Fr. Shnork Souin
II Timothy 2:15-26
 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
 Avoid such godless chatter, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,
 and their talk will eat its way like gangrene. Among them are Hymenae’us and Phile’tus,
 who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some.
 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
 In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and earthenware, and some for noble use, some for ignoble.
 If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work.
 So shun youthful passions and aim at righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart.
 Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.
 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing,
 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth,
 and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
God’s Strength is Manifest in my weakness.
For all I’ve been through over the past four months, some of the darkest hours have blossomed into the greatest blessings. I recognize fully that the horrors of losing a month of my life and being in a state of confusion and uncertainty due to the massive amounts of drugs and narcotics to keep me sedated have truly served to strengthen my resolve and my faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. This may seem strange to some people but I pledge with certainty that in fact this whole experience has made me stronger in my faith and has transformed me into a better person, more patient, more kind and probably more compassionate. Additionally, I could say that I am certain that I will be a better husband and a better father as well as a better pastor. The devices that have been placed in my chest which are replacing the pump of my heart from the left and right ventricles, make meI feel better than I have in the past five years. I truly feel like a new man and one who has experienced, at least dimly, the miracle of resurrection. It’s been clearly pointed out to me by many doctors that I was in fact on death’s doorstep. Not only was I very ill when I went into the hospital retaining upwards of 50 pounds of water, due to the weakness of my heart and the ensuing heart failure, but my kidneys were failing as well as my liver. The devices which are placed in my chest have allowed the free flow of oxygenated blood to all the organs of my body, places that were sorely deprived for so long. I have been given a clean bill of health where my organs are concerned and my liver is functioning at practically 100% while my kidneys, which were near complete failure requiring dialysis, are now considered “pristine” by one of my nephrologists at Tufts University Hospital.
What is so exhilarating about having this new lease on life is not only the opportunity to begin to truly enjoy my family and being the kind of husband and father that I always dreamed I could be but that I look forward to continuing my ministry with a renewed sense of passion and purpose. The Epistle reading appointed for today from the hand of St. Paul the apostle tells us to present yourself as one approved and rIghtly handling the word of truth. There is no greater imperative for a pastor and a preacher then to handle God’s word correctly. He even goes on to say that one should avoid useless chatter and controversies but to be gentle in their approach to proclaiming the truth of the Gospel. The promise associated with this imperative is that some might be granted the opportunity to repent and turn to the truth of the Gospel escaping the snare of the devil.
Imagine how challenging it is for one who was called by God to render this miraculous service to the church and to be deprived of this privilege for over a four-month period.
This time has given me the opportunity to take a self-assessment and to psychologically rid myself of those things which are superfluous to faith and in some cases even work against the activity of faith and serving as a hinderance. The apostle says, stay away from stupid controversies and be kind to everyone. In spite of myself, I find that the miracle of faith has given new birth to a sense of peace and love for not only my family and my parish but also for those who are known and unknown or have come into my life recently. When I tell nurses and healthcare workers that I love them and appreciate them I can say with all honesty that I truly mean it from the bottom of my heart. The Miracle with which I have emerged more hole physically than I have been in five years has shown me once again the hand of God in my life. I owe everything to him and I thank him for the honor to share, albeit dimly, in his suffering through my own suffering through which I passed with God’s presence and help. I sense without a doubt that our Lord Jesus was with me every step of the way and continues to sustain me. This experience overall has given me a much stronger resolve to battle against the forces of spiritual enemies, the work of the devil and to arm myself with the shield of faith through which I can accomplish all things in Christ Jesus my Lord. I pray that this Lenten period, which will begin in just a few short days will be a time for even greater reflection and preparation to strengthen our souls in the struggle to ward off evil and to set our minds on good deeds, calling on the Lord from a pure heart.