12 August 2007

Our Lord Deigns to Have Mercy

The following is an excerpt from the sermon preached at Holy Incarnation Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church. Following the lectionary for Gregorian Use parishes in the Western Rite Vicariate, the sermon is based on the Gospel reading for Pentecost XI.

Whenever Our Lord performs a miracle, the miracle is not that He proves Himself capable of healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, causing the deaf to hear, making the lame walk, giving speech to those whose speech is impeded, or even raising the dead. That is what consistently astonishes the crowd—as we heard once again in today’s Gospel. They are taken aback and awestruck that Our Lord Jesus could heal the man that was brought to Him. Yet if Our Lord God is all that we say He is, all that He claims to be, all that we expect or hope or pray of Him, then we should not wonder or be surprised when He does what we believe He can do. The miracle, then, is not that Our Lord is capable of healing. The true miracle is that He wills to do so. The miracle is that Our Lord chooses to extend His healing hand to those in need.

The miracle is that Our Lord positions Himself so that He can be approached; that He makes Himself accessible to us. The miracle is that Our Lord both desires to hear our prayer to Him, and in fact invites us to cry to Him for help. And so the miracle is that Our God of hosts turns toward us and looks down from heaven, and sees, and visits this vineyard which [His] right hand has planted; and upon the son of man whom [He] has confirmed for [Himself]. (Ps 79.15-16 lxx)

Our Lord deigns to hear us, to visit is, to heal us, because He is a God of mercy. He does not delight in our self-destruction, but yearns that we return to Him with our whole heart. His passion is not strictness for the sake of strictness, but strictness that leads to our soul’s salvation. And so He does not chide or rebuke or scold to prove how right He is, or to put us in our place; but rather so that we might both see and believe that His way and the disciplines He imposes is the way that pulls us out of the pit we have dug, and leads us into the warm and loving embrace that He is.

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