Passages: Isaiah 1:21-31; Rom 7:25-8:11; Mt. 12:38-45
Ընթերցուածքներ՝ Եսայ. Ա 21-31; Հռոմ. Է 25- Ը 11; Մատ. ԺԲ 38-45
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
A young boy was asked what he loved about his home. He answered that for him he believed was a piece of heaven on earth. You might be confused when you look at the home. It appears to be a simple home, with a garage, backyard, and bedrooms inside. What would make this home a piece of heaven on earth? Abraham Walker and his brother James, where both homeless young men in Sierra Leone in an orphanage until they were adopted by the Walker family in Charlotte, NC. Everything these boys saw living here in the United States, whether it was the garage door automatically opening, or Christmas presents appearing suddenly on Dec. 25, these boys believe it was magical, it was a blessing. In fact, on his birthday when Abraham was given a birthday cake, he broke down into tears and said it was a blessed cake. This story was reported by CBS Evening News and when the reporter, Norah O’Donnell asked him, why he reacted that way, was he not used to having a birthday cake? Abraham answered, “that is a crazy question, he had never known he had a birthday before.” (click here for CBS coverage)
My dears, it is easy for us to take for granted the life we live. A life that what may seem mundane and boring to us but is magical and blessed for those who do not have. We live in a society, whether here in the United States or Canada in the North, that has given us more options, freedom and opportunity than we know what to do with. And yet in all of these, many of us seem blind, deaf or out of touch with those blessings. We cannot see God’s love, God’s forgiveness, grace, compassion or presence around us. And though I am not arguing that when a garage door opens with a clicker we say it is a miracle, yet, I wonder how many of us are thankful to God for that door in the first place. How many of us, take time to pray and commune with God under a roof, before a warm meal, when we’re with our families and friends or sitting in traffic? Unless we see something unexplainable by our knowledge or wisdom – we don’t think of God. In the same way, the Pharisees asked Christ for a sign.
They believed that the rules and regulations they had, their wisdom, could explain everything else. And so in order for them to believe in Jesus they wanted a sign. But Christ offers them no sign but refers to Jonah from the Old Testament as the sign. Jonah who in many ways was a prefigure of who Christ would be. Whether it was how he brought the Ninevites to repentance or how he spent 3 days in the belly of the great fish, in the same way Christ spend 3 days in the belly of the Tomb. The difference being that Christ is God and he was the perfect example for us, whereas Jonah was the human, frail, scared, and sinful example but whom God used to teach us about His love and grace. Yet, these Pharisees, like us, where blind to those signs because for them they were stories, it was mundane and simple.
My dears, yes life can be mundane at times, and frustrating and simple. Yet, God uses those moments through people like Abraham and his brother to show us his love when we look for Him and see that even our homes, our Church, our friends and family can be a piece of heaven on earth. However, we’ve become so blind with sin, with hatred, with laziness, with lies, with anger that we do not see; much like when someone is full of rage, they go “blind” and “see red”, we too do not see the blessing before us. St. Gregory of Nyssa asks us, “where the ear is contaminated, where the eye is contaminated, how is the heart also not contaminated?” Being blind to God’s signs, His love, compassion, grace and ultimately His presence doesn’t mean physically blind but rather spiritually our hearts have turned away. And in order to be decontaminated, to be opened, cleansed and freed from that blindness we must come to Christ here, now and always in everything. Whether it is praying before eating, praying before getting out of bread, reading scripture on our phones while we wait for a doctor or sitting on a plane; whether we thank God each time we walk through our garage doors or while sitting in traffic we take a silent moment of reflection.
All of these when done with a sincere heart and desire to see God, to find God will open our eyes, our ears and our hearts to see the countless blessings around us. My dears, this is what it means to give our life over to God. That we go to Him always not just once a week, once a year, or when things go err. To have faith in Christ Jesus and know Him as God the Son, who came and died for us begins by being opened and illuminate through the Holy Church and translated into everything and everywhere else we go. In the same way, Abraham and his brother James, found Heaven on earth; that even a birthday cake was a cake of blessing that could be shared with others they loved because when we have a birthday cake we want to share with everyone around us 🙂 . May we in our freedom, in our plethora of opportunities, and options find God and His blessings. May we, even in times of difficulty never lose sight of God’s love, compassion, care and hope. Pray always, God will answer; seek in everything, God will show up; come home to Church, God will open the doors of Heaven before each of us. Amen!