Acting on belief.

Homily 300 – 1st of Great Lent
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
February 25, 2018

Epistle: (329-ctr) – Hebrews 11:24-26, 32-12:2
Gospel: (5) – John 1:43-51

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

Do we believe? That seems to be the question we are asked today.

We hear the epistle about the fathers, and how they were treated by God. We hear of their faith, and how God did not abandon them.

But do we believe?

Do we rather think that these are quaint stories, suitable for bible stories for our toddlers and children?

When we consider the people of the Old Testament, we find that they did one thing: They took action based on a promise.

And that, brothers and sisters, is faith.

Action, based on a promise. We read of Moses, and we know the stories, about how he was told to act and given a promise.

If you sprinkle the blood, and are prepared to travel, your firstborn males will be passed over – saved. If you hold your staff up, the people will proceed across the barrier.

Later, after the migration, if you march around Jericho seven times, blowing a trumpet, the walls will fall.

Others – which St. Paul names – had a similar experience. The three Holy Youths in the furnace. Rahab the prostitute. The widow Zarepath’s son raised by the Prophet Elijah.

These form the great cloud of witnesses – one after another – telling us, providing testimony, to God’s faithfulness.

The Law, both today’s legal system and the Old Testament Law, provides that two witnesses – two people – must testify before something is deemed true.

We have not just two, but a great cloud. Hundreds. Thousands. Old Testament. New Testament.

So who do we believe?

The ones who, in the words of St. Paul, overpowered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, became strong in weakness, grew mighty in war and caused foreign armies to flee.

Or, the perceptions of ourselves and our society.

Like Adam and Eve – we will be the judge. WE will decide.

It perhaps would be a good use of our time to contemplate what we believe. To read some of these accounts of the righteous of the Old Testament. To read the miracles and promises of Christ. The accounts of the Apostles and Disciples.

Because like Nathaniel, we are all being called. And we all have to decide. Are we going to come and see – or stick with our position that nothing good can come from Nazareth.

That was what Nathaniel faced – trust himself, or his friend. And, Nathaniel likely reasoned, what do I have to lose?

What did Nathaniel believe? I don’t think he went to have his life changed. I really don’t.

Perhaps he expected a sideshow, or someone who had pulled the wool over on his friend Philip. He didn’t expect to see the Incarnate Christ of God.

The Messiah.

Like Nathaniel, we are called to “come and see.” And when we see, when we encounter Christ, we will no longer need to decide what to believe.

Like Nathaniel, we are called by the One who knows us better than we know ourselves. Who knows everything about us – every moment, every joy, every fear.

He knows it.

And He promises to love us anyway!

That is perhaps the most amazing part of Nathaniel’s encounter. Christ saw him sitting under the fig tree. I suspect Nathaniel was then embarrassed, as Christ likely also knew the comment Nathaniel had made.

Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

And Christ, even aware of Nathaniel’s doubt – aware fully of our own doubt – promised that Nathaniel – and us – would see the angels ascending and descending on Him.

So – what are we to do? What do we believe?

Either He is the Christ, or He is an imposter. And if He is the Christ – the Son of Man, the Son of God – are we prepared to act accordingly?

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