|33 - ST THOMAS SUNDAY. May 1, 2022|
SECOND SUNDAY OF PASCHA
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE EVEN THOUGH THEY DO NOT SEE
‘Blessed are those who believe even though they do not see.’ What might we suddenly ‘see’ when we remember that the risen LORD Jesus gives Himself to us as our food and drink in the Holy Eucharist of His Church? The risen LORD Jesus is not outside of us; He is within us (Col 1.27). We find Him, invisibly, within us. The proof that He is risen from the dead is not found in arguments—even if you win the argument, guess what! You’re still dead in your sins and trespasses! No, the proof that He is risen from the dead is found in the healing of our soul that comes from walking in His death and resurrection; that is, by doing invisibly what St Thomas did visibly: placing our wounded soul as St Thomas placed his hands into the LORD’s wounds; for it is by His wounds that our wounds are healed (Isa 53.5).
We read in Acts this morning that believers were increasingly added to the LORD from the signs and wonders performed by the apostles, and that these signs and wonders were miracles of healing and the expelling of unclean spirits. Note that the apostles’ preaching and teaching is not a body of cognitive ideas; it is their eyewitness testimony of an event, of the LORD Jesus crucified, dead and buried and risen from the dead and ascended in glory to heaven. That is, the Faith of the Church is not a body of ideas, philosophical, religious or otherwise; it is the life of Christ that has destroyed death by His death and given life to those in the tombs.
That is to say, the Acts of the Apostles shows us that the substance of the Christian Faith is the healing and cleansing of our soul and body and the transfiguration of our death into the death of all that separates us from God and makes us dead men to God; it is the transfiguration of our dying into our being raised to life in the death and resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ.
Again, this is not a cognitive idea that we argue about, or parse any way we like, or seek to defend in intellective argument. It is a living truth that is proved as soon as we start doing it; as soon as we start walking in it, living in it. We believe in Jesus Christ not as a cognitive datum, but by uniting ourselves to Him in the likeness of His death, by putting to death our earthly members: our malice, anger, lust, envy, greed, our love for corruption and impurity, all these invisible things that produce visible and palpable effects in our souls and bodies: restlessness, uneasiness, anxiety, fear, despair, high blood pressure, ulcers, and many other symptoms. As soon as we believe in the LORD Jesus, as soon as we turn to Him in our inner man and trust in Him, and begin striving to do as He commands, in that instant we can feel a holy illumination beginning to shine deep within us; we can feel a joy, a hope, a peace being sown within us, and we can feel ourselves, invisibly, inwardly, being raised from death to life from the Power of this WORD of God that is the risen LORD Jesus Christ Himself actively working in us to save us, to heal us, to cleanse us, even to deify us! Now we are believing in the LORD Jesus even though we do not see Him with our bodily eyes. We believe because we are experiencing the power of His Holy Spirit working in us, healing our soul deep within as we present our soul and body to Him as instruments of righteousness, and as we subject our soul, our mind and body to Christ so that He reigns in us, so that we are obedient to Him and no more to the desires of the flesh.
How can we state the point we’re trying to make? The Christian Faith is lived on the ground, not in the air! It is lived in the heart, not in the head! The field in which the Christian Faith is demonstrated is the soul and in the deeds of the body, not in the discursive logic of the brain. For, again, what we receive in the Church is not a set of doctrines that we stubbornly hold on to against all odds; we receive the very body and blood of the LORD Jesus Christ that we keep and guard with our life—as Adam was commanded to do in the Garden (Gn 2.15)!
In all of this, notice that the attention of our mind is directed inward to the mystery of God that is ‘Christ within you,’ and not to some Jesus as a datum of cognitive reasoning that is outside of us. We may see Him, the Church tells us, as we purify our senses; that is, as we put to death, again, all that is putting us to death: malice, greed, lust and sexual immorality, envy, pride. Note how all these things are invisible, they cannot be seen; though they produce effects in one’s behavior and in one’s words that can be seen.
And what are the eyes of our mind focused on in its interior gaze? On the Name of the LORD Jesus Christ and on the mystery of the Virgin Mary, for without Her, there is no LORD Jesus Christ incarnate. She is the Living Temple in whom one comes upon the true Christ who was in the Beginning, He Who Is in the bosom of the Father, and who became flesh of Her and dwelt among us in the Tabernacle of His Body that He received from Her. Apart from the Virgin Mary, whatever Christ one embraces is not the true Christ, for the Christ who is truly from God and who was truly incarnate, who truly suffered, died and was buried and rose again, who alone can heal us from our sickness unto death and make us to become children of God—that Christ has come into the world through no other Gate than that of the Most Blessed Panagia, the Virgin Mary Theotokos, Mother of God!
This Jesus is the only-Begotten God, ‘He Who Is’ in the bosom of the Father (Jn 1.18). He Who Is: He is Being Himself. Note that Being is not, ‘What it is,’ But ‘He Who Is.’ He is the Root of our being: we are rooted in Who, not in what. And He is to be found in the root of our being, in our heart, in who we are (Jer 17.9) where we, in our ‘who’ open out onto the deep beyond all things, out onto God and come into the Image of God, Jesus Christ, ‘He Who Is,’ in whom we came to be.
This Jesus, then, ‘He Who Is,’ is the very God who appeared to Moses in the burning bush—in the mystery of His Holy Mother—and revealed His Name to Moses: ‘He Who is’ there on Mt Horeb (Ex 3.14) in the form of uncreated, divine fire that was burning in the bush but not consuming it but, instead, making it to be all fire, luminous and most holy.
We recognize that bush immediately as the emblem of the Holy Virgin Mary. That bush, therefore, is an emblem of us, for we are of the same nature as the Virgin. We are all bushes as was she; and through Her, we now share our flesh and blood with the Fire, the LORD God, He Who Is, who appeared to Moses in the bush, and in these last days, in the flesh. The LORD Jesus Christ, then, who was crucified, dead and buried, is the uncreated Fire of God now burning in the bush of our flesh and blood for we have received Him as our food and drink in the Church’s Holy Eucharist. He burns within us and does not consume us, but He makes us all holy fire and heavenly light. And if we in our inner man are keeping the eyes of our soul invisibly on Him, and if we are directing the invisible energy of our heart, the movement of our will, towards the Fire burning within us, and not letting our will go after sin and death; if we are striving to subject our mortal bodies, our soul, heart and mind to the Law of Christ, the Law of Faith, the Law of love and obedience, so that it is Christ the King who is reigning in us and not the prince of this world, the lord of death, then He is invisibly, spiritually, mystically, truly making us to be gods, sons of the Most High.
Blessed are those who believe even though they do not see. Buried with Christ Jesus in our baptism, eating and drinking Christ in Holy Eucharist, the mystery of the risen Christ is within us. Placing the wounds of our soul into His wounds, we are healed, for we have received the Fire bodily into the bush of our souls and bodies in Holy Eucharist. The healing power of His Cross is now working invisibly within us. And we can ‘see’ it, we experience it, invisibly, to the degree that we anchor our whole being in this living hope that has been sown in us through the sacramental mysteries of the Church which is in truth the very Body and Blood of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. Amen!