Diversity and fulfillment

Homily 342 – 33rd Sunday after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
January 13, 2019
Epistle: (224-ctr) – Ephesians 4:7-13
Gospel: (10) – Matthew 4:12-17

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

In St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians we hear that diversity within the kingdom of God, within the Church, is a good thing.

We all have different gifts. We all contribute in different ways. But we all have a common goal, which is building up the body of Christ.

Just like in building a home or building we have carpenters, and plumbers, and electricians and a whole slew of other specialties, so too do we have this same diversity in the Church.

Many of us have more than one specialty. Particularly in our small community, people have to take on multiple roles, so that our house – God’s house – might be complete here in Ames.

We all know that Christ forms the cornerstone, and is the builder. We provide labor – the effort, under his direction.

And in so doing, we find our way of denying ourselves, picking up our cross, and following Christ. Through our offering to the Church, and to Christ for His Kingdom, we find our salvation.

It is important to remember that we also find our fulfillment.

We seek our fulfillment in many different places these days – lots of distractions.

Career. Social standing. Sports. Movies. Even self-help. I can’t help but think of the people sitting at home this morning, sipping their coffee and having brunch, and trying to make themselves more content, more peaceful – more happy.

The people who seek fulfillment in relaxation. Playing golf. Fishing. Camping. Boating. All are diversions from the one thing which will fulfill us.

True self-care does not come through a life of ease. We don’t exist because we think. Thinking is evidence of our existence, but we exist because God loves.

That is the cause of our existence. And if we truly want to find self-care, we will listen, and follow, the directions of our Creator, who made us from His love.

For so many in our world, sadly, goals are defined not by our creator, but by ourselves. That is what Adam and Eve did in the garden – they were deceived by the Great Deceiver, the evil one, and made a decision.

Judged for themselves.

People today are also deceived. Modern psychology under the needs hierarchy of Maslow believe that self-actualization is the pinnacle of existence.

That, brothers and sisters, is a lie. A deception. There is only One in the existence – both the created existence and the uncreated existence, that is self-actualized.

That is God, whom we dare to call our Father. The great “O own” – the Great I AM.

The pinnacle of our existence is union with God – communion with God – Theosis.

If we want to shoot for self-actualization then by all means. But if I can be a prophet for a moment, that pursuit is destined to fail, and to fail miserably. Any pursuit will fail in this regard.

Except the pursuit of Theosis. The pursuit of holiness, of union with God our Creator.

Theosis is what humanity experienced before the fall. When we too were, like the incarnate Son of God, we too were clothed with light as with a garment.

Clothed with the uncreated light – the light Christ manifested on Mt. Tabor, a stone of which is in our midst today.

The uncreated light which left us at the fall – the presence of our Union with God, our communion with God, that we rejected at the fall.

It is that light which we pursue – and no other. A pursuit of humility. A pursuit of perfection.

We miss the mark. We “amartia”. We become deformed – and yet the evil one tries to tell us we are just fine as we are. We don’t need God.

Such a lie. We counter that lie with the preaching of John the Baptist and of Our Lord Jesus Christ – they tell us to repent.

To adjust our targeting, adjust our direction and trajectory. Repent.

Each day – each moment of each day.

In our repentance, we find our healing. We have to make the effort – but the burden isn’t heavy. God waits to help us on the journey.

He won’t act against our will, without our consent. We have to pursue Him, and make the first move.

But if we do – He is faithful, and just, to forgive us, and to help us and guide us on that path.

For which we give thanks always, now and ever, and unto ages of ages, Amen.

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