Sunday, March 12, 2017

There is Always Room for One More

In the Gospel lesson we find four people who loved their friend so much they carried him to the house that Jesus was teaching. Even though they couldn’t get inside the door, they never stopped trying to get their friend to see Jesus, even tearing a hole in the roof. Once Jesus saw how much they loved their friend, and how great their faith in God was, He said the man, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” (Mark 2.6) As usual the crowd wasn’t happy, and they accused Jesus of speaking blasphemy against God.

If we think about the message in this Gospel lesson, we must consider how much we love those around us if we do not even try to bring them to the Church to listen to the Word of God. God promised centuries ago to His People, “You shall make Me a sanctuary, and I will appear among you….Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of testimony, and the tabernacle was filled with the Lord’s glory.” (Exodus 25.8, 40.28) The real physical presence of God is in every Orthodox Church in the Holy of Holies on the Holy Table. If we need God we can find Him in the Church.

The message of the Gospel every day, but especially during the Great Fast, is that the glory of God is present in His Church for us to come and encounter Him. When we come to Him, or when we bring others to Him, He will bless and forgive sin. The problem is that sometimes we may be confronted with large crowds and think there is no room for us. Even worse, sometimes we find ourselves already inside the Church enjoying our comfortable seat, but we do not worry about those who need God but are left outside.

As we approach Great and Holy Pascha, and as the Church continues to welcome new and returning faithful, we must be careful to not be like those in the Gospel who were angry that Jesus gave some attention to the young man. Just because we are already on the inside, doesn’t mean our work is complete. When Jesus saw the anger in the hearts of the crowd He said, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’?” (Mark 2.9) To show His power to forgive sins and heal our weakness, Jesus then healed the man, and the crowd cried out, “We never saw anything like this.” (Mark 2.12)

The Church will always be a place for God’s power and glory to be felt in the lives of everyone who enters the doors. We better get ready…..the crowds are coming. Please remember when you look around at new faces, there will always be room for one more!

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