Passages: Is. 7:1-9; 1 Corinth. 13:11-14:5; Mark 2:1-12
Ընթերցուածքներ՝ Եսայ. Է 1-9; Ա Կորնց. ԺԳ 11- ԺԴ 5; Մարկ. Բ 1-12
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
A woman came out of her house and saw three old men with long white beards Sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them. Then she said, “I don’t think I know you, but you must be hungry. Please Come in and have something to eat.” “Is the man of the house home?” they asked. “No,” she said. “He’s out.” “Then we cannot come in,” they replied. In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened. So, he said. “Go tell them I’m home, and invite them in!” The woman went out and invited the men in. “We cannot go into a house together,” they replied. “Why is that?” she wanted to know. One of the old men explained. “His name is Wealth,” he said pointing to one of his friends, and pointing to another one he said, “This man is Success, And I am Love.” Then he added, “Now, go and discuss with your husband which One of us you want in your home.” The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. “ “Since that’s the case, let Us invite in wealth. Let him come in and fill our home with wealth!” His wife disagreed. “Why don’t we invite Success?” But as their daughter was listening from the corner of the room. She jumped in with Her own suggestion. “Wouldn’t it be better to invite Love? Our home will Then be filled with love!” The woman went out and asked the three old men, “Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest.” Love got up and started walking toward the house. Then the other two also Got up and followed him. Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success, “I only invited in Love, as You directed. Why are you all coming in?” The old men replied together, “If you had invited only Wealth or Success, The other two of us would have stayed. However, as you and your husband have come together and with your daughter invited Love into you home, Wherever He goes, we go with him, because wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!”
My dear brothers and sisters, I am sure some of you have heard this precious story in the past. It is both innocent and childlike but it is also deep with wisdom. Some of us might not even agree with this story as it might feel too philosophical and altruistic. Yet, within it is also a basic teaching of our Christian faith and therefore, is more than merely a childish story. St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians speaks about love. We all know this passage well from weddings, greeting cards and movies. “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6) However, today’s reading continues on where in verse 1 of chapter 14 we read, “Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” Make love your aim – our purpose, our desire. Not superficial or external expression of love but rather a deeper love, a divine love. Why? So that we will also be graced with, receive the spiritual gifts of God especially prophecy.
When we think about prophecy or prophets, what do we imagine or picture? Old men with beards in the Old Testament talking about, or revealing teachings about God. Great prophets like Isaiah, Daniel, Jonah, Malachi and Moses. Individuals that spoke directly to God. For example we read in the Book of Isaiah, “The vision which Isaiah saw…” A vision of God before the coming of Christ Jesus. Only a few short weeks ago we celebrated the feast of Holy Transfiguration where we saw Moses and Elijah, two prophets of God appear next to Christ confirming that Christ Jesus is the fulfillment, the completion of prophets and law. Yet, what does it mean when in the New Testament, after Christ, after the prophecies have been fulfilled, that we recieve the gift of prophecy? Sadly, modern day prophets are seen in a very negative light. Televangelists, preachers on street corners, etc. who pollute the Gospel message or even people who use crystals, tarot cards and other such demonic practices to speak about the divine. (and yes, the Church views those as demonic but that is a separate topic). After all, Christ warns us to be aware of false prophets.
So what about us? How and what does it mean to be a prophet today? My dears, God is love, God loves us and desires to be in Holy Communion with us. God created us, blesses us, heals us, has compassion on us through His divine love. To prophesize is first to experience God, through all our senses, our will, our life. To be in Holy Communion with God and share, reveal and teach about God, or as the Church fathers say, to be a witness of God to the rest of the world. To our families, friends, our Church and secular communities. Not for the priest to stand up once a week and talk about Jesus but for all of us together to live our faith because of the love of God, which we learn in the Church. Because when we live our faith truly as Christians, then not only will the world be full of God’s love, but we will see wealth, health, compassion and mercy lift us all out of darkness. In the Gospel today we read of the paralyzed man that is lowered through the roof of the house in front of Jesus and how Christ heals him. Why does Jesus do this? What does scripture say? Verse 5 “And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic…” Whose faith? The friends who had brought their paralyzed friend. The faith of others brought healing to others. When we invite God into our lives, when we invite love into our homes, and come into Holy Communion with God then our faith grows, we are blessed with God’s grace and spiritual gifts like prophesy because those gifts, then become the means by which God’s love in us is revealed to the rest of the world. Our communion, our faith becomes the power of God’s presence.
We my dears, are the presence of God in this world. What does the world see? What do we show of our faith? I pray my dears, that as a Church family, as individuals, no matter our age, our careers, our struggles, our pain, that as a family in our homes and here our Church home we seek first the love of God. For where love is, all other blessings will follow. Where love is, healing will happen. Where love is, the spiritual of the Lord is also. May the Holy Spirit come and dwell in our lives, may we grow in our faith and wisdom of God’s love through Christ Jesus, so that we too by His Divine grace and Holy Communion will become prophets and teachers, healers and witnesses to the power of God, who came to heal us from our sins, free us from demons and bring salvation to all. In God’s love our sins are forgiven and we are healed, Amen!