Do you want to be healed?

Homily 467 – 7th APE
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
August 8, 2021
Epistle: (116) Romans 15:1-7
Gospel: (33) Matthew 9:27-35

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

Last week we spoke of the paralytic, and how healing was not the key element, but rather forgiveness.

Today, we see a second dimension – that of Faith.

Faith is more than mental assent to a set of facts. Faith is the knowledge of the unseen reality that is more real than our physical senses can determine.

We look around, touch, smell, taste, hear – and we thus say “it is real.” Faith, as St. Paul offers in his epistle to the Hebrews, is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

So here we find Jesus questioning those who desire to be healed. The two blind men, and the mute demon-possessed man. Asking the former about their faith. Didn’t ask the second, who was not able to answer.

But Jesus asked the two blind men. We might ask why He asked? Isn’t it obvious? They were yelling after Him begging for His mercy.

There is one thing that God will never violate, and that is our free will. That is what He gave to humanity in the original creation.

It was free will that resulted in the fall – our misuse of that free will as humans to focus on self, rather than on God. To decide for ourselves, rather than follow God’s instructions for us.

But that free will gives us something not just important. It creates something critical to our originally intended unfallen nature.

It is necessary to have free will in order to love. Love by compulsion is not love at all.

The love that Christ manifested for us, by voluntarily going to the Cross, in spite of everything that humanity failed to do – that is perfect love. And it is rooted squarely in perfect will, free will.

That was the prayer Christ offered in the Garden – to subject His will, the will that asked the cup to pass from Him, to deny that will to follow the will of the Father.

His love for His Father drove the subjection of His desire. And God’s love for us accepted that offering.

The Cross of Christ is one of absolute perfect Love. In every respect.

And without the ability to offer one’s will, freely, without any compulsion, the love simply wouldn’t exist.

There is a book entitled “the Gurus, the young man, and Elder Paisios” by Dionysios Farasiotis. It is a true story of his search for truth, and in it, he describes the experiences he had exploring other faiths – Buddhist, Moslem, Hindu, and others.

One of the things he realizes is that before doing anything – even praying for him – Elder Paisios on Mt. Athos asked the young man’s permission. No other of the faiths and gurus he followed did that.

Christ does the same thing. Before doing anything, He asks. Do you want this? Do you believe I am able to do this?

In other words, He asks “Am I the Messiah?”

That, beloved, is the question before all of us. Is Jesus Christ the Messiah. Before we say of course He is, what a silly question, pause. Think about the life you live. If people looked at our lives, would they know that Christ is the Messiah?

Would they be able to see Christ in us? If we proclaim Christ with our lips, would they be able to tell if we were mute?

Do our lives match the cry of our lips for mercy?

It is not enough to say it with our lips. It is not enough for us to proclaim our belief. Even the father, with a stricken child, said I believe – help my unbelief.

Help the reality in which I live to reflect the reality I believe to be true.

Now, if we are successful, what will everybody say about us? What will everybody think about us?

I would suggest the same thing they thought and said about Jesus.

He has a demon. He isn’t well. He is delusional.

Or, to put it more succinctly, He isn’t like us. The implication being, we are fine – He is not OK.

We have to be prepared for that, because when our lives reflect our Lord, we won’t be living by the standards of the world. At. All.

We will hear it, and forgive those who said it, and ask God to have mercy on them.

And we will continue to go about proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom.

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