Romans 2.10-16

Matthew 4.18-23

When we were immersed in the baptismal Font, we were immersed in the living waters of the Holy Spirit. We were clothed in the Robe of Glory, the Robe of Immortality (Wisd 2.23) with which the LORD had clothed Adam and Eve in the Garden. They lost it, however, in the transgression and found themselves naked, stripped of their original intimacy with the LORD. Having lost the glorious Robe of immortality they were now clothed in the ‘dust of death’ (Ps 22.15), in the fear of death and corruption. And because they would not repent but instead became as though they were gods, they were expelled from the Garden. They were separated from the LORD by the ‘wall of enmity,’ the wall of self-esteem and spiritual pride.

When we came to the living waters of the baptismal Font, we put on Christ. He is our Robe of Glory. United to Him in the unseen Bridal Chamber of our own heart where we were dead in our sins and trespasses, we became bone of His bones, flesh of His flesh as He had become bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh. We became one flesh with Him and one Spirit; and so we were raised from death to life; we were ‘saved’.

And now, having been raised from the Font, dripping wet with the Living Waters of the Holy Spirit, our spirits having been made fragrant with the Holy Spirit in the anointing of the Holy Chrism, and having received the Heavenly Spirit of Christ in the partaking of His precious and all-holy Body and Blood, it is we who have issued from the Feast of Pentecost upborne in the all-powerful current of the mighty snow-melt River seen by the prophets. Where is this snow-melt River, the LORD Jesus Christ, carrying us?

It says in our Gospel this morning, ‘And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.’ In the historical chronology of the Gospel, this is following upon the LORD’s baptism in the Jordan and His triumph over the devil in the wilderness. In the mystical chronology of the Church’s liturgical cycle – i.e., within the movement through history of the Body of Christ, the Church from Day One to the Last Day – this is taking place following upon the LORD’s death and burial (His baptism in the Jordan), His resurrection from the dead (His triumph over the devil in the wilderness), and the Feast of Pentecost when He sends down upon His holy apostles and disciples in the Upper Room the gift of the Holy Spirit and raises them up from the ‘dust of death’ and clothes them anew in the original Robe of Glory.

We read in the prophet Ezekiel: ‘[The snow-melt River that issued from the Temple Gate toward the East, toward the rising Sun of the Resurrection] flows into Galilee toward the East [as the angel said to the myrrh-bearers in the Tomb of the LORD’s Resurrection: ‘Lo, He goes before you into Galilee. There you will see Him as He told you.] He goes down into the desert [He goes down into the desert of your soul to triumph over the devil in you] and goes all the way to the sea [all the way into the deep of your heart where you are dead in your sins and trespasses, and subject to corruption]; and when it enters the stagnant waters of the sea [when it pours into your heart where you are dead], the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live wherever the River goes’ (Eze 47.8-9). You will be raised from death to life; your death, united to the LORD’s death, will become the death of your death and the conception of your resurrection from death to life in the Mighty River of the LORD Jesus Christ risen from the dead, trampling down death by His death, and giving life to those, to you, who were in the tombs!] (Eze 47.8).

It says in our Gospel this morning: ‘Walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw Simon and Peter, James and John. They were fishermen. He called them: Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men! They left their nets and followed Him.’ The prophet Ezekiel says: ‘Fishermen will stand beside the sea; it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea (Eze 47.10).

The troparion for Pentecost says: ‘Blessed art Thou O Christ our God, who hast revealed the fishermen as most wise. By sending down upon them the Holy Spirit, through them Thou didst draw the whole world into Thy Net!’

The word of the Church’s preaching is the word of the apostles’ preaching; it was given them by the LORD Jesus Himself, and He gave it to them from His Father. The words of the Church’s preaching are the threads and fibers that form the ropes woven together to form the LORD’s Net; and the LORD’s Net needs no mending. For the LORD’s Net is His very Body and Blood risen from the dead, destroying death by His death; His Body and Blood are the WORD of God made flesh that has been let down to the earth and into the deep sea of death and hell in the form of the Church’s preaching and teaching and given to us as our food and drink in the Church’s Holy Eucharist. The Church is the Boat from which the LORD’s Net is cast by the word of the apostles’ preaching and teaching. This is the WORD of Truth all bishops and priests of the Church are commanded ‘rightly to divide.’

Everyone who receives the WORD of the Church’s teaching and preaching is led to the Baptismal Font as to the Jordan and to the Tomb of the LORD’s death and resurrection. And when they are immersed in the Living Waters of the Font, they are washed clean of death and corruption. They are taken up in the Mighty Current, the Holy Spirit, of the Snow-Melt River who is the LORD Himself. They are taken up into the Net of the LORD’s Body risen from the dead which, on the Feast of Pentecost, was let down into Galilee, into the everyday life of this world, and into the desert, the desert of our soul. Wherever that River goes, wherever the Living Waters of the Holy Spirit go, there the waters of our soul that were stagnant are made fresh; we who were dead are made to live. We are healed of death and corruption. And that Snow-Melt River now bears us up in His Mighty Current, His Holy Spirit, and carries us through the days of our life on this earth, into the desert of our soul, triumphing over the devil wherever He goes, wherever He is received. He carries us all the way to the outlet of the sea, all the way to our grave. There the stone is rolled away, and we issue from the Gate of our Grave out into the deep, beyond all things, out into the Kingdom of Heaven in the current of that Mighty Snow-Melt River, out into the Glorious Ascension of Our LORD Jesus Christ.

Is this why the disciples of the LORD returned from the Mountain of His Ascension filled with joy? The LORD had departed from them, yes; but He had promised them His Holy Spirit. They returned to Jerusalem in joy to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit, to prepare to receive the primordial Robe of Glory, knowing that, clothed in that Robe of Glory, their ‘end’ was no longer the dark chambers of Sheol, but the LORD’s Kingdom of marvelous Light.

This is our joy who have received the WORD of the apostles’ preaching and teaching and have been drawn into the Net of the Savior’s own Body and Blood, risen from the dead, and ascended in Glory. Our end, our destiny, now is not the dust of death; for our body and soul have been united with the Body and Soul of the Son of God incarnate; and our end is in Heaven at the Right Hand of the Father.

In the joy of this hope, in the fear of God, with faith and love, clothed in the Robe of Glory, we strive here in Galilee, here in this life, to walk in the Light as He is in the Light. We work to deny ourselves, to take up our cross and to follow Christ that we come to love Him who first loved us. Our life here in the desert has been made into an ascent to the top of the Mountain of the LORD’s Ascension. More than that, dear ones! Through our baptism, we have been married to Christ. We are His Bride; He is our Bridegroom. Our life here in Galilee ascends the days, the months and years as the LORD’s Holy Mountain; it ascends in our nuptial union with Christ. We need to remember that we have been made to live in His love so that we live our life always oriented to the East, to His Resurrection and Ascension, to the marvelous Light of His Heavenly Kingdom which is within us! Amen!