43 - Blind and Dumb, July 23, 2017

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Romans 15:1-7

Matthew 9:27-35

The Incarnation is the mystery of the WORD of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us – pitching the Tent or Holy Temple of His Body among us. He Himself dwells personally in the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, of His Body, the Holy Temple of God. That means that He dwells inwardly in the heart united with the mind of His human nature.

Now, this WORD of God who became flesh and took up His dwelling in the heart of His human nature as in His Holy Temple is He through whom all things were made. He is the LORD whose years are from age to age. In the beginning, He laid the foundation of the earth. The heavens are the work of His Hands. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the One Who Is, Who Was, and Who is to Come, the Eternal One Who remains even as the heavens perish and wax old as a garment (Ps 101:24-27 LXX).

This is to say that the One Who became flesh – i.e., who united Himself to our human nature such that He came to be “a man” by nature, His “form” or “schema”, His shape was that of a man (cf. Phil 2:6) – is the eternal God; and, this is to say that there is now “in these last days” to be found in the Holy of Holies, in the sanctuary of the human heart, the very Person of God the WORD Himself. This means that in the Incarnation, in the human Body, the Temple of the God-Man – the WORD of God become flesh – the mortal is united with the immortal, time (or “history”) is united to the eternal, the outer is united with the inner, and the inner, the sanctuary or Holy of Holies of the human heart, is filled with the Glory of God, or rather with the very Person of the LORD Himself clothed not with priestly vestments of linen or cotton but with the uncreated vestment of His eternal and timeless Glory.

This, says St Paul, is the great mystery of God hidden from the ages. The Church in her liturgical texts, giving voice in the Holy Spirit to the WORD of God teaching us and enlightening us, tells us that this is the mystery that was unknown even to the angels until the Glory of the LORD overshadowed the Most Blessed Virgin – just as He had overshadowed the OT Temple, both the Tent of Moses and the Stone Temple of Solomon – and so revealed her as the Holy Temple from whose Body as from His throne, from whose womb as from His Holy Sanctuary made more spacious than the heavens, the LORD Himself came forth in the flesh, found in the schema of man, existing now in flesh and blood and so becoming like us in every respect – except that He was without sin, and His seed was not the seed of man but the Spirit of God. This great mystery of God, in which and for which and by which He made the heavens and the earth, so St Paul tells us, is within you! And the incarnate LORD Himself tells us that His Kingdom – i.e., Heaven – is within us. Where in us? In the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies of our heart, where, as the prophet Jeremiah says is the real self that is deep beyond all things, “outside the city”, in the “place” of ekstasis, in the “place” where “we” are “outside of ourselves”, outside our “ego”, in the sanctuary of our heart where the LORD God by whom all things were created is found.

I go to this length – and even this is brief – to set before you the mystery of the Incarnation because I wish you to understand in some way how it is that in the Sunday Gospels of these last few weeks since Pentecost, the Church has set before us not so many stories of what “happened” way back then, but rather the mystery of the Church that is present to us always Today. The “historical” event recorded in this morning’s Gospel is an “event” that “happened” in the earthly life of the LORD God who became flesh and took up His dwelling in the sanctuary of the human heart. The healing of the blind men and of the man possessed of a mute demon, therefore, was rooted in the timeless eternity of God the WORD in whose timeless eternity this historical event is “happening” in the Church Today. As it were, the “historical” event is the earthly garment that clothes the eternal God, so that even though these earthly events have “passed away” and are “no more” in their “historical” setting, the LORD remains; and where does He remain? In the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies of the human heart. Or, let’s say that these events are like the curtain of the Temple that was torn in two from above to below (i.e., from heaven to hell) when the LORD cried out on the Cross, “It is finished!” and He gave up, or even sent forth His Spirit into the darkness of death, such that the graves of the saints who had fallen asleep were opened and they were seen entering the Holy City – not the Holy City of Jerusalem, but the Heavenly Jerusalem, in the glorious mystery of Christ’s Holy Resurrection and Ascension! I.e., their “Exodus” was now completed. They had come into the Promised Land of their inheritance – not the earthly land of Canaan, but the Heavenly Kingdom of the LORD’s “own city”.

Dear faithful, to be blind and dumb, unable to see, unable to speak, these are the symptoms of idolatry in the vision of the prophets. In a number of liturgical texts, blindness is what slavery to the Pharaoh in Egypt is said to be. In this biblical setting of the Church, then, the two blind men following the LORD Jesus into the house where the LORD was as they cried out with the “prayer of the heart”, “Son of David” (i.e., O Christ our God!), “Have mercy on us!” is the outward “historical” event, the curtain of the Temple, opening onto the Gospel’s interior Exodus into the house of the heart and so into the Holy of Holies, the Sanctuary of the Temple of the human body, where they find the LORD. It is an interior Exodus from darkness to light, from blindness to sight, and so from death to life, from bondage to the evil one in the fear of death to freedom in the Holy One in the joy of salvation.

I do not see it as happenstance that this morning’s lectionary assigns for our reading the healing of a man possessed of a dumb spirit together with the healing of the blind men. In the bible, the mouth is joined to the heart. It gives expression in what it speaks to what is in the heart. And so, if one is “dumb”, it means, spiritually, that one’s heart is dead. And, of course, if the heart is dead, she is filled with darkness. She can see, as did Adam and Eve, that she is “naked”, but she cannot see the Glory of God in whose Beauty she was originally clothed.

She cannot praise God. In the Greek, the word translated as “to praise”, means to speak in praise of. But, if one speaks what is in one’s heart, then to “speak in praise of” God means that the heart is so full of joy and gratitude and love for God that her mouth cannot cease singing His praise. To praise, then, means to be full of joy. To praise God from the heart means that the heart is filled with the joy that is Christ’s joy, the joy that is His in the Glory He has with the Father from before the world was. And, to be filled with the joy that is Christ’s “own” means that the heart is filled with Christ Himself! She has passed from death to life, from darkness to light, from bondage to freedom, from shame to salvation, from impurity to holiness.

And this is the inner “essence” of the Church – for she is the very Body of Christ, the fullness of Him who is all in all. In the Church, in the Body of Christ, the Body that was crucified and is now risen from the dead and is ascended in glory, sitting at the right hand of God the Father, the heart that was a tomb, the “sanctuary” of so many idols who were lifeless, who were blind, deaf, dumb, unable to move or to feel, making the heart who loved them to be just like them – the heart that was a tomb has received the LORD in the deepest mystery of His Incarnation, the perfected, consummated expression of His compassion and love for mankind. She has received His Body by which He was like us, and in which He died to become one with us. And so, dear faithful! When in our baptism we unite ourselves to Christ in the likeness of His death, taking up the Cross of the Church’s ascetic disciplines and walking in the light as He is in the Light, we enter onto the interior Exodus of the Gospel. We follow the LORD into the house; i.e. into our heart now a Bridal Chamber. We who were blind and dumb, dead in our sins and trespasses because of our idolatry, are “illumined”. We see now the True Light, for we have received the Heavenly Spirit and our mouth sings the content of our heart: gratitude, joy and love for the Savior! Amen!