Passages: Is. 24:1-12; Eph. 5:15-33; Lk. 8:49-56
Ընթերցուածքներ՝ Եսայ. ԻԴ 1-12; Եփե. Ե 15-33; Ղկ. Է 49-56
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
The other day, as I was driving downtown, stuck in traffic I saw a billboard with an advertisement by DePaul University stating: “Come here, do well. Leave here, do good!” It was a beautiful idea that as students who attend DePaul, through engagement and hard work, they would do well in school. Well in their grades, education, and relationships thereby doing well, it would ultimately lead to do good in this world. After all, is this not what we all want? By leaving High School and going to college or trade school, achieving high marks, and receiving a fulfilling education we hope to graduate and create an enjoyable life – a good life. Doing well in order to do good.
Perhaps not everyone has an opportunity to receive higher education, yet the sentiment remains – do well enough while we are young to reach higher and lead a good life when we are older. For a student, they want to do well in school in order to have good life after. A parent wants to do well by being a good example, so their children will lead a good life. A teacher wants to teach in a way that is good enough that it fosters the minds of his/her students towards doing good in the world with their ideas and imaginations. There are a multitude of examples of how we hope to do well enough that in the end we will be seen and remembered as good. Yet, when it comes to our faith, there is a nuance we need to understand. We who call ourselves Christian need to realize that there is no such thing as a good Christian, because there is nothing that we can do well enough that will give us or define us as good.
Does this mean Christian’s do not do good? No, however, we might think that if we go to Church, if we read our Bibles, attend Sunday School or Bible Studies, if we sing in the choir, follow the rules, etc. than these will add up towards being a good Christian. However, the purpose of our faith my dears is not about being a good Christian in the world. Rather the purpose of our faith is to be like God to the world. Only God is good, as Christ teaches us and Christ tells us to be like God. This teachings in the Church is known as theosis, and it is the fundamental purpose for our faith. Our Church Fathers, St. Athanasius teaches us, when he speaks about Christ, “God became man so that man would become like God.” And we become like God when we are in Communion with Him. What does this look like? Does this mean we eat the bread and wine, body and blood of Christ during Badarak and we are set? Only in part! This is only part of the journey towards becoming like God because Communion is much deeper. It is not only what we take in but what we produce, and in the Gospel reading today Christ tell us exactly where to begin.
“While he was still speaking, a man from the ruler’s house came and said, ‘Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher anymore.’ But Jesus on hearing this answered him, ‘Do not fear; only believe, and she shall be well.’” (v.49-50) “Do not fear, only believe…” In other words, my dears, Christ here is instructing not our hands and feet, meaning not our actions and the things we think or do, but rather our hearts and minds. Good is not something we do but reflect because there are plenty of people in the world that don’t believe in God but who can do good things as defined by societal rules. Therefore, our good whether in action, thoughts, etc. is a reflection of God. When others see us, they must see Christ reflected from us. For the past several weeks I have spoken about the importance of our actions in faithfulness. The root of our faithfulness, the driving force behind our actions, our desires, our goals must start from belief in Christ. For us Christian’s our hope is not to do well and leave here to do good – but rather, as children of God our Heavenly Father, what we are called to do is look at our brokenness, our shortcomings, our pains, addictions, darkness, struggles, and not lose hope, not fear but rather place them into the hands of God who will transform us, mold us and make us well, who will heal us, lift us up even from the depths of hell and bring us into communion with Him. And once we have been made well, God will send us out those doors to not do good but be the good, be God as an example for others.
St. Paul teaches us, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (vv. 15-17) Look carefully how you walk, meaning examine your choices and actions; make the most of your time, don’t be lazy and think you can repent and change later; understand what the will of the Lord is. This is the will of the Lord, which we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer – Thy will be done. In other words, to be healed and become well, to overcome the evil of the world and to be changed starts by understanding the will of the Lord. But for that will to be clear we must come into Communion with God, not lose hope in difficulties, we must ask questions, confess our sinfulness, repent of our darkness, turn to God and be healed so that we will bring healing to the world. The utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill in 1867 delivered the inaugural address to the University of St. Andrews where he is quoted to say, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” And without disagreeing, as Christians, I would make one suggestion, that for evil to triumph it is necessary for the godly to do nothing.
For only God is good and therefore, to be the good in this world, to bring healing, compassion, empathy, hope and light into this darkened world we need to begin with reflecting God, Christ Jesus in our hearts. Col. 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, let us pray that God our Heavenly Father will reveal His will to us, by healing us of our brokenness. Let us strive not to do well but to be made well in Him by coming into Communion with Him and when we do leave this place, when we step out into a world that is darkened by sin, we will be the light and healing that our Heavenly Father has created us to be: A witness of life even after death in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior who calls to us. May we accept Christ into our hearts, be cleansed by Him so that our lives will reflect His divine light. So that we continue to do His healing work in a world full of fear, whereby we will glorify Him, with our Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever, Amen!