Passages: Isaiah 2:5-11; Rom. 8:30-10:4; Matt. 13:24-30
Ընթերցուածքներ՝ Եսայ. Բ 5-11; Հռոմ. Ը 30- Ժ 4; Մատ. ԺԳ 24-30
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
St. John Chrysostom teaches us, “there would be no need for sermons if our lives were shining. There would be no need for words if we bore witness with our deeds. There would be no pagans if we were true Christians.” Each week clergy across Christian denominations and in several languages contemplate what to speak about, what to teach in a sermon. What words can we poetically gather to paint a picture or share a blessing to take away each Sunday morning. Yet, St. John says that we would not need those words or sermons, we would not need clergy to sit there and think about what to teach if only we Christians, clergy, and laity, lived as we were created to be. St. John goes so far as to say there wouldn’t even be pagans, non-believers, if only Christians were true Christians.
This quote is meant to make us think about the life we live. If we who are gathered here or listening at home verbally claim to believe in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; if we say we are a Christian, a baptized child of God, regardless of which denomination we call home or what language we pray in – ask yourselves this question daily – do we live as a true Christian should? A good way for each of us to think about this question is with today’s parable of the wheat and weeds. God who is loving, merciful, compassionate, and caring has planted good seeds. Seeds that produce fruitful trees. Yet, Satan, the deceiver and evil one, secretly among those seeds has also planted evil seeds. Seeds that produce weeds that grow to hurt and choke those fruitful trees. I don’t know about you but personally when I look at a seed from the outside, I can’t tell you whether or not the fruits of that seed will be healthy or not; nor when I look at an open farm field can I tell you what kind of seeds are in the ground, deep beneath the soil. Only when the seeds begin to produce fruit and reveal themselves do we know the nature of the seed and whether or not it is healthy.
My dears, therefore, the question remains, what kind of seed are we? What kind of fruits do we produce? This week again, our lives were marred by the reality of evil, by weeds choking the wheat, with the senseless violence of the Highland Park shooting. This week again, our streets were filled with protests, our social media was filled with vulgar comments, our homeland of Armenia continues to suffer; war rages forth between countries; this week and today again each one of us faces evil through doubt, fear, anxiety, addiction, hatred, uncertainty, health problems and so much more. Because of the weeds among the wheat. Those evils in our lives are the weeds that grow and try to hurt that which God has created in us and for us. And evil is not only with guns, drugs, or mean comments we post on social media. Evil is anything and everything that either we do or that we surround ourselves with that further make it difficult for us to truly live as Christian’s.
Yes, my dears, we must examine our lives individually and see first what kind of fruits we produce but additionally, we need to examine to see what kind of soil we surround ourselves with. The truth is many of us truly strive to be loving, forgiving, kind, compassionate, hopeful and all that God calls us to be. That is why so many people say that it’s enough to be a good person. However, a Christian is not meant to only be a good person. We know plenty of non-believers who are “good law abiding citizens.” A Christian is meant to purify the world, to be an example of God, of the gardener, in a world full of weeds. However, if we allow ourselves to be surrounded by every type of ungodliness, then not only will we not overcome sin, we ourselves will be choked out and overtaken. And this distinction is important because sin my dears, tries to tear us apart from within. The little compromises as to why we don’t pray, why we don’t read scripture or go to Church, why we don’t do confession, why we use certain words, why we dress the way we do, why we vote the way we do, why and what we eat, why we hang out with certain people, etc. these affect what fruits we will produce. “Oh it’s only one drink, it’s only one comment on a post, it’s only one website, it’s only one drug, it’s only a show, it’s only one time…”
All decisions we make each week, each day which overtime become the weeds that hurt us, our faith, our families, our communities and ultimately the world. That is why my dears, St. John Chrysostom painfully says, that if only we Christian’s lived as true Christian’s, there would be no pagans. A true Christian, as St. Paul reminds us, is one that believes in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who died on the Cross and who was raised from the dead to redeem us through His Grace. To have faith in these words, to truly believe and live, we must each individually but also as a family, a Church, strive to produce fruits that are witness to God’s love for the world. We must overcome evil, overcome the weeds in our lives with the love, hope, care, mercy that God has blessed us with – seeds we have been planted to be. For as seeds we are planted, created in love and our roots are in God and we receive life from Him.
My dears, let us take time in our day to turn to God purposefully and striving to understand what kind of fruits we produce and what do we surround ourselves with that ultimately affect the type of person we are, and are called to be. Once we do so, truly there will no long be a need for sermons for each of us will be a walking sermon far more powerful than any words shared from a pulpit. Know that no matter how many weeds surround us, no matter how broken we think we are, how sinful, how weak, unable or anxious we feel, know that God’s love for us will overcome and give us strength. For, “If God is for us, who is against us?”