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Homily for 5/9/10 - Pascha 6 - Blind man, sacraments

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  • Fr David Moser
    John 9:1-38 The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is not only the result of our Lord’s victory over sin, death and the devil, it is also the promise of
    Message 1 of 1 , May 9, 2010
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      John 9:1-38

      The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is not only the result of our
      Lord’s victory over sin, death and the devil, it is also the promise of
      our own salvation. By rising from the dead and ascending bodily into
      heaven, He teaches us that our own salvation is not simply the salvation
      of the soul alone, but rather the salvation of our whole being – body
      and soul. We know that without the body we are not complete – this is
      one of the reasons why death is so traumatic for men, it is the
      unnatural tearing apart of the soul and the body. By His resurrection,
      Jesus Christ promised us that He would not only save our souls, but that
      He would heal this traumatic separation and grant salvation to us as
      whole and complete beings. Because salvation is for our whole being,
      body and soul, the Church as the ark of salvation ministers to the whole
      person as well. The Church doesn’t minister only to the soul, but
      ministers to the body as well – the Church doesn’t uplift only the soul
      but uplifts the body as well. This work of the Church to save us as a
      complete being is seen from the moment we walk in the door. We do not
      walk into an empty room or a lecture hall, but we walk into a place
      where all of our senses are engaged in the worship of God and where we
      are transported, not only in mind but in body as well into the Kingdom
      of Heaven.

      The primary sense of the body is that of sight and when we enter the
      Church we see a different world laid out before us. We see the icons of
      the saints and of the life of Christ surrounding us. We see the light of
      the candles and lamps burning before those icons. We see arrangement of
      the temple as a place designed for the worship of God. It is not only
      the eyes however, but all the other senses as well. We hear the chanting
      and singing of the hymns and the sound of the bells. We smell the
      incense as it rises to heaven with our prayers and the honey aroma of
      the burning beeswax candles. We are touched by the hand of the priest as
      he blesses us and the oil with which we are anointed. We taste the
      blessed bread and wine at Litiya and ultimately the Body and Blood of
      our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. All this and more engage our senses and
      draw the whole body into the worship of God. Our heart is lifted up and
      our mind is enlightened by the words of the hymns that are being chanted
      and sung expressing the teaching of the One True God. The words of the
      scripture which are read and the homilies expounding on those themes
      also engage our reasoning ability. And always we come spiritually before
      the palpable presence of God and our spirits find rest for they are
      home. Every act of worship and blessing in the Church engages our whole
      being and communicates the grace of God not only to our spiritual
      nature, but to the body and soul as well.

      All of the sacraments of the Church have this same complete approach to
      our salvation. There is always a physical element and a prayerful
      element and the transforming application of the grace of God. The
      healing of the blind man which we heard read today in the Gospel is an
      example of this all encompassing salvation given to us by God. This man,
      blind from birth (meaning that he had no eyes at all – the eye sockets
      were empty, sunk in and scarred over) was noticed by our Lord and He had
      compassion upon him. In effecting his healing first Jesus went to this
      man, who was not brought to Him nor did the man seek out Christ. How
      great is the compassion of our God Who could not bear to pass by this
      man of such great need without offering to Him wholeness and healing.
      Having come to this blind beggar our Lord spat on the ground and made
      clay (mud) from the dust. This clay made from the joining of the dust of
      the earth and the moisture of His own Body, Jesus placed on the empty
      eye sockets of the blind man. Here we see the physical element of the
      healing –the application of the clay to the eyes. To prepare this clay
      by combining simple dust with the moisture coming from the Giver of
      Living Water is similar to our own preparation of the elements of a
      sacrament. The mundane elements of the earth (water, oil, etc) are taken
      and blessed by the prayers of the priest and are thus infused with the
      life giving grace of God. This clay was then applied to the person just
      as the blessed elements of the sacraments are applied to us – we are
      baptized in the water or anointed with the oil. Jesus then blessed the
      man and sent him to the pool of Siloam where he was instructed to wash
      the clay from his eyes. The pool of Siloam was a special place, known to
      be a miraculous pool for it was fed by a well in which the water level
      varied. It was outside the city of Jerusalem and in the time of Hezekiah
      the king the enemies of Israel had occupied Siloam – but the water
      receded and ceased to run from the well, depriving the enemy army of its
      water. But if someone were sent to the well by the prophet, the water
      would miraculously flow again enabling that person to draw from the
      pool, and then recede again. Because of this, the pool at Siloam was
      considered to be blessed of God and by sending the man to wash in this
      pool we see again the involvement of grace and blessing in this healing.
      However there is more to this than just the blessing of the pool for
      this also involved the will of the blind man. By obeying the word of
      Jesus Christ and leaving his place where he sat begging and going to
      that particular pool to wash the clay from his eyes, the blind man
      conformed his own will to the will of God. Certainly there were many
      places to wash the clay from his eyes, but he obeyed and went to that
      particular place and there washed his eyes. When we approach the
      sacraments it is necessary that we too set aside our own will and act in
      obedience to God. We do not make up our own rituals, but we conform to
      the instruction given to us by God through the Church and by obeying
      that instruction we set aside our own self will and align our will with
      the will of God.

      Following this miraculous healing we see that not only was the man
      enlightened by being able to see, but also his spirit was enlightened
      for he confessed Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Son of God. Even in
      the face of harsh questioning by the leaders of the Jews, the man held
      fast to his simple confession of faith “this I know that once I was
      blind but now I see … If this man were not of God he could do nothing”
      By this sacramental healing performed by our Lord, not only was the body
      of the man made whole and filled with light, but his whole being was
      healed and he was filled not only with the material light of this world,
      but also with the divine light of Christ.

      This healing of the man born blind is an example of our own salvation
      for when we approach our Lord seeking to be made whole, it is not just
      the soul that is addressed, we are not only given spiritual healing, but
      the body as well is touched and our whole being is transformed by the
      grace of God. He is our creator and He knows that it is not possible to
      save the body without the soul and it is not possible to save the soul
      without the body. In the resurrection at the last day the body and soul
      will be reunited and we will stand before God not as a disembodied soul
      – a half person – but as a whole person comprised of the unity of soul
      and body. And it is as complete person that He will bring us into His
      kingdom.

      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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