The Wisdom to Know the DifferenceFr. Barnabas Powell
George Bernard Shaw once said “Youth is wasted on the young.” What he meant by that is when we have great strength and potential, we are still too immature to take full advantage of our possibilities, and when we gain the wisdom of the years, we tend to have less energy and even less time to take full advantage of our hard won insights.
The truth is, and the mystery of life is, that God has created me to be a free, unique, and unrepeatable person. This means that each of us incarnates our common human nature in an unrepeatable way. There just isn’t another “you” out there. There never has been before, and there never will be again. Your unique and distinctive person is one of a kind. How sad we clutter that beauty with mundane passions and habits that always try to reduce us to this or that stereotype.
But that is always the purpose of the fallenness of this world; to reduce, to empty our lives of uniqueness and mystery. We prideful humans are always convinced we can exhaust the mysteries of life into categories or explanations. Silly really. But God has another path for us; a path that leads to spiritual maturity and joy!
The path to that place of maturity and joy is hinted at in our Gospel Lesson today 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.”
In this amazing encounter Our Lord was so aware of Himself and the moment He was in that He knew someone had touched Him in deep and strong faith. He didn’t ask this question because He didn’t know the answer. He asked the question to teach His disciples and us a powerful lesson in spiritual maturity and joy. Jesus was so tuned into His own life and inner Person that when something significant happened, He knew. His wakefulness about His own life and power set Him free to be completely aware of His surroundings and the people around Him.
And the woman with the issue of blood who touched Him also possessed something powerful when she realized that internal difficulties can only be solved by internal work. The woman who touched Christ in faith made a desperate choice as her last resort before this moment of miracle occurred. She had the collection of past experiences and insights to draw from and all that internal work, even through her suffering, or perhaps exactly BECAUSE of her suffering, that had her life coalesce in a moment of faith and action to bring to light healing, grace, and power.
So, Today, are you placing proper priority on your internal spiritual labors? Are you learning the lessons of your past mistakes and successes to the point that you are more aware of your strengths and weaknesses and can see trouble or opportunity coming before it gets to you in your life? Are even your moments of suffering becoming gifts to your life in revealing the powerful potential of your faith? If so, then you are growing up instead of merely growing old. Learn to embrace this spiritual journey knowing your unique person was meant to be both fully alive and mature so that you will be equipped in your soul to enjoy being with God forever. Do this, and you will not only witness your own transformation, but the grace of your faith will “spill over” everyone around you. They can tell you are Orthodox on Purpose!
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