Faith out loud.

Homily 294 – 32nd Sunday after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
January 14, 2018

(Ed. note:  In order to provide context for the homilies, we shall begin including the readings for the Sunday.)

Epistle: (280-ctr) – 1 Timothy 1:15-17
My son Timothy, this saying is faithful and worthy of all acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the first. This is how I obtained mercy, so that in me as ‘the first,’ Jesus Christ might show all his patience as an example for those who would believe in him for eternal life.
Now to the eternal King, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory unto ages of ages. Amen.

Gospel: (93) – Luke 18:35-43
At that time, as Jesus was approaching Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the road, begging. Hearing a crowd going by, he asked what this meant. People told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. He began to cry out, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those who led the way rebuked him, ordering him to be quiet. But the blind man cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Standing still, Jesus commanded that the blind man be brought to him. When the man had come near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do?”
The man replied, “Lord, that I may see again!”
Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight. Your faith has healed you.”
Immediately, the man received his sight and began to follow Jesus, glorifying God. When all the people saw this, they praised God.

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

The blind beggar that St. Luke tells us about this morning, is an icon, an image, of faith for us.

It is a story of faith – not just belief, but belief that is turned into action.

We find this beggar crying out – Son of David, have mercy on me.

In this cry, is an imbedded statement. To call someone “Son of David” was to acknowledge that this person is the Messiah.

At that time, they perhaps didn’t understand exactly who Jesus was. To state that Jesus was divine wouldn’t occur formally for a couple of hundred years.

But this man, this beggar, knew he was the Messiah. I think their understanding of what Messiah implied may be similar to our understanding of the book of Revelation.

We can get some themes, but the specifics aren’t anywhere near clear.

So we have faith – belief – that God will take care of us, regardless of the circumstances. He will supply that which is necessary for life.

And if he requires our life, our faith – our belief – is that He will bring us to a better existence, where He is no longer shrouded.

That is the nature of faith. That is the nature of trust. It is living with the assurance that although the future may not be known, we still know what the outcome will be.

Now this blind beggar believed Jesus was the Messiah. But that belief was not enough to secure his healing.

He had to act on that faith. He had to take a risk. He had to call out.

And he did. He called out to Jesus, “son of David, have mercy on me.

And the self-appointed marshals of that procession told him to be quiet. They rebuked him – hush, you fool! You are making a spectacle of yourself! Jesus is busy! Don’t bother Him!

To use a current phrase, “Nevertheless, he persisted.” He called out all the more – louder, more frequently, with more strength, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”

This was not a timid man. He didn’t care what others thought.

They could (and did) look down on him, tell him to pipe down – that he was not relevant. That no one cared about him.

Nevertheless, he persisted.

And his faith was acknowledged – Jesus called for him.

Jesus, knowing full well what the man wanted, asked this blind beggar to state out loud what he wanted.

Not quietly. Not secretly. Out loud, for all to hear. For the benefit of those around Jesus.

In the mind of the masses, the man may have simply wanted alms. It would have been presumptuous of Jesus to heal a man who only wanted alms.

And so that there could be absolute clarity, no confusion, the man is asked to state his request. And he does so.

“Lord – my master, the one whom I obey, God – Lord, that I may see again.”

And Christ says one word. A command – “see”. Gain sight.

The Creator of the cosmos creates again. Restores. But offers the credit to the man!

“Your faith has healed you.”

How many of us are prepared to declare our faith, regardless of the consequences of our society?

You may say, “But Father, it is easy for you – you are a priest! It is difficult for the rest of us.”

And yet it wasn’t always easy, and even now it isn’t easy.

Those with faith, those who proclaim faith, will never be valued by society. In fact, those who proclaim faith will generally always be a thorn in the backside of society.

Our proclamation of faith, like that of the blind beggar, places us in subjection. We cannot speak highly of ourselves, or think highly of ourselves, because we understand that it is Christ who makes us whole. Makes us human.

That message doesn’t play well in a modern America that values independence and self-sufficiency over everything else.

In fact, I think that is why in our world, the relevance of Christianity is declining, and those that remain are, in the words of the prayer, “dazzled by destroying heresies.”

And why we need to return to the basics of our One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Where the most important person is not me.

Where the most important person is the Creator, One God in Three persons.

So today, and as we begin to enter Great Lent, contemplate – reflect – think about faith. Pray about your faith. And proclaim it – regardless of what the world thinks of it.

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