Sermonette on Luke 13:10-17
There’s a curmudgeonly expression in our language that says, “No good deed goes unpunished.” If it is true, then our Lord is the most punished person in the history of the world, for all He accomplished were “good deeds”.
Think of it. Consider all the myriad of people whom our Lord encountered in the three-year ministry we know of. Can we find one who was harmed?
You will say, “What of the rich young man whom Jesus instructed to sell all that he had? Wasn’t he ‘harmed’?” The response would be, “Certainly NOT!” He was given the great blessing to exchange a small amount of earthly blessings (regardless of how massive his riches might have been) for the promise of eternal and unlimited blessings in becoming a follower of our Lord! He chose to reject a great blessing. He left in sadness, when he was given the opportunity, like today’s multitude, to leave rejoicing!
Perhaps the issue is that we live wearing spiritual ‘blinders’ - you know, those things put on horses’ eyes so they can only see what lay ahead, not to the sides. Only in our case, the ‘blinders’ block our view of what has happened before and what our Lord has promised us will happen ahead. We see today—only.
We all know people who seem to never have a good day. When we encounter them, we almost fear to ask them, “How are you?”, because we don’t want to deal with the barrage of complaints that we know will follow. It’s likely the reason for our developing a persistent negativity towards such people is summed up on a lyric from a 70’s song from Jackson Browne that says, “Maybe people only ask you, ‘How ya doin?’ 'cause it’s easier than lettin' on how little they could care.” Society indicted!
But what of us? Where and when do WE find rejoicing? The question is framed for the days we find ourselves within, because without joy there is no giving of thanks.
Metropolitan Joseph wrote this past week an Archpastoral message to all of us, his spiritual children. He began that message with words from Elder Thaddaeus which teach the following. “God has given us everything, but we are always unsatisfied and gloomy. Instead of thanking and praising God for everything, we only express our thankfulness with our lips, and our hearts remain cold. Joy is thankfulness, and when we are joyful, that is the best expression of thanks we can offer the Lord, Who delivers us from sorrow and sin.”
If we are honest with ourselves and if we see ourselves in the light of the Gospels, then in the hierarchy of thankfulness, deliverance from sin has to rank in the number one position. And for one who has been delivered from his (or her) countless sins, how can sorrow, except over our sins, be a part of us? Being delivered from them must result in the greatest joy…
And if this happens to enough of us, then truly, on this day and on all subsequent days, we, the multitudes, will rejoice!
As we prepare for the coming in the flesh of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in four short weeks, let us individually and collectively recognize the ever present Reason for rejoicing. For our God has chosen, beyond our human ability to understand the miracle, to assume our flesh, to become one of us, and to deliver us from our sins.
“But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.” (Ps 5:11)
Happy Thanksgiving 2022!