Un-eating the fruit.

Homily 470 – 11th APE
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
September 5, 2021
Epistle: (141) 1 Corinthians 9:2-12
Gospel: (77) Matthew 18:23-35

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

Christ begins the parable in the Gospel by telling us that this parable is what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.

So, if this parable makes us uncomfortable, perhaps we need to pay attention to that feeling inside us, and seek the root cause.

The story is familiar to most of us, I presume. The person forgiven much refuses to forgive little. Maybe we’ve seen it in action in our lives. Maybe we’re guilty ourselves.

I can think of different motivations for this, as it relates to us. First of all we need to consider how big a forgiveness we are offered. Now, note that I didn’t say how big a debt we owe.

The debt in the parable would have been literally unimaginable. The whole world. Probably around $7 or 8 billion. Oh, and no means to pay it back.

Based on only one thing – the servant’s begging the master for His mercy, the forgiveness was offered.

Each of us has been forgiven that much. Each and every one of us is one for whom Christ died and rose again. Christ becomes our example of reconciliation to God. It is how we appropriate for ourselves forgiveness.

You might ask, how does this happen? Well, we have to un-eat the apple. The story of the fall is pretty simple.

To quote from Genesis, Chapter 3:

The two were naked, both Adam and his wife, and they did not feel shame. Now the serpent was wiser than all the wild animals that were upon the earth that the Lord God made. And the serpent said to the woman, “Why is it that God said, ‘You may not eat from every tree of the garden?’ ” The woman said to the serpent, “From every tree of the garden we may eat, but from the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden God said, ‘You will not eat from it, nor may you touch it, in order that you might not die.’ ” The serpent said to the woman, “You certainly will not die; for God knows that in the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be as gods who know good and evil.” The woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was pleasing to the eyes to look at and it was seasonable to look at, and after taking some of its fruit, she ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and they ate. Then the eyes of the two were opened, and they realized that they were naked, and they sewed together fig-tree leaves and made for themselves loincloths.

Now – the first lie was told. The serpent said “certainly you will not die.” That was a lie. The rest of what the serpent offered was true – except for that one mention.

And then the fatal mistake. Not in the eating of the fruit although that sealed the deal. Rather – “ the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was pleasing to the eyes to look at and it was seasonable to look at.”

What the woman did was place her judgment in place of God’s judgment. She and her husband – we’re in this together folks – she and her husband said, “We’ll decide what we will and won’t do.”

Sound familiar?

The entire world, created out of nothing, including us – and we know better than our Creator what is good?

What we are forgiven for is believing that we know best what is for our good. We know nothing of the sort. We can never know – outside of union with our Creator.

The question changes: How do we achieve union with our Creator? How do we re-establish that which humanity lost at the beginning?

Let’s fast forward to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus goes there to pray, anticipating the crucifixion. He’s there with the tombs of His earthly ancestors, Joachim and Anna, parents of His mother.

And He, Jesus, God incarnate and fully human while remaining fully God, prays: Father, allow this cup to pass from me. Don’t make me do this, Jesus asks.

But then, the key word which changes all of humanity: Nevertheless. Not my will, but yours be done.

And in that moment, Jesus un-ate the apple.

He placed His will and His desire as an offering to Our Father. Instead of “let me evaluate my options, Father, and get back to you on this” He said “Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.”

We have to do the same thing. We have desires and motives and wants – and those are OK to have. But we must offer them to our Father, and say Lord, this is what I want – nevertheless, Your will be done.

Nothing in there about doing it willingly or with joy, or gladness. That will come in time, as we continue to repeat – not my will but Yours.

We just have to do it. Christ stated plainly, “I do not desire to die on the cross.” But He did. And He went to that cross knowing that He would suffer what every human, and no God, would ever suffer – bodily death.

Because He loves us more than life itself – quite literally.

We are asked to do this every moment of our lives, dear brothers and sisters. We are asked to give up our wants and desires and dreams and seek only one thing – unity with God, and presence in Him.

We will then forgive our debtors, those who trespass against us, and we will find the forgiveness that God offers to all of us.

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