|10 - Two Daughters, November 7, 2010|
The chief point I’d like to draw from this morning’s Gospel is how quick the Lord answers us when we call out to Him for salvation. And then, I want to share with you some notes on what it means to be saved by the Lord; i.e. what you enter into when you are saved, what follows when you “accept Jesus as your personal Savior.”
Salvation means to be made healthy and whole; and according to the biblical doctrine of man, that means to be made alive. To be saved is to be raised from the dead in the resurrection of Jesus Christ; it is to be called out of darkness and into the marvelous light of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to be set on the path that leads to eternal life in the Lord Jesus Christ. To accept Jesus as one’s personal Savior means to receive from Him our cross, and then to take it up as He commands to follow Him, in order to be crucified with Him and buried with Him in order to be raised with Him in His resurrection to eternal life.
Now, our salvation is the will of God. The prophet Ezekiel tells us that God desires not the death of a sinner but that he turn from his wickedness and live. The prophet Joel prophesied that on the Last Day, all who call on the Name of the Lord will be saved. The Lord tells us that when we ask Him anything in His Name, He will grant it to us. To pray in the Name of the Lord is to pray according to the will of God. To pray for our salvation and for the salvation of our loved ones is therefore to pray in the Name of Jesus; it is to pray according to the will of God for He desires our salvation.. According to Holy Scripture, we have every reason to believe that such a prayer will be granted.
We see how easy it is, then, to be saved. We need only to call on the Name of the Lord. When we pray for our salvation and for the salvation of others, we are wholly aligned with the will of God and with the reason for His Incarnation.
We see how quick the Lord is to answer our prayers for salvation in this morning’s Gospel. Wherever Jesus was going when Jairus came to Him imploring Him to save his daughter, Jesus immediately turns aside to go to the bedside of Jairus’ daughter. In turning aside to go save Jairus’ daughter, He in fact did not turn aside because to save the world, including the daughter of Jairus, is precisely where He was going. For, He was making His way to the Cross, to offer Himself up as a spotless lamb for the salvation of the world.
As He goes to the bedside of Jairus’ daughter, a desperately ill woman with a flow of blood for 12 years, who could not be healed by any earthly physician, simply touches the hem of His garment in her distress, and immediately she is saved from her illness. Everything about Jesus is saving. Everything about Him gives health and life. Call on Him, reach out to Him and touch the hem of His garment, and He saves you. He raises you up from the spiritual death of your sins and trespasses and He makes you healthy and alive in His own divine life that is of the Father.
But, we need to know that the story of our salvation does not end when Jesus saves us from the darkness and spiritual death of our sins. Our salvation begins; for, when He calls us out of the darkness of our spiritual death, He calls us to the marvelous light of Heaven. Jesus says to the hemorrhaging woman after He has healed her: “Daughter.” Surely He means to indicate by this that she has now become by His grace a child of God. “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Your healing is the beginning of your salvation. Now, take up your cross and follow Me to the Cross on the path that leads to heaven. After saving Jairus’ daughter from the dead, He says to those around her, “Give her something to eat.” I take this as a representation of Holy Eucharist, which is given to lovers of Christ who have been delivered from death in Holy Baptism as a provision for the journey to eternal life.
So, when we call on the Lord, He saves us and regenerates us as sons and daughters, children of God. He calls us onto the path of salvation that leads out of the darkness of our spiritual death and into the light of our salvation. St Peter tells us that our salvation is being kept in heaven as an imperishable inheritance. So, when we are saved, our “home” becomes heaven. That makes us exiles in this world, sojourners, making our way through the wilderness of this world to heaven, our Promised Land. So, when Jesus tells those whom He has healed or saved to “go home”, He is not telling them to go back to their home in the world. He is telling them to make their way to their home in heaven. The way that we now walk as children of God who have been called out of the darkness of this world and to the light of salvation in heaven is the way of the Cross. That Way is Christ Himself. When we take up our Cross, we are taking up our own life, our own humanity with all of its shortcomings, faults, its self-willfulness, its love for the wisdom of its own opinions, its conceit and arrogance and self-righteousness, its selfishness, its weaknesses, its tendency to give in to the passions and to seek after sensual comforts and pleasures, its personality disorders, bad habits – we are taking all of that and we are uniting all of that to Christ in order to crucify it, to put it all to death with Christ on His Cross. We are trying to lose our life in this world for Christ’s sake, so that it won’t weigh us down and hinder us as we set out on the Way of Christ that leads to Heaven.
St Paul says in Ephesians this morning that we are being built into a holy temple for God to dwell in. This means that our salvation is “in process”. St Peter, in his epistle, speaks of “growing” or “increasing into salvation.” Having been saved, we have been placed on the path that leads to heaven, and so we now should be walking that path to attain the goal, the end of our faith, our salvation. The trials and tribulations we face here are the fires to test the genuineness of our faith. Meeting these trials and tribulations in faith, i.e. by remaining faithful to the Gospel and to the commandments of Christ, this is how we become living stones more precious than silver or gold that Christ, the builder, will want to use in the heavenly temple He said He would build in three days – that is the temple of His crucified and risen body.
My point this morning is that to be saved is easy. We simply need to call on the Name of the Lord. But, to be saved means that we are called to take up our cross and to work out our salvation daily in fear and trembling. This is where the worship of the Church comes in as well as the ascetic life that is the essence of the Church’s life on earth.
Having been saved, we now set out for heaven. As we go, we train ourselves through the Church’s ascetic disciplines to make ourselves ready for heaven. Heaven is spiritual, not earthly. We prepare ourselves for heaven by working to refashion our mind through faithful reading of Holy Scripture, the lives of the saints, the writings of the Church fathers, the doctrines of the Church. We want our minds to be governed by the Wisdom of God, not by our wisdom, so that we will be able to endure the brilliance of God’s uncreated light in heaven. We work to reshape our souls through prayer, directing our erotic love for the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life toward the eternal God in Christ, in whose Image we were made, so that in heaven, we will be able to endure the love of God, to receive it and to return it. Our bodies, too, were made for God, not just our spirits. Our bodies, too, are holy and exist in the capacity to be deified, sanctified. And so, we fast with our eyes, our ears, our hands and feet and our stomachs to train our body for the pure, spiritual air of the heights of heaven. We discipline our bodies through prayer and fasting to make ourselves ready to receive the body and blood of Christ as our food, so that it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us.
All of this is the work of salvation that begins as soon as we have been saved, having called on the Name of the Lord. When the flow of our life to the grave has been stopped by the grace that we receive from touching the hem of Christ’s garment through faith; when we have been raised from the spiritual death bed of our sins and trespasses at the command of Jesus and have been given Christ’s body and blood to eat and drink, when we have been saved, we take up our cross and to follow Christ on the path that leads to Golgotha, to the tomb and to the Kingdom of Heaven in Christ’s Holy Resurrection, in order to grow and increase into the fullness of the stature of Christ, and so make ourselves ready to enter with Him into the joy of His Heavenly Kingdom. Amen.
 Joel 2:32