Our New Church Address is: 5004 Cross Keys Rd, Mt Crawford, VA 22841

Suffering Succotash

November 26, 2023

Suffering Succotash

On Saturday mornings when I was a kid you would find me watching Looney Tunes and that long eye lashed Tweety bird or his pursuer, Sylvester the cat. Sylvester made famous the following exclamation: Suffering Succotash. I have to admit I am not quite sure what hidden meaning that phrase was about, so I took it at face value. Sylvester apparently had become weary of Lima beans and corn, or maybe just that they were mixed together. It made him suffer in some way repetitively over the course of time!

We hear echoed in the Epistle reading this morning as we approach the Nativity Fast about “one Body”, and we hear about “long-suffering and bearing with one another in love, giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:2-4) This type of suffering is what I want to touch on today.

I was reminded of something Archpriest John Moses wrote in Feb of 2009. Listen to his thoughts: There’s so much suffering in families today, even Orthodox families. Many wives suffer because their husbands refuse to serve them as Christ serves the Church. Instead of taking the Lord’s yoke of service, men demand that they be served. When wives fail to serve them because of weakness or frustration, they resort to anger and sullenness, mental and even physical abuse. Some husbands suffer because while they serve as best they can, wives refuse to show them honor and love. Men feel belittled by the sharp words of criticism from their wives. Parents suffer because children will not be obedient to them, and children suffer because parents forget that they are not to “stir their children to wrath.”

There’s suffering in the Church today. We are told to forgive each other, but often we hold grudges. We are called to bear each other’s burdens, but we are too busy sharing our burdens than to bear them. We are called to build each other up, but we tear each other down. We are supposed to speak the truth in love, but we whisper behind doors. We are to admonish each other “with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody in our hearts to the Lord,” but we admonish with biting words and harsh criticisms, or show a cold shoulder to the offender. Instead of sitting with visitors or the elderly or the youth so that we might share our faith and build them up, we sit with friends who can match our sophistication and wit. Some of members of our church are lonely or hurting – do you know who they are? To the Church, the Lord says, “take my yoke.” We refuse and so there is much suffering at Church. As a result, the Church is not a place of rest. (Rest-Archpriest John Moses- Feb 1, 2009)

Well, sadly these things also exist in a priest’s household, when I allow my ego, deafness and demand to be the head of household, instead of the example of suffering and humility that Christ has shown me. That means that when I act like a DJ, a Dictator Jerk, I am not serving Christ, but my own selfish deathly ego. For you folks with snow on your roof that remember a comedian named Flip Wilson that used to say; “the devil made me do it”, I don’t agree. The devil certainly encourages me to act that way, but it is my choice to sin! 

After all, Matushka can’t help it if she puts the toilet paper on wrong and leaves the cap off the toothpaste!! In all the Gospel examples and stories, I can’t recall Christ admonishing anyone for these types of things! St. John Chrysostom’s directs us men in this way: “You must love your wife as God loves you.” Thanks be to God for my wife!! You see, all Matushki are long-suffering, please remember them in your prayers! 

In Orthodoxy, there are two types of life-choices, monastic or celibate and marriage. All paths should lead to God. For a married couple, the husband’s role is to seek happiness for his wife and family, seeking their holiness, and dying for them. For there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another! (John15:13) The wife collaborates with the husband in a common mission, revering her husband as her head, representing the church in submission to Christ. This does not mean that he is superior to his wife. In Christ’s sight, all are equal; there is neither male nor female. In fact, marriage is a partnership of equals with different responsibilities. Marriage is the setting up, by two people, of a miniature church, a family church, wherein people may worship the true God and struggle to save their souls. It is also a family church that is in obedience to Christ’s Church. As Saint Basil the Great says, it is natural to marry, but it must be more than natural; it must be a yoke, borne by two people under the Church. Marriage is supposed to be a dance between Christ and His Church, hand in hand. Lord have mercy, we need to quit stepping on each other’s toes! 

For this type of marriage is what will save the world, a true marriage, because it is the Gospel being reenacted day to day within the bulwark of a Christian marriage, one flesh, one spirit, together praying, fasting and serving our Lord. That is why we place a martyrs crown on the couple at the sacrament of marriage. That is why all converts should seek to receive this sacrament! It is not a western contract but a mystery and martyrdom. 

Men, true love for us begins when we give of ourselves to others. We first really begin to love – in a Christian sense – when we first give. A husband once complained to Saint John Chrysostom that his wife did not love him. The Saint replied; “Go home, and love her.” “But you don’t understand,” said the husband. “How can I love her when she doesn’t love me?” “Go home and love her,” the Saint repeated. And he was right. Where there is no love, we must put some love, and we will find it!

Your life is now not about you, but about serving each other. In some ways, suffering Succotash, the same Lima beans and corn every day, for the rest of your lives! But for those folks who continually put God first in all things, the flavor only gets better and addictive. Elder Aimilianos of Simonos Petros Monastery on Mt. Athos wrote, “When two people get married, it’s as if they're saying: Together we will go forward, hand in hand, through good times and bad. We will have dark hours, hours of sorrow filled with burdens, monotonous hours. But in the depths of the night, we continue to believe in the sun and the light.”

With that I leave you with these important words from the hand of St. Paul: “Therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling in which ye were called, with all humility and meekness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, Who is over all, and through all, and in you all.” [Eph. 4:1-6]

Glory to Thee who has shown forth the Light!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 11-26-2023

 


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Homilies from Fr. Gabriel

Thy will be done

February 11, 2024

Continue Reading

Polecat Aromatherapy
Polecat Aromatherapy

February 04, 2024

Continue Reading

Prayer RULES!
Prayer RULES!

December 24, 2023

Continue Reading