Homily 465 – 4th APE
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
July 18, 2021
Epistle: (93) Romans 6:18-23 and (334) Hebrews 13: 7-16
Gospel: (25) Matthew 8:5-13 and (56) John 17:1-13

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

We are not free. We are slaves.

St. Paul makes that pretty clear – there isn’t a choice to be free, only a choice of who will be our master.

One, the evil one, offers us the illusion of being a master of ourselves. However, in doing that, we separate ourselves from the One that not just gave us life, but continues to give us life. And we are enslaved.

Life that is more than just breathing with a heartbeat and a semblance of brain function. Those things can be provided by medical care, and are a blessing from God.

But true life continues when those bodily functions cease. When the shell shuts down, and we are planted in the ground, to resurrect into the realm of the Lord.

So, we can also be slaves to the One that gives life. The One that IS life.

But we can’t be enslaved to something else at the same time.

Sometimes we hear in our society that people “aren’t religious, but just try to be good persons.” And we pray for them and we hope God honors that goodness. But that is, in actuality, enslavement to the evil one, because it rejects God’s judgment about what is good.

Exactly what separated us from Him in the first place – back in the Garden.

We can’t be good enough to exist independently from God. We can’t be pious enough or holy enough to exist without God. We are slaves. We are created beings.

Created in love – yes! But created still. Created with free will – that mysterious autonomy that is the reason we can love in return.

This is what Jesus prays. That we may have eternal life. That isn’t just a time function, by the way. Eternal life is so much more. Indescribably so much more.

Eternal life – the Greek word used here is αἰώνιος “ae-o-ni-os”. Aeon. The age. Perpetually.

Because it is with God, that life is blessed beyond our comprehension. That life, of which we receive a foretaste by following Christ in this age, is real life. True life. That life is what we are created for.

Not here. Not this place. The unseen things. The transfigured things. These are the things of eternal life.

The uncreated. The restored.

St. Paul is blunt – what did your unrighteousness get you? Everything you got is ultimately, in time, death. Eternal death. Eternal separation from life.

Christ sets us free from death. In turn, we are also set free from sin.

To what purpose?

Christ healed St. Peter’s mother-in-law. She served Him. He healed the Centurion’s beloved servant. He glorified Christ.

God does not ask us in this life to do great things for Him. To be great in the eyes of other humans.

What He asks of us is to be witnesses. That is, to report what we have found to be true. The Centurion continued probably until his death to tell the account of what happened to his servant and how Christ, the messiah, healed.

And, by the way, we shouldn’t forget that Christ considered healing as secondary. Primary was what we know as the “forgiveness of sins.” That’s an important phrase – that phrase, the forgiveness of sins, means reconciled to God our Creator.

It means the barrier of selfishness has been torn away – turned into a union with God.

Brothers and sisters, today is the day to return our focus to Christ. Today is the day to repent, to change our focus, and return to Christ, our Lord.

Today is the day to allow the distractions around us to fall away. God gives us to Christ, and Christ gives us connection to God. Eternal life.

Not just a connection like a plug or a wire, or even wireless. A melding, a merging of us into God – we become as Christ, existing in Divinity, while maintaining our humanity.

Oddly enough, that was what Adam and Eve were seeking in the Garden.  To be “like God.”

Now, we aren’t divine. We are created. In Christ, though, we become One. One with Him, and One with God. And, One with each other.

We are still in the world. We are still in creation. But we will be One with the uncreated through and in Christ.

What joy! The utter abundance of joy that results from being who God created you – and me – all of us – to be.

To exist in His love. To exist in pure Love. Joy made full.

When you find it, when God blesses you with a glimmer, the slightest faintest hope – you never seek anything else.

And by continuing to seek it, continuing to ask for it, we will continue to find it.


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God.