Homily 317 – 7th after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
July 15, 2018
Epistle: (116) Rom 15:1-7; (334) Heb 13:7-16 (Holy Fathers); (200) Gal 1:11-19 (St Vladimir)
Gospel: (33) Mt 9:27-35; (56) Jn 17:1-13 (Holy Fathers); (mid-35) Jn 10:1-9 (St Vladimir)
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.
Do we believe that Jesus is able to do this?
Obviously on some level we do – because otherwise, we likely wouldn’t be spending our time in Church, or in prayer, or giving away resources to those in need, or any of it.
Of course part of that is defining what “this” is. What do we want Jesus to do?
That may be different for each of us. And as we move through our lives, the “this” that we want Christ to do for us will also be different.
Sometimes, like the two blind men, we are looking for physical healing. Sometimes we look for healing for others, typically those whom we love.
Sometimes we look for Christ to change our environment. Our relationships. Sometimes, perhaps most of the time, we ask Christ to provide us with comfort, and peace.
But do we believe Christ can do this? Is able to do this?
I’ll be candid with you – I have always believed that Christ is able to do this, whatever this may be.
I have not, however, always believed that Christ is willing. Whether it be my disobedience, my lack of faith, my failures – would that limit our Lord’s willingness to act?
That doubt – doubt about God’s willingness to do whatever – shaped my life for a long time. And those doubts were sometimes debilitating.
I later realized that the doubts about God’s willingness came not from God, but from the evil one. The deceiver – the liar – plants and fosters those doubts.
Two things needed to happen for me to answer the question of “Do we believe Christ is able to do this?” with a resounding “yes.”
First – I had to recognize the lies. And I had to understand the Love of God.
The Love of God is truly unconditional. That love depends on absolutely nothing. That love is without boundaries. That love is so great, that the second person of the Godhead, the second person of the Trinity, became flesh, and experienced death.
Love. Unconditional love. That’s one.
Second – I had to recognize that my desires and wants were not necessarily aligned with God.
In many cases, our goals are for our comfort and our ease. We want security and what we believe is freedom to indulge ourselves.
If we look at the way God treated the saints. The Apostle Paul, for example. In his second epistle to the Corinthians, he wrote the following:
Five times the Jews have given me the thirty-nine strokes; three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I have been shipwrecked, and for twenty-four hours I was adrift on the open sea. I have been constantly on the road; I have met dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my fellow-countrymen, dangers from foreigners, dangers in the town, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers from false Christians. I have toiled and drudged and often gone without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food; I have suffered from cold and exposure.
And this is Saint Paul! Who also reminds us in the letter to the Hebrews:
Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated– of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised.
Obviously, our goals, my goals, are not always aligned with God’s. Because I’m pursuing comfort, diversion, entertainment, security.
And what God wants is us. All of us. And in return, what we receive, is holiness. Life. Wholeness. Contentment, as St. Paul writes. Contentment and peace. And joy.
So – remember, that God loves you and I. Enough to die for us. Regardless.
And remember, that sometimes – oftentimes – we need to consider what God cares about. He honors this life, but as a lead into the life which is to come.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Glory to Jesus Christ!