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 XIII.
Our Lord does not withhold His mercy from those who seek Him. We may be slow to seek Him, but He is quick to have mercy. We may slide into the same pit again and again, but He is quick to extend His hand and to pull us out of the pit we have dug. We may turn from Him or even turn on Him, but He is quick to embrace us when we return. We may forget Him, but He is quick to remember us when we return. We may not pray, but He is quick to hear whenever we speak. We may not listen, but He is quick to speak His comforting and soothing words. And we may question and doubt Our Lord’s presence, His desire, His wisdom, His justice and the effect of His blessings and life in us, but Our Lord nevertheless gives; He nevertheless blesses; He nevertheless comes through for us. He never forsakes us even though we may, for a time, forsake Him. Just as He never questions our desire to pray, even though we may question His eagerness to hear. For Our Lord is headstrong and stubborn about one thing—His love for us.
Yet there is more. Our Lord’s mercy comes with no strings attached. He does not give in order to get. He does not love because He needs our love. He does not live for us in order to validate His own life. Rather, Our Lord loves us because He loves us. While He tells us to love only Him, Our Lord does not withdraw His love when we refuse. While He commands us to pray to Him, Our Lord does not eliminate our daily bread or choke our every breath when we will not pray. While He instructs us to live solely for Him, Our Lord does not seek to destroy us when we live for ourselves. While He requires us to follow the disciplines He has established, Our Lord does not deny us all hope when we refuse. And while He urges us to offer everything back to Him in thanksgiving, Our Lord does not deny His mercy, His love, His kindness whenever we are ungrateful.
Our Lord does not withhold His mercy from those who seek Him. Rather, He continually reaches out to us, inviting and enticing us back to Him—back to His warm embrace and His fatherly caress and His loving kindness which exceeds all that we can ever imagine or desire.