The Vaccine of Society

When God called His first disciples to follow, they dropped their nets and left everything they knew behind to follow a new way of thinking with God. They were willing to leave their own logic behind and live as God wants, and God was able to heal the crowds from every disease they had. When we are willing to step out of our comfort zone and leave our way of thinking behind for God’s way of thinking, we too can be the agents of healing in our society. We can be the vaccine that heals the pain and suffering of our society.

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Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Be Transfigured, where we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We pray that this episode is a blessing to you and will inspire you to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for worship or study at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where visitors are always welcome. We'll be back at a few moments to share some more information about our ministry.

This morning, my brothers and sisters in the gospel, we learn about obedience to God. We hear in the gospel that when Christ calls his first disciples, we see here, they're fishing, and Christ calls them in the gospel, says, "Immediately, they left their nets and followed him.” They didn't think twice. They didn't hesitate. Immediately, they left everything they knew. They left behind everything they were comfortable with. The only way of life they knew, they were willing to leave behind to follow God. The same thing with James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They didn't just leave their business, they left of their father behind. It says immediately. And then they went around the area of the Galilee region there. And it says that Christ was preaching in the synagogues and healing everybody from everything they suffered from.

My brothers and sisters, our society is suffering greatly. The way I see it, we have three great plagues, three great pandemics that we are suffering within our society right now. The one, of course, is the virus. We know that one, and unfortunately it is on the steep increase even in our neighborhood. Across the street, even one restaurant had to close. That's one pandemic in our society.

The next pandemic in our society, my brothers and sisters is poverty. The economic crisis of our society is drawing many people to the edge that they don't know what tomorrow is going to bring. And unfortunately, when people are panicking and when people are filled with such anxiety, they don't always make the best decisions. And with the economy crumbling around us, partly because of politics, partly because of the virus, partly because of greed, I'm sure, our society needs healing.

And the third pandemic that I believe we're suffering from is a social one. Our society is weeping, is breaking down in torment because of the hatred that we have for each other as fellow citizens of this great country. And it's not limited to just our country. Hatred is a universal problem all over the world. But you walk out into our streets and immediately you're confronted with these three struggles of our society. And sometimes, it occurred to me, we keep thinking we know how to fix something, but our way hasn't worked yet. Our way has not cured poverty. Our way has not cured hatred. Obviously we will eventually find the cure for this particular virus. However, our way has not quite done what we wanted it to do with the curve and the virus and this and the that.

And so what occurred to me this morning was gospel is a good opportunity for us to take the example of the apostles. They were willing to leave everything they knew aside and move to something new with God. Christ says, "Follow me and I'm going to make you fishers of men." They had to imagine, what in the world is he talking about? You're not going to put a hook in someone's mouth. But because of their love for God, they were willing to leave all of their comfort, their comfort zone, all of everything they knew, they were willing to leave behind to follow Christ.

That, my brothers and sisters, is how we're going to be a healing reality to our society. We have to stop thinking that our way is the way to solve the world's problems. It's God's way is going to solve the world's problems. Diseases come and go. Poverty is something that we can control, my brothers and sisters, in the way we treat each other in society. Hatred is something that we can control, my brothers and sisters, by the way we treat each other in our society. But we have to be willing to get out of our comfort zone. We have to be willing to look at a new way of life, a new way of thinking, God's way of thinking.

And it says he went around and preached the gospel. Well, what does the gospel say? The gospel says that the kingdom of heaven is right here right now. It is the church. We, my brothers and sisters, are blessed to participate in the Kingdom of God. The creator of the universe has given us his church, has given us Holy Communion, has given us this Holy way of life. We spoke about holiness last week. The creator of the universe has given us that. All we need to do is be willing to leave our way of thinking behind and embrace God's way of thinking.

And what is his way of thinking? Love. We must learn to love other people the way God loves them. Not just the way we want them to be, not loving only the ones that love us back, but we must learn to love the way God loves. And that is, my brothers and sisters, with mercy and forgiveness. I suspect that each and every one of us here this morning and watching on the internet, if we were to think how many times has God forgiven us, and yet we would dare hold things over other people, we would dare not to forgive our neighbors or our coworkers or complete strangers down the street. See, our traditional way of thinking is, I hear this all the time, "Well, Father, I forgive, but I never forget." Then we haven't forgiven because the forgiveness of sins, the leaving it aside, just leaving it to go and moving on without it, this is the love that God wants us to have for our brothers and sisters.

And so as we begin this new season of the church, the season of the Holy Apostles, we're going to hear more of these stories of God calling his disciples and apostles. And I want you, my brothers and sisters, to hear in each one of these stories, he is calling you and me, he's not just calling 12 men from 2000 years ago. He's calling us to drop everything and follow him. And when we do that genuinely in our hearts, then we will see healing in our society. We will be the agents of cure. We will be, if you'll excuse the expression, the vaccine of our society in the way we love each other, in the way we forgive each other and the way we serve each other. That's the message of this morning's gospel, that new way of thinking, God's way of thinking can and will heal our society.

He needs our help. We are his disciples. And now, with a small a, we have become his apostles. We have become the ones that he has sent out to society to make a difference and to treat each and every single human being as if we're looking in the face of God. Until we're willing to do that, my brothers and sisters, the plague will not go away. The pain of our society will not go away until we're willing to look and love every single human being as if we're looking at God. Glory to God for all things.

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