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Sermons of Archpriest Anthony B. Gavalas
'I Will Live In Them, and I Will Walk In Them'
My beloved brothers and sisters, behold what our Lord has taught us today. Behold what He has taught us in both the Epistle and the Gospel. For in the Epistle we hear the prophecy, and in the Gospel we see its fulfillment.
In the Epistle we hear our Holy Apostle St. Paul echoing from the Old Testament the prophecy that was given that "I will live in them, and I will walk in them." And in the Gospel we see its fulfillment. For our Savior truly will live in those who accept Him, and those who will give Him entrance into their hearts and into their souls. For our Lord is a polite God. His nobility knows no bounds. And even to those who are His servants He shows His magnanimity and His nobility. For it is a noble thing to be polite; it is a noble thing to be courtly, even to one's subordinates, even to those who are inferior to you in status. This is a true mark of nobility, when someone who has authority does not glory in that authority, but wields it with gentleness, and kindness, and consideration. And our Savior is the very embodiment of nobility; He does not take advantage of His extraordinary might; but rather in all politeness, in all gentleness, in all nobility He informs us that behold I stand at the door and I knock. He Who made our hearts, He Who made our souls, waits for us to give Him entrance into those hearts, into those souls.
For our Lord is not like our evil adversary. He is not like the devil, who without permission, without giving him the least encouragement often times barges into our hearts, and creates havoc there, turning everything upside down, creating such grief, and such turmoil in our hearts, in our homes, in our families, and in our world. But our God is not so. In His nobility He waits for us to open the door. And when we open the door to Jesus Christ and He comes and He makes His abode in us, He does not simply sit there, He does not simply relax and be there. That is the second part of the prophecy: I will walk in them - I will walk around in them- actually is the exact translation. He is a moving God; He is a working God; He is a God Who accomplishes; He is a God Who does things. He is a God Who does not merely sit pathetically by and see our troubles and our griefs. But rather He acts. When we have asked Him to come into our hearts; when we have asked Him to be Lord of our life, then our Lord will truly take over and will show us the marvels that He shows to all of those who greet Him with faith.
Behold our Savior as He came into the world. Our Savior came into the world because the world needed Him and wanted Him, and it had been His eternal good will that He come into the world and take on our nature, come to our poverty and to our beggary, and enrich it and heal it. And so it is that our Lord Who has promised to come in, and promised to walk about and be active as He was in the village of Nain. And there He sees a widow weeping over the loss of her only son. The only one she had; this is all of her life; this is everything to her. And she lost him. And our Savior does not content Himself to commiserate with her and to mourn with her, but like that God Whom we said is an active God, He went to the bier and He touched it. Already this says many things, because a pious Jew should not have anything to do with dead people. But our Savior is the Lord of life. People would be very scandalized if He touched a dead person, but our Lord touched a dead person, because it is through His flesh-the Body and Blood which He received through the Most Holy Theotokos-that He works these miracles. Through His Incarnate Dispensation, through His coming into the world and taking on our humanity He works these miracles. He works the healing, He works the resurrection through His Incarnation.
And He touches it and calls Young man, arise. And no sooner is the voice of the God-Man heard in the ears of the formerly dead man, of that corpse, that that corpse take on its life again. And he is restored to his mother.
And so it is with us, my beloved brothers and sisters. Even as that widow had one son, and having lost him had lost the hopes of her life, so it is that with us if we lose our soul-because we only have one soul-what is to happen with us? Where will we get our life? Where will we have the source of our life in Christ? For without our soul, with our souls being dead because of malnourishment, because of our burying it in sins, because of our suffocating it, we too are like that widow. For in her days there was no one to help her. If she had no husband and no son, how was she to live? If we have no soul, how are we to live? And so it is that our Savior restores this soul to life, restores our only begotten, our precious, our unique, our one soul. He gives it life. And so it is with all of us, if we will permit our Lord to come in, and to live in us, and to walk about in us, and be strong, and be effective in us, activating our baptismal grace, activating all of those gifts that have been given to us as Orthodox Christians, then we will see that we will have strength to defeat all of those things which aforetime destroyed us. We will have strength against those passions which formerly debilitated us. We will have strength to fight against that eternal enemy who seeks to destroy us.
We have heard therefore from our Lord today not only the prophecy of His entrance and activity in our souls, but we have seen an example of it. And the Church has taught us. Let us take away from today these learnings. Let us take away from today this disposition to allow Christ into our hearts so that He might work in us unto our salvation.
Through the grace and loving kindness of Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom is due all glory and honor, unto the ages of ages. Amen.