All those who really believe in God accept his attributes as these have been taught to us by the Church: that He created the world; that He loves and cares for His creatures; and that He wants them to be saved. Another of the attributes of God is that He distributes His gifts freely. He is, in other words, the Lord the Giver of Gifts. But do we, His faithful people, really feel this deeply? Do we see it in our lives or is it merely a teaching which we accept in theory and nothing more?
Tomorrow’s Gospel (Sunday, August 11,2013) reading (Matth. 9, 27-35) presents us with certain types of people who represent a variety of attitudes towards God’s gifts. In the first place there are two suffering people, “in dire straits”. They’re both blind and have heard of a teacher who performs miraculous things. For this reason they dog His footsteps. They almost stalk Him. They desperately seek His mercy. They ask Him to heal them, both when He’s on the road and when He enters a certain house.
At some stage, He agrees to address them. And He asks what He usually asks in similar circumstances: do they believe that He can cure them? Once they declare their faith, He grants them their sight with a touch and, at the same time, enjoins them not to tell anyone what has happened. Their joy over the blessing they’ve received is such, however, that they can’t contain themselves. They feel so full of divine love that they publish the divine gift wherever they go.
Soon afterwards, there follows a father with a child who’s possessed, as well as deaf and dumb. Jesus heals him, too, and those who witness these cures recognize that people have never received such benefaction. They realize that this is no mere overturning of the natural order of things, but that He has come to redeem humankind. Standing before them is He Who came to earth to give them Life. This is the more profound reason why they are amazed, rather than the strange cures they’ve witnessed.
But there are others, too, those who don’t wish to see; don’t want to recognize the outpouring of divine gifts. These are the Scribes and Pharisees, who are determined to remain wary and suspicious. They dream up ways of explaining away what the others are admiring. They have before them the grace of God and they want to see it as the action of demons. They have before them God, Who expels demons, and they persisting in recalling the Devil in order to explain the inexplicable. Some people’s minds are so darkened by wickedness that they can’t see what’s in front of them. The blind believe in divine grace and receive their sight, whereas the scholars of the law lose their vision because they choose to live in the gloom of malice.
Let’s not go along that murky path, my friends. Let’s open our eyes wide to recognize God’s gifts to us and glorify Him for them. Let’s get round to realizing that persistence in evil is destructive and can see only wickedness.
by Metropolitan Barnabas of Neapolis and Stavroupolis
Source: Newspaper “Demokratia” [Democracy], Aug. 10, 2013