Monday, May 23, 2016

It is about time we start listening to the Church and ignore the world

When it comes to our physical health we would never tolerate a doctor not being honest about a serious illness. But when it comes to our spiritual health, many would rather ignore or deny that our soul is suffering with serious illness. Like the paralytic found in John 5.1-15 who says, “I have no man to put me into the pool,” many of us try to go it alone by dragging ourselves along while the healing is right in front of our face. Christ healed the paralytic and He can heal our soul when we take full advantage of the life of the Church He has given to us. Just as a medical doctor prescribes treatment, the Church has a treatment available to heal our soul. One problem seems to stand in the way. The world continues to lie to us about how sick our soul really is. We wouldn’t allow our friends to convince us to ignore our doctor; why do we allow society to convince us to ignore the Church?



Hello, my name is Father Athanasios Haros, and I'm the Pastor here at the Transfiguration of Our Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Florence, South Carolina, and I'm your host for Be Transfigured Ministries. Here at Be Transfigured, as we say, we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We feature our sermons and our Bible studies and other special events in the life of the Church. We do it to inspire you to join us living a new life in Christ. I'll hope you'll join us. I'll be back in a moment after this video to share some information about our ministry.

Just as if we were going to the doctor's office and we had done all of our blood work and we have gone through all of these different tests, and we're sitting and we're waiting in the doctor's office, and we're waiting to hear the detailed report from the doctor. Is our blood work okay? Is our heart okay? Is this okay? Is that okay? We sit there in the doctor's office paying very close attention to the doctor. That's the kind of attention I want you to give today to the Gospel, because just as we go to the doctor to hear about our physical illness, we come to the Church to hear about our spiritual illness. I'm going to say that again. Just as we go to the doctor to hear about our physical illness, we come to the Church to hear about our spiritual illness.

The reality is my brothers and sisters we are all sick. We are all very sick, and if we had gone to our physical doctor and we were very sick, and we went in and we sat in the office, and the doctor came and he sat down next to us, "Hello, how are you doing? How was your morning? How was your garden?" We would say, "Fine, thank you. Now, get to the important things." The doctor said, "Good to see you. Okay, I'll see you next time." We would want our money back, or at least maybe our insurance company would want their money back, but we wouldn't tolerate that kind of behavior from our doctor. We would not stand for it one moment. We would go find another doctor, because what doctor in his good reputation would sit us down in his office just to say hello and to send us on our way. We want to know what's wrong with us inside.

That's the kind of attention we have to give to this morning's Gospel and to the Church. We are here to hear about our souls. We are not here this morning my brothers and sisters simply to have a nice conversation, "Hello, how are you? How is your garden? We'll see you next week." The reality is we are sick. Our souls are very sick, and I would hope that you would want the Church to be as honest with you as you would want your doctors to be. I would hope for the glory of God that if the Church came to us and listed the various spiritual sicknesses that are affecting us, we would want the Church to be honest. We wouldn't want the Church to lie to us, just like we wouldn't want to go to the doctor and have the doctor know that we have a terminal disease. We don't want to go to the doctor and have the doctor not tell us that we're dying of cancer. We want to know what's wrong with us.

So my brothers and sisters, this morning I'm here to tell you our souls are very sick. I'm sorry, but that's the truth. We are not like the man in this morning's Gospel. For 38 years, he was sick and had no one to help him. The cure was there waiting for him. All he had to do was get into the Pool of Bethesda. At certain times of the year, the Holy Spirit would go and he would turn up the waters, and according to the tradition, the first person in the pool would be healed from whatever disease he had, and so for this man, for 38 years, the cure was right in front of him, but he said to the Lord, "I have no man to put me into the pool."

He was all alone. We are not alone. We have the Church. We don't have the excuse any longer to say, "We don't have anyone to help us get better," so I am going to work on the understanding that we want to get better. I am going to work on the understanding that we are here today to hear how our soul can be healed by God, deal? You don't have to answer because that's the understanding I'm going to have anyway.

Here's the deal, our soul is suffering, and the world around us is playing games with it. The world around us my brothers and sisters continues to tell us that our soul doesn't matter. The world around us continues to tell us that there's no relationship between our body and our soul. The world here to tell us that men can interchange with women and women could become men. This is a lie. It is an absolute lie my brothers and sisters that these things don't matter to our eternal soul. It's about time we start listening to the Church and ignoring what the world has to say.

We wouldn't go to our doctor who tells us and shows us the Cat Scans and shows us the MRIs and shows us the blood work, and he says, "Look, you have cancer of the liver, you have to do something," and then we go outside and we have a cup of coffee with our friends, "Don't worry about your liver. You don't need your liver." We wouldn't do that, but that's exactly what we do when we're talking about our soul. We ignore the advice of the Church. We ignore the diagnosis of the Church, and I understand, none of us wants to be sick. You go to your doctor's office on a regular visit, and you hope that the checkup is okay. You hope to hear everything is just fine, but as we get older, we know that more and more things are going to go wrong with us. Our bodies begin to wear out.

As Greeks we say, γεράμετα. We have old age. We have the things that are simply part of getting old, but when the doctor gives us advice, we listen to it. If the doctor says, "You have to start going to the gym," we go to the gym. If the doctor says, "You have to stop eating sugar," we stop eating sugar. If the doctor says, "You have to stop eating red meat," we stop eating red meat. We do everything the doctor tells us to do, and we do almost nothing the Church tells us to do. Why is that? Is it simply because we don't believe that we are sick? Okay, but sometimes we go to the doctor thinking we're healthy, and this is the case especially with women who have been blessed in their annual exams to discover very early that they might have cancer. The doctors will tell us even before the symptoms are there, if we can catch certain illnesses early enough, we can be cured from them.

There are even times we go to the doctor thinking we're not sick, and the doctor finds something hidden in there. The doctor says, "Thankfully we found it early, and we can go and get it taken care of." The same is true with our soul. Even though we may not think our soul is sick, my brothers and sisters, it is in a terminal condition. If we do not begin taking seriously the life that God has given us in the Church, and that is the therapy, that is the way of life, that is the medicine of our soul. If the doctor tells us to take pills, we take pills. The doctor says, "Get exercise," we get exercise. The doctor says, "Change your way of life," we change our way of life.

The Church is telling us this morning my brothers and sisters all those same things. The first question that Christ asked the paralyzed man, 38 years he had been sick, Jesus says, "Well, do you want to be healed?" As if Christ is challenging the man. 38 years, you haven't done anything about this. Are you sure you want to be healed? Then once he is healed, Christ says, "Go sin no more, lest something even worse happens to you," and so we merely reiterate Christ's question this morning. My brothers and sisters, do you want your soul to be healed?

If you do, it's time to listen to the Church, and this is what the Church has to say. The way of life that has been going on for 2,000 years in the Church, fasting every Wednesday and Friday. If we're not even trying this, my brothers and sisters, we are ignoring the medicine and the therapy of the Church. The Sacramental Life, Holy Confession, Holy Communion, this is the therapy and medicine of the Church. If we are not participating, if we are not taking advantage of the Sacramental Life of the Church, we are ignoring the therapy and our soul continues to get more and more sick, the way of life of the Church, taking care of the poor, living a holy life.

Unfortunately, many of us struggle with greed and selfishness. The poor can take care of themselves. I did it, they can do it. Nobody helped me, why should I help them? Those lazy good-for-nothings, let them get up their feet and get a job. All of these answers my brothers and sisters is ignoring the therapy of the Church. Those answers are not helping our soul. Ultimately, coming to Church as often as we can, participating in all of the services of the Church not just Divine Liturgy once a month or once every couple months, but Divine Liturgy every Sunday, Orthros, Paraklesis, Great Vespers, the Blessing of the Waters that we celebrate most months on the First of the month.

The services of the Church my brothers and sisters is the therapy for our soul, and we wonder sometimes why we struggle with depression. We wonder why we struggle with anxiety. We wonder why we struggle with these struggles, because God is not a real part of our life. We are like this man thinking that we can simply drag ourselves along and we're thinking we're going to get better, but we need God, and God has given us His Church, and so brothers and sisters, we are in this wonderful Pascha season and we are greeting each other with Christos Anesti, Christ is Risen! In this greeting, it's supposed to bring us joy and hope that the sickness and the struggles of the world have been conquered once and for all.

We don't have to sit by the pool and drag ourselves along. We can be made better by God, but we have to cooperate with him. We have to take advantage of the tools that he has given us in his Church, and so my challenge for you this morning my brothers and sisters, summer is coming, I know some of you are planning to travel to Greece. I know when you're there, you're going to have Churches there to go to, but for those of us who are still here, don't take the summer off from Church. If it's Sunday morning, be in Church on time, and if you just start there, making a commitment to God and to yourself, if it is Sunday morning, I am going to be in Church unless I am physically ill or unless something is completely beyond my control.

If we're not willing to make that level of a commitment for our soul, then it's like telling the doctor, "Don't worry doc, I think I know how to deal with this cancer thing myself. I don't have to worry about your therapy." We wouldn't do it with our bodies, and I'm asking you that we don't do it any longer with our soul. We owe it to our soul to give it the attention that it needs so we can be cured by God as well. Christos Anesti! Christ is Risen! Christos Voskrese! Christos a Inviat! Chistos Anesti!

Well, I'm back, and I hope this video was an inspiration to you. I hope it helps you live a new life in Christ. Please share our message of hope with your friends and family, and invite others to live a new life in Christ. Find more information about Be Transfigured Ministries by joining us on our website at You can also find many of our videos on the Orthodox Christian Network, our partners at As we say at Be Transfigured, until next week, God bless you and don't forget a new life in Christ.

Be Transfigured is a production of the Transfiguration of Our Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Florence, South Carolina and presented by the Orthodox Christian Network. Contributions in support of this ministry may be sent to Be Transfigured 2990 South Cashua Drive, Florence, South Carolina 29501 or online at our website at

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