Have you ever been rejected? Of course, you have. We all have. Strangely, we remember those times very clearly because of the pain we felt. Have you ever experienced rejection by a mother, father, or child? The pain pierces deeply into our spirits. That kind of pain is difficult to forgive. Parents and children possess a profound bond, which when injured or severed, affects our whole being. I am always so saddened, when I hear about children who are abused, neglected, or abandoned. I become so heartbroken, when I hear about children who have murdered their parents or parents who have murdered their children. The news is filled with stories of broken relationships that have resulted in violence. These are evils, which I have difficulty comprehending.

     

God, our Father, has been rejected throughout the ages. At one time or another, we have all turned away from God. Yet, no matter how often we have rejected Him, He is always willing to welcome us back into His arms. God is always grieved when we sin, when we reject Him. He grieves for our souls, for our well-being. He grieves because He wishes only blessings on us, not the consequences of the sins we have brought upon ourselves. God’s will is to love us and for us to love Him. His will is that we develop a loving relationship with Him. He desires to shower blessings on us.

     

This Sunday we celebrate the parable of the Prodigal Son. Christ tells the parable of the prodigal son, who asked his father for his inheritance, so he can go out into the world on his own. His father had not even died yet! The loss of his son, especially under these circumstances, must have been very painful for him. The prodigal son took his inheritance and traveled to a distant country, spending his fortune on “riotous living” (Luke 15:13 KJV). When he spent everything he had, a severe famine struck the land, so he began to work for a man, feeding the pigs. He was so hungry, that he would have gladly eaten the insects and worms fed to the pigs, but no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up 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 like one of your hired hands”’ (Luke 15:17-19). The son came to his senses and repented, realizing what he had lost, so he decided to humble himself and return to his father. This would have been very difficult for the son, because he would have to set aside his pride and admit that he was wrong and needed his father.

 

Christ goes on to describe the father’s response. When the boy’s father saw him from a distance, he ran to him and put his arms around him and kissed him, even before the son could ask for forgiveness. Then “the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:22-24). Can you imagine the father’s joy? His son returned to him! He harbors no resentment, no pain for the suffering he experienced at the loss of his son all those years. Out of pure love, He welcomes his estranged son and celebrates his return. This is our God. This is the degree of love and mercy our Father has for us! No matter how often we stray, He loves us and rejoices at our homecoming. However, we must also take note that the son returned in humility, repentant of his ways. We must experience a sincere repentance for rejecting the love of God and for sinning against Him.

 

Christ’s story of the prodigal son does not end there. This part of the story shows the depth of God’s mercy and love, but the rest of the story also describes the response of God’s chosen people, the Israelites. The father in the parable had an older son, who had remained with his father. When the elder son heard the joyful noise of celebration for the return of his brother, he became angry and refused to attend the festivities. His father came out and pleaded with his son, but He told his father “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!” Luke 15:29-30). When Christ’s message began to spread among the Gentiles, many Jews became angry and rejected Jesus. Their hearts became hardened to the newly converted Christians, and they refused to join the celebration.

 

Paul expressed the anguish he felt for his kinsmen, I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people” (Romans 9:2-3). His compassion was so fervent that he was willing to accept eternal damnation in hell, if his people could be saved. This is the same anguish that Christ felt when he cried out, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37). Christ willingly died on the cross for all his people, Jews and Gentiles, for every human being He ever created.

 

God’s love for us is infinite. No matter what we do, He loves us and is willing to have mercy on any who choose to return to Him. He knocks on the door of our hearts, but it is up to us to open the door. He will not force us to love Him. We can always refuse to love God. We can always reject the gift of love Christ offers us from the cross. Jesus, the Son of God, pure and without sin died an atrocious death like a criminal for the sins we committed. God does not decide who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. We make our own decisions. We can choose to enter His loving grace, or we can turn our backs and walk away. However, this decision has eternal consequences.   

  

Would you willingly die for your faith? It is a difficult question to answer until we are actually faced with that predicament... 

Icon St. Demetrios

 

My church, St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Camarillo, is in the process of adding an icon of the Mother of God with baby Jesus in the sanctuary behind the altar. Many, who are not Orthodox, have often asked me about the many icons we venerate. They do not understand why we “worship” idols. Perhaps, I can give you some history and a bit about the Orthodox perspective... 

 

In the Spirit of Christmas, I thought I would share a song with you that can put you in the right mood for this very special season of the year. Celebrate the precious gift from God of a beautiful little baby boy, Jesus. Enjoy! 

  

Click here to enjoy ---->

"Christmas Is a Time for Giving"

 

 

What words can we speak in times of tragedy and great suffering? Words never seem enough to express the grief and pain in our hearts. Last week our community experienced tragedy upon tragedy, grief upon grief...

Shepherd and Flock

  

I weep! I am grieved by the suffering of our Christian brothers and sisters due to the scandals of the Catholic Church. I pray that we all keep our hearts and minds on Christ and not on the human beings who have been disgraceful ambassadors of Christ. This attack on the church affects all Christians, not just Catholics. I empathize with our Catholic brothers and sisters who must endure the criticism of their faith due to the horrific acts perpetrated on innocent children. This is unconscionable. Christ has, once again, been crucified by these men. He who loves us beyond what we can imagine, has once again, been nailed to the cross by those who have betrayed Him...

  

Resurrection

 

What happened after Jesus died? Where was He from 3:00 pm Friday afternoon until early that Sunday morning when He rose from the dead? 

Coincident

 

Does God speak to us? Yes, of course! How do we know, if he does? Well, that is the real question, isn’t it? As Christians, we are told to develop a relationship with Christ, but how can we relate to God? 

Christ

  

Yesterday, I was hosted at a local bookstore for an Author Book Signing. Many people came into the store. I was seated at a table with my books and materials, right at the front door. I greeted everyone as they entered with all the warmth and friendliness I could muster. Almost everyone responded likewise. I offered each person a free bookmark. Some said “Yes” and others said “No,” but what I found most interesting... 

  

Upcoming Book Signings - Feb 2018

 

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