There is a story about a great man. He had searched the world over for wisdom. He had gone to gurus, and sought out great religious leaders and learned philosophers. But still, his heart ached for more. Sure, he learned great and awesome ideas and heard wonderful words, but still, he felt empty from the searching. Discouraged, he cried out to God “Lord, where is true wisdom? Where is true knowledge of You?” He wept so much that he finally fell asleep on his pillow soaked by his tears.
In the night, he was given a dream about a man who made baskets in the city and sold those baskets to survive. In the dream, A Voice spoke to him and told him to seek this man out and he would have his answer. When the man awoke, he was filled with hope and set out to find the basket weaver. He searched all day and night and the next day. As the sun beat down on him in the heat of the afternoon, he came across a beggar weaving baskets. Recognizing the man from his dream, this great man dropped to his knees at the feet of this poor man and asked him “What do you do to know God?” The poor man, dusty from the road and thin from his meager diet, looked with deep pity on this great man and said “I weave baskets all night and pray for God’s mercy. In the day, I come here and sell my baskets so that I can have money to give to the poor.” One a week I take the money from one basket sold and buy a bit of bread for myself. But the rest I give to the poor so that I can finally escape from my pride.” The great man put his face to the ground and begged the basket weaver’s prayers.
Look at our lesson today in Matthew 15:29-31:
At that time, Jesus went on from there and passed along the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain, and sat down there. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the throng wondered, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
Our Lord Who loves humanity is teaching and preaching, but not only! He is also healing the sick and those afflicted by illness. Because of this ministry, the hearts of those around the area are inflamed with hope. So, what do they do? They bring the ill to Jesus and set them at His feet.
The imagery is powerful and filled with wisdom. Placing these sick at the Lord’s feet is a confession of humility and need. You see, in Jesus’ day, most people had sandals at best to cover their feet. There was a whole ritual of hospitality in this culture of guests arriving and having their feet washed before they entered into the house proper. It was a sign of welcome and respect. But the poor had dirty feet. The needy weren’t given such mercy. They were the neglected. But Jesus healed them.
You see, everyone that Jesus healed physically died eventually. So, these physical healings, as wonderful as they were, aren’t the point of the Lord’s teachings, His sacrifice, and His glorious resurrection. No! The Lord wanted to bring some physical comfort to these people in hopes of softening their hearts to hear of the deeper healing He wanted them to receive; the healing that we all need. Jesus wanted them, and us, to embrace a healing of the heart that lasts forever; not just a healing of our body that only lasts till the grave.
This healing ALWAYS starts with the dawning realization that I need this healing. My physical pain is a powerful cry for help, but all too often I am numb to the spiritual illness that is an eternal threat to me. I am asleep to that pain and use all kinds of “medications” to keep me numb and asleep to that spiritual illness. But, if I wake up to my need for this spiritual healing, I begin my search. That search requires the humility to be placed at Jesus’ feet, a place of confession and dependence!
Today, are you humble enough to stay at Jesus’ feet for a healing that goes deeper than the alleviation of physical pain and actually revives the soul? The spiritual medicine offered to you in the Faith is what’s behind our constant labor to be Orthodox on Purpose!