Homily 459 – 6th Pascha
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
June 6, 2021
Epistle: (38) – Acts 16:16-34
Gospel: (34) – John 9:1-38
Christ is Risen! Al-masseah kham! Kristos Voskrese! Christos Anesthi!
We look at the last few weeks, and there is something we need to note.
We begin with the Sunday of Thomas, then the Myrrhbearing Women, then the Paralytic, then the Samaritan Woman, and today the Man Born Blind.
Doubt – confusion – paralyzation – morally depraved – blind.
There are a couple of common elements, most important of which may be that God’s Love and Christ’s resurrection overcome all these. Overcomes them in a way that makes them insignificant, in a way that they no longer have an impact. The tsunami of God’s love covers these like the only 5 grains of sand on a beach.
There is another commonality. We are all doubtful. We are all confused. We are all paralyzed. We are all morally depraved. We are all blind.
The Love of Christ, the joy of the Resurrection, by covering and healing these individuals, covers and heals us all.
In conjunction with that healing, though, life does change rather significantly. The rest of our lives is spent learning how to live in this new reality.
Think about the paralytic and the man born blind, in particular. They had been literal charity cases for decades. The paralytic for 38 years, the man born blind for more than 40. They couldn’t live in the world.
They were dependent on others, on God through others, for their daily bread. Their shelter. They couldn’t work, they couldn’t take care of themselves.
And now, suddenly, they can. There is no reason for anyone to be charitable toward them, as they are no longer unable to care for themselves.
Like us, these folks had to re-learn how to live. They had to confront a new reality. Just like us. We have been healed also. And we also have to confront living in this new reality – a new paradigm.
The healing is and was and will be instantaneous. Our healing is such that in our reality, our new reality, we were never broken, to begin with. Such is the completeness of our Lord’s healing for us.
And, as such, everything we have lived to this point has been a lie. A complete lie. Completely divorced from reality. This whole world, the creation of God, is real, but at the same time, a lie. It is fallen. No longer the reality God created.
The task of learning how to live in this new-to-us reality is daunting. We have to question absolutely everything about our lives.
We think we know what success is – but do we?
We believe we know what family is – but do we?
We believe we know what life is – but do we?
We think we know who we are – but do we?
For the vast majority of us, we do not. This is why, in two weeks, the coming of the Holy Spirit is critically essential to our existence in this newly-revealed reality.
The Holy Spirit guides us in this newly-revealed reality, showing us the deception of our past, and offering us a vision of the Kingdom to come – a taste of Heaven, a deposit if you will.
That is what we proclaim in Chrismation – the seal, the deposit, the down-payment, on the Gift of the Kingdom in which we now reside.
Just like the man born blind, just like the paralytic, just like the others – we have to learn how to live in this new reality.
And to be clear – the world around us won’t understand this reality. They are blind to it. Those who seek justice will never find it. Those who seek material blessing will find it unsatisfying. Those who seek power will find it meaningless.
Because in the newly-revealed reality, all these things belong to God. And we find God in humility.
There will be steps both ways – forwards and backward. We move toward Christ. When we find ourselves drifting toward something other than Christ, the Holy Spirit nudges us.
We respond, and we change course – redirecting ourselves to Christ. Not worrying about the distraction, the temptation, anymore.
One other important aspect is how the Holy Spirit guides us. The Holy Spirit guides us through the Church. Recall the Holy Spirit didn’t descend on the Apostles individually. They were gathered together in the room.
When the issue of Gentile converts needing to become Jewish was raised, they gathered in council and said “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us.”
The most significant confirmation of the Holy Spirit is that there is general consensus in the Church. So if you see individuals claiming the Holy Spirit individually, be on guard. Note I didn’t say disregard – but rather look for what others say.
Without gathering, without prayer, we can’t confirm the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit can help us individually understand our relationship to the Church and to Christ, and nudge us individually to repentance. But broad guidance on the general path of salvation is preserved for us in the action of the Holy Spirit within the Church.
So, beloved in Christ, my brothers and sisters, with joy go forth into the new reality. With childlike curiosity, begin to learn again, depending on our Father for everything – sustenance, shelter, clothing, learning – and share of our blessings with all those we encounter.
Christ is Risen! Al masseah kham! Kristos Voskrese! Christos Anesthi!