Correcting our imperfections.

Homily 597 – 6th Pascha
Holy Transfiguration, Ames, Iowa
June 9, 2024
Epistle:  (38) – Acts 16:16-34
Gospel:  (34) – John 9:1-38

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Christ is risen!

Often we wonder why people are afflicted.  In Christ’s day, the common thought was that affliction was the result of sin.  That was not entirely misguided – sin, missing the mark or deviating from God’s plan, certainly caused the fall, which brought all kinds of malady and grief into humanity.  In the Church, we will hear this called being subject to corruption.

The people ask a question – who sinned?  This means they believe that an individual’s afflictions are tied directly to someone’s specific act.  Since he was born blind, there wasn’t a real way the individual could have sinned to cause his blindness, and so the assumption was that perhaps it was the parents.

That is where they miss the boat a bit, which Christ confirms.  Christ tells them that it wasn’t an individual sin, but rather the fallen human nature that results in this person’s affliction.

Our affliction, it turns out, is the opportunity for God to be revealed.  We like to focus on the detail – Christ makes mud by spitting on the ground, and creates eyes where there weren’t eyes before.  Indeed, a miracle by any account, and very important to show that Christ is also the Creator.  We can never lose sight of that.

But we also should never lose sight of the bigger picture.  All of us have afflictions of one form or another.  That is to say, all of us have imperfections.  Some are not visible.  Some might be described as minor.  But we all have them.

And all of them – every one of them – is the opportunity for God to reveal Himself through us.  If we let Him.

Perhaps we get angry – but can become channels of God’s love and forgiveness.  Perhaps we can be judgmental – but can learn to see the fallen humanity of others and be compassionate.  Perhaps we can be jealous of the blessings that others receive – but can become content with what God has given us.  Perhaps we can be selfish – but learn to meet the needs of others as we are able.

All of these are imperfections and shortcomings, and by allowing God to have dominion – that is to say, rule – over our behavior, we can manifest God and reveal Him to the world.

Maybe it isn’t as dramatic as regaining sight to one born blind.  But it should be.  Even more so, perhaps.  Recall the paralyzed man lowered through the roof of a house.  We can recall what Jesus said – “your sins are forgiven.”

In the real world, the world of the Kingdom of God, the most important aspects of life revolve around our forgiveness.  Because forgiveness enables our repentance.  Repentance is our change – change of action, change of outlook.

Repentance inevitably means our world changes.  When we repent, we aren’t living by the standards and values of this fallen world anymore.  We have new life.  We have a life that doesn’t make sense to those remaining in the world.

We are counter-cultural, to the extreme.

What does our world value?  It values power, and wealth, and fame, and status.  It values pleasure and leisure and entertainment.

What does the Kingdom of God value?

Well, first of all, none of those things.  Those things are actually disadvantages in the Kingdom of God.  The hold us back, they divide our attention.  They distract us from living fully in God’s presence.

If you are anything like me, it is so easy to get lost down an internet rabbit hole, and forget to pray.  Or get enough sleep.  Or interact with others.

The Kingdom of God values selflessness.  Giving of ourselves, and what we mistakenly believe are our possessions, to others.  Not selling, not loaning.  Christ says to give, expecting nothing in return.  No payback.  Perhaps that is the biggest difference on a practical level.

But the most striking value in the Kingdom of God is that of Love.  To reflect God’s love is to reveal God.  We don’t have to worry about giving credit to God for every little thing that happens.  We reveal God not by attribution, not by giving credit, but by our character.

Living in the Kingdom of God, our character is shaped and formed in the image of God.  Slowly and deliberately, the Master Potter molds and shapes us into what He wants us to be – what we were created to be.

He can, and does, create what is missing in us, if we let Him.  He refines what is misshapen.  He smooths the rough edges.

He even creates eyes that we might see Him, and hands that we might grasp Him, and legs that we might walk with Him.

Now, what did the blind man do?  First, he obeyed.  He went to the pool and washed – having, I imagine, no clue as to what the outcome would be.  Then, he returned, which confused everyone, because he had dramatically changed.  So much so that the people didn’t recognize him.

And, he simply told his story.  Factually, as he experienced it.  With no embellishment, with nothing.  Just told the truth.  And, in the face of the sceptics, he didn’t budge from that story.  He didn’t say, well, maybe you know maybe you’re right.

Nope.  He knew what had happened.

Can we be like the blind man?  Can we recognize the change in us after we encounter Christ?  Or will we choose to ignore what has happened and continue to make the power brokers and lauded ones of the world happy?

We live in a new Kingdom.  We live in a world with the risen Lord.  The rules have changed and the paradigm has shifted.  We need to re-establish ourselves into a new way of life, a new value system, a new definition of the meaning of life.

The meaning that life was supposed to have from the beginning.

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