On the seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Fr. Matthew Howell passes on advice that he received the previous Sunday while serving liturgy at the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. He served with a retired OCA priest of 54 years, Fr. John Steffaro, who told him three things to do as a priest: 1) Preach the Gospel; 2) Pray the Liturgy; and 3) Love your people. Fr. Matthew ties this into today’s epistle from Romans 15 and then relays this advice to his parish. He explains that it is readily applicable to the life of any Christian who should live the Gospels, attend and pray the Liturgy and services of the Church, and love the people that God has set before them. The final thought of the homily is from a phrase that Fr. John Steffaro uses in his interactions with people: “Let us love one another as Jesus has loved us.”
Brethren, we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves; let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him. For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
At that time, as Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly charged them, “See that no one knows it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district. As they were going away, behold, a dumb demoniac was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the dumb man spoke; and the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons. And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.