This week's Epistle reading is from Romans 2:10-16. Here St. Paul comments on the difference between hearing the Law and doing it, and how God shows "no partiality", that the judgment is "first to the Jew then to the Gentile". In his reflection on this Fr. Joel explains that in the doing the person chooses to live and act in a certain way, acknowledging that God's way in Christ through the Holy Spirit brings freedom, while hearing only and doing something different leads to a different life, one of slavery and bondage. This is the point of the Law, sin means communion with other gods, the "powers and principalities of darkness" St. Paul speaks of elsewhere, and that kind of communion is unto death.
On June 19th the holiday of Juneteenth is celebrated. In this reflection, offered after the serving of the Canon of Racial Reconciliation, Dn. Joseph relates the history of Juneteenth and the current state of unrest brought about through the recent unjust death of George Floyd and others. Sharing his own experiences both as an African American and as a former Corrections Officer Dn. Joseph draws us to reflect not simply on the earthly freedom that is celebrated on Juneteenth, but to rejoice in the true Freedom that is in Christ Jesus, Who frees all humanity from the slavery and tyranny of sin and death.
The words 'acknowledge' and 'deny' as used in the Scripture read for the Feast of All Saints mean much more than to simply affirm or dismiss what Christ is saying. The words as Christ uses them are as St. Peter says "...the words of eternal life (John 6:68)." To know is to engage and integrate Christ's very life as our own; to deny is to turn away from that life being offered and to ultimately seek disintegration. It is this choice that Fr. Joel reflects on for the Feast of All Saints, all who have yearned for Christ and followed Him.
On the Great Last Day of the Feast and in the wake of George Floyd's death, and the tragic death of so many others recently, Fr. Joel reflects on the state of man's brokenness and how the rebellion of pride is the back drop of both what we face in the divide between the races, and in truth all people, and in our disrespect of the humanity in others. The Holy Spirit is sent into the world to illumine this Truth, and to heal the divisions so that all the nations may receive the Gospel.
A Good Word
In the Tradition of the Orthodox Church the request to receive a "good word" is a request to both receive a blessing and to receive wisdom from a spiritual elder in our desire to follow after Christ. May these homilies and writings be to the Glory of God!
Fr. Joel Gillam is the Pastor of St. George Orthodox Church. He is Spiritual Advisor to the Young Adult Ministry in the Diocese, and is a graduate of St. Vladimir Seminary.
Deacon Joseph Clark is the assistant at St. George Orthodox Church. He has a background in Criminal Justice, and currently teaches the Catechumen classes at St. George.