Tag Archive for: Love

Transfigured to Peace

Armodoxy for Today: Transfigured Life

Part 5 – On the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ

Today we look at the practical application of the Transfiguration in our lives. Yes, that’s right, the Transfiguration is a moment in history, but it touches us today, two-thousand years after the event.

Reviewing, during the Transfiguration, Jesus radiates Light giving us a glimpse of his Divinity. On day two, we found the reaction that Peter had is no different than ours when in the presence of the Eternal. We are grounded in the secular and opt for the profane rather than the sacred, and so the challenge is to rise from the confines that bind us. The Call is from God to “Listen to him,” was the focus of day three, which is an alignment with Love, unconditional and pure. The Call transcends our ethnicity, nationality and our religious preferences, as we learned from the Vartavar connection. The invitation is to humanity and humankind. On day four, we learned that Jesus transfers the Light from himself to us – to everyone – giving an opportunity to participate in the Divine Nature.

On this final day, we bring together all that we have learned and understand that the Divine Nature is accessible to us all – young and old, rich and poor – so that the Kingdom of God is at hand. If each of us has within us the Graces and Love of God, our first and foremost obligation is to one another – to love, to respect, to honor, to understand, appreciate this gift of God in our fellow human being.

St. John, explains this:
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world… Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God… Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us… If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

And therefore, peace is possible, because the obstacles to peace have been removed. Seeing God not without us but within us. The Greek saint Nektarios beautifully proclaims, Seek God daily. But seek Him in your heart, not outside it. And when you find Him, stand with fear and trembling, like the Cherubim and the Seraphim, for your heart has become a throne of God.

Not only is peace possible but peace is at hand. The Transfiguration is a reminder that we are of God and our return to God is through the Love we express to one another. Once again, hear the voice saying loud and clear: Listen to Him!

We pray, Lord, I open my receptors, my ears, my eyes and all my senses to receive the Light of the Transfiguration. May I share that Light and see it in my brothers and sisters in this world. Amen.

Love within Revolution: Repentance

Armodoxy for Today: Evolving Love

When political systems do not work there is a call for revolution. The word itself comes from revolve – that is to turn around. In Christianity we use the word “repentance” which means to turn direction and aim toward God.

From early apostolic days, the term repent was used to imply a change in direction toward God. The Apostle Peter urged people to “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:38)

Repentance or repenting is a necessary part of the Christian life. What is often forgotten is that repentance takes place after self-evaluation. The necessity to repent is part of the human condition because we are not perfect.

One of the prayers offered by the priest in the Armenian Church is a prayer that you will never hear read over you, and if you do hear it read over you may want to check our surroundings. It is from the funeral service of the Church where the priest asks God, in His Mercy, to forgive the person of his sins, “because who is it that lives, and does not sin?” And in an explanation (if not to God then to all who hear this prayer) the priest confesses that “Only You (God) are sinless and to You belong the kingdom of all eternities.”

In fact, “sin” is merely an acknowledgement of our human condition. It means we are not perfect and we miss the mark of perfection. Think of a dart board, it is a target with a bull’s eye in the middle. Now imagine tossing darts at the board. For every dart that misses the center, that dart is said to be in sin. The dart that misses the bull’s eye by one ring and the dart that misses by three rings, as well as the dart that misses the entire board, have sinned; they have missed the mark.

Sometimes repentance is described with the phrase turning 180 degrees, that is, turning completely around. Not so. Sometime smaller adjustments are necessary, and the only judge of the degree of adjustment is you yourself. That is why self-evaluation is so important in the life of the Christian, and for this reason the Armenian Church gives opportunities, through days of prayer and fasting, for self-evaluation.

Each of us is in need of correcting our courses in various degrees. This is the revolution that is the beginning of living with heightened awareness. Inside of the word revolution is the word evolution and in reverse form the word love. The true call to Repentance is the call to turn around the LOVE that is missing from our lives so that we can evolve. All living forms evolve. Evolution is part of the living process. Things that are dead, decay. They do not evolve. And rightly so, they do not have the capacity to love.

The God-gift that is inside each of us is the capacity to love. Revolutions that do not accent the love within them are doomed to failure. Revolutions that have turned around the love within them are of the type that Jesus Christ ushered in with the Kingdom of Heaven. And so he instructs us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all else will fall into place. (Matthew 6:33)

We pray a prayer from the Book of Hours of the Armenian Church, “O God, Merciful, Compassionate and Patient, who pains for the sufferings of His creation. Console and grace us the reason for repentance so that we may enter Your Holy Church with spiritual enrichment, confession and repentance and along with your saints praise and glorify You, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirt. Amen.”

From Dot to World

Armodoxy for Today: From Dot to World

In keeping with the themes we’ve been discussing this past week, today I’d like to share with you a message from astronomer and planetary scientist, the late Carl Segan, with an epilogue by Jesus Christ.

In 1990, the spacecraft Voyager 1, after spending 13 years exploring parts of our Solar System had reached the edge of our planetary neighborhood. Before departing, it turned around one last time toward planet Earth. It was over 4 billion miles away from home when it snapped a picture and radioed it back to us. If you looked extremely close at the image, and only after it was pointed out to you and you took a second, third and fourth glance at it the you might see a pale blue dot against rays of scattered light caused by the Sun. That image, is planet Earth

In 1994 Carl Segan wrote the book.  “Pale Blue Dot.” In it he reminds us that that dot is home. Everyone we have known, loved or hated, every historical figure, from pauper to king, every barbarian and their warriors as well as every ethical teacher and their disciples, who has ever been studied, have all existed on that pale blue dot.

He goes on to warn humanity of the fragility of life, and the importance of honoring and respecting what we have with one another and our environment on that pale blue dot.

Take a look at Segan’s book and his observation of that tiny dot in the universe that we call Earth. You find a prominent scientist, futurist, and thinker talking about the ethics of being human. You see, the scientist and the priest are not too far off each other. They, both begin and end their days with dreams.

Armodoxy points to the universality of the message love, faith and hope. You don’t have to scrape the edges of the Universe to find this truth, it is in each of our hearts. The challenge is to implement the what exists there, and recognize that that pale blue dot is home.

In the Gospel of Matthew we read, an expert in the law, tested Jesus with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22)


The Weapon

Armodoxy for Today: The Weapon

War is a political action. It’s as old as the hills. It has become a means by which people resolve their differences. We are conditioned to believe and understand that, albeit it is an extreme measure, war resolves conflicts once and for all. We appeal to weapons, building stronger and more powerful weapons to overcome adversity and our enemies. The bigger and more powerful the weapon, we think, the more we are guaranteed victory. And so, along with the quest for peace, we are on an ever-growing exploration for bigger and more explosive weapons.

Jesus Christ presents us a weapon of sorts, namely Love. Oh yes, we pay homage to love, saying it’s what makes the world go around. All you need is love! We dedicate song, poems, novels, movies, monasteries and churches to love, and attest to its awesome power, but when it comes to weaponizing against our enemies, we have no faith in love-power and instead opt for instruments of destruction.

We’ve been conditioned, not only during our childhood as people, but as a civilization, through historical lesson, to believe that war is the solution. Reality check: wars are fought, and no one wins. Sure, a battle is won here or there, but no one wins wars. In the end, loser of the battle only builds resentment and anger, to come back another day for “settle the score.”

Furthermore, war gives the illusion that certain life is more important than other life. Women and children are called on first to evacuate, as if the life of boys and men are of less value. Soldiers are drafted or enlist, and when they don their uniform they are fair game, as if their mother or father will not cry when the announcement arrives that their baby is gone.

Over the weekend, four Israeli hostages were rescued, but the cost of the operation killed over 200 Palestinians and hospitalized four times that amount, adding to the narrative that some lives, some groups, some people are more valuable than others.

There is a higher idea and a better weapon to overcome our enemies.

If you contend that God is the author of life, then you have to admit that all life is precious to God. There are no hierarchies of people for God, as Jesus instructs. We, people, have created disparities. We author wars and are responsible for ending war.

The words of Jesus are clear:  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5)

Greater Love: Memorial Day

Armodoxy for Today: Memorial Day

There is a park that I pass by occasionally on my morning rides. It has a sizable monument dedicated to the veterans of US wars. On the center plaque there are the insignias of the different branches of the military hovering around a lone statement that reads, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

I happen to know that this quote is from Jesus. In the Gospel of John (15), Jesus proclaims this truth in final discourse with his disciples before being betrayed and handed over to trial and crucifixion. But for others who had not read the Bible passage or had no reference to Jesus, the quote seems like a basic truth. And that’s how it is presented to the visitors of the park and this monument. The quote is without reference, neither to Jesus, nor to the Gospel in which it appears.

One of the most beautiful traditions we have in the United States is expressed in the Memorial Day holiday. It is an expression of appreciation for one of the greatest gifts, namely freedom, and the price that has been paid for it.

A value can be ascribed to everything, except to human life. Life is a gift given only once by God and therefore it is priceless. When someone loses their life for a cause, we say they have paid the ultimate price, again, emphasizing its pricelessness.

We have heard that freedom is not free, and interestingly enough, the price of freedom is measured by life, that is, the value of freedom is so great that it can only be measured, or given value, in terms of human life.

Stephen Stills writes,
Do we find the cost of freedom
Buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you
Lay your body down

Whether the words of Jesus are referenced to him or not, the words “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” stands as an axiom. As Christians, however, we are consoled in knowing that our Lord, Jesus Christ, said these words as a statement about his offering, his love for his friends, for his children.

Memorial Day gives us a beautiful opportunity and a chance to reflect on something that should be reflected upon regularly, that is, the value of life and those things that are measured by life itself. Are there things that you love more than life itself? Freedom? Family? Love? Country? A close inventory can reveal much. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King has said, “If a man has not found something worth dying for, he is not fit to live.”

Jesus made it clear, that he loved us so much that he laid his life down for us, his friends. In return he asks that we lay our lives down, not to the grave but to surrender to loving one another. It is the greatest testimony to Memorial Day, to respect the price others have paid and understand that in living, and living fully, we honor their sacrifice.

Let us pray, On this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom. May the examples of their sacrifice inspire in us the selfless love of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their lives with Your strength and peace. Amen. (from Common Prayers)

Expression of Love: Holy Thursday (Question 6)

The expression of Love: Holy Thursday

Each day of Holy Week, on the road to Resurrection, we are presented with a question which only you, and you alone, can answer.

During the Last Supper, Jesus speaks openly to his beloved and seated disciples.

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15)

Jesus tells his disciples that by love they will be identified as his followers, that is, Christianity is defined by love. Love begins with God and is expressed through sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice being the offering of life, the greatest of all the gifts of God.

Following the Supper, Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me, nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

It is there that a mob arrives, led by one of the 12 disciples named Judas Iscariot. Judas kisses the Lord to betray him to the mob. Jesus is captured as a common criminal, then taken before the religious elite to stand trial for conjured-up charges. The passion, that is the suffering of the Lord, continues through the night. From mock trials to the religious leaders, to the government officials, He is humiliated, beaten, mocked, and sentenced to death by crucifixion.

From the point of his arrest to the sentencing, Jesus has been abandoned by all of his friends and followers. One of his friends betrayed him (with a kiss) while another, Peter, denied him three times, when asked if he knew Jesus. Yet all the while, Jesus does not abandon anyone – neither his friends, his followers, nor His accusers, nor any one of us, for that matter. He stands as a testament to the power of Love. He accepts the sentence and makes his way to the Cross. It is here that we understand that the Cross, therefore, is the ultimate expression of Love within Armenian Orthodox theology.

The sixth question on this road to the Resurrection, comes in a form first asked to Judas, “Do you betray the Son of God with a kiss?” and then asked of Peter, “Are you with Jesus?” They are one in the same question: Love is what defines us as Christians according to Jesus and He himself, in a gesture of Love is sacrificing his life. Are you with him? Or have you betrayed him? Certainly a very heavy questions for a very heavy night. The night of the Passion of our Lord.

Tomorrow: The Cross

The Christ Presence: Holy Wednesay

The Christ Presence: Holy Wednesday

On this Wednesday, the fifth day on the road to Resurrection, we are reminded of our aim, the presence of Christ. In Armodoxy, the Christ Presence is accessible to all. “Let the little children come to me,” says Jesus, “and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) The children, being pure of heart, have access and therefore, the potential for everyone to have access is a given.

Before He was betrayed, before his trial and crucifixion, Jesus ate one last meal with his loved ones. Known as the “Last Supper,” this is where Jesus gave his instruction to disciples. Addressing them by using the same descriptive phrase, “Little children,” Jesus tells them, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13) He placed love as the highest standard for identification as a follower of Christ.

As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26) These words of Institution established the ritual of Communion.  It is a sacred and a holy act by which we literally and completely absorb Christ as the energy source by which we live the expression of love. The Christ Presences is not outside of you, but, in the words of Jesus, “Indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”  (Luke 17)

Today’s question, Where is the Christ Presence in your life?

Tomorrow: The expression of Love

Trust: Lent Day 32

Lenten Recipe
Recipe #32 – Olivada

Lenten Journey Day 32 – Trust

Our lives are built upon trust. Trust and faith are what give our lives stability. Trust and faith come from experience, that is, they are based on our own personal experiences and history. For instance, we trust that when the light turns green for us, the cross-coming traffic has a red light. This trust is built on our experience of the thousands of traffic lights we have breezed through, with the full confidence that the opposite traffic is stopped. If we did not have this type of trust, we would live in fear and suspicion. We would stop at every signal we came to, uncertain what to expect.

If we think a bit deeper about our habits on approach to the traffic light, we trust on multiple levels. We trust the equipment – the electronics, the switches and the light bulbs themselves. We also trust the programmers who have set the time switches for the red and green lights. We can safely say that we believe that the programmer is a trustworthy person, that is, someone who will not fool us by giving us a green light and a green light for the opposite street. Our trust makes the programmer (or builder of the signal) a person who is worthy of our trust.

This type of trust we learn. It is a trust built on experience. It is on this trust that we build our expectations for life. If we do not have this basic trust, we are then betrayed to a chaotic lifestyle. Life become chaos, it does not have order or rhythm. It becomes chaotic because we are overly consumed with fear – fear of the unknown and of the harm that will ensue.

It therefore follows that fear and chaos are overcome by faith and trust. We learn to have faith and trust, which in turn give rhyme and reason to our life and existence.

This week we are challenged to look at our prayer life in a new manner, that is, not only as a conversation with God but a conversation with the self. We turn inward to find the strength to push outward – to push that love and compassion out. We find the strength to do this because we trust. We trust love because we understand that love to be God.

God is love. Unconditional love. If we have love in our heart and if we have love for one another, Jesus tells us, “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We are Christians by the love that we share and spread.

When we find it difficult to share our love, it is usually because we do not trust. We do not faith that love will be returned to us. We do not trust that love will not hurt. We have lost trust in love. But today we stand with a different outlook and a mature understanding of our faith and place in the universe, we now understand that God is love. And this understanding makes all the difference.

We trust God because God is the one constant in the universe. He is, the I am. Not He was, not He will be, but He is. God as the Eternal Present, is the only thing that can be trusted. He is the only constant in our life that dispels the fear and brings order to the chaos. As such, He – this constant – allows us to trust in ourselves, the love that is in our heart. To trust God means to trust love. We therefore can push ourselves and push outward that love without fear.

On this 32nd day of Lent we are noticing the change in our Journey. What started as the road to faith is now turning into the path of action. You have it within you to act, to trust your actions because they are built on faith, they are built on love, that is, they are built on the trust that you have in God.

Today we have a simple exercise: to love. It is the beginning to the path to action. It is the first step towards action. It is a true love, which may hurt, but we trust it. We are completely submitting ourselves to that love. Submitting to God is submitting to love. Push yourself today to freely explore submission to God. Substitute the love where you think of God. Substitute God where you think of love. Push yourself to love others – family, friends, or someone you do not know. Push yourself to engage in a random act of love. Then take the chance and really push yourself to love your enemy. It is there, in your action, that you see God manifested. There you see God born. There you see the chaos brought to order and fear dispelled. It is at that point that you truly understand, “Thy will be done.” It is His will that we love one another.

Let us pray:
O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give a sense of your presence, your strength and your love. Help us to trust your protecting love and your strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten us. For living close to you, we will see your plan, your purpose and your will in all things. Amen.

40 Martyrs of Sepastia – Lent Day 27

Lenten Recipe

Recipe 27: Cold Linguine with Red Pepper, Artichoke and Sun Dried Tomato Sauce

Lenten Journey Day 27 – Friendship

The Armenian Church celebrates the 40 Martyrs of Sebastia during one of the Saturdays of Lent. Although Sebastia is a town in Armenia, the entire Christian Church commemorates the martyrdom that took place there as a lesson in Christianity, perseverance, sacrifice and friendship.

The story of the 40 Martyrs of Sebastia takes place in the 4th century, when 40 soldiers of the Roman army armed with a faith in Jesus Christ, are put to the test: either deny their faith or lose their lives. They refuse to betray or deny their faith in Christ Jesus. They are sentenced to a torturous death by being thrown into a mid-winter freezing lake. The forty men reach out to one another. They hold on to one another creating a human life raft. The water miraculously warms up. God creates an opportunity for the freezing water to give warmth, to give life. In so doing the men are also given an opportunity to be crowned as saints.

There are many dimensions to this story. I invite you to read about it. It appears in many books and articles. For now, I would like to focus on the friendship that existed between these soldiers, particularly because they had the same goal and foundation of faith. Even more, they belonged to a community that brought them together.

We build relationships with others with whom we establish what is called “friendship.” Most of the time, these are limited partnerships; that is, we can talk about everything except matters of faith. We may be reluctant to talk about faith/religion. Why? Because we have been conditioned, we have been taught it is not polite to discuss religion in mixed company. After all, politics and religion are the two ingredients that you never want to take into a friendship. More arguments start because of politics and religion they tell us, than any other subject.

During this Lenten Journey we have looked within. We have looked without. We have built our prayer life with quality and quantity. We understand ourselves as disciplined creatures, assisted by the practices of fasting and of abstinence. Our Christian charity is defined by responsibility and stewardship. And so at the end of this 4th week, we understand that certainly Christianity is not that distorted view that so many people speak about, but there is a purity in Christianity. Not only is Christianity defined by love, but it is the expression of pure love. It calls us to extend and give ourselves to one another. It is sacrifice that manifests itself in friendships and relationships. We love, honor, respect and cherish one another.

Because Christ’s message is so pure, it gives each of us an opportunity to grow in that that same purity.

The forty martyrs found that purity in one another. They were able to hold on to each other and stay afloat in that lake. They were able to find strength from one another. We too are on a journey. It is called life. We look for friends and sometimes shy away because we feel others may not understand our position. Real friendship means that we can put all our cards out on the table. It means we can count on one another. We can lean on others and expect them to lean on us as well. To make this happen we need open dialogue. There is a formula to the dialogue. It begins by talking about the bare essentials of life including our faith, our spirituality, who we are, how we understand ourselves and what commitment we have to love. WE understand quickly now that there is nothing to be embarrassed about when it comes to matters of faith. It is now becoming part and parcel of our being to be able to stand tall and say, “Yes, I am a Christian because I am a member of Christ’s family.” Simply put, we say, “Yes, I am called to love.” Nothing more, and certainly nothing less.

To love, to be able to stand up and help. To be able to sit down with a friend in trouble. To be able to extend a hand to someone in need. And to be able to offer the strength and the courage, to lift up someone who has fallen. You see, Christianity is all about continuing what Christ began.

The forty Martyrs of Sebastia understood the message of Christ as an expression of community. The name of the feast itself is about community. It is not one martyr that we remember, but 40 martyrs. It is a collective. People hanging on to one another, staying afloat, despite the difficulties in life. When we understand this, then we start reaching out to one another. We no longer fear confiding in our friends. Instead, we have a healthy and open relationship, and we become true friends. Reaching out, hanging on, staying afloat in the waters of life… Understand that this is how miracles happen, because it at these moments that God heats the waters! We have yet another opportunity to really set sail and reach the dreams that we cannot do alone but certainly possible because of the community collective.

Today’s Lenten exercise is a simple one: reach out to your friends, reach out to your family. Engage them in a conversation of faith. Engage them to understand how important that faith is to you, and really explain what are the dimensions of that faith. Not merely stories, not merely myths, but a real story, a real story of hope, of faith, of really reaching out to one another and helping them stand up and for them to help you stand up. Together. With God’s blessings you reach the goals, you reach the dreams that are infront of you.

In that same spirit, let us pray from St. Nersess Shnorhali:
Glorified Lord, accept the supplications of your servant and graciously fulfill my petitions through the intercession of the Holy Mother of God, John the Baptist, St. Steven the first martyr, St. Gregory our Illuminator, the holy apostles, prophets, divines, martyrs, patriarchs, hermits, virgins and all your saints in heaven and on earth. And unto you, oh indivisible Holy Trinity be glory and worship for ever and ever. Amen. (24/24)

Photo – 2009 Fr. Vazken Movsesian

The Turn Around – Lent Day 17

Lenten Recipe

Recipe 17: Asian Noodles with Edamame

Lenten Journey Day 17 – Turning Around

A wide variety of emotions and feelings accompany us on our Lenten Journey. Because we are each unique creations, we each approach our spirituality in different ways. Some may feel tranquility. Some may feel inner peace. Others may feel anxiety – fear of the unknown, of what may be ahead. And others yet, may not be able to process the physical changes that are taking place by virtue of the dietary restrictions. No matter where you may be in your spiritual quest, it is important to remember that we have taken this journey with purpose, with a goal in mind: to purify, to minimize, to find meaning and purpose not only for the duration of Lent but for our entire life. We must understand that these 40 days are training us for the other 325 days that are ahead of us.

Consider now that we began at one point and are headed toward another point. Ironically, sometimes that end point may very well be the beginning point; that is, the end of the journey may be right where we started. 

I do not mean to confuse things, but think of experiences in your own life. When you have been confronted with a problem or difficulties, you may ponder and look for answers, when all along those answers exist within you. We have had those answers right from the beginning, much like the fabled Dorothy, who stands at the end of her journey in Oz, realizing that the answers were right at her feet all along. She receives the grand revelation that there is no place like home, not from outside herself, but by fact that she arrived at that revelation point. Sure enough, we found the same revelation this week in the parable of the Prodigal Son. The son returned home because that was where the answers were.

In fact, we find that God has given us all of the gifts that we need in our lives. The gifts are implanted in our home, in our heart, but we have drifted from our path. We have strayed away from God. But if we look carefully, we are finding that in this spiritual journey the answers are not somewhere outside of us but are seated within us. Why not? If God has created us and God has given us a soul, why would the “owners manual” – the answer book – be outside of us? The answers are right there, within each of us where they have always been.

God speaks to us. From the depths of our heart we hear His voice. His words are the answers that are always with us, no matter where we go. When Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” it is the profound expression of love. There is one direction. There is only one path. It is the path of love.

St. Nerses Shnorhali reminds us that the name of love is Jesus. We discovered it to be the “primer,” and we now understand Jesus’ words to mean that Love is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We have all known that all along. This is nothing new. It is just that we have alienated that section of our soul, mind and spirit from what is important and therefore forgotten that there is only one way and one truth. It happens to be Love. We have searched elsewhere, instead of looking within.

St. Nectarius reminds us, “Do not seek the kingdom outside of yourself, but the kingdom is within.” Jesus established his Church, his Kingdom here on earth, and that Church has its primary foundation in the human heart. That is where the owner’s manual belongs.
This week we looked at the three characters in the story of the Prodigal son, namely the young son, the older son and the father. Today let us be reminded that this Lenten Journey is not only a trip from point A to B, but it can also be a journey from A to A. There is a freshness to our lives, as if the old has been recreated. So it is no longer an old life, but a new life filled with a new understanding, a different approach to dealing with our relationship and our surroundings.

What we are beginning to see develop is the concept of repentance, that is, turning around, coming back: Point A to point A via point B. The most powerful tool a Christian has is repentance. When we realize we have made a mistake we have the ability to improve our self. We can turn back. That return to home worked for the Prodigal Son. There are different paths for each of our lives, but they all lead to the end of the Journey. For some, this journey will be from point A to B. For others it will be from point A to B and perhaps a C and D along the way until they get to E. And yet, for others still, it will be a full circle returning back home from and to point A. A loop or a little detour is nothing to be afraid of. Chock it up to the experience of life. In the mistakes and pains of life we learn. Fortunately, God has given plenty of room to make U-turns.

Let us pray the prayer of St. Nerses Shnorhali:
Fountain of immortality, let the tears of repentance flow from my heart like those of the adulteress that they may wash away the sins of my soul before I depart from this world. Have mercy upon all your creatures and upon me, a great sinner. (I Confess with Faith, 18/24)