This morning I was able to attend Divine Liturgy for a special parish commemoration. Everything about the service spoke of Christ, gave us Christ, but what I heard in the homily in particular is pertinent to what I had already wanted to write here today.
Our human nature is good, our rector reminded us, but we have a virus called sin and death that has made us all very sick. Christ in His love took on our human nature in the Incarnation, and walked among us showing us what human life was intended to be, teaching us about the Father, and about Himself.
Then He “became sin” and defeated death, and gives us His own Life to live by. Those are the bare and necessarily dry bones of that part of the homily, and of the living Word Who was lovingly expressed in hymns and prayers and communed in bread and wine.
At home, I’ve been reading the Gospel of John. It might as well be for the first time, I am that surprised by the immediacy of it. I felt that in my heart and psyche I became the Samaritan woman, rejoicing with tears when she caught on to Who was talking to her, and her life was transformed. She had encountered God, and left behind not only her water pot, but all that was rotten and decaying of her old life.
When He Who holds the cosmos together was mocked and spat upon, I was aghast. As I read the words of Jesus clearly explaining how He had come from the Father and was the Bread of Life, I couldn’t see how anyone could read this book and not come to faith. But of course — we all have that virus, to a greater or lesser degree. It causes blindness, it makes us distracted, and dull of mind or heart. I have read these words of Christ many times and I assented in my mind, I have clung to the truth of the Gospel, but was never struck so deeply before. Certainly I hadn’t done anything to make this happen; it was a gift.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. -John 1:14
At the same time I am reading On the Invocation of the Name of Jesus, by Lev Gillet, on prayer, and have been greatly helped by the author’s gentle exhortations. It is all about God With Us. Because Jesus wasn’t only here on earth for three years, changing the lives of people He met face-to-face, but by the Holy Spirit He is present with anyone who prays. Here is an excerpt:
Jesus Himself is the supreme satisfaction of all men’s needs. And He is that now, as we pray. Let us not regard our prayer in relation to fulfillment in the future, but in relation to fulfillment in Jesus now. He is more than the giver of what we and others need. He is also the gift. He is both giver and gift, containing in Himself all good things.
If I hunger he is my food. If am cold he is my warmth. If I am ill he is my health. If I am persecuted he is my deliverance. If I am impure he becomes my purity. He “is made unto us…righteousness, and sanctification and redemption.” (I Cor. 1:30) This is quite another thing than if he had merely given them to us. Now we may find in his name all that he is. Therefore the Name of Jesus, in so far as it links us with Jesus Himself, is already a mystery of salvation.
Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. -Romans 10:13
Amen, Lord Jesus!