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Eastern Christian Insights

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Eastern Christian Insights

Fr. Philip LeMasters and Ancient Faith Radio

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Homilies from St. Luke Orthodox Church in Abilene, Texas - Thoughtful homilies of an Orthodox priest who serves a small parish and teaches Religion full-time at McMurry University in Abilene, TX. Fr. Philip draws on his scholarly work in Christian theology and ethics, but most of all, these are the homilies of a pastor guiding his flock with insightful, practical suggestions on how to share more fully in the life of Jesus Christ.
 
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Icons certainly beautify the church, but not simply in the conventional sense of being aesthetically pleasing. Instead, they manifest visually that the Son of God has called and enabled us to become His beautiful living icons. They show that the Savior has made us participants by grace in His deified humanity so that we may shine brightly with the …
 
If we want to know Christ as the beloved disciple did, then we must learn that our very life is in our brothers and sisters. Loving them and Christ in them is the only way to find liberation from fear in our world of corruption, for it is fear that separates us from one another and keeps us from becoming together the uniquely beautiful persons our …
 
John the Baptist was unspotted from the world due to the spiritual strength he gained from a life of asceticism and prayer, and he called people to follow him in preparing the way of the Lord as they bore “fruits worthy of repentance” and treated other people with the care appropriate to the children of God.…
 
The darkness roots deeply within us all, both personally and collectively, and nothing but the brilliant glory of the Lord can overcome it. Whether we know it or not, we inevitably sink like stones into the abyss whenever we make anything or anyone else the foundation of our lives.By Fr. Philip LeMasters and Ancient Faith Radio
 
Like the saints we remember today, let us turn away from such distractions and instead orient ourselves toward the blessedness of a Kingdom that remains not of this world. Let us offer all our blessings back to Him with gratitude, for that is the only way to live as those who know that the good things of this life are not ends in themselves, but po…
 
The good news of our Lord’s resurrection extends to everyone and the entire world. The Church directs our attention during the Paschal season to how some very different people came to share in the life of our Lord, such as the disciple Thomas, the Myrrh-Bearing Women, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, and the paralyzed man. Today we focus on someone …
 
It is easy to assume that we have strong faith when it seems like everything is going our way. All too often, that means that we have come to trust in ourselves for following a religion that we imagine will give us what we want. When difficult struggles come, however, the truth about our weak souls is revealed. Then we come to see that real faith i…
 
The season of Pascha has only just begun. Because of His bodily resurrection, we must become holy in our bodies and treat our suffering neighbors accordingly. Let us continue to celebrate by participating as fully as possible in the joy of the empty tomb. Now nothing other than our own refusal can hold us back from becoming truly human, for “Christ…
 
Today we celebrate that the Lord is at hand, for He is coming into Jerusalem as the Messiah, hailed by the crowds as their Savior. He does not come to usher in an earthly reign or to serve any nationalistic or political agenda. He enters Jerusalem on a donkey, a humble beast of burden, carrying no weapons and having no army. He had no well-oiled po…
 
There are many ways to view ourselves as human beings. All too often, we accept false definitions that we find appealing in light of our passions, weaknesses, and other forms of personal brokenness. When we do so, we set our sights too low, for the Savior became one of us in order to make us perfectly beautiful icons of His salvation.…
 
The path to eternal life runs through our neighbors, especially those we are inclined to overlook, disregard, and even despise. How we treat the hungry and thirsty, the stranger and the naked, the sick and the prisoner reveals the true state of our souls. How we serve our suffering and inconvenient neighbors, whoever they are, is how we serve our L…
 
“The line between good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” The key difference between the Pharisee and the Publican rooted in their hearts and was not simply a matter of their outward behavior or how they appeared to others. Even the despised traitor and thief remained in the image of God and was able to embrace divine mercy when…
 
Across the centuries, the Lord has raised up such unusual saints in order to shock us out of our complacency about the alleged harmony between the narrow way leading to the Kingdom and what passes for a conventionally respectable life in any time or place.By Fr. Philip LeMasters and Ancient Faith Radio
 
It is easy for people to fall prey to the passions of fear, worry, and anger in response to the great challenges that our nation and world face today, as well as to those we encounter in our families and in other areas of our lives. In such circumstances, we must not ignore the importance of one of the most basic virtues necessary for human flouris…
 
As we continue to celebrate Theophany in a world that remains in “the region and shadow of death,” let us focus mindfully on living each day as those who have died to sin and risen with our Lord to a life of holiness. That is how we may wear a garment of light and become living epiphanies of the salvation of the world.…
 
Matthew’s description of the family tree prepares us for the kind of Savior we encounter in Jesus Christ. It does not hide that His ancestors sinned greatly, for He came to heal those who had corrupted and weakened themselves by their own disobedience. His family line even included Gentiles, foreshadowing that He would make all with faith in Him he…
 
As we prepare to receive the Lord in faith at Christmas, we must use our freedom to follow St. Paul’s instruction in today’s epistle reading: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”By Fr. Philip LeMasters and Ancient Faith Radio
 
Today we commemorate a distinctive person who bore witness in his own life to the healing power of Christ. St. Nicholas lived in the 4th century in what is now Turkey and had a sizeable inheritance from his family, which he gave away in secret to the poor.By Fr. Philip LeMasters and Ancient Faith Radio
 
Joachim, Anna, and the Theotokos were the complete opposites of the rich man in today’s gospel reading. His only concern was to eat, drink, and enjoy himself because he had become so wealthy. He was addicted to earthly pleasure, power, and success, and saw the meaning and purpose of his life only in those terms. In stark contrast, the Theotokos fol…
 
Both the bleeding woman and Jairus were at the end of their rope. They faced circumstances so dark that they could not imagine how they would be delivered from them. The gravity of their challenges is reflected by how little these characters speak in their encounters with Christ. They did not use many words to show whatever level of faith they had …
 
There is simply no way around the basic truth that how we relate to our neighbors reveals how we relate to our Lord. What we do for even the most miserable and difficult people we encounter in life, we do for Christ. And what we refuse to do for them, we refuse to do for our Savior. Our salvation is in becoming more like Him as we find the healing …
 
Instead of obsessing over how we measure up, we should simply focus all our energies on finding healing for our passions as we reorient our disordered desires for fulfillment in God. If we persist in doing so and call out for the Lord’s mercy whenever we stumble and fall, we will come to know the joy of those liberated from the tomb, clothed in the…
 
On this feast day of the Holy, Glorious, All-Laudable Apostle and Evangelist Luke, we have an opportunity to celebrate the great witness to the Lord made by the patron saint of our parish. Our small community is named in his honor and memory. We see his image on our iconostasis and regularly ask him to pray for us in the Divine Liturgy. Author of b…
 
The veneration of icons should prod us all to wrestle with the question of who we are and who we want to become. Too often, however, we think that iconography simply has to do with wood and paint, and we ignore the question of whether we are becoming more beautiful icons of Christ. The icons are not merely examples of religious art, but reminders t…
 
The love to which Christ calls us is not merely an emotion, but a true offering of ourselves for the sake of someone else. It is a self-less offering in which we put the needs and interests our neighbors before our own. It is a personal offering that builds communion with other people and unites us together as those who share a common life. Of cour…
 
We do not have to burn incense on the altar of a Roman god in order to show that we are ashamed of the Savior. All that we must do is to refuse to take up our crosses as we serve the false gods of this world. It does not take much spiritual insight to see that worshiping idols is quite common and easily done in our time and place.…
 
In response to Christ’s statement about how hard it is for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God, the disciples were amazed and asked, “Who then can be saved?” The Lord responded, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” That is true not only for the wealthy, but for us all.…
 
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