43 - To See and To Speak, July 22, 2012

Romans 15:1-7

Matthew 9:27-35

Ezekiel the prophet saw in his vision (Eze 47:1) a mighty stream of healing waters flowing from the east gate of the temple of the Lord. They flowed out of the temple into Galilee, (where Jesus would spend most of his time) down into Arabia and out into the great sea. Wherever these healing waters flowed, everything was healed and made to live.

The topography of the temple and the mighty stream of healing waters that flowed from its east gate is that of the Garden of Eden (Gn 2:10-14). From out of Eden, too, there flowed a mighty river that watered the garden before splitting into the four mighty rivers of Pishon, Gihon, Tigres and Euphrates.

Now, the Church knows in the Holy Spirit that the temple Ezekiel saw was the mystery of the Theotokos. The Church also knows the Theotokos as the mystery of Paradise, calling her the Garden of Eden, even the Tree of Life that carries Christ as a cluster of life-giving grapes.

In this morning’s Gospel, Christ heals these two blind men and the mute in Galilee, having come forth from the womb of the Virgin into Galilee like the mighty river flowing out of Eden and the mighty stream of healing water that flowed from the temple in Ezekiel’s vision.

Like those waters of Ezekiel’s vision, everywhere the Savior goes, He heals. He heals not some but everyone – except the Pharisees, who came at Him in the malice of self-righteous conceit. He heals not just certain sicknesses and maladies. He heals every sickness, every disease. He even raises a little girl from the dead. (Mt 9:23-25)

The healing works of Jesus show that He is the one whom the prophets foretold, as Christ Himself tells the unbelieving Pharisees: “If you don’t believe Me, believe the works that I do; then you may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I in Him.” (Jn 10:38).

Christ’s healing works show that to believe in Him – to believe that He “can do this” – is not to believe some religious assertion or theological proposition. It is to receive healing and the life of God. Moreover, to believe that Christ can heal me is to give myself wholly to Christ, and to “pass over” into the ascent of Christ from Hades to Heaven, from death to life in the Lord’s eternal Kingdom of Light.

In Christ, everything in the cosmos opens onto everything else. In the liturgical and sacramental mystery of the Church, earth opens onto heaven, time opens onto eternity, the present opens onto the past and the future, the material opens onto the immaterial, the earthly and mundane opens onto the spiritual glory of heaven. And, the healing of these two blind men and of the mute that we read about in this morning’s Gospel was a historical event in the life of Christ that opens onto the eternal spiritual mystery of our soul.

As St Paul writes, before we were united to Christ in Holy Baptism, we were dead in our sins and trespasses. That is to say, our soul was dead. The eye of the soul is the lamp of the body, but it saw nothing because our soul was dead. In our soul, we were blind to the spiritual mystery of God because the treasure of our heart was not in God and His Christ but in the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life, all the things of the world that are passing away. Separated from God by our love for the things of the world, we lived and walked in a heart that was a tomb, where our dead soul was buried, spiritually blind. And so, our lips could not speak. We could not sing the praises of thanksgiving to God; for, the eye of our soul seeing nothing of the things of God, we had nothing to speak of. In every way, we were a spiritual corpse, having spiritual eyes that see not, spiritual ears that hear not, and lips that could speak nothing of the Spirit.

Here in the temple of God’s glory is a good place for each one to look inward and to confess honestly what the treasure of our heart is. What do we live for? When we are alone, when no one is looking, what do we give our eyes to, our ears to, our lips to? What or who do we follow? Whose teaching, whose spirit – God’s or the world’s – is giving us our wisdom, our words to live by?

St Matthew tells us that the blind men followed Jesus into the house, crying out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” It doesn’t say whose house Christ brought them into. I take the house in its spiritual meaning to be the Lord’s House, Christ’s Holy Church, the sacred temple of His crucified and risen body from whose side flow the healing and living waters of the Holy Spirit as Ezekiel the prophet foretold. I therefore take this morning’s Gospel to mean spiritually that they followed Christ into their heart, the Paschal mystery of Christ’s tomb.

It says that at the touch of Jesus, their eyes were opened and they could see. I take this spiritually to refer to the Paschal mystery of Christ uniting Himself to us even to the point of His death on the cross, and of His crucified body, when it is laid in the new tomb, touching the corpse of our soul buried in the tomb of our heart, and of the healing waters of His Holy Spirit washing over our dead souls and healing us, opening our eyes and raising us up into the life of His Holy Resurrection. And, it is clear that there was joy, for the lips of the blind men were opened and they spread His fame, they sang the thanksgiving, the eucharistia of His praise in all that country. The same happened with the mute. He, too, was brought to Jesus, presumably in the same house, in the same Paschal mystery of the human heart. And the living waters of the Savior washed over Him, too, so that he was healed and he spoke. And what did he say? Surely, he was found speaking with the multitudes of what he had seen with his eyes: “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!”

Beloved faithful, Christ raises us to eternal life and opens the eyes of our soul when the words of His Holy Church touch our ears. If we believe that He can do this, i.e., if we receive Him in faith and give ourselves to Him in repentance, our lips are opened to show forth His praise, because He raises us from death to life by the healing power that soaks the words of the Church with the living waters of His Holy Spirit that flow from His side on the Cross. Christ touches even our physical eyes and ears with the sensual and sacramental beauty of His crucified and risen body, His Holy Church. He touches our lips with His own body and blood, and the healing, living waters of His Holy Spirit flow like the living waters of Eden and the healing waters of Ezekiel’s prophetic vision from the chalice into our mouths and into the marrow of our soul, touching us and healing us and raising us to eternal life, transforming our heart into a bridal chamber wherein children of God are born of the Holy Spirit from above.

Believe that Christ “can do this” and you believe that He is the Son of God who can heal you. Give yourself to Christ and you give yourself to the healing power of His love that raised the world from nothing into being, and in these last days raised up fallen Adam from death to life in joy. For, “Christ is joy,” says the holy elder Porphyrios (Wounded by Love, p. 100). “The joy of our Lord gives assured serenity, serene delight and full happiness, all-joyful joy that surpasses every joy. Christ desires and delights in scattering joy, in enriching His faithful with joy. This is what our (Orthodox) religion is. This is the direction we must take (the ascent we must make). Christ is Paradise, my children. What is Paradise? It is Christ. Paradise begins here and now. It is exactly the same: those who experience Christ here on earth experience Paradise. Our task is to find a way to enter into the light of Christ. The essence of the matter is for our soul to wake up and love Christ and become holy, to abandon herself to divine eros. Thus, He too will love us. What Christ wants most of all is to fill us with joy, because He is the well-spring of joy.”

All the mysteries of Christ’s Holy Church open our heart onto the joy of Christ’s Holy Resurrection. When the words, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” become what we live for; when the beauty of Christ that they open onto is what we give our eyes and ears to, even when we are alone, when no one is looking; when the Spirit that makes them soaking wet with living waters of healing becomes the Spirit whose Words of Wisdom we live by, then, lo! They lead us into the house, into the Paschal mystery of Christ. The healing, living waters of Christ’s Holy Spirit begin to flood the tomb of our heart, filling it with the joy of Christ’s Resurrection, touching our dead soul lying buried there, washing over her and cleansing her of all her filth, and raising her up into life eternal, clothed in her original beauty, the Robe of Light and Immortality. The eyes of the soul open, the heart is ignited in the fire of the Holy Spirit to become a flaming pillar of love for Him who first loved us, and the lips strive to declare the marvel that no one has ever seen before – but the eyes of the soul have seen it, and she enters His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise, giving thanks to the Lord, blessing His Holy Name with all the saints, and crying out: O Lord, open Thou my lips and my mouth will show forth Thy praise. O Lord, glory to Thee!”

“Let us love Christ and let our only hope and care be for Him,” says the holy elder Porphyrios, (Wounded by love, p. 100) that our life in this body may be transfigured into an eternal ascent to Paradise to be with Christ, the All-Compassionate One, forever. Amen.