. Fraigneau-Julien quoted in ON THE MYSTICAL LIFE Vol 3, p 149)

Growing Into Christ 


“… being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…” (Philippians 1:6) 

One thing that should be clear from reading the New Testament is that there is no instant perfection. Rather, we strive, struggle and toil in this world to grow in faith and love. ‘Perfection’ will only be had in that day when Christ becomes all in all and this world as we know it is transfigured into God’s Kingdom. In life, we are to expect struggle and to strive for spiritual growth, becoming more Christ-like with each test and struggle. 

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16) 


St Gregory Palamas reminds us that it is the striving to control our own passions which is the best sign of our discipleship. Better to control our own passions and desires than to perform miracles. 

It is much more profitable to us to strive to banish the passions of fornication, anger, hatred and pride than to cast out demons. Being delivered from bodily sins is not enough, we must also cleanse the inner energy which dwells in our soul. For out of our hearts ‘proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness’ (Mark 7: 21) and so on –these are what motivate people.” (THE HOMILIES, p 91) 

The work we have before us as Christ’s disciples is not just to avoid sin, but to transfigure our hearts. We are to make every thought that we entertain in our minds to serve our Lord Jesus Christ. 

“… for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6)


Earth: What Is It Good For? 


A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it.  Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Luke 8:5-8) 


The 6th Century Syrian monk now called Pseudo-Macarius comments on the soil types of Christ’s parable: 

Take the example of the earth. Even though it is one, nevertheless, some earth is rocky, some quite fertile. Hence some is good for vines while other ground is suited for raising wheat and barley.


So also there are different types of human hearts and wills. Likewise also gifts from above are distributed differently. To one is given a ministry of preaching, to another that of discernment, to another the gifts of healing (1 Corinthians 12:9). For God knows how a person is able to fulfill his stewardship and so he gives his various gifts accordingly. In a similar way in regard to the interior battles, the enemy power is permitted to attack humans in the certain measure that each person is able to receive and withstand.  (FIFTY SPIRITUAL HOMILIES, p 165)


… God knows your hearts …  (Luke 16:15)

… You know the name and age of each, even from his mother’s womb.  (Prayer from the Liturgy of St Basil)

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34)

Resurrected A Spiritual Body 


All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.


The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:39-45)


Some Christians imagine, and maybe even hope, that ‘heaven’ will be an endless continuation of this life.  They think heaven will simply be an endless life full of the physical pleasures of this world. That is an idea of which many Church Fathers through history attempted to disabuse people.  Origen (martyred in 254AD) addresses this very issue reminding people that St Paul speaks about a resurrected flesh which is distinctly different from our physical bodies in this world.

Certain persons, then, rejecting the labor of thinking and following the superficial view of the letter of the law, or yielding, rather, in some way to their own desires and lusts, being disciples of the letter alone, reckon that the promises of the future are to be looked for in the pleasure and luxury of the body; and especially because of this they desire to have again, after the resurrection, flesh of such kind that never lacks the ability to eat and drink and to do all things that pertain to flesh and blood, not following the teaching of the apostle Paul regarding the resurrection of a spiritual body. And consequently they say that there will be contracts of marriages and procreation of children even after the resurrection, picturing for themselves the rebuilding of the earthly city of Jerusalem.  . . .


Those, however, who accept the interpretation of Scriptures in accordance with the sense of the apostles, do indeed hope that the Saints will eat, but that they will eat the bread of life (John 6:35), which nourishes the soul with the food of truth and wisdom, and enlightens the intellect, and causes it to drink from the cup of divine Wisdom, just as the scripture says, Wisdom has prepared her table, she has slaughtered her victims, she has mixed her wine in the bowl, and she cries with a loud voice: ‘Turn to me and eat the bread which I have prepared for you and drink the wine which I have mixed for you’ (Proverbs 9:2-5).  (ON FIRST PRINCIPLES, pp 138-139)


Many Patristic writers were clear that ‘heaven’ is not simply going to be an endless continuation of our current life on earth.  Rather, they believed that ‘heaven’ is a transfigured life, a new creation.  What exactly it will be is not yet clear to us, though we get glimpses of it in the appearances of the Risen Lord at the end of each Gospel.  The risen Christ is still Christ, and yet His disciples (including the women disciples) cannot recognize Him at first.  He shows them He is real and not a ghost, and yet He is transfigured by the resurrection. We are to share in this transfigured life of the new creation when the resurrection of all occurs.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

Praying Always 


… praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…  (Ephesians 6:18) 

St Paul tells us we should be ‘praying always’. Orthodox theologian Olivier Clement offers some thoughts on how to understand praying at all times: 

“Therefore ‘we should pray in the morning so that Christ’s resurrection is celebrated through our morning prayer’ and ‘when the sun sets and the day ends we should again pray. Christ is our true sun and our true light: when the sun goes down and the light of the world fades, we call on Christ’s coming that brings the grace of eternal light’ (St Cyprian of Carthage). The cycle of day and night, henceforth bathed in the light of Christ, who came and who will come again, is therefore for us the symbol of the ‘day without end’ and of the ‘day which has no night.’ And so our daily prayer becomes ‘an imitation of what we one day ought to become.’  


‘If in the Scriptures, Christ is called the true sun and the true light, then as Christians we cannot let a single hour pass without worshipping God in all places and at all times. Because we are in the light of the sun that is Christ, we should keep ourselves in prayer all day long. And when in the natural progression of things night returns, it’s darkness can do no harm to those who pray: they are the sons of light. For them daylight shines even in the darkness. He whose bright sun is named Christ is never deprived of sunshine and clarity’ (St Cyprian of Carthage). (TRANSFIGURING TIME, p 89) 


You who at all times and at every hour, in heaven and on earth, are worshipped and glorified, O Christ God, who are long-suffering, plenteous in mercy, most compassionate, who loves the righteous and has mercy on sinners; Who calls all people to salvation through the promise of good things to come: receive, O Lord, our prayer at this hour and guide our life toward your commandments. Sanctify our souls, make chaste our bodies, correct our thoughts, purify our intentions, and deliver us from every sorrow, evil, and pain. Compass us about with your holy angels, that, guarded and guided by their array, we may attain to the unity of the faith and to the knowledge of your unapproachable glory: for You are blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen. (The Prayer of the Hours)


Seeing the Kingdom in This World


But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing.  (Luke 9:11)

In the above Gospel passage Christ words about the Kingdom are not recorded. The pericope only tells us He taught about the Kingdom without telling us what He said about it.  Elsewhere in the Gospels, He speaks about the Kingdom in parables. For example, look at Matthew 13:24-50 – in 27 verses Christ compares the Kingdom to six common things: a man sowing seed in a field, a grain of mustard seed, leaven mixed in flour, a hidden treasure, a merchant in search of pearls and a fishing net.


In those same 27 verses in also says the righteous in the Kingdom will shine like the sun. To understand His similes and parables of the Kingdom, we have to use our imagination – for the wonderful Kingdom is compared to familiar things, and yet remains mysteriously strange to us. Christ doesn’t tell us exactly how the Kingdom is like these things, but wants us to use our creative imagination to dig deeply into these comparisons to uncover the truth hidden there awaiting our discovery to reveal glimpses of God’s Kingdom. Christ doesn’t dogmatize what the Kingdom of Heaven, nor does He give us a detailed description of it. He leaves it up to us to imagine what God’s Kingdom is.


St Nikolai Velimirovic comments:

“The Lord Jesus Christ Himself often made use of parables from nature – things and happenings from this world – as aids to teach men.  And He often took ordinary things and occurrences in His teaching, to show the nourishment these kernels give, and how deep are the things that are hidden within them.  Ordinary people seek some meaning in strange and rare events, like shooting stars, earthquakes, great wars and so forth, but rare are those who seek and find a spiritual meaning in the ordinary, in the most common daily happenings.  The rarest among all the rare who have ever walked the earth, the Lord Jesus Himself, deliberately took the most ordinary things from this life in order to reveal to men the mysteries of eternal life.


What is more ordinary than salt, yeast, a tree growing from a mustard seed, the sun, sparrows, grass and wild lilies, wheat and tares, rock and sand?  None of those who look every day at these things with their eyes alone could imagine seeking in them the hidden mysteries of the Kingdom of God.  But Christ paused by just such objects and called men’s attention to them, revealing immeasurable heavenly mysteries hidden under their outward form.  In the same way, the Lord made use of simple, ordinary occurrences to present and explain the whole of man’s spiritual life, the whole history of man’s fall and salvation, the end of the world, the Last Judgment and God’s mercy towards sinners.”  (HOMILIES  Vol 2, p 212)


St Nikolai points out people are always looking for meaning in rare and spectacular events like earthquakes or shooting stars or even human-made events like war. Then he points out that Christ not only reveals the Kingdom of Heaven to us, but He shows us that the most mundane events or ordinary things also have hidden in them signs of God’s Kingdom. Christ tells us to look carefully at the world all around us for everywhere there are signs of God’s Kingdom. The most ordinary things are symbols of heaven and the Kingdom. Christ endeavors to open our eyes to see the signs of the spiritual world all around us. What a gift it is to look at the ordinary events of our world and to see in them the most extraordinary revelation of God’s eternal Kingdom. God has placed signs of the ineffable and inconceivable right before our eyes. Jesus tries to help us see what He sees in the world which God loves.


Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. (John 14:6-11)