|10 - Jairus' Daughter and the Hemorrhaging Woman, November 6, 2011|
In the beginning, the world submitted in obedience to the Word of God and lo, it came into existence. It came from out of the darkness of the abyss and into the light of God’s Word. Created by God, the world had a certain shape and quality. It was created good; i.e. brimming with joy and life and beauty. The earth, as the Psalmist says, was filled with the steadfast love of the Lord. It was created in light (Gn 1:3) and became the garment of God as the Scriptures say: “He clothes Himself with light as with a garment;” and, “In Thy light shall we see light.” Perhaps we can understand this to mean that in the original light of creation we shall see the uncreated light of God’s own glory and virtue.
But, what is the light that was the first of God’s creatures. It is not the sun or the moon. These were not created until the fourth day; and yet, on the third day the plants and vegetation are already growing. They were growing in the light not of the sun or moon, obviously, but of this original light of creation that was created on the First Day, before everything else so that the whole of creation came into existence, grew and took its particular shape of goodness and beauty in this light of creation that filled all things with the joy of God’s steadfast love.
From what I have read in the holy fathers, I have come to believe that this light of creation is the Church: the mystery, therefore, of the body of Christ, the Robe of Light that Christ wears as a garment. Thus, we experience the Church not as a social organization or as a political institution competing with worldly institutions, but as the mystery of that light in which all things came to be. When we receive the Faith of the Church, then, which is the life and the knowledge of God, we are raised up out of the darkness of our sins and trespasses, the darkness of ignorance of God, forgetfulness of the spiritual mystery of the uncreated Holy Trinity, and into the light of God’s creation, into the mystery of the new heaven and the new earth that has been fashioned from the beauty and glory of Christ’s Holy Pascha. But, this is to say that the light of creation that was created before all else belongs to the mystery of Christ’s Holy Resurrection.
This vision of that first light of creation, if we can call it a vision, struck me from one of the hymns the Church sings on the Third Sunday of Pascha, the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing women, which praises the light that has dawned on the Third Day. The Third day, of course is Sunday, measured from Great and Holy Friday; and Sunday is the first day of the week, the First Day of the New Creation that has been raised from the darkness of death to the uncreated light of Christ in the glorious joy, beauty, goodness and divine love of Christ’s Holy Resurrection. The “Third Day” also evokes the Third Day of Genesis, when the world began to grow, to become green with the life of the plants and vegetation.
The light of creation that was the first thing that came into being, then, is the light of Christ’s Holy Resurrection. (To be clear: this is not to say that the light of creation is itself already the Resurrection of Christ that occurred historically in space-time; it is to say that the light of creation is the light that is revealed in the glory of Christ’s Holy Resurrection, united, to be sure, to the uncreated light of the Holy Trinity.) The light of Christ’s Holy Resurrection, therefore, is the primordial aura in which the world is made to exist; it is the principle of the mystery hidden from the ages in God, of which St Paul speaks, that has been revealed in these latter days in the mystery of Jesus Christ. It is the light of the goodness and knowledge of God in the joy of the love of God, the light of divine life, in which all things are meant to grow and to take shape as so many icons of Christ, the Word of God who is Himself the Icon of the invisible God in whom all things were made and stamped with His Image.
Of course, the world as we experience it does not grow to take the shape of the Image of God. It grows to take the shape not of light and beauty, which are qualities of God, but of darkness and ugliness. For all things grow from the dust and return to the dust. Man’s end, as we hear in the funeral service of the Church, is to lie dead in the coffin without comeliness or form or beauty. The world in its wisdom teaches us that this is normal, the way of nature. The Church, in her Wisdom, teaches us that this is a perversion of our nature. And, how would we possibly know that the high destiny to which man is called is not to sink again into the dust of the ground but to become a living temple of the living God, existing and growing in the glorious light of the Resurrection, to be formed by the hands of God into the shape of God so that in body, soul and mind man is the temple in whom God loves to dwell if we did not hear of it in the Gospel proclamation of the Church or see it in the lives of the saints?
If we were to submit in obedience to the Word of God, would we, then, not be raised up from death and darkness and corruption and all its bitter fruits into the very life of God as was Jairus’ daughter in this morning’s Gospel? Would not our worldly life, flowing unceasingly to the grave be stopped as was the blood of the hemorrhaging woman, for in receiving the Word of God are we not receiving the uncreated energy of the life-creating power of the Lord’s Holy Resurrection? And if, in obedience to the Savior, we were to rise from our bed, having been justified – that is, made alive – by the faithfulness of Christ who has destroyed death by His death, and to walk no more in the way of sin, i.e., death and darkness, but in the way of God’s own divine life that He has given to us in the mysteries of His Holy Church, His crucified and risen body, would we not begin to take on the shape, in our body, our mind and our soul, of a living temple in whom God loves to dwell so that we could say with St Paul, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me:” Christ, in the uncreated glory of His divinity living in us in the light of His Holy Resurrection, the light of creation, the principle of the mystery of God hidden from the ages and revealed now to His saints in the mystery of Christ, shaping and molding us in the joy, the goodness, the beauty and life of His creation?
We have failed to grow into the likeness of God for we have sinned. We have fallen into death and become corruptible. Subject to death and disintegration, we are afflicted by all the bitter fruits of sin, sicknesses and diseases of soul, mind and body. We grow day by day steadily not into the likeness of God but into the likeness of death and decrepitude, taking on the shape of old men and women, failing in health of body and soul until finally we give out and we fall back into the dust of the ground. But Christ, the Creator of the light, Christ the Lord who clothes Himself with light as with a garment, Christ the crucified God who has destroyed death by His death has come into the world, calling all of us to the life and light of His own glory and virtue, commanding each of us, in response to the petitions of His saints and in the manifestation of His own goodness and compassion, to “arise!” Repent and turn to the light of creation in the light of Christ’s Holy Resurrection and enter into the New Heaven and the New Earth of His Holy Church, the Garden of Eden, there to partake in unending fellowship with the saints, the angels and His Holy Mother of His own divine nature and to become a living temple of God, each one of us a chosen and precious stone of that temple, in whom God loves to dwell.
This is the prayer every priest of Christ’s Holy Church offers to the Almighty Savior, the Great High Priest Jesus Christ the incarnate Son of God. He offers it both for himself and for his family and for those sheep entrusted to his care. By the grace and goodness of God , may it be so for each of you here this morning. Amen.