According to Your Faith, Let It Be Done Unto You…
A Homily by Fr. Benedict Simpson on Romans 9:27-35 (July 14th / 27th 2014)
Jesus encounters two blind men in today’s Gospel Reading. Now Jesus had just previously come from a local ruler’s house where he performed two very great miracles. One was the healing of a woman whom we are told has had a terminal issue of blood for twelve years. We are not told the nature of this illness other than the fact that Christ healed her as he was on his way to attend to the ruler’s daughter, whom we are told has died. Christ comes to where the family has laid the body of the child and were mourning her. Christ put the crowd out of the room and proceeded to raise her from the dead.
Now, as Christ departed from that place, he begins to be followed by two blind men. These men are crying after Christ saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us”. This is very important in that it is signifying the coming of the Messianic Age, as foretold by the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah prophesied saying, “The eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall hear…” In the Gospel, Christ heals them both, thus proving that He is the long awaited Messiah. It is rather significant and a further proof of the great Faith that these two had when they hailed Jesus as “Son of David”. This is a term used only for one person in all of Heaven and Earth. It is a title reserved for the Christ, the Messiah. This puts into definite terms that Jesus is the Messiah, unequivocably.
St. Nikodemus the Hagiorite (of the Holy Mountain) had this to say regarding Faith:
“Faith is a power that dwells in the mind and the will of a man. The mind is enlightened by heavenly light and contains that which the Lord reveals to it. The will is likewise moved by God to the fulfillment of every good thing that the mind commands it to do. When faith is weak, the mind cannot understand the mysteries of God, and even before the mind understands them the will has no desire to love them. Blessed Augustine said that man can love what is invisible to him, but not what is unknown. This we see in those Christians who consider themselves believers, not because they live according to the teachings of Christ, but only because they were born of Christian parents and were baptized. In actuality they feel the greatness of the Mysteries very little, and know still less of the essence of our faith and how it differs from other religions. In this condition they differ very little from unbelievers.”
The witness of the two blind men is an incredible testimony of the power of Great Faith. It has been said that all of mankind’s reasoning, rationalization, and indeed, his science has a definite termination when his life ceases. In other words, all worldly knowledge has an end in physical death. It is Faith alone that can safely ferry us to the distant shore after physical death. Faith points to that which is unseen. It is not a hopeful longing of that in which we believe, but it is rather a sure expectation of what God has promised.
But what are the marks of Great Faith? Firstly, Great Faith is humble. Seeks nothing of worldly acknowledgement.
St. John Cassian said:
“The thief who received the kingdom of heaven, though not as the reward of virtue, is a true witness to the fact that salvation is ours through the grace and mercy of God.
All of our holy fathers knew this and all with one accord teach that perfection in holiness can be achieved only through humility.
Humility, in its turn, can be achieved only through faith, fear of God, gentleness and the shedding of all possessions.
It is by means of these that we attain perfect love, through the grace and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory through all the ages. Amen.”
Great Faith is persistent and enduring. It pushes the Christian beyond the fear of death and the pain of death. It blossoms into fullness and is strongest in persecution and suffering, but suffers in times of idleness and worldly pursuits. But even at it’s weakest, it can be used by the Holy Spirit to call us to repentance and reconciliation. You see, man learns when he is under duress or is suffering some calamity. Fr. Seraphim Rose spoke with clarity when he said,
“Why do men learn through pain and suffering, and not through pleasure and happiness? Very simply, because pleasure and happiness accustom one to satisfaction with the things given in this world, whereas pain and suffering drive one to seek a more profound happiness beyond the limitations of this world. “
Great Faith is brave and drives one through adversities. Even though the senses of a man may tell him that his physical limitations as defined by this world are set in stone; Faith tells him to turn his weaknesses and limitations over to God and allow Him to turn them into tools for His work, His Glory, and His victory upon the Earth. This is what we do as Christians! We make a sacrifice of our weaknesses to God by simply trusting in God to provide and saying, “Here I am Lord… Lord use me!”
Great Faith moves mountains. It transcends the fallen-ness of this world and is the well tallowed wick that readily receives the flame of the presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. All miracles ever performed by God have as their beginning the willing and guileless Faith of the one for whom the miracle is performed or witnessed by. Great Faith has seen the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, the feeding of the multitude with five loaves and two fishes, the healing of the paralytic, the bestowal of sight to the blind and indeed, the raising back to life of those whom had been handed over to death and the tomb.
Faith transcends time, death and eternity. It is the chief weapon in the arsenal of the Christian that is a sword against demons, armor against affliction and a shield against the lies and deceit of the evil one. As we read in the Gospel narrative regarding of the casting out of the demons in the man who was mute, we overhear the grumblings of the Pharisees. They said ,”He casts out demons by the prince of demons.” Such nonsense is the mark of a weak and tepid faith. It would be better that such men as these had no faith at all, for their obvious lack of insight into the truth of the miracle just performed in their sight is a staggering condemnation of their own souls. Such as these have souls that are starving because they are deprived of the good spiritual nourishment that only Faith can provide. How will men like these weather the storms and battles of this life to attain to the far and distant shore of safe harbor in the next life? It can be said that the two blind men received their sight according to their great faith, but such as these Pharisees will remain blind in ignorance and unbelief because of their own lack of faith. They cannot be healed because they lack the sure medicine of Faith that is the catalyst of all healing; spiritual and otherwise. Glory Be Unto the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…