Stirring Things Up

We heard in the Gospel reading this morning that passage in St. John: “For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.”(John 5:4) And so it seems in life that it takes “stirring up” for change to come about or maybe we need to stir up our efforts or maybe stir up our thirst for recovery. In every effort we make, we are anticipating some type of change, something moved, something cleaner, something different from the way things were before we exerted our physical and mental effort!

You and I have to make an effort to change or take some form of action. No change, no gain! Yes there are some things in our life that are supposed to be constant, but letting time slip by without making a difference in someone’s else’s life or not caring enough about ourselves to want to be more like Christ is being stagnate or dead! Life is action! Life, is stirring things up!   

St. Moses of Optina tells us about stirring up our actions: If at some time you show mercy to someone, mercy will be shown to you. If you show compassion to one who is suffering (and of course, this is not a great deed) you will be numbered among the martyrs. If you forgive one who has insulted you, then not only will all your sins be forgiven, but you will be a child of the Heavenly Father. If you pray from all your heart for salvation – even a little – you will be saved. If you rebuke yourself, accuse yourself, and judge yourself before God for your sins, with a sensitive conscience, even for this you will be justified. If you are sorrowful for your sins, or you weep, or sigh, your sigh will not be hidden from Him and, as St. John Chrysostom says, “If you only lament for your sins, then He will receive this for your salvation.” (St. Moses of Optina)

We can also take negative actions that separate us from God or to distance ourselves from His teachings! These choices do not bring true happiness or help us achieve the life in the age to come. We do not want our hopes and dreams to be shaped by lies and deception. These negative choices come from a lack of trust from our wounded past experiences or we are hiding our sinfulness because we think we are unlovable and beyond repair! Christ Is Risen! He is Risen so that you and I can become whole by surrendering every nook and cranny of all that we are or have let ourselves become, for all that He is. We don’t want to settle for being broken. We do not want to be bonded to death! Our Lord asks us: “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:5) I hope your answer is yes and you are going to stir things up a bit, again and again!  

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 5-10-2020

Holy Myrrhbearers

The Holy Myrrhbearers: Saints Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome (daughter of Joseph), Mary (Joseph’s sister) the wife of Cleopas, Susanna, Mary and Martha (Lazarus’s sisters), Obedient to the observance of the Sabbath, the women waited until very early in the morning after the Sabbath to launch their plan into action. They were going to do something costly, something dangerous, something maybe even foolish in the eyes of others, but they knew in their hearts that it was the right thing to do.

The Holy Myrrhbearers were poor peasant housewives with the exception of St. Joanna, who was the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza. Yet the Evangelist Mark tells us they purchased large amounts of pricey myrrh, ointments, and perfumes with which to anoint the body of the Lord. These humble servants sacrificed the little they had saved up for their own families for ‘a rainy day’ because they realized they needed to tend to the body of our Lord. Jesus’ presence in their lives had been priceless and they were not going to spare any expense to anoint the body of the One who loves without measure.

The Holy Myrrhbearers literally put their lives at risk to accomplish their goal. Cities in the ancient city were walled for good reason – the territory outside the walls was an unsafe area and the domain of wild animals and thieves, especially after dark. Since our Savior’s tomb was in the garden near Golgotha, it was beyond the safety of the city walls. The women deliberately and knowingly stepped out into this vulnerability in order to express their love, in order to do what their heart commanded of them. Even more, assuming if they made it safely to the tomb, the Roman guards would certainly have used any force necessary to prevent them from entering the tomb. But they were not paralyzed with the danger and risk, and they took action!

There is a powerful lesson here for all of us. For all of us profess our faith in Christ, but do we possess the fearless, trusting, unhesitating faith of the Holy Myrrhbearers? Too often, despite our initial good intentions, we allow ourselves to be hindered from expressing or acting out our faith. We fear the COST of living as Christians, whether in actual financial terms, or in terms of the time and energy or emotion it takes to sacrificially offer ourselves to others! We fear the DANGER of living as Christians – it always seems so much easier to maintain the status quo, so much safer to keep doing the same old things in the same old way, even if it means passing up the opportunities to allow Christ to manifest in our little corner of the world. We fear looking FOOLISH by living as Christians, in a world that holds values and priorities that too often are very different from the Gospel. Pride, Vainglory and Perversion of our created sexuality have been the demise of many great civilizations and have seemed to be the most sought out activities here in this once great nation. No, the love of Christ is not always a yes with total acceptance! It is a yes we love you but we must separate ourselves from warped teachings. We cannot marinate in sewage and place our youth on a path of self-destruction and emptiness. We need to speak out loudly and we need to speak out now, and we must take action!

And in this time of pandemic, we need to put our prayer time first and foremost. Even if we can’t be at church, we can be the church where we are. Don’t get lazy or allow this to be the new norm, it is a time when we must increase, we must deliberately make time to separate us from the goats. And we must remember how precious our time here is, as one family, seeking the Kingdom of heaven!

Pray to God for us, Holy Myrrhbearers!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 5-3-2020