The Sword of the Spirit

When faced with a conflict between two parties, our natural tendency is to assume that there is a right side and a wrong side. Why? Because we fancy ourselves to be right, or we imagine that we can become right, and thus fail to see what is obvious in Scripture: beginning with ourselves, in the presence of the Lord, all parties are wrong. In the story of Jonah, the prophet was sent to “Nineveh the great city” in order to “cry against it,” because “their wickedness” had caught the attention of the Lord. In any other literary genre, the one sent to confront Nineveh would be understood as the protagonist—but not in the Bible. In Jonah, as throughout the biblical canon, the prophet is able to expose the sins of others because he himself is exposed by the teaching, so that, as Paul says, “no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:29)

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Jonah 1:1-10.


Episode 214 Jonah 1:1-10; Subscribe:; “Backbay Lounge” Kevin MacLeod ( ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Biblos Geneseos

In this week’s episode, Fr. Paul discusses Biblos Geneseos in the Gospel of Matthew and in the greater context of Scripture. (Episode 2)


Arise, O God, Judge the Earth

Psalm 82

1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
2 “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?
3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 I say, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you;
7 nevertheless, you shall die like men, and fall like any prince.”

8 Arise, O God, judge the earth; for to thee belong all the nations!

Richard and Fr. Marc conclude their discussion of Mark with a review of chapter 16:14-30.


Episode 213 Mark 16:14-30; Subscribe:; “RetroFuture Clean” Kevin MacLeod ( ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

The Rise of Scripture

In the first episode of our new show, “Tarazi Tuesdays,” we are re-broadcasting a lecture presented by Fr. Paul on January 12, 2018. The talk was given during a book signing at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Phoenix, Arizona. The content makes for an excellent introduction to the series. Enjoy!  (Episode 1)


Your Acceptance is Not Required

A directive does not require understanding, agreement, or acceptance in order to be carried out. In a high performing team, once a clear decision has been handed down, people are expected to follow it–even if they disagree. Some employees may harbor distrust, but if the directive is sound, the simple act of carrying it out will foster trust and produce results. Everything hinges on adherence to the directive.

In the Gospel of Mark, when the followers of Jesus “heard that he was alive and had been seen” by Mary Magdalene, “they refused to believe it,” and when they passed the message on to others, “they did not believe them either.” This refusal to believe is the culmination of betrayal, misplaced fear, and a complete lack of trust in the Lord. Still, all hope is not lost. Despite themselves—and whatever their attitude toward the message—the followers of Jesus carried out the directive given to Mary Magdalene to share the news that the Lord is alive and going into Galilee, just as he said he would.

In other words, it’s not who you are or what you believe–but what you do–that counts.

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 16:9-13.


Episode 212 Mark 16:9-13; Subscribe:; “Sunday Dub” Kevin MacLeod ( ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Do Not Be Amazed

Throughout the Gospel of Mark, the primacy of sowing the seed of the Bible, the folly of misplaced amazement and the sin of the fear of men are all demonstrated by means of the Lord’s instruction and action. Most importantly, the teaching of Christ’s death and resurrection is plainly stated. Still, somehow, Mark’s message did not sink in.

At the end of the story, the followers of Jesus were so afraid of what men might do to them that they betrayed and abandoned their beloved master. Failing to trust in the promise of the Lord’s resurrection, they instead went searching for a body. Worst of all, when commanded to preach what Jesus had already explained in chapter 8, “They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (Mark 16:8) Lacking trust in the Lord’s teaching, they were amazed and so afraid that they refused to sow the seed of the Gospel, as commanded.

“To see what is in front of one’s nose,” George Orwell writes, “needs a constant struggle.”

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 16:1-8.


Episode 211 Mark 16:1-8; Subscribe:; “Jet Fueled Vixen” Kevin MacLeod ( ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

You Foolish Galatians

One of the many ways that Scripture teaches us is by testing us. In the first verse of chapter 15, Mark tells us that “the whole Council” deliberated, bound up Jesus, and delivered him to Pilate. The whole Council.

During the Crucifixion, the public portrayal of Christ’s shame is inescapable. Jesus was ridiculed, abused, and finally, taunted to “come down from the Cross.” Not only his enemies, but his supposed friends abandoned him. Even those who shared his fate derided him. At that moment, whatever you might say about Jesus, he was neither prominent nor respected—by anyone.

Then, suddenly, at the end of chapter 15, a member of the same Council that delivered him up to Pilate—no, not a just a member, a prominent member—appears to take him down from the Cross. Do you believe your eyes? Do you admire respectable prominence? Are you impressed by what a nice man he is?

Yes, this is a test.

“You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” (Galatians 3:1)

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 15:40-47.


Episode 210 Mark 15:40-47; Subscribe:; “Miami Nights – Extended Theme” Kevin MacLeod ( ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Into the Darkness

Students of the New Testament can’t help but impose their understanding of triumph on the story of the Crucifixion. Desperate to find hope in human strength, they rush to what they see as the happy ending in Mark, minimizing the lengthy stretch of darkness, cruelty, and ridicule endured by Jesus. Why? Because in the end, we are not interested in God’s victory, but our own. We do not trust in the Lord. We want what we want for ourselves with no regard for his mission.

When we leap to the end of the story, we fail to see the true victory in the Lord’s defeat: his steadfast proclamation of Scripture to the very end, his unshakable trust in his Father’s will, his hope against hope in his Father’s cause at his own expense, the centurion’s—and the world’s—conversion through his obedience to Torah, and finally, the overthrow of Caesar by means of the Lord’s teaching.

In the midst of the darkness, we do not trust in these victories because our first priority is to save our own skin. We want to see Jesus win in worldly terms because we want to win. We want him to come down from the Cross, not only because it is painful and embarrassing, but because we ourselves do not want to be held accountable to Scripture; because we ourselves cannot face our own death or that of our loved ones; because we ourselves are cowards. As a result, we cling to false hopes of our own making while others suffer in our place.

Hear the word of the Lord: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.”

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 15:33-39.


Episode 209 Mark 15:23-32; Subscribe:; “Hiding Your Reality” Kevin MacLeod ( ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Trust in the Lord

In popular American stories, defeat is used either to amplify our sense of good vs. evil or to indulge the illusion that we, the supposed underdogs, will be victorious in the end. Consumed uncritically, these stories reinforce a self-percieved victimhood, amplify our self-righteousness, and dull our minds with false consolations about suffering, death, and loss. In the Gospel of Mark, the defeat of Jesus operates in an entirely different way.

In Mark 15, the Cross is not a “jam” into which Jesus became stuck, but a stumbling-block for all those who see themselves either as victims or as the “good guys.” The defeat of Jesus is not a suspenseful plot device strategically placed to indulge our gluttony for triumph in the end. On the contrary, the Cross is our defeat. Full stop. As if to amplify this point, the biblical writer slows the story down, marking the passage of the hours to ensure that every insult is keenly felt. It is only in this state of shame and humiliating defeat, wrought by obedience, that we come to understand the difficult meaning of Psalm 22.

Richard and Fr. Marc discuss Mark 15:23-32.


Episode 208 Mark 15:23-32; Subscribe:; “Andreas Theme” Kevin MacLeod ( ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

Gilgal Golgatha

In Semitic languages, the link between various words is established, not by a term’s imagined or abstract meaning, but by its mechanical structure. Certain words contain specific consonants in a particular order, and words built around those consonants not only sound connected but have a related usage. For example, a book is something that is written, so the word “book” in Arabic sounds like the word “write,” but also sounds like the word “office,” or “library,” or “desk,” or “clerk,” or “registration,” or the “exchange of letters”—I could go on, but you get the point. Hebrew works in exactly the same way. In the Bible, our ability to see these connections in the original language is an absolute requirement. Without them, it is impossible to understand the Bible.

In this week’s episode, before jumping into a discussion of Mark 15:22, Richard and Fr. Marc take time to discuss how they use the word “function” to help explain the Bible and how it relates to biblical grammar.


Episode 207 Mark 51:22; Subscribe:; “Street Party” Kevin MacLeod ( ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http:// creativecommons .org/ licenses /by/3.0/

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