Temporary VS. TimelessFr. Barnabas Powell
Have you ever thought about all those people Jesus healed during His ministry here on earth? They were so happy, grateful, and changed. In some cases (the illness of leprosy) they were now free to rejoin society, be reunited with their families, and finally, get their life back. They went on to live their lives. Some became great saints of the Church.
And every one of them eventually died.
Hey, why do you have to bring us down with that hard dose of reality, father? Because that’s also part of the story, and ignoring reality is just one more example of the slavery of delusion that our faith constantly warns us about. Delusion, mere nostalgia, false sentiment, and shallow “feel good” placebos, all contribute to an infantile faith too weak to survive even one generation. And our faith is meant to change forever, not just merely some history bound by time. Time is, after all, running out!
The power of our Timeless faith is its mastery over the merely time-bound temptations of a narcissistic focus on “myself.” And the faith does this by confronting us in our slavery to mere time by inviting us to see beyond this or that temporary situation to the value of living both in the moment fully and for the “kingdom come.”
It is this wonderful synthesis of the “already-not yet” that makes me both fully aware of my present moment with all its joy and pain, suffering and peace, potential and loss; AND complete and utterly unshakeable confidence in the beauty and fulfillment of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that fills up every moment of my life with the reality that I am FREE from all of these temporary circumstances and invited to already begin experiencing in my life right now the joy of the kingdom to come. This doesn’t make my troubles go away as much as it puts all my temporary circumstances into an eternal perspective!
Look at our Gospel Lesson in Mark 5:24-34:
At that time, a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.” And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
She’s already healed of her affliction, so why does the Lord say these words to her “Be healed of your disease”? Because there’s more to healing than simply a physical change in circumstances, and learning that lesson allows me to be free from simply thinking of healing as just some miracle medical procedure to the real HEART of true and eternal healing.
True healing comes in the form of an eternal and timeless restoration of your true self in a relationship with your Creator. True healing penetrates beyond the “bone” to the soul, and heals the deepest wounds of our hearts; those wounds where a pill can’t help and a scalpel can’t cut. Yes, those wounds; are the wounds that keep us enslaved to our fear and delusion. The wounds that make us selfish and stingy. The wounds that divide and isolate. Those wounds. That’s why Jesus says what He does to the woman!
Today, are you settling for some placebo faith that only medicates your feelings? Or are you ready to actively embrace the timeless wisdom of an eternal faith designed to apply “the medicine of immortality” to your deepest wounds and illnesses? This active practice of our beautiful Orthodox faith is meant to get to those wounds and apply the balm that heals forever. Practicing this faith in our everyday life connects us to the freedom from the temporary and makes us totally present in the here and now. That sounds like paradise, doesn’t it? That’s being Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Dear Lord, I have spent enough time waiting for my faith to be about me and my comfort. I need to embrace the Faith that calls me away from myself and towards You! I need to embrace the wisdom of repentance as the true medicine that heals me from the self-centered prison of even using my faith as nothing more than a way for me to feel better. You told me that if I want to save my life I have to lose it! But You promise to be my life if only I will willingly do what You did for me: empty myself of myself so You can fill me with Your life! Please lead me to that humble place so I can be like You. Amen.