Homily 226 – Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
August 28, 2016
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.
Christ speaks of faith, and of power.
The faith to move mountains. The faith to heal. The faith to eliminate those who would keep us from our healing.
But our goal is not to make the mountains dance. Our goal is not to make the creation bow to our will.
Our goal is to become, as St. Paul wrote, fools for Christ’s sake. A spectacle to the world, both angels and people. Weak. Dishonored. Hungry, thirsty, naked, beaten, wandering.
We are abused, defamed, persecuted – and give back blessing, and kindness, and conciliation in return.
We read the words of our Savior, who speaks of power, and of majesty, and of glory. We forget that His glory – His power – His majesty is not what we envision.
His image was lowliness. His image was service.
He also was scorned by the public. We have a difficult time imagining that – he was an outcast. He was not loved. In fact, He was rejected. He spent most of His time outside of the spotlight.
In the countrysides, a wanderer. No home – no place to lay His head.
We dare to ask God to give us things He didn’t have Himself.
We gripe and complain about our circumstances – when Christ’s circumstances were worse.
Brothers and sisters, God loves us. Let me repeat that.
God. Loves. Us.
We just don’t know how to recognize it.
We are so used to giving toys and things and stuff to the ones we love, that that is how we see love expressed.
Love is expressed not in toys, not in stuff, not in things.
Love is expressed in presence. In service. In returning kindness in the face of hatred. In returning blessings in the face of ridicule.
We express love to God most of all through thankfulness. Both to him, and to everyone around us.
Thankfulness in the face of whatever is directed toward us – for everything directed toward us is for our salvation.
The things and events and situations we encounter are absolutely neutral – if we use them as an excuse to turn away from God, they are bad. If we use them as an excuse to return to God, to draw closer to Him, they become good!
If I told you I had to have open heart surgery – I don’t, by the way – but if I told you, your reaction may very well be one of sorrow, sadness, and concern.
But if that surgery was to provide a heart transplant that would allow me a new lease on life, then I might be rejoicing!
Scared, terrified even, but rejoicing!
The event – surgery – is neutral. It cannot be good or bad. It simply is. The outcome is what makes something good or bad.
Our good outcome is that we, regardless of our circumstance, regardless of the event, turn to God.
Turning to God – repentance – is what the whole of the Christian life is about.
It is not just a good outcome, it is the only outcome that matters. Nothing else matters.
We cannot repent for someone else. We can pray for them, we can beg God’s mercy for them – but we cannot repent for them.
Repentance is ours. Alone. But also together.
We encourage one another, we support one another. As St. Paul says we restore one another in a spirit of gentleness.
Perhaps as participants in the social war, the morality war, that rages around us, we need to be reminded of that.
The fruit of the Spirit is not arrogance, or bossiness, or tyranny. The fruit of the Spirit is peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness.
We will never win our brother or sister who is strayed away from God by pointing out their error. In our world, that distance from the path – from the Way – is perhaps intentional!
How many people look at us, as Christians, and those who claim Christianity, and say “I have no desire to be like that.” They run away from that image.
Even I feel that way from time to time!
The path for us, and for our friends, is to recognize – and live – according to the Kingdom which is to come. The Kingdom which is in our midst – at hand, as Christ always preached.
The Kingdom in which there is no condemnation – only forgiveness. To live the life of peace, and gentleness, and meekness, through which we will inherit everything that God created.
Because in the beginning, He created it – all of it – for us.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Glory to Jesus Christ!