Today is the Feast Day of the Apostles Bartholomew and Barnabas, and my name day. As I was considering another year named for St. Barnabas the Apostle and what it means to be named after the “son of encouragement, I thought about a sermon I once heard that really “encouraged” me to think about my own faith!
“It’s like trying to take an aspirin for cancer!” OK, that got my attention! The speaker was talking about the dangers of watering down the clear message needed for our group so that it wasn’t so discomforting. But his illustration really drove the point home that some problems need the fully potent dose of truth to be corrected.
I admit it hit home with me, especially as I thought about how just a “little bit” of the truth can sometimes make me “immune” to the full weight of the truth I need for my life. It’s like getting a vaccine against a disease – they give you a mild form of the disease so that you build up an immunity to the sickness. But imagine how dangerous it is to become immune to the truth!
Look at our Gospel Lesson today in Matthew 5:14-19:
The Lord said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus makes it clear that His faithful followers will be the light of the world. They will be a “city set on a hill that cannot be hidden.” Notice, He doesn’t say we should try to be the light of the world or a city that can’t be hidden. He simply declares that His true followers “will BE” this obvious to the whole world. And if the Light is hidden THAT will be obvious as well!
This insight, this reality, flows from His clear wisdom He declares when He says that He hasn’t come to destroy the law and the prophets, to destroy the past, but to fulfill them!
You see, your fidelity to the wisdom of the faith that transcends time and space, your active participation in the Life of the Faith MAKES YOU the light of the world. This active participation in regular liturgies, daily prayers, generous giving, and willingness to share this faith with others sets you free to be what Christ says you are: The Light of the world. And this very purposeful Orthodoxy is the spiritual medicine at full potency and not the diluted “medicine” that simply makes others immune to the fullness of the faith.
Have you ever wondered why some find it so easy to abandon the Orthodox Church? Could it be that they have been “inoculated” by a diluted witness of the Faith? How sad that we insist on potent medicines for our physical ailments but accept watered-down “medicines” for our souls. No wonder we grieve when our children make choices that cause them to drift further from the Faith we’ve known our whole lives. And yet, all is not lost. No, we can, and must, abandon the diluted witness of a Faith used more as a cultural decoration rather than the center of our very existence.
So, Today, have the courage to accept the wisdom of the faith at full dosage so that your deepest and most damning spiritual disease will be healed by God’s undiluted Love! Then share that medicine with others! Be a “Son of Encouragement” to someone today! It’s what being Orthodox on Purpose is all about!
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