4th Week After Pentecost

Sunday, June 9, 2024

3rd Sunday After Pentecost
Romans 5:1-10; Matthew 6:22-33

We all know what it means to worry and to be anxious about things. We worry about the future. We worry about our health, our jobs, our income, and our finances. Will we have enough? We worry about our homes, property and possessions. We worry about our children, their well-being and their future. We worry about the problems we face, unresolved difficulties. We worry about our success, our reputation and our good name.

Being concerned about things is important and essential. But if we become pre-occupied with our concerns and they take hold of our mind, they the pre-occupation becomes unhealthy. This preoccupation about things is what we call “worry” or “anxiousness.”

The English word “worry” comes from an old German word which means “to strangle” or “to choke.” And that is what unhealthy worry and anxiousness does to us. It strangles and chokes our mind and our thinking; it strangles and chokes us mentally and emotionally; it also strangles and chokes us spiritually.

Worry makes us discontent, unhappy. It takes the joy out of life and it robs us of our peace, our sense of security, stability, balance, and our spirit of gratitude.

Worry is useless. It solves nothing. It cannot even extend our life by one day, but it can, however, shorten it.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus commands us and all His disciples not to worry. He says, “Don not be anxious (do not worry),” and He repeats this three times (6:25, 31, 34).

Jesus wants us to trust, to always trust in God. God is good. He will provide for us. Our heavenly Father always brings about what is best for us. There is no need to worry or to be anxious about life. And if we become anxious and pre-occupied about something, it is a sign that we no longer trust. We have lost faith and have begun to doubt God and His goodness.

Now Jesus’ command “Do not be anxious about things” is not an excuse to become lazy, disconnected, to stop trying or working, expecting that everything will come to us without effort. We are to continue to work diligently, doing our best without worry, knowing that God will provide and that He will work all things for the best. St. Augustine once said, “Do everything as if it depended upon you, but knowing, that everything depends upon God.”

Today’s Gospel reading ends with a special promise, a verse that we should all have memorized. It should be deeply embedded in our minds and our hearts. The promise is this: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours s well” (Matthew 6:33).

Put God first in your life. Seek to do His Will. See His righteousness, in other words, seek to live a holy life. And if you do, God will look after all the rest. He will ensure that you have what you need.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea

Readings: Acts 20:16-18, 28-36; John 17:1-13

On the seventh Sunday of Pascha, we commemorate the holy God-bearing Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, which took place in the city of Nicaea, in the year 325.

The Commemoration of the First Ecumenical Council has been celebrated by the Church of Christ from ancient times. The Lord Jesus Christ left the Church a great promise, “I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18). Although the Church of Christ on earth will pass through difficult struggles with the enemy of salvation, it will emerge victorious. The holy martyrs bore witness to the truth of the Savior’s words, enduring suffering and death for confessing Christ, but the persecutor’s sword is shattered by the Cross of Christ.

Persecution of Christians ceased during the fourth century, but heresies arose within the Church itself. One of the most pernicious of these heresies was Arianism. Arius, a priest of Alexandria, was a man of immense pride and ambition. In denying the divine nature of Jesus Christ and His equality with God the Father, Arius falsely taught that the Saviour is not consubstantial with the Father, but is only a created being.

A local Council, convened with Patriarch Alexander of Alexandria presiding, condemned the false teachings of Arius. However, Arius would not submit to the authority of the Church. He wrote to many bishops, denouncing the decrees of the local Council. He spread his false teaching throughout the East, receiving support from certain Eastern bishops.

Investigating these dissentions, the emperor Constantine (May 21) consulted Bishop Hosius of Cordova (Aug. 27), who assured him that the heresy of Arius was directed against the most fundamental dogma of Christ’s Church, and so he decided to convene an Ecumenical Council. In the year 325 A.D., 318 bishops representing Christian Churches from various lands gathered together at Nicea.

Among the assembled bishops were many confessors who had suffered during the persecutions, and who bore the marks of torture upon their bodies. Also participating in the Council were several great luminaries of the Church: Saint Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia (December 6 and May 9), Saint Spyridon, Bishop of Tremithos (December 12), and others venerated by the Church as holy Fathers.

With Patriarch Alexander of Alexandria came his deacon, Athanasius (who later became Patriarch of Alexandria (May 2 and January 18). He is called “the Great,” for he was a zealous champion for the purity of Orthodoxy. In the Sixth Ode of the Canon for today’s Feast, he is referred to as “the thirteenth Apostle.”

The emperor Constantine presided over the sessions of the Council. In his speech, responding to the welcome by Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, he said, “God has helped me cast down the impious might of the persecutors, but more distressful for me than any blood spilled in battle is for a soldier, is the internal strife in the Church of God, for it is more ruinous.” Arius, with seventeen bishops among his supporters, remained arrogant, but his teaching was repudiated and he was excommunicated from the Church. In his speech, the holy deacon Athanasius conclusively refuted the blasphemous opinions of Arius. The heresiarch Arius is depicted in iconography sitting on Satan’s knees, or in the mouth of the Beast of the Deep (Rev. 13).

The Fathers of the Council declined to accept a Symbol of Faith (Creed) proposed by the Arians. Instead, they affirmed the orthodox Symbol of Faith (Nicene Creed). Saint Constantine asked the Council to insert into the text of the Symbol of Faith the word “consubstantial,” which he had heard in the speeches of the bishops. The Fathers of the Council unanimously accepted this suggestion.

In the Nicean Creed, the holy Fathers set forth and confirmed the Apostolic teachings about Christ’s divine nature. The heresy of Arius was exposed and repudiated as an error of haughty reason. After resolving this chief dogmatic question, the Council also issued Twelve Canons on questions of ecclesial administration and discipline. Also decided was the date for the celebration of Holy Pascha. By decision of the Council, Holy Pascha should not be celebrated by Christians on the same day with the Jewish Passover, but on the first Sunday after the first full moon of the vernal equinox (which occured on March 22 in 325).

The First Ecumenical Council is also commemorated on May 29.



Fourth Sunday of Holy Pascha
Sunday, April 21, 2024

Sunday of the Paralytic

Readings: Acts 9:32-42; John 5:1-15

According to the Old Testament Law, if someone became ritually unclean, immersion into water was part of the process of becoming ritually clean. The water had to be fresh water, running water, and the bath where the immersion took place was called a mikveh.

Any Jew coming to Jerusalem for the celebration of a feast at the Temple, had to be immersed into water and become ritually clean before entering the Temple area.

The main site for ritual immersion was located on the south side of Jerusalem, at the pool of Siloam. Archeologists have uncovered this site, together with the walkway and steps that ascended from the Pool of Siloam up to the Temple area.

It seems that there were pools at almost every entrance into Jerusalem. On the north side, by the Sheep’s Gate, archeologists have uncovered the Bethesda Pool. This pool was actually two pool adjacent to one another, sharing a common walkway that joined them together. There was a walkway around each pool and a shared walkway between the two pools. The walkways, five in total, were covered by a roof held up by pillars, creating five porticoes.

The upper pool provided clean and flowing water to the lower pool, and also to the Temple. It is most likely that the lower pool served as a mikveh, a place where pilgrims coming to the Temple could immerse themselves into water and become ritually clean.

Over the course of time, miracles were associated with immersion into this pool. It was observed that from time to time, the waters were stirred by an angelic force and the waters acquired healing power. Whoever was immersed into the water first was healed.

Jesus comes to this pool as the Divine Physician, the One Who heals man from all his illnesses, diseases and afflictions. According to the prophet Isaiah (Is 35:5-6), the coming Messiah would do three things: 1) open the eyes of the blind; 2) open the ears of the deaf; and 3) heal the lame and the paralyzed. At the pool, Jesus finds a multitude of invalids lying there, the blind, the lame and the paralyzed.

Jesus comes up to a man who was paralyzed for 38 years and asks him if he wants to be healed. Why did the evangelist John include this detail? 38 years? Because it has symbolic significance.

According to Deut. 2:14, beginning at the oasis at Kadesh-Barnea and ending at the brook of Zared east of the Dead Sea, Israel wandered in the wilderness for 38 years, until the whole generation that left Egypt died out. So, if the paralyzed man represents Israel, wandering in the wilderness for 38 years, waiting for Joshua to lead them into the Promised Land, then Jesus represents the New Joshua, Who has come to lead the People of God not across the Jordan, but across death itself, through the waters of Baptism, and to lead them into the Kingdom of God and new and eternal life with God.

Jesus heals the paralyzed man by His mere word. He says, “Rise, take up your matt and walk.” And further, He says, “Se you are well. Sin no more.” The man was a slave to his illness, his matt, and to his sin. Now he was free. Carrying his matt was an outward sign of his deliverance and freedom. So, where did the man go? He most likely went up to the Temple to give thanks to God.

Jesus performed this miracle on the Sabbath, because the Sabbath represents the final age to come, when God has finished all His creation. The Sabbath was a symbol of the final age and the age of God’s eternal kingdom. This Kingdom is near, at hand. It will break through with Christ’s Resurrection, and it will come in its fullness at His Second Return in glory.

According to the Law, people rested on the Sabbath as a sign that they were not slaves to work and that they were free to worship God. But God does not rest on the Sabbath day. On every Sabbath, He continues to create, to bring new life into the world, to hear and answer prayers, to heal, and to judge the dead. Since the Father continues to work until the sixth day(age) is over and the seventh day(age) comes in its fullness, so does the Son – Jesus.

The miraculous healing of the paralytic at the Bethesda Pool points to the Mystery of Baptism. Like the paralyzed man, who was a slave to illness, his matt, to sin and death, so we too are paralyzed by our sins, weaknesses, anxieties; we are paralyzed by the fear of death. Jesus has come to free us from our paralysis, so that in Resurrection, we can walk and come to the House of God.

In the Mystery of Baptism, Christ Jesus is healing us. Sins are forgiven. The Holy Spirit cleanses us and sanctifies us. The Body of Christ in the Eucharist is received by the body as a pledge of eternal life. It will rise at the general Resurrection. In Baptism, Confession and at the moment of Holy Communion, Jesus says the same words to us, “Rise, take up your matt and walk. See you are well. Sin no more.”


Fr. Peter Babej



Bulletin: Sunday, May 12, 2024

Click on the following link for the Bulletin: 2024 05 12 Sunday of the Holy Fathers

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Video Icon Workshop for Schools

I was approached by St. Benedict School in Edmonton to do an “Artist in Residence” program, on the theme of Icons.  Due to covid we had to tweak the program a bunch and now I call it the “Iconographer in Virtual Residence” program.  Below are the videos I am using with the school to teach …

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A presentation about Icons by Frs. Bo & Ivan, brothers

On Thursday evening Frs Ivan & Bo Nahachewsky had the opportunity to present all about icons for  “Tranquillight Calling”, a weekly online faith program put together from the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto.  (Thursdays at 5pm Mountain Time – if you want to watch live, or recorded on YouTube if you want to watch a …

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Consecration of our Eparchies to Mary the Mother of God (Ukrainian Catholic Usage ENG/UKR)

On Friday, May 1, the Catholic Bishops of Canada will consecrate their individual dioceses and eparchies to Mary, Mother of the Church, seeking her protection during the Coronavirus pandemic, similar to what other Episcopal Conferences throughout the world have already done.        Along with the Bishops, pastors, families, groups, individuals and other faith communities may …

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