“I need to speak with your supervisor.” The customer service lady on the other end of the line could tell I was frustrated. I had already called several times to find out why what I had ordered had not been delivered. First they told me it had been delivered. Then, when they discovered they were wrong, they apologized and said it would be delivered the next day. When that didn’t happen and I called “customer no-service” again, and they apologized again and promised it would be taken care of the next day. When that didn’t happen, I was tired of speaking to just the first person on the phone and I asked for the supervisor who immediately apologized and started offering this or that discount to make me happy. Sorry, buddy, you had your chance. Full refund please! (Does this make me a Karen?)
Sometimes when you are working with others, you just got to go to the top and speak to someone who can actually address the problem! No wasting time on mid-level managers. Who’s the boss? That’s who I need to speak to! I need to speak to the person who can fix the problem, not keep on making promises or offering this or that to placate my frustration!
Well, it looks like this same situation existed in the Lord’s day.
Look at our Gospel Lesson in Matthew 17:10-18:
At that time, the disciples asked Jesus, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” He replied, “Elijah does come and he is to restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist. And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and kneeling before him said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; for often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly.
The poor man with the sick son had already tried to get the disciples of the Lord to heal his son, but they couldn’t. Isn’t it fascinating that the disciples had been given power to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons, but it seems that power ebbed and flowed at times in the disciples. There were some problems they couldn’t fix. I wonder why? Was it that they were like me when my faith is weak? Perhaps they were like me in that I am distracted by the worries of life and God’s grace is not my priority at times. Regardless, the disciples couldn’t help this father and son.
The Lord seemed to be willing to really call our attention to this tendency toward inconsistency in our spiritual lives when He reacts as He does to this moment. He declares that this generation is a “faithless and perverse generation” and He makes it pretty clear that this lukewarm habit won’t be tolerated forever! Of course, He does make the boy well! And this tells us everything we need to know about God and how He relates to we so very inconsistent humans. Our unfaithfulness can’t stop God’s mercy, but it does often stop us from running to Christ for help!
Today, where is your lack of consistency in your faith making you “faithless and perverse?” Do you realize that you are so blessed to be living in the moment “BEFORE” the “awesome judgement seat of Christ” and there is still time for you to learn to repent and reorient your life to greater faithfulness and wholeness? What a blessing! Perhaps it’s time, today, to abandon the “automatic pilot” mentality of your faith and actually embrace this wonderful moment when you can be Orthodox on Purpose.
P.S. The Dormition Fast is upon us as we prepare to celebrate the Falling Asleep of Our Lady Theotokos. Please don’t neglect fasting and prayer and generosity during this holy season of preparation.
Your story about dealing with ‘customer no-service’ had me at once laughing hysterically and on the brink of having flashbacks!