the Glory of God

Homily 476 – 20th APE
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
November 7, 2021
Epistle: (200) Galatians 1:11-19
Gospel: (39) Luke 8:41-56

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

In our Gospel reading today, we see a “two-fer”. Two healings in one account.

Both are demonstrations of faith – and with our Epistle reading St. Paul jumps into the discussion as well with his own perceptions of faith.

In the account of the Synagogue ruler Jairus and his daughter, and the woman with the flow of blood, we see a comparison of sorts.

Before seeking out Christ, Jairus, like St. Paul, placed his trust in the Law of the Hebrews – the Torah. He and St. Paul were powerful men, well placed in the Jewish faith, obedient and faithful to the precepts taught by Moses.

They had every reason to believe that God would answer their prayer, and respect their desire.

The Old Testament chronicles told of the leaders of Israel and of Judah who had followed God and been blessed, and those who had abandoned God and been given over to their enemies by God.

Jairus and St. Paul both had very good reason to believe they would be treated similarly, based on their understanding of what God had done in the past.

But the world had changed. God didn’t change, but the world did. God was no longer remote in the mountain or in the temple, or in this place or that place. God was in their midst.

They didn’t realize it, but God was incarnate, God was with them. And that incarnation didn’t change God – it changed the creation – the world. As we sing in a very few weeks at the Nativity, “God is with us, and the angels marvel that such has happened.”

The woman with the flow of blood, on the other hand, put her faith in modern medicine – the science of the day. The text says that she spent all of her resources on physicians, none of whom could help her.

In this day and time, we also put a lot of faith in medicine and science – and rightfully so! But we do well to remember who revealed those things to us. God revealed them to us, as we continued to seek Him.

Even if our seeking was unconscious for us – God revealed Himself to us.

Both Jairus and the woman saw Christ, who was to them rumored to be a healer and prophet, as a last resort.

St. Paul acknowledges this by declaring that if anyone has a right to stand on their status as a Jew, it is him. And yet – he chooses to reject that status in favor of trust in Christ.

But Christ isn’t a last resort – even in the face of the supposed failure of faith, and of medicine.

We have, just maybe, a misconception about what God does. Medicine and science, and our deeds and following God – all of these are good and holy and wonderful.

But we, in our humanity, focus our attention on our desired outcome, which is healing. This is what the readings today show as misguided on our part.

What God focuses on, whether it be medicine, or science, or deeds, or miracle – what God focuses on is His Glory.

By that, we don’t mean to say praise or honor, although that may be part. God doesn’t have an ego that needs to be stroked. This isn’t about credit.

Glory – in the sense we use it here – is about God’s revelation of Himself to us.

God reveals Himself to us through everything – All things work for the Glory, that is the revelation, of God, to those who love God.

All things – not just enjoyable things. All things – not just pleasant things.

Even in the miracles of Christ, they are the Glory of God – because they reveal God to us. The God who loves us, without regard to our love for Him. Without regard to our faith in humanity or human effort.

Lazarus was four days dead not to be raised for his pleasure – because the Church tells us he did not enjoy his life after being raised. It is said that he never smiled at all after his raising from the dead.

No, Lazarus was raised after being four days dead so that in that raising, God would be revealed to us.

We can’t say that often enough. Everything, if we will open our eyes and ears and minds – everything is revealing God to us.

Whether it is tragic, or joyful, or pleasant or painful. God is revealed in it.

And we are changed by it.

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