It is said that when you move into a new area, you should not use maps or GPS to find your way around town. Instead, you should pay attention to the road signs and landmarks if you wish to really learn the area. It is said that when you have your ‘nose in a map’ (or waiting for your GPS to tell you to turn) you will never really know where you are. The same is true for your spiritual journey to heaven.
When we hear the Parable of the Sower of the Seeds, we are challenged not only to prepare our hearts for the Word of God, we must also become the “Sower” and share the Gospel with our neighbors and friends. Sometimes the message will fall on the path and other times on good fertile soil, but we must keep sharing the message over and over again, and for everyone to hear.
It can be hard sometimes to think about what ‘life was like’ in the ancient days, especially when it comes to medicine. With so many contemporary advances in medical technology and pharmacology, we forget that doctors are not a modern invention. Science and medicine have been part of life, and part of the Church from the very beginning, but that isn’t to say things haven’t changed.
In the Gospel we hear one of the great Parables of Our Lord about the “Sower.” This is the only parable where Christ also gives an explanation of the meaning of the parable. We are encouraged to be good fertile soil to allow the Word of God to take root in our hearts so that we can bear fruit with great abundance to the glory of God.
We try not to do it, but every time see another person acting in a certain way, we presume to know what they believe. Although we might be, and in many cases probably are, wrong about what others believe, we have come to know that for the most part, actions reveal belief. This is one reason we are so careful to behave in a manner that is consistent with our Orthodox Faith.
There used to be a time when you could distinguish between Christians and non Christians based upon behavior. What the Church used to call sinful, is now glorified by the many Christians within the “Christian Movement.” I refer to Christian Movement, as opposed to Church, because it can be difficult to tell believers from nonbelievers, as both use the same terminology. The struggle within modern Christianity, one that tugs at our temptations in a fallen world, to no longer consider sinful behavior as something that should be avoided, is real.
In every instance in the Scriptures of either Christ teaching or healing, almost immediately we are told either crowds gathered and glorified God, or we are told they spread the Good News of what took place. The work and words of Christ were so infectious, nothing could stop the Gospel from spreading throughout the region, and beyond.
I have been working ‘professionally’ in the Church for just about twenty-eight years. It has been the only professional work I have done since I was in college. I have served as a youth director, a parish administrator and now as a priest. In all these years, I have found one common denominator among ‘cradle’ Orthodox Christians. Most people do not know why we do what we do. It has been my core mission for twenty-eight years to help people learn the ‘whys’ of what we do, and appreciate how their origins have a purpose far beyond the excuse that it is our tradition.
The Church has been accused over the years of keeping to ourselves in our own private churches, instead of reaching out and preaching the Good News to the world. I admit, it can be easy to sit back, look at our own churches (presumably filled with members) and think ‘our work here is finished,’ but that is only part of the story.
Many times, we find ourselves suffering in pain, and we think we are alone, even if we are surrounded by others. None of us is alone when Christ is in our life. When God raised the young man, the only son of the widow of Nain told in Luke 7.11-16, He showed us His love and His power. When we allow God to touch our hearts, He can heal our pain. The crowd proclaimed, “God has visited His people.” He has visited us! He has come to heal our pain.