St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

December 2008

Fr. Antony Portrait

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ is in our midst!

I love the Gospel reading that combines the raising of Jairus’ daughter and the healing of the Woman with the issue of blood.  The overwhelming compassion of the Savior comes alive for us in these two vignettes in which he literally releases these people from the chains that bind them.

One aspect of both stories that bears upon us is that both Jairus and the woman knew what it was that troubled them.  They approached Christ with a full recognition of their needs. Jairus’ fear and later grief over his child’s death was a gaping wound nothing could assuage or disguise. The Woman’s wound was one she had suffered for many years causing her not only physical misery, but also much mental distress.  She was a pariah and an outcast because of her malady.  These two reached out to Jesus with an understanding of exactly what it was that they most needed and Jesus responded with great compassion.  But do we really know what it is that is causing our own disease?

It is important that we discover the wounds in us that need to be healed. What is the cause of my distress?  What is that undercurrent of unease I so often feel, that knot in the pit of my stomach, that twinge in my neck, that feeling of anxiety, depression or fear that often controls me and causes me to respond to others who mean no harm as if they were my enemy?  We cannot know until we stop, look and listen to what is happening under our own skins.  There are two sure things. One is that the suffering comes from within as a result of conditioning and unhealthy ways of thinking and living not from without.  The second is that there is a way out.

For this reason the Church offers us Advent and the other three fasting periods we observe.  These are times to strip away the distractions that keep us from discovering what the box cars that trail behind us and are connected to us contain.  We carry burdens that weigh us down and we don’t even know what they are or why we believe we must carry them!  Renunciation is letting go of all that stuff.  We need to let go of holding back our natural, God-given thirst for freedom, for joy, for happiness.  Renunciation is the path to freedom.  

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Antony