Sunday, March 26, 2017

We Need God

We all like to think we are more capable than might be the case. We are raised with the expectation that we will not be burden to our parents, the society, or the Church. We are expected to learn from our mistakes and become stronger. But the truth is, sometimes we just don’t have it takes to get something done in the way we would like, or in the way it is needed. At those times, we either give up completely and admit defeat, or we finally turn to others and seek advice and assistance. Sometimes we even must totally give in to allowing someone else the complete control to finish what we started. The whole thing can be a bit frustrating, so most of time we just keep trying quietly without admitting we can’t do something.

In this morning’s Gospel lesson, on the Fourth Sunday of the Great Fast, the Church highlights this exact scenario in our spiritual life. There was a man whose son was so sick, even the Holy Apostles couldn’t heal him. He finally brought his son to Christ begging, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” (Mark 9.22) The father must have been at his whit’s end for him to approach Christ. He finally had to admit defeat and ask God for help, and God gave the father what he was lacking.

Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9.23) Once the father could admit he needed God, then God was able to heal the son. It wasn’t until the father believed his son was dead that Jesus reached out and acted. “Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.” (Mark 9.27)

The same is true for your spiritual journey to heaven. Only when you can finally admit you can’t get to heaven without God will you ever really be on the right path. The Great Fast is an opportunity to admit defeat and turn to God. It isn’t a sign of weakness that you admit you can’t do it without God. In fact, it reveals great spiritual strength that you realize that only can give to you what you lack. What do we lack?

Some people think they lack the strength. Others think they lack knowledge. Still others think they lack opportunity. When it comes to getting into heaven we all lack one thing. We lack God. When we admit that we need God, He gives us strength, He gives us knowledge, He brings us opportunity to meet Him. The Great Fast is about coming to terms with needing God. We do that through increased prayer, increased fasting, increased almsgiving, and increased participation in Church services. These all have one thing in common. They help us realize that we need God in our lives.

Here are today’s readings:
Epistle Reading: St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 6:13-20 (RSV) - BRETHREN, when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore to himself, saying, "Surely I will bless you and multiply you." And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. Men indeed swear by a greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he interposed with an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

Gospel Reading: Mark 9:17-31 (RSV) - At that time, a man came to Jesus kneeling and saying: "Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit; and wherever it seizes him it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able." And he answered them, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me." And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, "How long has he had this?" And he said, "From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us." And Jesus said to him, "If you can! All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again." And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, "He is dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting." They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise."

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