Opinions do not matter.

Homily 271 – 7th Sunday after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
July 23, 2017

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

Much of the conversation of the Gospel accounts revolve around the question we first asked last week. Who do you say that I am?

This morning, in the account of the two blind men and a mute man being healed by our Lord, there was also discussion about who Christ was.

The people, uneducated masses, recognized that nothing like this had ever been seen before.

Not just the people of that day – but the stories handed down throughout the history of that place. Nothing matched the impact of Christ healing these two men.

And they looked to the religious leaders – the experts of the day – for an explanation.

The leaders – the Pharisees – had a problem. They really didn’t know. But they did perceive this as a threat to them, to their position in society.

If they acknowledged that such power was from God, then they would have to submit to this itinerant preacher from Nazareth of Galilee.

And this preacher already had his leadership. They would find themselves “demoted” so to speak.

If they admitted they didn’t know, they would no longer be respected as experts. They would no longer have their position in society.

They couldn’t argue with the event – that much was certain. Everyone had experienced it. They witnessed it. They testified to it.

So they picked the third option – they called it fake news.

They said it wasn’t by God’s power, but by the power of the great prince of demons, that the demons were cast out.

They were too proud to admit they rejected the Messiah. To proud to give up their position and prestige in society to submit to the King of all, the Son of God.

St. Paul speaks a bit on this to the Romans. He reminds them that the insults of those who insulted you fell on Christ. He shouldered the burden of the insults.

That Christ sought to strengthen and support the weak, instead of building His own reputation.

Just as he did with the Pharisees.

And he told those he healed, in this case, to “see that no one knows about this.”

This wasn’t a comment made with a wink and a nod, knowing full well that the opposite would happen.

This was the commandment of Jesus – the gospel says He “strictly” commanded them not to tell.

So, to model Christ, we do what he did.

We meet the needs of others, not ourselves, and disregard the opinions of the society around us.

St. Paul reminds us that the behavior of Christ is our model as well. Let each one of us please our neighbor for what is good, to be edifying to him.

Don’t be concerned with society, with what others think. We will also be accused of being demon-possessed, as Christ was.

They will call us crazy. They will consider us fools and imbeciles.

And we shouldn’t even notice.

Others have been there before us. St. Xenia of Petersburg is one example for us to emulate. St. Procopius, the first Holy Fool in Russia.

Both not only disregarded public opinion, but actively sought to act contrary to the normal behavior of the day.

The point of the Holy Fools was to deliberately provoke others to examine their ideas and ideals.

But ours is slightly different – we are to simply disregard the opinions of others.

Including our own opinion of our selves. That’s a tough one.

Within our own fallen self we don’t want to follow God, we don’t want to deny ourselves. We want to indulge ourselves.

But when Christ heals us, we recognize that joy – life – love – is found not in self-indulgence, but in self-denial.

Because while we are providing for others, in denial of self, then Christ can provide for us.

While we feed and clothe and house others, Christ feeds and clothes and houses us.

So that we may learn to depend on one another. And through the dependence on one another, learn to depend on Christ.

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