When looking at the gospel reading for the Sunday of Zacchaeus this past Sunday, and how it shows his repentance to be the “baptism”, the cleansing, that brings about the statement from Christ: salvation has come to this house and that Zacchaeus is revealed as a son of Abraham. Not only is this a look back at Theophany, but it is revelatory of passing into the next “stage” of our liturgical-spiritual journey…that is, into Great Lent.
This is much like the stages of the spiritual life that Father Zacharias, in Essex, talks about. He was taught by his spiritual father, St. Sophrony, who was taught by his spiritual father, St. Silouan. At the beginning of our journey toward God, we are given whatever grace is necessary to bring us into relationship with him and to set our path right, enough grace to make a start.
Continue reading “Zacchaeus Is Our Transition into Lenten Repentance”
We just had Zacchaeus Sunday, so-called because the gospel reading is about Christ’s interaction with Zacchaeus. The testimony of Zacchaeus is being used as a link between Theophany and Pascha. In giving us this reading, the Church is giving us a little hint, a hint to look toward Zacchaeus, so that we can know how to step out of Theophany and into Great Lent.
Since this Gospel reading is set at the end of this season, we should look briefly at what has happened in this season. What do we celebrate at Theophany? Christ was baptized. And baptism, at its root, is a cleansing. Christ came to be baptized, but being God, was in no need of cleansing, and indeed, it was he that sanctified the waters. And just as we see Christ enter into the waters of the Jordan, now we see Christ enter the house of Zacchaeus.
Continue reading “Zacchaeus Is Our Transition out of Theophany”
And how do we apply all these ideas in our parishes today? Do we build our own mission parishes here at home or send money to foreign “missions”?
I do not want to go too far, as if to suggest that the Protestant drive toward missions that I grew up with is completely misplaced, because, otherwise, “how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” And truth be told, their zealousness toward missions shames us. However, I would say that using money to support people to go and live among another culture often gives us a false sense of self-accomplishment. We feel like we are “doing missions”, but we choose to ignore the negative effects of what is actually happening.
Your parish will choose how to use your money and how to engage in missions. However, there is one waning sign I would like to share, something that might be helpful in determining to whom or to what organization you should send your money.
Continue reading “Do We Need to Send Money for Missions?”
“If you are called to be in the monastery, you better not go [into missions], and if you are called to go, you better not be in the monastery.” How these words came from the mouth of an Orthodox Christian deeply involved in missions, I cannot understand.
In context, it was clear that this viewpoint came from someone who sees monasteries as merely a place to provide spiritual health to parishioners in the world, maybe something like a retreat center. Even if that was all monasteries were, then we should we not start monasteries wherever we are involved in mission so that the host people can also have the benefit of that spiritual guidance? But it is not a well thought out viewpoint; it is (as a best case scenario) an accidental misunderstanding of monasticism and the various vocations of the Christian faith, likely from a leftover Protestant, Romo-phobic viewpoint.
Continue reading “A Problematic Viewpoint of Monks in Missions”
The term “incarnational missions” is one of those catch phrases used so much it almost lacks any meaning when we hear it now. It seems that now, all it really means is ‘to go and live among a people’.
The idea of incarnational missions is based on the Incarnation of Christ, God taking on flesh, the uncreated entering into the created. St. Gregory of Nazianzus’s oft-quoted, “that which is not assumed is not healed”, not only helps us understand the impact of God’s Incarnation, but would naturally also extend to incarnational missions.
As for the Incarnation of Christ, he becomes fully man…every aspect of man. Therefore, every aspect of man is healed as it is united to God. And in missions, the extent to which we are truly incarnational will be the extent to which the world will be able to be healed by the gospel message.
Continue reading “What Is Incarnational Missions?”