Homily 330 – 20th after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
October 14, 2018
Epistle – (200) Galatians 1:11-19 and (334) Hebrews 13:7-16 (Fathers)
Gospel – (35) Luke 8:5-15 and (56) John 17:1-13 (Fathers)
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.
St. Paul reminds us this morning that we need to be on guard. He says we should remember those leaders who brought us to faith.
He tells us to remember, but to consider something. Considering their … conduct, remember what they taught.
Considering their conduct, imitate their faith.
I confess I hope people don’t look closely at my conduct, as I still suffer from a focus on self.
And yet, the words of St. Paul are useful, and perhaps stated a bit differently, we would see them as common sense.
What he tells us is that we need to imitate those who are what we’d like to become.
Makes perfect sense. If you want to be powerful, follow the example of a powerful person. If you want to be generous, follow the example of a generous person. If you want to be rich, sign up for classes taught by rich people.
We follow those who already are what we would like to become.
Our goal, as Christians, is very straightforward. We are after union with God.
Which means, We are to become holy. Holy means set apart. God is set apart from us – not by his choice but by ours.
Humanity fell – God didn’t. We are no longer set apart. No longer holy.
That is the singular goal of Christianity.
So if that is our goal, we follow those who have achieved that goal – the saints.
And if that is not our goal, then perhaps the Christian path isn’t useful.
Sounds harsh, but yet true. If that isn’t the goal, then why are we here?
So – if we are here to become holy, then let’s get at it. St. Paul tells us to imitate those who are holy, and to follow their teaching, and more than teaching, to follow their example.
Then, St. Paul gives us a yardstick to follow. The person of Jesus Christ. The unchanging one – the same today, yesterday, and forever.
So, we can with confidence take whatever teaching we are being given, and compare it to the unchanging person of Christ. The one described perfectly in our Symbol of Faith.
In the Gospel, Christ talks about preparing the ground to receive seeds – and this is what He is referring to. By examining the teaching we receive, and comparing it not to our own perception but to the dogmatic teaching of the Church, we till the soil of our soul.
We prepare it to accept the Truth – whatever that truth might be.
Our world doesn’t like to do that – and doesn’t like people who do that. If we allow ourselves to conform our will to that of Truth, we are perceived as weak, or immature.
Not able to – quote – think for ourselves.
But it is that specific instance of “thinking for ourselves” that we succumb not to truth – but to a lie. To a deception.
When we “think for ourselves” we replicate the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden. We replicate, and fall victim to, the same deception that caused the fall.
It places us in a dilemma. A dilemma with eternal consequences. Will we submit to the Truth, even if we don’t believe it, and struggle to believe it? Or will we proudly stand on our own judgement and relive the fall of humanity all over again?
That is the choice in front of us. We can struggle to believe what is presented to us as Truth – Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. Or we can say, as many have, that doesn’t make sense to me and so I will not believe it.
And close the case.
Brothers and sisters, don’t close the case. Ever. Don’t let our pride defeat us. It’s OK to struggle with what is True. But don’t reject it!
Live like your life depends on it. Because it does.
And as we keep knocking and asking God to help our unbelief, He will – and we can then enter the joy which is union with God, through the example of the Saints before us.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Glory to Jesus Christ!