The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (8:5-13)
We are living through a time of great worry and anxiety. We have almost worried ourselves sick. How did this happen? Is it because there is a nasty virus going around? Yes, in part. But there are bigger issues. We don’t trust that God is watching over us. We believe that we can control circumstances in our lives. What is far worse than sickness or disease or negative news is that we have allowed ourselves to focus on these things. We make a conscious decision to focus on things that cause us anxiety and even depression, by watching and reading the news far more often than in necessary. How many times a day should we watch and interact with the news? Even on social media, I noticed that half of it is people posting more bad news. Do you think that you can be exposed to such negativity and not be affected or infected? It is an impossibility. Some of you have news apps that ding on your phone every few minutes, with “breaking news.” Little do we know that the only thing that is breaking in the process is our spirit and our hope.
It is tempting to obsess over our physical health, to obsess over the news. As we look around it is tempting to think that this broken and fallen world is all that we will ever have. That our physical health and even our life is all that we will ever have. But all of these thoughts are great lies. As Christians our lives and our worldviews are not to dictated and formed by the news around us. If they are dictated and formed by the news, then we do not belong primarily, to Christ. A human is not just a body, like an ape or a gorilla. Our health needs to be more than physical, it is also mental and spiritual health. My brothers and sister, don’t allow your lives to be formed by negativity or by the unending cycle of news. Our lives are to formed by the reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the difference between us and the world…our focus. The central points of the gospels are these: God exists, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, rose from the dead to prove His love for us is real and to share this promise and hope of resurrection with each of us. My brothers and sisters in Christ: This is not our home. This is a temporary place for each of us. One way or another, we all must leave this place and be resurrected to meet the Lord face to face.
We need to take this message to heart. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Neither violence nor riots, nor joblessness, nor disease, nor a crashing economy, nor death. He holds each of us in His hands. We have been really preoccupied with sickness lately, but that preoccupation is a sign that we lack faith. Yes, sickness is real. Yes, death is real. But sickness and death are not the end of the story for us. They are our entrance into new life in Christ. We are challenged to take just a fraction of the care and precaution for our souls and our spiritual health as we have taken concerning our physical health. Christ is our protection. Christ is our healing. Christ is our life.
Today we hear the miraculous story of Our Lord Jesus Christ healing the servant of the centurion (a centurion was a high ranking soldier in the Roman army). Our Lord Jesus Christ did not have to visit him. He did not have to touch him. He did not even have to see him. He simply said the words and it became reality. “Go; be it done for you, as you have believed.” It is an amazing miracle. I want to remind you that we have a treasury of unbelievable miracles from the life of our holy Orthodox Church. Search for them, read some of these stories, and take heart. In the midst of all this talk of sickness, I want to remind you that God is greater and His works are greater than all of the bad things in this world. This is our reality. Glory be to God forever AMEN.
(Portion of Sermon from July 5th, 2020)