32nd Sunday of Pentecost – Orthodox Homily on Crying Out to God

A blind man sits by the side of the road calling out to Christ God who heals him of his blindness, saying, “Receive your sight, your faith has made you well.” Faith is one of those things that the modern rational mind has such a hard time contemplating. In a society where humanists believe that the scientific method is the end all and be all of what we can ‘know’, of what is ‘true’, faith seems almost quaint, if not irrelevant to many who prefer the calculations that they know to the mysteries present but unseen. Those mysteries are evidence of the reality of God and so, the modern secular man, trusting in science, finds a reason not to believe.

The fact is that in our pridefulness, memorizing mathematical formulas and filling our minds with the humanist dogma that man can achieve all things (if given enough time, manpower, and resources), fuels our egos and feels, well, ‘safer’ from a rational perspective than trusting in God, which demands of us faith in Him, His revelation, and the discipline to follow His revealed way.

Ironically, it takes more faith to believe in the random chance involved in many modern theories on the formation of the cosmos, than it does to believe that God purposefully and lovingly created the universe—science does reveal that there is order in the universe, and this order suggests, if nothing else, an Orderer.

I have also seen the abyss that some of those who choose to trust in themselves or in science, in humanism, fall into when something in life unexpectedly goes array and the carefully orchestrated sense of false security they’ve surrounded themselves with, comes crashing down around them. When you lose a loved one to a horrible disease, when depression sets in, when all your self-confidence and prideful egoism is shattered by your failure to get into the field that you were sure they would be begging to hire you in, when you lose your job, or when a relationship fails because of sin and brokenness, that person without faith in the living God, is left with the transitory emptiness with which they’ve surrounded themselves.

Humanism always fails in the end because it’s a false religion: The problem is that the more time people spend apart from life in God, clinging to humanism, depending only on themselves or substances, the harder it is to change our ways, to open ourselves up to His healing and really learn what is real love. In other words, it’s harder to have faith in God over all those temporal things we otherwise put our trust in or anesthetize ourselves with.

The truth is that faith can be scary at times: Faith means relinquishing control. Our pridefulness leads us to believe we can “do it on our own” without God, but faith demands we open ourselves up, become vulnerable towards God, and allow Him to change us, to heal us of all that is broken or incompatible with the life that is only in Him and reflective of His eternal Kingdom. But to be healed, we have to recognize that we are sick, and then, to call out to the only One who is the Gentle Healer of our souls—Christ God our Creator, “the only Lover of mankind.”
Yes, faith is scary, but in a good way: the child learning to ride a bike depends for safety and stability on his father’s firm hold on the seat while peddling. The child has to depend that the he’ll be there to catch her if she falls. There comes a time, however, when the father lets go and the child, frightened, nevertheless learns to peddle on his own.

God loves us and desires to make us into the men and women He’s called us to be, created as we are in His image and likeness, called into fellowship, communion with Him. Faith is a necessary prerequisite for us to achieve all that God has planned for us in this life and the next.

To learn to have faith, we approach God as a little child, trusting that He will lead us, even as we may doubt or fear. Step by step, God builds in us confidence in Him, in the unshakable foundation of faith, the unchanging rock that He is, as much as we allow Him. He makes us into citizens of heaven, ready to spend eternity in His near presence. But, if we prefer our own way, our own beliefs, or those of our culture, if we put our trust in ourselves and all that’s transitory, we may find ourselves having rejected Him and His love on that awesome day of His Coming.

In other words, faith is more than belief. Faith is the desire for more of life with God: desire for healing from our ‘spiritual blindness.’ Faith is a desire, a cry of the heart, to come into and walk in the light of Christ, however far we may feel from that light and truth now, befallen with doubts, fears, prideful self-focus, habitual sin, the voice of the humanistic culture, whatever. Faith is the desire for transfiguration, for accountability and growth in humility—for real progress in the life in Christ. It is the desire for God to take us forward in faith, in life, in love.

The blind man in today’s Gospel demonstrates this kind of faith to us: He is yearning for God, yearning for healing. He will not be silenced. He drowns out the other voices around him, trying to silence him, so that Christ God will hear his cry, using the title foretold of the Messiah, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Christ hears him whom He has formed and heals him of his blindness. Likewise, Christ God will heal us too of our spiritual blindness, wherever it may lie, if we are likewise willing to cry out to Him and put our trust in Him.

So, ask yourself, where is my spiritual blindness? Where are my greatest needs for healing? Christ, the Great Physician of our souls and bodies, stands more than ready to hear us, to help us, to heal us as He did this blind man who receives His sight in today’s Gospel.

Is there anything in your life you’re afraid to give over to God, to entrust to Him, to give up control of? I encourage you, urge you, to open your heart, to yearn for God, to avail yourself of His life in the Church. Put Christ and His Church front and center in your life, put Him on the front burner rather than relegating Him to the back where He is simply one voice among many and is often drowned out by our scientific, skeptical, rational and materialistic minds. Faith demands courage and humility, but it will open you up to experience the epignosis, that is, the full and experiential knowledge of the living God.

Cry out to God in prayer like the blind man. If you find yourself trying to avoid conforming yourself to some aspect of the Orthodox Faith, “the Faith once delivered to the Saints” (Jude 3), don’t give up. Instead, humble and submit yourself, admit that you don’t have all the answers, that you can’t do it on your own, cry out to God like the blindman and Christ, in His mercy, will likewise reply, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”

Fr. Robert Miclean
Holy Archangels Orthodox Mission
Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018

Epistle: I Timothy 1:15-17
Gospel: Luke 18:35-43