It is all about love.

Homily 416 – 1st Sunday after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
June 14, 2020
Epistle: (330) Hebrews 11:33-12:2
Gospel: (38, mid-79) Matthew 10:32-33, 37-38; 19:27-30

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

Today we remember all the saints, the ones known to us, and the ones known to God. It may be helpful to discover the common threads of these people – if indeed our goal is to become saints.

We can start with what it means to be a saint. I mentioned two types – those known to us, and those known to God. Saint is a word from Latin meaning “sanctified.” The Greek equivalent is ἅγιος (hagios).

To be a saint is to be holy.

To be holy is to be saved, to be sanctified, to be righteous before God. If we seek salvation, we are to be holy. And if you don’t believe you need saving, then first: You’re wrong. Second: why are you here?

So, if you didn’t already realize it, we are all called to be saints. “Be holy as I am holy” St. Peter quotes God.

Not “as holy as St. Peter.” As holy as God Himself.

In the gospel today, Jesus gives us the sense of where that begins, which is to love Him more than anything else. Anyone else. Even our family. Even ourselves.

There are at times subtleties that perhaps get missed to our detriment. We don’t “reject” our families. We don’t “reject” our friends. We don’t “reject” the world.

We love Jesus more. The love we have for others changes, because it flows out of our love for Christ.

It is a bit of a paradox, like most aspects of Christian life. The love we have for others teaches us about loving Christ. And the love we have for Christ allows us to love others.

Unselfishly love others. That’s the holy part – the sainthood part. We learn how to love, and Christ takes that and teaches us how to love unselfishly.

Holy Peter said “What about us? We left everything.” That is sainthood.

Jesus responded to Peter – He said whatever you left, you will be repaid many times over. Another lesson we see throughout the scripture. God promises abundance – but not here. Not now.

Holy Paul reminds us of that in the Epistle reading – that the holy ones of the Scriptures, the Old Testament to us, did not receive the promise. Not yet.

Because what we receive is not of this world – it is of the Kingdom of God. It is God Himself. Everything that is God’s is Christ’s. And so it is ours also.

That doesn’t mean ours to possess. It means ours to enjoy. That is where many of us go wrong, perhaps. We hear “ours”, and implied is “possession.”

Yet, that is not the way of Christ. The way of Christ is to share.

Christ had no possessions, and yet he promises the Apostles the fullness of the Kingdom – which is not of this world.

If anyone tells you that the Kingdom of God involves the things of this world – wealth, power, prestige – they are simply lying. Our Lord possessed none of those things.

He didn’t have a place to live. He didn’t have a job. He didn’t have wealth. He didn’t have any transportation. He was born in a borrowed stable. He entered Jerusalem on a borrowed colt, and shared the Eucharist in a borrowed room. He was buried in a borrowed tomb.

But what he did have was love. Healing. Restoration from death to life.

And everything that he had, was shared – in abundance. He turned water to wine. He fed the five thousand, and the four thousand. He healed the demoniacs, the blind, the lame. He raised the dead.

And what did the World do? They rejected him. They were jealous of him. They loved their power, their wealth, their position more than God himself.

In other words, they were idolaters. The scriptures record them saying “We have no king but Caesar.” They disregarded the first and greatest commandment – you shall have no other gods before me.”

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the God of the living – incarnate whom we know to be Jesus Christ. Who is risen from the dead, and who sent the Holy Spirit for our Comforter. Nothing comes before Him. He is first.

We cannot – must not – put anything in front, ahead, before God. Not money, not family, not power, not prestige. Not even ourselves.

We must fill ourselves with Christ – through our love for Him. We get a foretaste of that gift today, as we receive Christ in the Eucharist. What we receive is body and blood – but not only body and blood. It is everything of Christ.

And nothing – nothing – not even ourselves – must get in the way.

We should step back and look at ourselves – does our life reflect the pursuit of Christ above all else? Do we share as Christ shared? Do we love Him with everything we are, our whole being?

Or do we reserve part of our love for something else?

The path to sainthood, the path to salvation, is through love of Christ, and only the love of Christ. To Him be all power, glory, dominion, and honor, now and ever and to the ages of ages.

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