Monday, July 28, 2008

The High Priestly prayer of Jesus Christ.


Holy Fathers Of The First Six Ecumenical Councils (celebrated on the Sunday on or after July 13)

The High priestly prayer of Jesus Christ contains not only sublime dogmas about Jesus Christ, but also a two-fold definition of salvation, and an example of how to attain it: we must care for others as Jesus Christ did.

John 17:1-13These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. 6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. 11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

6th Fri after Pentecost - Parables of the field & pearl

6th Week After Pentecost – Friday

Matthew 13:44-54 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. 47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. 52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. 53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. 54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?

The following are notes about a portion of this Gospel.

The parables about the Kingdom variously describe the power of the Gospel to save, the great worth of the Gospel, and the way of living that those who will attain the Kingdom must have.

"And the former indeed, of the leaven and of the mustard seed, was spoken with a view to the power of the gospel, and to its surely prevailing over the world; but these declare its value, and great price." (St John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St Matthew, Homily XLVII,

Each parable gives us a different piece of information. We must believe in the ability of God to save us, must value the way of the Kingdom above all else, and must live in a certain way.

One must be careful to not over analyze any parable, otherwise, according to St John: "the parables must not be explained throughout word for word, since many absurdities will follow." (Ibid)
The parable of the field is a good example. In the parable, the field is the world. Remembering the proscription against worldliness, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?", (Mat 16:26) one wonders, why would the Lord urge us to buy the world?

It is because, as St John teaches, the Gospel is hidden within the world. The treasure is this Gospel. The way of life that leads to eternal life is hidden within the world; those who do not believe do not usually even see it, and when they do, it is "foolishness" to them. We fulfill the resurrection within us, by living the way of life in the world. We need the world in order to be saved. If it were not for the temptations and difficulties of the world, we would not value the treasure that is hidden within it. This is our nature; we forget easily, and become inured to Holy things, unless we continually struggle, and have temptations, and do everything possible to attain the treasure in the world.

The parable of the pearl says the same thing as the parable of the field, with an important addition: there is only one truth.
"One seeking goodly pearls, who when he had found one of great price, sold all and bought it. For the truth is one, and not in many divisions." (Ibid)
The size of the pearl is also of great importance. The Gospel treasure is very small (it is hidden in our heart), so those in the world cannot see it, and see that we are truly rich.

"And much as he that hath the pearl knows indeed himself that he is rich, but others know not, many times, that he is holding it in his hand (for there is no corporeal bulk); just so also with the gospel, they that have hold of it know that they are rich, but the unbelievers, not knowing of this treasure, are in ignorance also of our wealth." (Ibid)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Temptation / искушение

St. Theophan the Recluse. Thoughts on every day of the year.

(1 Cor 3:18-23; Mt 13:36-43) “And they shall cast them (those who offend of do iniquity) into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth; then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” In this manner, evil and good, light and darkness will be divided. Now, during this life, they are commingled, as it was pleasing to the Lord to order things such that his creation would grow and become stronger in good through the struggle against evil. Evil is allowed to freely exist within us and to influence us from without, but it does not determine our actions. Rather, it tempts us. When tempted, we must not fall but fight. Gaining the victory, we are freed from one temptation, and move onward and upward to meet a new temptation, and thus it is until the end of our life. O, when will we understand the meaning of the evil which tempts us, so as to order our life in accordance with this understanding! Those who struggle are crowned, and in the end, pass on to another life, where there is no sorrow or sickness externally, and where internally, like God’s angels, they will be pure, without the defilement of tempting movements and thoughts. Thus we may be prepared for the festival of light and good, which will be revealed in all its glory in the last day of the world.

Святитель Феофан Затворник. Мысли на каждый день года.

(1 Кор. З, 18-23; Мф. 13, 36-43). "И ввергнут их" (творящих соблазны и беззакония) "в печь огненную; там будет плач и скрежет зубов; тогда праведники воссияют, как солнце, в Царстве Отца их". Так совершится разделение добра и зла, света и тьмы. Теперь течет период смешения их. Господу угодно было так устроить, чтобы тварная свобода возрастала и крепла в добре через борьбу со злом; зло допущено и в сопредельности с свободою внутри, и в соприкосновении с человеком во вне. Оно не определяет, а искушает. Чувствующему искушение необходимо не падать, а вступать в борьбу. Побеждающий освобожается от одного искушения, и подвигается вперед и вверх, чтобы там вступить в новое искушение. Так до самого конца жизни. О, когда бы уразуметь нам это значение искушающего нас зла, чтобы по этому уразумению устроить и жизнь свою! Борцы увенчиваются, наконец, переходя в другую жизнь, где нет ни печалей и болезней во вне, и где они извнутри, как ангелы Божии, становятся чистыми без приражения искусительных движений и мыслей. Так заготовляется торжество света и добра, которое во всей славе своей откроется в последний день мира.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why speakest Thou in parables?

10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. 18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13:10-23)

St. Theophan the Recluse writes that we "seeing see not, and hearing hear not, neither understand" the word of God because we our hearts are so strongly tethered to worldly concerns. Our hearts are waxed gross, our ears are dull of hearing, and we have closed our eyes... This is why it is so difficult to read the scriptures, to listen to the church services, and to say our prayers. We are, by our own free choice, entirely enslaved to earthly cares. But in the end, all these cares will pass away, and only heaven will remain. And we, being strangers to heaven, will be left out in the darkness…

But Our Lord gives us hope, saying, "therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." In other words, as Archbishop Averky of Syracuse explains, the parables make divine truths accessible to our earthly minds. If we attend to the Lord’s parables and attempt to live according to their teaching, then we will come nearer to the Lord and be enlightened by His grace. Gradually, then, we will grow closer to heaven, and will be able to understand the more sublime teachings of the Lord, and will find ourselves amid the guests at the heavenly banquet. Glory to our God!

St Nicholas is building a new temple!

Brothers and sisters:

I know many of you personally, and some only by email or the phone. Many of you know me, and I am always amazed and gratified when I travel to encounter people who thank me for our web ministry. is over 10 years old, and has reached literally over several million people (we have over 100,000 viewers a month). Our blog is slowly becoming more popular too.

I treasure the good will and friendships that my web presence has garnered. I have been privileged to hear some amazing stories and help missions from afar with our materials. I am also quite sure that our web presence has been a significant part of the conversion to the true faith of more than a few, and helped direct many to Orthodox churches all over the world.

I am writing you today to attempt to trade a little bit on this good will. We are a small and growing parish, at a critical time. We are about to build a new church on a beautiful piece of ground. We are a little bit short of the projected cost. At this point, we think we need to raise $20,000 dollars before we finish building in the Fall.

I am appealing to you, if your heart so leads, to help us in any way you think is right. Of course, we could use donations, but low or no interest loans, or being put in contact with a potential benefactor is helpful too.

The last part of this appeal is the content our building fund page - "

May God bless you and help you in all things.


St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church Building Fund

"The ... founders, benefactors, and the brotherhood of this holy temple ... may the Lord God remember in His kingdom, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages."
From the Divine Liturgy

Would you like to be the benefactor of an Orthodox temple?

Every additional $130 in our building fund pays for a sq. ft. of our 1700 sq. ft. temple & hall which we plan to worship in by late Fall, 2008.


You may also send funds to "St Nicholas Orthodox Church', with memo "Building Fund" to St Nicholas Orthodox Church Treasurer, Reader Nicholas Park, 316 Corporate Dr. Lewisville, TX 75067

We are an active Russian Orthodox Christian community. Our Sunday services are in English with many hymns repeated in Slavonic. We have outreaches to the community in the form of prison ministry, nursing home visitations, and a very full liturgical and teaching schedule. We are the only church in the Metroplex which follows the same calendar used in Russia and regularly includes Slavonic and English in our services and homilies. We have purchased land in McKinney Texas, and are building a 1700 sq. ft. chapel with small hall, to be completed in late Fall, 2008.

We have a two phase building plan.

We plan to build our chapel, with a small hall affixed, for services in the Fall, 2008. The chapel will look like a "real church", with two cupolas, and it will be our worshipping home as we grow and get ready for phase two, which is to build our permanent temple on the same grounds; the chapel will be converted to a church hall with offices. The chapel will cost about $221,000 to build (about $130 per sq. ft., with a 120,000 loan at 7%, paid off in ten years). We are seeking benefactors to "donate a sq. ft.", or a part thereof.

We have set up an account to receive tax-free donations. We will be happy to send you a receipt, and to pray for you and your family as benefactors if you desire. You may also send checks, made out to "St Nicholas Orthodox Church Building Fund", to our treasurer, Reader Nicholas Park, 1.316 Corporate Dr. Lewisville, TX 75067. Email Fr Seraphim, with a list of your immediate family members, so we can begin commemorating you in the Divine Liturgy.

McKinney Texas is the fastest growing city in Texas, with a current population of over 100,000. City projections are a population of over 300,000 by 2020. We will be the only Orthodox Church in McKinney; the closest sister church, in Plano, will be about 20 minutes away by car (on a good day!).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

5th Sun after Pentecost 2008, Every occurence in our life is a meeting with Christ.


The Healing of the Gergesenes demoniacs

Every occurence in our life is a meeting with Christ.

Matthew 8:28-9:1 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. 29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? 30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. 31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. 32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. 33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. 34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts. 1 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Holy Royal Martyrs Of Russia 07/04/08 How were the martyrs "called according to his purpose"? How are we?


The reading from Romans describes in perfect detail the attributes of the martyrs. They and we are all "called according to His purpose", and whether we be martyrs or not, it is the same exact purpose, which the Apostle describes clearly.

Rom 8:28-39 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (33) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

St Nicholas Building Project Status and appeal

Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

Русская Православная Церковь Святителя Николая

708 South Chestnut, McKinney, Texas

Mailing Address: PO 37, McKinney, TX 75070

Priest Seraphim Holland, 972-529-2754

July 3/16, 2008

Dear brothers and sisters,

Independent Bank in McKinney has finished processing our loan application, and the news is good, but challenging. Simply put, they will give us a loan and we will be able to build our temple, but we have to do a little extra work to make it possible. We will start building as soon as we get the loan, and will be in our new temple before the end of the year. All of the financial details are available for anybody who asks, but the gist is as follows: 1. We had asked for a loan of $150,000. The bank is willing give us a loan of $120,000. We need to make up at least part of this shortfall. We think we can make everything work if we raise $20,000. Our current cash must pay off the land, and pay for all building costs above the loan amount. We are probably about 10,000 short of having enough cash at this moment. We can scrape by with only 10,000 more, but I feel that $20,000 is a reasonable goal (see point #2), if we all work together to reach it.

Therefore, we need more money, in the short term.

  • Do you have any money laid away that you'd planned to give or loan when it was truly needed? Now is the time!
  • Do you know anybody who might be willing to help us out with a gift or a loan towards this amount? Now is the time!
  • Is there a family member or former parishioner with whom you are still in contact, or someone you know who likes our parish? Now is the time to contact them!
View of our new temple and hall, from the North

2. If everybody pays all of their pledges and we see a reasonable amount of growth over the next few years, this is all we need; we will be able to meet our obligations to the bank. I hope this will happen, but things happen in our lives sometimes, and it is possible that all of our pledges will not be paid 100%. If only 90% of pledges are paid, we will absolutely need to raise $20,000 to meet our obligations over the next four years.

This illustrates both the importance of the pledges

and the need to seek additional help wherever we can find it.

3. Our income has increased significantly since the start of 2008, and our projections based on the pledge drive show a further increase. These figures are quite encouraging, and will enable us to meet our financial obligations and complete the building project. Because a lot of this is based on projections rather than on prior year income records, the bank requires guarantors until we can give them an end-of-year report showing that we are meeting our projections. This will mean that we will likely need guarantors only until the end of 2009.

The bank officer explains this requirement as follows:

"Due to the high reliance on projected cash flow, we need to have few guarantors for the loan. A guarantor is not on the actual note and the bank does not report to their credit or send correspondence to them unless there is a situation of default. If this is the case, the bank sends notice that the church is unable to pay and that the guarantors will need to step up and bring the loan/keep the loan current.

"We can have anywhere from 1 to 4 guarantors with financial capacity to support the debt payments. (has accumulated assets, has outside income, etc.)

"Payments monthly after the interest only period will be ~$1,078 and a group of guarantors would need to be comfortable with this number and having a total debt of $120,000 contingent on the church’s well being.
"Being a local bank, we like to have local guarantors as well and would highly prefer members of the church to be considered first. Anyone with a vested interest to make sure the church succeeds is a good candidate.

"The guarantors will be temporary, until the church can show that it can service it’s debt on a historic basis at a rate that is standard in the industry, say: 30% of revenue is used for debt payments. It currently (in 2007) shows that it would use 43% of the church’s revenue for future principal & interest payments."
Here is what all this "bank speak" boils down to. Since Independent Bank is local, they are willing to work with us. Our income in 2007 was not too good, and their figures are based on that year. They are willing to loan to us, but because our historical income was not as good as it is now, they need "guarantors" to be willing to pay off the loan if we default.

Of course, we have always met ALL our obligations, and with our income rising, and great results in our pledge drive, and prospects for growth in our new area, the future is very bright. We also will actually have LOWER operation costs once we get our new temple built, because it is very energy efficient, and the total mortgage will be LESS than the amount we are paying now for our land and current location.

The bank knows all this, but they have rules they need to follow. Our very conservative forecasts show that they will not require guarantors past 2009. This means that a guarantor will only be obligated until the end of 2009 - about one and a half years. They much prefer local guarantors.

My family believes in this project, and will apply to be a guarantor. Who will join me?

In Christ,

Priest Seraphim.
Rector, St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, MCKINNEY, TX

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

5th Sunday after Pentecost, 2002“ This is eternal life”

Next Sunday, July 7/20, 2008, we will read about the Gergesenes demoniacs. This homily touches on that reading, as well as the text of the Lord's High Priestly prayer, which was read that year on the fifth Sunday after Pentecost.

5th Sunday after Pentecost, 2002

“This is eternal life”

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

What is eternal life? We should know this very well. The Lord came to the earth as a man in order to allow us to have eternal life, in order to make us capable of eternal life. Many people do not understand what eternal life is, what it is that the Lord wants us to be able to have. The Lord defines it in His high priestly prayer just before He was arrested to be crucified: “And this is eternal life: that they may know Thee, the Only True God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou didst send.” To have eternal life is to know Christ.

But what is it to know Christ?

He says also in His high priestly prayer that “they have received the word.” The word that He received from His Father He faithfully transmitted to His apostles and disciples, and they received the word.

What is it to receive the word?

It means to do what He says! It means to live as He lived! It means to love the commandments as He loved them! It means to struggle for virtue! Receiving is not just believing. The devil believes! The devil knows more about Christ than we do. He knows the Scripture better than we know it. His intellect is far superior to ours. But he has not received the word because he does not want to follow it.

Many people, within the Church and outside of the Church, have not received the word. Yes, indeed, those in the Church too! Those tares, those weeds that grow up and at the end of the age will be gathered and made separate and burned, those people have not received the word. Receiving it is to obey. Receiving it is to know, and know intimately, our Lord Jesus Christ.

I’ve just been teaching about the Creed in the past few Saturdays, and this passage, more than any other in the Scriptures, shows the utter equality of Jesus Christ with His Father. He says, “the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son might also glorify Thee: As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him.” And then He goes on a little later and makes it very clear that He and the Father are One. He once said it in this way: “I and the Father are One.” He says, “Glorify Thou Me with Thine Own Self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.”

This should call to mind the beginning of the Symbol of Faith: “begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, True God of True God; begotten, not made.” Our Lord was not made; our Lord proceeds from the Father eternally, and is Light of Light just as He is God and God the Father is God. And yet, with His glory which He had before the world, with all of His prerogatives and His magnificence, He obeyed His Father to come down, to be made a little lower than the angels, and to teach us – and most of the people that He taught did not want to hear; we hear this in another reading, with the Gergesene demoniac – and to die for us, and to make us capable of living.

In order to appropriate this eternal life, we must live as He has taught us, because otherwise we won’t know Him. People make great mistake when they define Christianity by things that they should do or not do, or membership, or the traditions they hold. Christianity is to be one as the Father and the Son are One.

Near the end of His prayer, He says, “Father, keep through Thine Own Name those whom Thou hast give Me, that they may be one, even as We are.” I was talking yesterday about how all dogma is moral. All of that which we believe about God has moral significance, it is not just facts that we should be able to recite. The Holy Trinity is the quintessential perfect example of love, and of unity, and of cooperation, and of humility, and of all of the virtues. And our Lord Jesus Christ came down to earth in order to make us capable of being one, even as He is One with His Father.

Can we imagine the immensity of this statement? We can only become one as His is One with His Father if we live with virtue, with purity. Only the pure in heart shall see God. The Lord has made us capable! Eternal life is not just that you are going to go to heaven or that you are not going to go to hell; eternal life is to be one with God! We’re just flesh, how can this be? No, we can never be in the Essence of God, but we will be sharing in all that He wishes to give.

And eternal life is joy, because the Lord says, “And now come I to Thee,” talking to His Father, “and these things I speak in the world, that they might have Me joy fulfilled in themselves.” Eternal life is joy, because it is perfect love, perfect obedience, perfect humility, perfect happiness. We’re so far from perfection. So much that goes on every day is so temporal, and will go away. But the Lord came so that we could have permanence. The only way to achieve this permanence is to enter into the life of virtue, to struggle to follow the Lord’s commandments.

This idea of unity – to be one with God – is the reason why we do such things as, as a Church, we fast together, we pray together, with the same kind of prayers all over the world. We have dogmas which it is imperative to believe -- else we are not Christians -- that are defined in our Symbol of Faith. And there are many other dogmas as well, that we must believe if we are to be one with God. For example, if we don’t forgive our brother, we will not be forgiven. That is a dogma as well. There are many, many dogmas, and all of them have moral significance. If we believe in the Trinity and if we dare to call God our Father, then we had best be His sons and daughters in how we live!

Our Lord Jesus Christ could dare to call God His Father, because He is perfect, and He has said, be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect. He has commanded us to become perfect. Nothing that the Lord said was false. Nothing was hyperbole. Perfection is possible for us. If He said and commanded it, then certainly it is possible. He will provide us with the ability. We must struggle in the path of virtue, and then we’ll know Him. Eternal life is to know God.

I remember one time a person was talking to me who had fallen into serious sin, of fornication, and she was saying, “Well, I know it’s wrong, but he just doesn’t understand and we’re going to be married in a year or two, and then God will forgive us.” And then, in another conversation on the same day, we were talking about the end times – I think some book by Hal Lindsey had just come out; and she said: “Well, I’m not worried about becoming deluded or anything, because it says that if anyone says ‘He is there,’ or ‘He is there,’ it’s not the Christ. The Lord is going to come like a lightning flash, it’s going to be instantaneous, and so if anybody is reporting that ‘Here is Christ, there is Christ,’ as the days go by, that obviously can’t be Christ. I won’t be deluded.” And I remember thinking, “How foolish you are. Perhaps the Lord will allow you to be preserved, but delusion can come upon all of us if we don’t live a life of virtue.”

Eternal life is not just being able to know the dogmas. Eternal life is following the dogmas, so that we can have intimate knowledge of and participation with God, and His Grace. Eternal life is to know God intimately. You likely won’t gain eternal life on your deathbed by saying you’re sorry! It is possible for that to happen, but it is rare, very rare. And the reason it is rare is because at the time of death, a person who has not lived virtuously and struggled will be so taken up with the stuff of dying and the terror of it all that they won’t be able to turn to God! It isn’t that God would not receive them; it’s that they can’t turn to Him!

We read today, “The sheep follow Me because they know My voice.” The sheep know the voice of the shepherd because they are around the shepherd, and they listen to the shepherd, and when the shepherd speaks to them, they know that the shepherd is leading them to better pasture, to clear water, to good grass. They know by experience that every time the shepherd speaks, it is for their benefit – so they know his voice very well. But that’s from following the shepherd. If they don’t follow him, then they could get confused, they could hear another voice, and think it’s the shepherd, because they haven’t heard his voice in such a long time. They could be confused.

So this girl who thought that she could be able to discern things in the end was sadly mistaken. May the Lord preserve her and give her salvation, but she was in danger, because we can become deluded if we don’t follow the Lord in virtue every day. The idea that the Lord will forgive me for this sin later – later may not come for you! Salvation is the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of God in those who have become pure is joy, but those who have not purified themselves – or shall I say (I always want to be careful to be clear here, so people do not misunderstand), those who attempt, those who desire, those who struggle to purify themselves – they, when they see God, will be glad.

I didn’t say those who have become pure. The Lord will make you pure, in His time, according to His will. For the most part, the reason why we who desire to no longer sin keep falling into sin is so that we don’t fall into the greatest of sins, pride and vainglory, which will cast us down to the abyss as surely as Satan was cast down by his pride. That’s why we often just continue in our sins: because of our pride.

Eternal life is the knowledge of God. The knowledge of God can only be gained by following the example Jesus Christ gave to us, and the example of all the saints who followed after Him. And then eternal life is unity, unity with God. What an amazing thing! Flesh, which would burn in the Fire of Divinity, will instead by glad and be full of joy.

Follow the Lord, brothers and sisters, in everything you do. Listen carefully for His voice. You’ll hear it in everything that happens! There is nothing that occurs in your life that the Lord does not either allow or cause. Everything is in His Providence, and everything according to His will is for your benefit. But you must learn to see His will, and His will is found by listening to His voice, and His voice is understood by following Him. To some, this might seem to be a circular argument, but not to a Christian. You follow the voice of the Lord, and He will with His Grace enlighten you and illuminate you, so that you cannot be deluded, so that you’ll know Him in all things.

Don’t be like those people of the Gergesenes. We like to think that we’re not like those people. We’re not swine-herders; we wouldn’t disobey the Lord’s Law that terribly, right? Keeping swine was against the Law of Moses. Eating swine, keeping them, touching them was against the Law of Moses. And these were Jews that were keeping swine. Well, just as it is today, people flock to anything that is sinful. So they loved their swine. And when the Lord delivered one of their members from a terrible affliction which had been visited upon this man because of their sins, they lost their source of income because the swine went and were drowned. So what do they do? They go to the Lord and they ask Him to leave. They didn’t hear His voice, they didn’t see Him as the shepherd, they saw Him as a frightening person who has incredible power and was ruining their business!

Don’t think you’re not like these swine-herders, because when we judge our brother, this is much worse than keeping swine. When we allow ourselves lustful thoughts, when we are angry, this is much worse than keeping swine. And many times, when we ask the Lord to depart from us – yes, we ask Him to depart from us – this is much worse than what these people did, because should live within us as Christians. How do we ask Him to depart from us? By not receiving His word, by not wanting to follow to the letter what He has told us to do.

Let’s not be like these Gergesene swine-herders. Let’s instead be like the saints. Let’s be like the sheep, the rational sheep. Let’s follow the Lord’s voice. Let’s equate what we believe with what we should do. St. James says, you show me a man’s faith, and I’ll show you his works. Faith without works is dead. Let our faith be alive, living, so that we will have joy, so that we will know the Lord intimately.

May God bless you and help you.

Priest Seraphim Holland

This, and other Orthodox materials are available from:

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Visit of sisters of Mercy from Minsk, Belarus to St Nicholas

Our parish hosted the sisters from St Elizabeth Convent, Minsk, Belarus, Friday July 11 - Sunday July 13. The following is a video we took after the Liturgy on Sunday.

4th Sunday after Pentecost 2008, How we think matters, Romans 6:18-23


All Homilies on the 4th Sunday after Pentecost

4th Sunday after Pentecost (HTML format)

Freedom and Slavery
Romans 6:18-23, Matthew 8:5-13
Also in Format: Adobe PDF or RTF or Word DOC

4th Sunday after Pentecost (Word DOC format)


4th Sunday after Pentecost (mp3 format)


4th Sunday after Pentecost (mp3 format)
How we think matters
Romans 6:18-23

Romans 6:18-23Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

My yoke is easy / иго Мое благо

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Mt. 11:30)

St. Theophan the Recluse. Thoughts for every day of the year
(Translation from the Russian below)

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." O how divine, how loving, how sweet is Thy voice! Let us all follow in the footsteps of the Lord who calls us! But first, we must come to realize that which is very difficult to realize - namely, that we have many sins, and that those sins are very great. This feeling gives birth to the need to find relief for one's self. Our faith then shows us that our only refuge is the Lord and Savior, and our steps direct themsleves toward Him. The soul which desires to be freed from sin knows to say to the Lord, "take from me this heavy burden of sin, and I will take up your easy yoke." And thus it happens: the Lord forgives sins, and the soul begins to walk in His commandments. The commandments are a yoke, but sins are also a burden. But as it turns out, the soul learns that the yoke of the commandments is as light as a feather, while the burden of sins is as heavy as a mountain. Let us not fear, therefore, to willingly take on the Lord's easy yoke and His light burden! In this way - and in this way only - we may find rest for our souls.

"Придите ко Мне все труждающиеся и обремененные, и Я успокою вас; возьмите иго Мое на себя и научитесь от Меня, ибо Я кроток и смирен сердцем, и найдете покой душам вашим; ибо иго Мое благо, и бремя Мое легко." (Мф 11,30)

Святитель Феофан Затворник. Мысли на каждый день года


(Рим. 11, 13-24; Мф. 11, 27-30). "Придите ко Мне, все труждающиеся и обремененные, и Я успокою вас". О, божественного, о любезного, о сладчайшего Твоего гласа! Пойдемте же все вслед зовущего нас Господа! Но наперед надо восчувствовать, что нам трудно и тяжело восчувствовать, то есть, что у нас грехов много, и грехи эти тяжки. От этого чувства родится потребность искать себе облегчения. Вера укажет тогда нам единственное прибежище в Господе Спасителе, и шаги наши сами собою направятся к Нему. Душа, возжелавшая избавиться от грехов, знает, что сказать Господу: "возьми бремя от меня тяжкое, греховное, а я возьму иго Твое благое". И бывает так: Господь прощает грехи, а душа начинает ходить в заповедях Его. И заповеди - иго, и грехи - бремя. Но сличив то и другое, душа находит, что иго заповедей легко, как перо, а бремя грехов тяжело, как гора. Не убоимся же охотно принять иго Господне благое и бремя Его легкое! Так только, а не иначе, можем обрести покой душам нашим.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Nuns from Belarus to speak at St Nicholas this Sunday

Sisters Olga and Natalia, two nuns from the Orthodox Monastery of St. Elizabeth in Minsk, Belarus, will speak at St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, on Saturday July 29 , after Divine Liturgy (about 11 AM).

The monastery is situated on the premises of a state-supported psychiatric hospital that treats about 12,000 patients a year. The sisters offer spiritual help to the mentally disabled adults and children, alcoholics, drug addicts and other disadvantaged people. The monastery has also acquired a parcel of land where about 60 people -- previously homeless, alcoholics, drug addicts, or prisoners -- live and work. The sisters try to help them start a new life. Work has begun on the organization of an orphanage.

On the premises of the monastery are a variety of workshops producing religious items such as hand-painted and printed icons, ceramics, embroidery, beeswax candles, vestments, woodwork, and CDs.

The sisters will speak and show a film about their life and service and accept donations for their charitable work and for the further construction of the monastery.

The sisters should be arriving Friday, and celebrate the services for the Apostles Peter and Paul with us (Friday 6:30 PM, Sat liturgy 9:00 AM) and possibly vigil on Saturday.

Call 972 529-2754 for more information.

The icon was painted at St. Elizabeth's of Soviet-era martyr Pavlin, Bishop of Mogilev (1879-1937)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

4th Sun after Pentecost, Freedom and Slavery, Romans 6:18-23, Matthew 8:5-13

4th Sunday after Pentecost, 2002

Freedom and Slavery


This coming Sunday, June 30/July 13th, 2008) is the 4th Sunday after Pentecost

See the bottom of this post for links to other homilies for this day

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Freedom. The epistle today mentions freedom. Freedom is a favorite word in our society. So few know what freedom is. The Apostle says, “Being then made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness.” Then he says, “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh.” He is speaking of an exalted topic that only can be understood with spiritual knowledge, and the only way to obtain this knowledge is by spiritual struggle. Our weak will, desiring to do works of righteousness, being joined to the Powerful Will, to the Everlasting Will of God to make us capable of doing those things which are righteous.

He’s going to give us a way of thinking, sort-of a mnemonic device that you should take to heart and use because it is a very useful device. He says, “as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness, and iniquity unto iniquity, even so now yield your members servants unto righteousness, unto holiness.” In other words, just as before you were enslaved to various sins, now consider yourself a slave to righteousness. Just as before – or even, God forgive us, even now perhaps – you have been a slave to a particular way of thinking or doing something, think of yourself now as being required to do works of righteousness, just as if you had a taskmaster behind you ordering you to do your work.

Now, he is speaking in the manner of men because of our infirmity.

Actually, the only way to understand how the heart is compelled to do righteousness is to compel yourself. Then you will understand how sweet the Lord is, how beautiful His doctrines are, and how there is nothing more perfect, and more holy, and more fulfilling than to follow God’s law.

So he says, “for when ye were servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.” In other words, you didn’t do righteousness, you did sin, and you couldn’t stop yourself. But what Jesus Christ offers us is the power to become holy! Now He offers us that we would become, willingly, His servants. Now, at the end of the age, those who have been good servants He will call friends, no longer servants. But we, in the here and now with all of our sins and all of our forgetfulness and our intransigence, should consider ourselves to be servants – servants of a Benevolent Master, not having a choice whether we should do righteousness or not. Our Lord commands it so we do it.

“What fruit did we have in these things,” the Apostle asks, “wherein ye are now ashamed?” The things that were unrighteous only gave us pleasure for a season, and then we were unhappy. The end of these things is death. He is giving us another idea here, something we should call to mind often. He is saying, “The end of these things is death.”

In order to be able to think such a thought, we must be able to look towards the future. We must be able to see our actions not in the moment, but after the moment, perhaps even far after the moment. If we think of how unhappy we will be if we commit a sin, we will not commit many sins.

Think of your unhappiness after you have fallen into something that shames you. Think about your unhappiness about such a thing before you sin, and then you won’t sin. The end of such things is death. We know this!

We must learn to live for the future, not to live in the here and now, because after all, aren’t we supposed to be setting our eyes upon the heavenly Jerusalem? Isn’t that supposed to be our goal, our purpose: to become righteous so that we can be in the presence of God and not only not be ashamed, but be happy; to be completely free?

Imagine being completely free. Not freedom as the world defines it, to do what one chooses, choosing things that actually cause enslavement, but to be completely able to be righteous, to not be touched by any sin, to not have any wavering in our heart towards evil.

The Church thinks this is very important because in every service we say, “deliver us from tribulation, wrath, and necessity.” That necessity is enslavement to unrighteousness. People make excuses for their enslavements all the time. “Well, I smoke because it’s a bad habit I picked up and I haven’t been able to break it.” “I’m always so tired, so I oversleep.“ “You know, with all of the impure things all about, I just have so much trouble having pure thoughts.” These are all excuses. When you say such things, or even think such things, then you are saying, “I’m a slave to unrighteousness. My master is the evil one.”

How can we say such things? We are slaves to righteousness. Our Master is our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lived the life that He requires us to live. And He made us capable of living such a life. So we must consider ourselves slaves to Him. So when it comes time that there is a temptation for you, you have to say, “I can’t do that, I’m a slave. I don’t deserve to do that. I don’t have any right to do that. My Lord has told me to do the other thing. I’m a slave. I don’t have a right. I only have a right to do righteousness.” If you think in such terms, you will be saved from many, many sins.

Let freedom be that which is in your heart, brothers and sisters, which allows you to always choose correctly, and not to be forced to do that which is unrighteous. That’s the freedom God offers. It’s not the freedom that society offers. Their definition of freedom is that you can indulge in pleasures as you wish. But pleasures have a price. Indeed, even good pleasures have a price. Even the happiness that we will have with God has its price—our Lord paid that price. We’ve been bought with a price. So since we’ve been bought with a price, we’re no longer our own. We’re not owned by the devil, nor do we own ourselves – our Lord is our Master, so we must do as He tells us to do. And it just so happens that everything He tells us to do – every single thing – is for our welfare, so that we would become completely free.

All of us have things in our life that we wish we could change. Don’t you hate those things? Don’t just despise that you fall into something again and again? You don’t want to, and yet you do? Well, start thinking of yourself as a slave to righteousness, and then act as a slave would act when considering doing something. You have no right to commit that sin. You have no right to become angry at someone, because your Lord said that you cannot do that. You have no right to have a lustful thought, because your Lord said, “He who looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery in his heart.” And adultery is forbidden. You have no right!

You do have a right to do works of righteousness, and your Lord has given you a blanket blessing to do righteousness in whatever you do. You need not ask Him for permission to do righteousness. But He will check with you; He will require of you works of righteousness. But He allows you to choose, so that you can learn what true freedom really is. Freedom is always to make choices for righteousness – that is what freedom is. Freedom is to have no regrets, no unhappiness, to be complete, whole, lacking nothing.

What a wonderful thing freedom is! And what a terrible thing that this word has been hijacked in our society, to mean something it isn’t, to mean slavery and not freedom. You’ve been made free from sin by your baptism. The Lord has bought you with a price, now we’d best act like we’ve been bought with a price. And he says, “being made free from sin” – that is, being made capable of being free from sin. We’re capable of it. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, including the evil one in your ear. You’re capable of being free from sin because the Lord made you such. The Lord bought you with a price. And our Lord is a good trader; He doesn’t make foolish purchases. You’ve been bought with a price, so you’re capable of being free from sin. But you must give your will to the Lord, and give your struggles to the Lord, in order to realize this perfect freedom. Being made free from sin and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto holiness, and the end – everlasting life!

So the Apostle teaches us, as it were, two ways of thinking, two mnemonic devices. One is that when you are presented with the possibility of sin or of righteousness, you say “I am a slave to righteousness. I have no right to commit that sin. I’ve been bought with a price. I’ve been made free as regarding sin. There is nothing compelling me to sin as long as I beg the Lord to help me.” And the other is that when you are presented with the possibility of sin, you think that the end of such things is death. “And if I endure but for a little while, I will have fruit unto holiness, and eternal life.

Every sin, every decision in your life, every fork in the road, you should be thinking these things. You have no right to sin. The Lord has told you. You don’t have a right to do it. He has told you that you must do righteousness. You must follow Him. You must desire to be righteous. And He will help you. But you are not a slave any more – not of unrighteousness. So don’t think of yourself as such. And if you fall into unrighteousness, then beg the Lord to forgive you, beg Him to strengthen your will, beg Him to bring to your mind your sadness in this moment so that in the next moment you will recall it and you won’t fall into sin.

This can only be understood by experience. Experience is the great teacher of the soul. The Lord, bit by bit, as we are capable, gives us enlightenment. But He only enlightens those who are struggling, only those who are trying, only those who know their position. And that is that they are slaves of Him. Now, He is a benevolent Master, and He doesn’t require of us anything, but we had best think that we are required! As soon as we turn towards righteousness even a little, He is there to help us. Let us turn to Him all the time, so that He will help us.

We have an example of experience in the Gospel. When I was thinking about the Epistle and the Gospel today, I thought I wanted to talk about both of them. Well, I can’t do that exactly, but I want to say something about Cornelius. A Centurion, he was a Roman. He was officially of a pagan religion. He couldn’t go into the synagogue. He couldn’t say that he was a Jew. But he had Jewish sacred writings, and he read them, and he loved the Jewish nation, and although he was an occupying soldier, the Jews loved him because he loved them. So when Jesus comes into Capernaum, Cornelius meets Him and says, “my servant lies at home sick of the palsy, paralyzed.” And Jesus says, “I’ll come and I’ll heal him.”

But Cornelius is a man with experience. Cornelius is a man who knows something about righteousness. He knows something about authority. He says, “I’m not worthy that you come under my roof,” partially because he is a pagan, and a Jew is not to go into a pagan’s household – it defiles him. “Only speak the word, and my servant shall be healed, for I am a man under authority, and I have soldiers under me. And I say to this soldier, ‘go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘do this,’ and he does it.” And the inference is, “I know how to do what I’m told, too.”

He was a righteous man – so righteous that the Lord said that He had not found so great faith, not in all of Israel. Now that must have made the Pharisees quite angry, don’t you think? Pointing to an occupying soldier, the hated enemy, of the army that they hoped the Messiah would annihilate, and have their blood flow in the streets, and say, “This man is more righteous than all of you put together.” Why was he righteous? Why did he have such faith? Because he knew about obedience. He expected those under him to be obedient because he was obedient to those over him. So let us know something about obedience, brothers and sisters; let us know something about authority. Let us realize that we are under the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Priest Seraphim Holland

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney Texas.

Scripture for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost

Romans 6:18-23 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Matthew 8:5-13 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Homilies on the 4th Sunday after Pentecost

4th Sunday after Pentecost (HTML format)

Freedom and Slavery
Romans 6:18-23, Matthew 8:5-13
Also in Format: Adobe PDF or RTF or Word DOC

4th Sunday after Pentecost (Word DOC format)


4th Sunday after Pentecost (mp3 format)


4th week after Pentecost - Tuesday - Matthew 11:16-20

4th Week After Pentecost – Tuesday

Matthew 11:16-20 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, 17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. 19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children. 20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:

Who is who?

"This generation" is the Jews who were not accepting Jesus' preaching and way of life. They found excuses (with excuses in sins) to not follow the righteous way of life. They are also referred to as the "fellows" who would not listen to the rebuke of the "children sitting in the markets" (who are St John the Baptist and Jesus, and, by extension all righteous).

The righteous way of life "speaks" to the unrighteous, whether it be from St John or Jesus, or our poor efforts. They are hearing from their own conscience.

To make excuse with excuses in sins”

The unrighteous judged the Baptist, because his way of life was too severe for them. He is indicated as one who "mourned". His dedication to righteousness was evident by the way he lived - and their judgment of him was a classic example of the judgment that people heap on others who are righteous because they are not righteous which the Lord described elsewhere: "Is thine eye evil because I am good?" (Mat 20:15) They were chastened by his way of life - it exposed the hypocrisy of their self-indulgence. Rather than repent, they used judgment of St John, with a fabricated charge (having a devil) to mollify their conscience.

They also judged Jesus, whose way of life did not appear to be as severe as St John's, so He is indicated as one who has "piped". This does not mean that Jesus way of life was frivolous merrymaking, but rather, that in the eyes of the Jews, his way of life was not as severe and physically self-mortifying as the Baptist's. Amazingly, they considered Jesus to be guilty of their sins, which they did not recognize in themselves (gluttony and drunkenness).

The self-indulgent sinner will be inherently judgmental of others, and very often, judges another for the very sins they commit. Feeling superior to others keeps us from seeing our own sins. Their prejudice against publicans and "sinners" made it easier to take the focus off themselves. Seeing someone who epitomized the love of God by loving all men cut them to the quick and challenged their prejudices.

In essence, both righteous men were judged for the same reasons - their conduct pricked the conscience of the Jews, and an unrepentant person does not want to be reminded of his sins, so he manufactures reasons to reject the person who pricks his conscience.

"But Wisdom is justified of her children"

Wisdom is another title Christ uses for Himself. The OT uses this title extensively also. The children of Wisdom are those who follow His way of life.

Justified is a word that encompasses righteousness. We are justified when we become righteous. Jesus is saying that He, Wisdom, will have righteous children - Christians.

We have the wrong idea of "justice" in our culture, which thinks of it as something that is imposed as a punishment on someone who has done wrong, or when something is given to someone to correct a wrong. This is not justice, but fallen human nature looking out for its own interests. Justice does not involve revenge or punishment. It is to live in a certain way - the way which Wisdom has taught us.