Homily – On the Raising of Jarius’ Daughter

Orthodoxy is a rational faith, we do not have to “leave our minds at the door.”, but as with our feelings, our minds need to be trained. In order to be trained, first they need need to stripped of all nonsense and lies so that all our thoughts can be true. We need to allow something that is beyond our understanding live in the temple of our hearts. To the extent we value control and understanding over the Truth, we will not be able to make this change. Then it will not be Christ that lives within and motivates us, it will be our own pride. And that pride, that control, that understanding cannot bring us joy, salvation, or eternal life.
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Homily: The Raising of Jarius’ Daughter
St. Luke 8:41-56

What do we learn from today’s Gospel lesson?

1. The effect of Christ’s perfect love and power on this world. The role of belief. Many “touched” Him, but this woman was healed – why? Why not everyone? Everyone is suffering. We are suffering. Will we be healed? Only if we have faith in what is real and true. Is Christ our Messiah? Is He our Deliverer? Is He our God? Do we trust Him as God? Do we trust the Church as His body? Have we emptied ourselves of vanity and lies? Grace can be thought of as Living Water that pours out of Christ and His Church; but water cannot be poured into a vessel that is already full. The woman had emptied herself of hope in anything but God. Everything else had let her down. This allowed her to receive grace from the One thing dependable, the one the thing true, the one thing that brings lasting healing. We need to do the same. “Let grace be given to you according to your belief.”

2. What we learn about death. Sleep. Not to be feared. Especially for the righteous. Why should we fear? We are going to be with the One we love most! I understand why non-believers would fear death – but not us. Those who have made idols and gods out of other things: money, cable television, their temporary bodies, their habits, and their artificial sense of control over everything, have very real reasons to be afraid of death. Why them and not us? People who have made idols and gods of the things here in this fallen world will be separated from their gods when they die. They know this. They will be stripped of everything they hold dear. But for the Christian? The Christian has always seen the things of this world as tools for accomplishing the one thing needful; unlike the unbeliever, the Christian does not leave what he loves when he dies. Quite the opposite: he knows that death is a necessary step that will bring him closer to the One thing he really loves: God.

3. Back to the role of faith. One of the things that we make an idol of is our own understanding; our own control over things. I mentioned this earlier, but I want to finish by developing it a bit. When Christ proclaimed the truth about the state of Jarius’ daughter – that she was sleeping – He was also sharing a more general truth: that death is a temporary repose before the Judgement and the general resurrection. What happened when He did this? Do you remember how people reacted? They laughed at Him. You should expect that kind of reaction in a world given over to idolatry. Outside these doors, people fear death so much that they hide the dying from view and burn the bodies of the departed; then they mock our reverence for the bodies of our departed loved ones (and the relics of our saints). They ridicule us when we share the words of Christ; “[our beloved] is not dead, she is only sleeping.” They mock it in part because they do not understand it; because the materialism that dominates their thinking cannot explain how the soul can be preserved within the bosom of Abraham, within the “eternal memory” of a Creator they do not know. They do not understand how it works, so they reject it.

Because we are surrounded by people who think this way, their thoughts can make their way into our minds, leading us to doubt the promises God has made to us. These foreign thoughts can tempt us to laugh – or despair – when the Church tells us that Christ has destroyed death; when the Church proclaims the Gospel of salvation and eternal life. When we allow these alien thoughts into our heart, we don’t just join the people who laughed at Christ when he talked about death, we join the crowd who crowded against Christ but were not healed. Our love of our own understanding, our love of worldly logic, becomes the idol and debris that keeps the Living Water of Christ from pouring into our hearts. We cannot be healed when we do not believe. God will not force His will on anyone. If we prefer the opinions of this world to the truth of the Gospel, He will give us the space we need to live a lie. But every lie dies at death. Only love is really true.

Conclusion: trust God

Orthodoxy is a rational faith, we do not have to “leave our minds at the door.”, but as with our feelings, our minds need to be trained. In order to be trained, first they need need to stripped of all nonsense and lies so that all our thoughts can be true. We need to allow something that is beyond our understanding live in the temple of our hearts. To the extent we value control and understanding over the Truth, we will not be able to make this change. Then it will not be Christ that lives within and motivates us, it will be our own pride. And that pride, that control, that understanding cannot bring us joy and salvation.

The fitting response to God is not explanation but awe. The proper response to the resurrection is not a demand to know how it works, but wonder. The proper response to the proclamation of life eternal for all those who truly believe is not doubt, but the deepest sense of gratitude.

Our departed loved ones are not dead, they are sleeping. May grace be given to you according to your belief.

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