What does this image symbolize? “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”, correct? This image, originally as monkeys, displays an Eastern proverbial belief of not seeing evil, not speaking evil and not hearing evil. Where the origins of this proverb come from is not important however, the message it brings is meant to guide humanity in the conduct of not dwelling on the evils of this world or the impropriety of others. However, there is another meaning that lies under this symbol– known as the code of silence. A code of silence in this situation is a condition in which a person withholds what is believed to be vital or important information. The code of silence originally began by those in the criminal world. Meaning rather then saying see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil, this symbol transformed into ignore the evil’s and become blind to them and do not speak up for what is right. Thus, my dear brothers and sisters, this is where we as Christian’s truly must ask ourselves – can we live in such a way?
Today is the Feast of Pentecost – where we remember that the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles in the upper room, as tongues of fire and opened their mouths to preach the Gospel of Christ. And we pray today, as well as everyday, that the same Holy Spirit will descend upon us. The Holy Spirit, the 3rd person of the Holy Trinity known as the comforter and enlightener, came to us from God the Father, why? The Holy Spirit is a spirit of illumination, of revelation, of comfort and of hope. In today’s world especially, we see the atrocities and injustices that takes place not only in the Middle East, not only in countries where extremism is rampant, but also in our backyards, our neighborhoods and in our homes. None of us are blind to what took place in Minnesota this past week and to how an innocent victim George Floyd, was killed by a Police officer. Whether it was racism or neglect, no one can deny the fault of the officers. Additionally, we cannot be blind to the negative actions either of those rioters who only hurt, loot and vandalize. Those individuals who rather than protest choose to destroy cities and communities. Those individuals who in Denver, spray painted curses and smashed the crosses on Churches including an Armenian Church. Yes, the emotions and anger of protestors can be justified, and I for one stand with those who protest to stop the crimes committed against black men and women throughout this country, yet, the negative actions of the rioters does not justify the negative actions of those police. Rather, the actions of the rioters distract from the true injustice which was perpetrated again an innocent black life.
What about the evil of the past few months, where over 100,000 people of all ages, contracted and died from the Corona virus? Who hasn’t been impacted by the pandemic that forced people into isolation, closed business and Churches, separated each and every one of us. What about our own demons which we face daily? Addictions, depression and vulnerability? Recently I read, because of the pandemic and the economic repercussions, suicide and domestic violence are higher than ever. Therefore, how can humanity ever say, “See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil”? Some will use this as an excuse to ask where is God, why does he allow such evil? My dears God is equally asking us why do we allow such evil to take place?
“I open my lips, I utter with my tongue, I bemoan (or I regret, I lament) my conditions.” (St. Nersess Shnorhali prayer Ashkhar Amenayn “All the World”) These beautiful and prayerful words of St. Nersess Shnorhali, plead to God out of lament and pain to change us. We lament our sinfulness and ask for his light in our lives to transform and change us. At our baptism, the priest prays over 9 parts of our body and anoints them with Holy Myron. With each prayer asking of God to use that oil, which symbolizes the Holy Spirit to heal us.
Our eyes to be illuminated, opened up to God’s love, wisdom and hope. Our mouths and ears to be opened to hear truth and to speak righteousness. Our feet to openly walk in His Divine ways. Our hands to be opened to work – bringing blessings and virtue into this world. We want our Churches to open and yet, we need to be opened to be changed and to begin causing change. Our faith in Christ Jesus is about being opened and being transformed into tools of righteousness, hope, love, truth, justice and freedom. Our faith, as I said last week, is about being called to action.
This world, my friends, is full of many viruses – Covid 19, SARS, H1N1, etc.; and also viruses such as racism, hatred, bigotry, isolation, depression, domestic abuse, etc. We are not called to be blind, deaf or mute to these viruses and the devastation they bring to our lives. However, we don’t cure one virus through another virus. We don’t stop a blazing fire by adding fuel to it. Rather, we are called to be humble examples as seen through Christ, servants, healers and defenders of the peace that Christ brings to each and everyone of us – we protest by performing. We raise our voices, hear the pleas, and speak the truth because we love God, we love ourselves and we love each other. As we read in the Gospel of Matthew, “blessed are the comforters, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matt. 5)
We all are children of God – who have been washed of our sins and anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, who descended on the Apostles, who spoke the truth and comforted those who had ears to listen to the message of salvation in Jesus Christ. And if for whatever reason we in our daily lives struggle to know what that truth is – we must first begin by praying that the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. It is the Holy Spirit that moves each of us to become a source of comfort; to become an instrument of healing and a filter of right from wrong, hope and love.
My dearest brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit, which descended as fire upon the Apostles, and today we pray upon us, is meant to ignite with in us a flame that lights the darkened pathways, that warms those left in the cold and that purifies a world that has become blemished and dirty. The Holy Spirit is the comforter of our souls, hearts and minds so that we can comfort other’s around us – whether we agree with them or not. As the rains fall upon everyone and the sun rises upon everyone, so too, is God’s love meant for everyone. If only we accept our task of loving everyone and of curing this world of all its viruses. Only then will our eyes see no evil, our ears hear no evil and our mouths speak no evil – for evil will have been defeated. Through the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit, may we each defeat the evil in our lives through Christ Jesus, Amen!