The Rich Man Who Walked Away

This parable is probably the most striking to me. I’ve heard this parable, along with many others, a lot throughout my Christian journey. I heard this as a Protestant, I heard this as a Roman Catholic, and I hear it now as a Ruthenian Rite Catholic. It is a parable I will hear at least once every year. But why does it strike me?

We all know the story from Matthew 19:

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

The thing is that every single pastor I had ever met had focused on one thing. That the guy was too greedy to follow Jesus. He liked his possessions too much to even seek after eternal life. Every sermon or homily I ever listened to was a scoff-fest. We would all listen disapprovingly, and then the pastor or priest would lay into his greed. And I agreed with them. The man knew what he had to do and rejected it to keep his possessions. Most sermons never called on US to change but rather chastized “the rich” in our society who choose money over God.

Then, one Sunday, the priest of my parish read the gospel and began the homily. This homily stands out above all of his other homilies since he had the tendency of putting me to sleep. He was so boring and I could predict what he was going to say. “Gospel was about this and that and this relates to the eucharist because blah blah and in the eucharist we can…” But on this day, his rhetoric was somewhat different. I remember snapping out of a daydream (I was 16 at the time) and he said “here is a man who’s observance of the commandments could put all of us to shame.” And that statement struck me. We were so busy accusing him of greed that we ignored the part where he had never broken a commandment. His issue wasn’t greed. If he was greedy, he’d have been violating the commandment to not covet. In fact, he obeyed the law to “love his neighbor as himself.” This means that he was even GENEROUS with his possessions and gave some things away to help others.

He was more righteous than the Pharisees. Jesus didn’t chastise him for deception or for only following the letter. Jesus recognized in him a genuine heart that wanted to serve Him. But he was too attached to the world. He helped the poor, but he also enjoyed his money. He liked the licit pleasures of this world too much. He figured he could serve God while maintaining a comfortable standard of living. Even after the man walked away, Christ didn’t condemn him. Christ said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. After the disciples noted the impossibility of that statement, Christ said that with God, it is possible. Essentially, it is possible, but it will be very difficult. But Christ can save him.

The ironic thing is, that all of us scoffing at him are essentially in the same situation. Everyone reading this has access to an internet browser, probably lives indoors, and probably hasn’t genuinely faced starvation. Even more ironic is that everyone scoffing at the churches I went to all had cars and owned homes. Some had 2 cars. Some had fancy cars. Some had fancy homes. Then they come to church and hear the Gospel messages. And when they (myself included) heard this call to give up EVERYTHING, they make excuses to why it doesn’t apply to them. And guess what. They are NOT wrong. Nowhere does Christ say that owning property is a sin. No saint has ever said that rich people can’t get into heaven. There have been some really well-off people who have been canonized. In fact, many Popes who went on to become saints lived in a very luxurious Vatican. They spent their days sitting on a papal throne, being carried about the streets like a king.

The issue isn’t a question of sinfulness but rather of theosis. We can begin our transformation now or after our death. It’s going to happen sooner or later. The difference is that it is easier for us to do it while alive since we can use our bodies to help perfect our souls, but while dead, it is a lot harder to purify our souls without a body. That is why it is said that being present at a single liturgy in life will benefit one’s soul more than hundreds of liturgies offered for them after death. That is why it is hard.

But financial possessions aren’t the only thing that tethers us to this world and prevent our theosis. What about family or friends? What about our desire to be successful? What about our education and careers? Every person, unless they are a monk or nun who has literally given up everything and has no possessions, spending their days at a monastery praying and helping others, is that rich young man. We have to give up even our relationships with our family and friends if we want to be someone who follows Christ directly.

That is the purpose of that parable. Many of us are that rich man, unable to part with our possessions, while still upholding the commandments. And this parable is actually a message of hope. Even though we can’t part with everything to cut ourselves off from the world, God says that it will be hard, but not impossible for us to enter into the kingdom of heaven. The Church teaches that those who repent and try to seek after Christ will be saved. And for those of us who never get around to abandoning all of our possessions to enter into monastic life, maybe as we go through purgatory in the next life, we will realize how foolish we were for holding on to something that we were destined to lose anyway.


Technology in the Liturgy

If there is one thing that I cannot stand, it is the placement of projector screens in churches. This hasn’t really occurred in the East as much as it has in the West. But why is it an issue? Is it that we should be opposed to new technology? We have books, and some of us have pews, and those didn’t exactly exist when the Christ founded the Church, so that argument is out. (Plus, I would be hardpressed to find a Church that didn’t use a heater or A/C – or electric lighting). It isn’t technology that I dislike.

The issue is about what is in the front of the Church. In our Byzantine Catholic Churches, we have beautiful icon screens, which really convey the sacred nature of the place that we are in. Those images, along with the candles, really set a prayerful climate. It is a climate that is meant to put us into a different time period so that we can fully place ourselves into the liturgy. Church has always placed us in the past, even back in 33AD! The first liturgy, the Last Supper, celebrated by Christ Himself, occurred in concordance with a Passover Seder, which called its participants back to the Exodus. Every Liturgy looked to the past as well as forward to the Second Coming. That is why our Churches have maintained the same sacred architecture that it had since our victory over the Iconoclastic heresy.

In the West, after the Second Vatican Council, the architecture of their churches was changed to reflect their “meal theology.” Essentially, the Eucharist is a communal meal of “we and God” and so they changed the architecture of the Church to reflect this. Age old designs, such as the Church being shaped in the form of a cross, or the Church representing a ship on the way to heaven was thrown out to be replaced with a semi-circular concert hall to reflect the meal in the “here-and-now.” The Romans previously had too much of an emphasis on the Sacrifice of the Cross (to the detriment of the focus on the Resurrection – in my opinion. Others may say that you can never be too focused on the cross) but now the sacrifice is denied almost completely in this architecture. It becomes less about worshipping God and more about having a good time in God’s presence. You must acknowledge the Cross in the liturgy, but you must remember the resurrection as well.

With this change, there was a lot of empty space created. In one corner, tabernacles were stashed aside. Towards the front, there was nothing next to the sides of the crucifix. No icons, no paintings, not even statues. While in the past, Roman Churches would have side altars with statues, now there is nothing. With this, the Church also realized that they didn’t have much money left over after “renovations,” so things such as vestments and decent hymnals became something the local churches had no interest in investing in. And with technological advancements, they solved two of their problems. They could eliminate the blank space as well as the need to buy books by placing projector screens in the churches. While this may be a very utilitarian solution, imagine coming into a church to pray. Towards the front (which all the pews face), there is a very un-ornate altar table with a crucifix (if you’re lucky- if you’re unlucky you get one of those weird resurrection crucifixes). You might get some statues, but that’s about it. Then you see two blank projector screens. The tabernacle is off in the corner. If you are lucky, there are kneelers in front of the tabernacle. These new churches are not very prayer-friendly.

Thankfully, I do not anticipate this ever becoming an issue in our Eastern Catholic Churches. After all, where would they go? Icon screens cover up the majority of the front, if not all of it. They simply do not have a place to go in our worship – and that is a good thing.

We do have technology in our churches, and that is also a good thing. The air conditioning, the books (yes books are technology), the lights are all things that make it easier to focus on prayer. And that is what technology should do in the Church: focus us in our prayers to God.

What is the Purpose of Prayer?

A lot of people ask this question. However, the thing they forget to do is ask themselves this first: What is Prayer? After all, if we don’t know what something is, we can’t know it’s purpose. Prayer, in its simplest definition, is communication to a spiritual entity. We pray to angels, saints, and God. Here, we must draw a distinction. There is a difference between prayer and worship. All worship is prayer, but not all prayer is worship. Worship literally means to give worth. So we worship (in the literal sense) God, Mary, the angels and saints, and even anyone we respect and admire.  However, our understanding of worship is an action in which we give to recognize one as a Supreme being. So, using our colloquial understanding of the word, we would say that we worship God, glorify Mary, praise the angels and saints, and honor those around us who we respect and admire.

Prayer can be broken down even further into: Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplications (abbreviated ACTS). This leads into the purpose. We adore God just for the sake of His goodness. We pray to express sorrow for sin and to beseech forgiveness. We give thanks to God for his great goodness. The last is supplications. A lot of people question this aspect. After all, there have been cases where areas were threatened with destruction, but since everyone prayed for deliverance, God delivered them. Then, there are cases where Christian areas were wiped out by natural disasters or by murderous psychopaths. Some people say that the more people praying for something, the more likely God will answer the prayer. Sometimes, that is the case, sometimes it isn’t. And we don’t always get what we want.

A lot of times, we treat God as a cosmic Santa Claus to give us whatever we want and whenever we want. We pray for people to not die, we pray for storms to be averted, we pray to win the lottery, we pray for other people to convert, etc. We forget that His plan is sometimes nonsensical to us.

So, sometimes our supplications are answered, sometimes their not. So why ask? We have an inherent need to be in total communion with God. Our created purpose is for worship after all. It is by telling God all of our cares, even when we know what we want won’t occur, that we fully trust in Him. Even Jesus prayed to God the Father and wasn’t given what He asked. “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me, but not My will but Yours be done.”  See, here we see a perfect model of supplication. We pray for what we want and for deliverance from what may occur. But we accept God’s will regardless.

What is Consent?

Pretty much every Catholic is familiar with the concept of Mortal Sin. We all know that there are 3 conditions: it must be grave matter, you must have full knowledge, and you must give full consent. In my opinion, consent is the most important part, since consent is the only part of the sin you can actually do. The gravity of an action is objective and will always be the same when factoring in the object, purpose, and circumstances of the act. The knowledge is variable but is set at the time consent is given. Without consent, an act will not take place. It is possible to fully consent to evil without knowing that it is gravely evil. Then again, the grave evil this usually refers to is that of breaking a disciplinary law such as meat on Friday. It is a sin because of the disobedience, not because meat is bad. (So, I guess it really isn’t gravely evil since you can’t intentionally sin through disobedience if you didn’t know it was a rule, to begin with).

Now with consent to a sin, there are many different levels.

The highest level is full consent. This means you are allowing your body to perform the act and you are participating without resistance. This does not mean you aren’t facing temptation. For instance, there is a party going on at the same time as church, and you really want to go to it and you are seriously considering skipping mass/liturgy.

Then there is consent through habit. It is something our body has been used to doing, so the body has a stronger inclination to do. We feel bothered when we don’t do it. An example here is foul language. We are so used to using Jesus’s name in vulgar ways that it happens automatically. We don’t mean disrespect but we do it anyways.

Then there is consent through addiction. This is where the body feels like it NEEDS to do something. This is something that happens when you are actively trying to stop but can’t stop easily. There are people addicted to pornography, people addicted to eating, people addicted to smoking, etc. Yes, you are allowing yourself to perform the act and participating in it, but if you didn’t have that addiction, you could go periods without considering it. An example is the people who do drugs even when they know they will be caught and lose everything. Or someone who cannot function normally without a substance. Yes, there are people addicted to coffee, even if coffee isn’t immoral.

Then there is consent through violence. For instance, you commit a sin because you are being threatened. An example is being forced at gunpoint to perform sexual acts. It’s still considered consent because you could resist, but without the threat, you wouldn’t have done it.

Then there is involuntary reaction.You don’t actively give consent or participate, but you don’t resist either. An example is throwing a punch without contemplation. The fist flies before you can even think to stop. Or when you injure yourself and you shout Jesus’s name.

Lastly, there is perfect resistance, where you don’t give into the sin.

A lot of people, especially traditionalists, forget that the condition of mortal sin is FULL consent. Now, these people have good intentions. They understand the serious potential for people to rationalize their mortal sin into a venial sin. For instance, someone could take their temptation and say “I didn’t give full consent because I was tempted” which is absolutely false. Thus, you have people who don’t even repent of their sins or even try to fight sins. To them, full consent is if they do something completely devoid of inclination. The other fear of traditionalists is that the person with an addiction will figure that since they aren’t committing a mortal sin, they won’t have to change. The fact is that not even trying is a different sin. The sin of being lukewarm. Sin is damaging and every time a sin is committed, regardless of consent, you are damaged, and so is your relationship with God. And those sins will cause you to commit other sins that you aren’t addicted to, thus enabling you to give full consent to a different sin. If you don’t fight an addiction, you will fall away from God. The last traditionalist fear is that someone will claim an addiction when they really don’t have one. Thus, they excuse themselves from the confessional. “I don’t need to go since I’m addicted and therefore not in mortal sin.” That distinction isn’t made by an individual. Either a healthcare practitioner or a priest will tell you of your addiction.

The traditionalists have good intentions here, but the issue that occurs is that the addicted person will despair and give up. The same occurs with people with scrupulosity. Saying that someone who is addicted isn’t in mortal sin is not a free pass for them to continue their sin. And it only applies to someone who genuinely repents and wants to change.

The thing about actions, whether good or bad, is that we don’t own them. They don’t originate from us. We are incapable of owning our own actions since due to our corrupted fall, all the good we do came from God, and all that is bad is because of the fall. Yes, we cannot even pride ourselves in having ownership over our sins. We perform deeds. We commit sins. We do not own them. The only thing we do is consent to them and participate in them. Thus, the only action we really own is whether we consent to or reject God’s mercy.

Why Don’t We Pray for Satan (or other Demons)

Someone asked me this question a long time ago. After all, Jesus says to pray for our enemies. The issue with praying for Satan, however, is that it will have absolutely no effect. Why? Because unlike us humans, his sin originated from within. Angels are pure spirits. Spirits differ from corporeal forms, such as ourselves, in that they don’t have a body. Our capacity for understanding is limited by our brain. (we have a spiritual capacity too as far as intellect goes, but we don’t get to use it unless we’ve become spiritual masters, for example, devout monks who achieve sainthood, or until we are dead.) Angels, on the other hand, had infinite theoretical knowledge of everything. They knew the law and the truth, and they knew exactly what would happen to them should they reject God. They were not tempted in any way shape or form. The concept of not being tempted into sin seems absolutely foreign to us. After all, there are probably none of us who knows what it feels like to not be at least tempted slightly by something. In fact, when I say I am not tempted, I really mean “the temptation is small enough to where I can unconsciously manage it.”

Before the fall, we could only be tempted externally, but after the fall we became able to be tempted from within, due to the fall corrupting our nature. When we fell, Satan tempted us externally. That means our flesh didn’t crave the sin like ours do. Yet, because of our minds, we saw the benefits of the sin and did not fully grasp the severity of the consequences. We knew we’d be punished, but we figured that the knowledge of good and evil was worth it. However, the understanding is that without the external temptation, we wouldn’t have even considered eating the fruit.

The demons, on the other hand, had no such external temptation. Nothing disordered came along to corrupt them. They became disordered on their own accord. The fact is, the demons, on their own accord, said that they would rather be banished into a lake of fire for all eternity than to willingly serve God. They knew exactly what they were doing and their actions would be irrevocable. Furthermore, they do not have a capacity for remorse. To this day, they are happy with their decision.

Lastly, God has already judged them and sentenced them to eternity in hell. We, however, have not been judged. We can still repent, no matter how evil we have been. We are incapable of committing an evil as pure as the demons. The worst we can do is reject God’s mercy at the end of our lives. Even if one of us was to sit here and wish God dead, that act would have originated from a sinful corruption. The very fact of the matter is that there is nothing that we can do, good or evil, that originates from ourselves. We cannot pride ourselves in any good we have done. Only through God do we perform good acts. But even then, we cannot even pride ourselves in our sins. For there is nothing that we can commit that would truly be original. It is all prompted through demonic influence, whether it be the concupiscence from the fall or from an external temptation. The extent of our action is to give consent. But even with that, it is still us doing it. We participate. We aren’t just robots who hand over the keys to God or Satan.

Who is Satan?

The most common images of the devil are either that of a red guy with horns and a pitchfork or a ridiculously attractive and seductive woman/man. The former points to the ugliness of his sin. The latter points to how enticing his sin is to us. In my opinion, I think Satan is not so blatantly obvious. Sometimes there are events that occur in history when we see complete evil out in plain sight, whether it be a shooting in Nevada or mass genocide in Germany. Yet, Satan works in subtle ways. If you ask me, I would say that Satan brings a false sense of comfort and peace. He’s a friendly person to you. And the most confusing aspect is that he will feed you some truth, and pepper in some subtle lies. Sometimes he encourages strict adherence to religious doctrines. How on earth could that be wrong? Isn’t following the law to the letter a good thing? Jesus didn’t think so. Not in the case of the Pharisees who considered anything that required any effort to be “working on the Sabbath.” Jesus essentially told them that they need to understand the “spirit of the law.” In other words, “use common sense when applying the law.”

Did you know that there are Jews out there who refuse to push buttons on an elevator on Saturdays because it’s technically “work?”  There have also been heretical sects of Christianity which promoted strict fasting guidelines, such as the Montanists, which started off as a strict observance and eventually grew into a full-fledged group of schismatic heretics. This was the group that the great theologian Tertullian succumbed to.

Then you have the opposite end of the spectrum: the liberal interpretation of the moral law. Essentially, this view discourages even following the law in certain areas. This Satanic influence is more apparent and does not need much explanation. But the two ends of the spectrum have one thing in common: both detract a person from having a genuine relationship with God. That’s really what Satan’s aim is. He becomes your friend who slowly directs you off the path of righteousness. There is certainly a balance to genuine worship of God. Certainly in this day and age, in comparison to society, the true church is conservative. However, it was not too long ago in the past when the church was considered liberal in comparison to the societal norms. The command to be fruitful and multiply was liberal in a society that considered licit marital sex to still be inherently sinful. After all, some theologians theorized that it was in the act of sex that original sin was transmitted and some monastics considered all marital acts to be a byproduct of the sin of lust. In fact, some even suggested that there would have been a different reproductive process if it hadn’t been for the fall.

The takeaway here is that Satan is able and willing to be anything and everything to subvert us. Sometimes he uses obvious enticements that we know are wrong but can’t resist. Other times, he disguises himself as an angel of light, using elements of truth to weave heresies to lead us astray. There are 4 cardinal virtues: Prudence, Courage, Justice, and Temperance. Prudence is your compass, temperance is your map. Courage your sword, justice your shield. Employ these tools that God gives you to know and follow the right path. And know that Satan will not stop short of using tremendous good to achieve tremendous evil.

Venial Sins aren’t Good

This is a common sense statement. However, there is a need to say it. A lot of people believe for whatever reason that it is ok to commit venial sins since they don’t require the confessional before communion. It almost seems that people are more concerned about being able to receive communion than they are about developing a relationship with God. People tend to imagine the difference between a mortal and venial sin as being as wide as the Grand Canyon. Venial sins are seen as insignificant, and mortal sins are seen as either the worst thing imaginable (they are) or as being something that you just confess to make go away. The difference they see between the two is that one requires sacramental confession and the other does not. They forget that both require genuine repentance for forgiveness. The fact is, the difference between the two is that one completely kills your relationship with God and the church (and thus you need to be restored to communion. You are quite literally excommunicated. Not in the canonical sense but in a literal sense. You are outside of communion. (There are mortal sins that are automatic excommunications in the canonical sense but that is not what I am referring to). Venial sins damage your relationship with God. To put this in perspective, let’s imagine that a person’s body is the relationship. People see a venial sin the same as being a papercut. No. A venial sin is like having a cannonball blow your arm off. Yes, you will live, but it’s not something you just brush off.

A mortal sin is like being shot in the head. There are different and worse ways to die as well. Likewise, a mortal sin can be anything from sexual immorality to murder. Murder seems like the worst thing a person could commit, but masturbation can also be a mortal sin. These two sins are very far apart in their degree of gravity. But that isn’t what mortal sin means. It means your relationship with God and the Church is severed. The ironic part is that all sins are infinitely evil. All sins are worthy of death, and we do receive that punishment. Everyone WILL die. Mortal sin doesn’t mean sin worthy of death. All sins are worthy of death. An example would be someone who is diseased. A person with the flu would stay in bed, drink water and take medicine. In a few days, they would be healthy again, provided they followed the treatment plan. They wouldn’t need to present themselves to a priest. However, a leper would be cast out of the community and before being able to gain admission, would have to present himself to a priest to be declared clean. Only then could he be readmitted to the community.

Venial sins are something you want to avoid if you are seeking a godly life. They aren’t a free pass at a sin with the assumption that it is automatically forgiven.

Need an Ark? I Noah Guy

Noah’s Ark is probably the most misunderstood Bible Story in the West. In fact, I am quite certain that if it is even considered by normal, everyday people, it is glossed over. Thus, we are left with this:noahs-beaver-problemThis here image is essentially how everyone sees the ark. A barely seaworthy vessel cruising along with a bunch of happy and cute animals. Oh, and Noah is shocked that the beavers are eating the boat apparently.

It doesn’t help that when Protestants write books to help explain it to children, we get this:


When the flood is explained to children, quite often the story that is told is that the animals went on the boat two by two and Noah and his family got aboard. God warned Noah of the flood and Noah tried to warn the others, but they laughed at him. Then, when the flood happens, we don’t hear about people anymore. We just hear that the waters flooded the Earth.

The flood was God’s judgment and God had judged every other person other than Noah and his family of being unworthy of living due to their immense sins. This included small children and babies. As we know, the rains came for 40 days and 40 nights.

Where else do we see the number 40?

In Exodus, when the Israelites wandered through the desert for 40 years for disobeying God’s commandments. We also see 40 in the New Testament when Jesus fasted before He began His public ministry.

Something we must keep in mind is that God is a God of order. He uses patterns to convey meaning to us. We hear 40 and we think about this:twelve_gospels

Great Lent. We see 40 days as a journey to Pascha. Some people view Lent as the “Catholic Season” like how a football player sees football season or a baseball player sees baseball season. Lent to them is the sport and Good Friday is the Super Bowl, with Pascha being the ring to crown their sufferings. Some other well-intentioned people see Pascha as the big event and think that the entirety of our Christian lives are for that feast. They think we live for Pascha. Pascha is indeed a very important feast. It is so important that we celebrate for 40 days. Wait. 40? I thought 40 was only for penitential actions. But Jesus was with the apostles for 40 days and ascended so surely that can’t mean 40 is for penance can it? 40 actually means something completely different but more on that later.


This is where the fun begins. Everyone knows how long the flood lasted. 40 days and 40 nights, right? Well, as President Donald Trump famously said in his debate against Hillary Clinton, “WRONG!” It RAINED for 40 days and 40 nights. But after the rain stopped, it took 150 days for the waters to subside. 150 is an interesting number. That’s the number of Psalms in the Bible. 150 is only seen in the Bible in these two instances. Yet, if it is next to a prophetic number such as 40, then 150 must have meaning too. After all, if you divide it by 3 (number of persons in the Holy Trinity) you get 50. 50 is the Pentecost, which to the Jew is when they received the law on Mount Sinai and to the Christian is when they received the Holy Spirit. Add 100 days to the liturgical calendar from pentecost and you are roughly at the end of the year. But then again, performing math calculations on a number in the Bible isn’t the best evidence.

The only other evidence is the usage of the Psalter. In the monastic community, the Psalter is read either weekly or daily. At the end of an Eastern Christian’s life, the Psalter is read over them. A full chotki has 150 knots in representation of the Psalter and is prayed unceasingly until one’s death. Thus I have drawn the conclusion that 150 days represents the time until the second coming, when we receive our “promised land.”


If you consider the story of the ark, you have Noah building and readying his ark for the day when the world is cleansed of sin. Those on the earth were either drowned in the waters or redeemed by them. Thus, the 40 days represent intense preparation. After the cleansing was completed, it took 150 days for the flood waters to subside. Although cleansed, the world was still a much dangerous place. It wasn’t until that time period ended that Noah was able to inherit his new world.

If you consider the Exodus, the Jews lived in slavery. Once they were freed, they were given the opportunity to enter the promised land. But they disobeyed God and turned back. Unlike Adam and Eve who took what they were commanded not to take, the Israelites did not take what they were commanded to take. Thus they were punished, and all those who had directly disobeyed God were not permitted to enter the land, not even Moses. They wandered for 40 years, but even though the time was up, the land was not ripe for the taking. They still had to suffer much before they could claim the land.

Now look at our Lord and Savior. He lived 30 years in secret. Other than His Nativity and the finding in the temple, there is no recorded history of Jesus. It is only after He begins His ministry with His Baptism that we see His actions. Jesus fasted for 40 days only to be presented with more temptation. Then after that was done, He suffered a brutal passion for our sins.


So how does this apply to us? I remember on the first day of Lent, back when I was a Roman Rite Catholic a priest saying “We are not a Lenten people, we are an EASTER people.” And I disagreed thinking to myself “nuh-uh we are a Lenten people because we are supposed to do penance.”

If you were to ask me why I thought that I would reply with “Because we are sinners, and sins are bad, so we do penance to show God we are sorry for our sins, because Christ died on the cross for us.” So for me, it ended at the cross, and for the priest, it ended at Easter. We forget that we are in that 150 days after the 40 days.

We were sinners before our baptism. If we converted as adults, we fasted for 40 days and were then raised to new life. We celebrated our baptism, chrismation, and first communion for a while, but then we got comfortable wearing our baptismal robe. It is no longer a new robe, but one we have worn for a long time, and we wear it to our deathbed. The goal is to make it to our deathbed with it being unstained. But, like all bright white garments, you can hardly sit down without even a tiny speck of dust blemishing it. That is why we have the Mystery of Repentance (Confession).

You see, we dont live for Pascha or Good Friday. Pentecost isn’t the afterparty. We live for the last Holy Day. The Second Coming. It is at the Second Coming that the waters finally recede and we can finally get off the boat of the Church without drowning. The Church on Earth is modeled after a ship and represents us sailing to heaven, which is the Church in Heaven. It is not a cruise ship. It is not a floating buffet outfitted with a casino and free drinks. It is an ark keeping us from the flood that will consume us in judgement.

We receive two baptisms. One is a baptism of water. The other is a baptism of fire. With Christ we have Baptism and Chrismation and are thus sanctified. But if we do not have God, the water drowns and the fire consumes. Let us always be wary.