Homily 329 – 19th after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
October 7, 2018
Epistle – (194) 2 Corinthians 11:31-12:9
Gospel – (30) Luke 7:11-16
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.
The Widow has nobody. Her husband is gone, and now her son is gone, too.
She is utterly alone – no family.
Jesus, entering the city and seeing the funeral in progress, issues a rather baffling command. “Do not cry.”
Now, I’m not sure what your reaction would be to being all alone, burying your only son, probably your only child, but mine would probably be to cry. A lot.
And Jesus says, “Do not cry.”
It seems almost absurd. Especially coming from this person whom you’ve likely never met, and never heard of.
How can it be that our Lord, the Incarnate Son of God, can be this way? Can seem so, well, cruel?
It’s easy, really. Once we discover who this stranger is. Once we learn that He is indeed the Son of God, the Messiah, the Creator of the Cosmos.
In that realization, we can then have confidence that everything will be fine. More than fine. Everything will be perfect.
Christ tells the widow not to cry, then proceeds to raise her son from the dead.
Our minds jump to the women going to prepare the hastily buried body of Jesus. And the angel says to them, “Do not weep, but announce the resurrection.”
“Do not cry …”
What we learn here is that there are gaps in time – but God lives outside time. What God is telling us is that not everything will be OK in time – but that everything is already OK.
God has already completed everything. This is difficult to understand, much less try to explain.
But if we have faith in God, faith in Christ, we do not ever need to concern ourselves with anything in the past, or anything in the future – because it is accomplished.
It is truly finished.
The dead are resting in Christ. Their union with God is completed. Our union with God is completed.
The Catholic scholar Dom Gregory Dix said the essence of Christianity is becoming who we already are in Christ.
Becoming. Who we already are.
Christ perfects us. Christ has already perfected us. Christ will perfect us.
It is accomplished – it is finished. Yet it is beginning, and also ongoing.
So why does all this metaphysical talk about time matter?
The only way the phrase “Do not cry” makes any sense at all to us, as humans, is if our faith tells us that the resurrection is already complete. That our salvation is already complete.
Our healing, our transfiguration, is already complete. And when we also move outside time, in unity with Christ, we will experience that completion.
We are, with the widow, and anyone who has lived and lost someone they love, trapped inside time. Trapped inside corruption – where death and decay rule.
In fact, that is exactly how we measure time in our world. We measure the radioactive decay of certain elements. In decay, we find time.
But outside of time, the dwelling of God, there is no time – there is no decay.
Only completion. Only healing. Only love.
In fact, we choose whether or not that completion, healing, and joy is paradise or torment. To the one who is selfish – another word for “Prideful” – the experience of God’s Love for eternity will be torment.
To the one who desires to be self-giving, generous, a servant to others – God’s love will be paradise, and rest, and joy.
It is our choice.
One of the difficult parts of our life is responding to grief, responding to loss. And so often we hear well meaning people – Christian people – say “Do not cry.”
But they never complete the statement. Jesus raised the widow’s son.
But the widow’s son died again. The widow died. All of us die.
The only reason we can hear “Do not cry” is our faith.
Our faith, our hope, in the essence of things hoped for and the substance of things not seen. Yet.
It is our faith in the resurrection of Christ, and faith that in His resurrection, we find our own.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Glory to Jesus Christ!