Our Vocation in Christ, Part 2: Homily
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Admin in Homily, Plebe Summer, Teachings

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you. (Matthew 9:2).

Why does Jesus not first heal the man? Why forgive him his sins first?

Healing him of his paralysis will help him in this world for a short time, but healing his soul will profit man for eternal life.

Note how the Scriptures relate the Scribes’ unspoken response to Jesus’ words of forgiveness: And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, ‘This Man blasphemes!' (Matthew 9:3).

Why would they think this?

The Scribes did not want to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the long-expected Savior promised to them and to the world for their salvation.

If Jesus was just a man, he could not forgive sins, since God alone can forgive man’s sins. Jesus, being God, ‘knows their thoughts’ (Matthew 9:4). And though he tells them to their faces what they are thinking, they still doubt.

They are prideful and hard of heart; they cannot see God and so they are blind to His life.

Jesus further manifests that He is truly the Christ —God— by healing the paralytic, saying: That you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins He commands the man to take up his pallet and walk for the first time (Matthew 9:6).

Apparently, many of those present still didn't get it since the Scriptures record that when the multitudes saw it (the miracle), they marveled and glorified God who had given such power to men (Matthew 9:8). In other words, they thought that Christ was still just an ‘extraordinary’ man.

The Gospel of St. John quotes Jesus saying, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, but through Me (John 14:6).

Jesus is the Truth and He is the Life. In holy Orthodoxy, Truth is a Person —Jesus Christ!

He is also LIFE. Think about that for a moment: He who created the world, “By Whom all things were made,” as we affirm in the Creed, is also He who sustains all life and invites us to participate in His Life through communion and relationship with Him.

This is what salvation means, i.e., to participate in the Life of God, the Holy Trinity.

Jesus asks, What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life…? (Matthew 16:26, 27). Jesus’ question is as relevant for us today as it was to the people then.

Last week, I preached on communion with God and what it means.

We concluded that it is not enough to be an Orthodox Christian just on Sundays. Rather, God, being Life, calls us to live in Him 24/7.

If we really understand that God is Life and that to be in communion with God is what it truly means to live and find salvation, why would we ever want to be separated from Him?

That really is the question. And yet, in our weakness as human beings, we often choose sin over communion with Him who is Life. And many Orthodox who come to the USNA forget about their faith and communion with God and endanger their salvation.

Again, Jesus asks, What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life… (Matthew 16:26)?

Brothers, the Naval Academy cannot be your god! If you gain all you are looking for in the military but neglect your soul, what will you have gained in the end?

God offers us life. Being in communion with God, in relationship with Him, means continuously striving for the “change of heart” we call, ‘repentance.’ Far from a negative concept, ‘repentance’ —metanoia— in the Greek, means “a change of heart,” an on-going effort to re-orientate ourselves toward God and the Life in Him. It is a positive aspect of finding salvation.

When temptation hits us and leads us to sin, we can repent and come back to God and strive again to live for Him and in Him. This is the Good News that Christ brings us —the Gospel!

Through Christ, we have the opportunity time and again to find forgiveness of our sins and to strive anew to live out our faith as Orthodox Christians and progress in our deification/theosis.

Sacramental Confession needs to be interspersed with daily and even moment by moment ‘confession’ as we re-orientate ourselves toward God and the Life in Him.

The Jesus Prayer, which I introduced to you last week, can aid us in this on-going effort to live in communion with God and care for our souls. You can use this prayer anywhere, anytime as you persevere through the rigors of Plebe Summer. Through this prayer, Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner , we can practice calling on the holy name of Jesus and opening our hearts to His power, grace, love, and transformation in our daily lives.

Whether you’re running laps, doing push-ups, or lining up for formation, you can be at prayer and find communion with God who is your life. You can continue to become the men of God and godly leaders and officers He is forming you to be.

May Christ our God assist us all in striving to put Him and His Church first in our lives!

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory to Him forever!

Article originally appeared on AnnapolisCollegeMinistry.org (http://www.annapoliscollegeministry.org/).
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