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Orthodox Spirituality

Sermons of Archpriest Anthony B. Gavalas

'Do You Believe That I Can Do This Thing?'

Seventh Sunday of St. Matthew
21 July/3 August 2003

+ + + In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. + + +

Our Savior came to the earth to destroy the works of the devil. This is what the Gospel of St. John teaches. And these works of the devil are all of the corruption that mankind has suffered from that great mistake, from that great ancestral sin of our foreparents Adam and Eve. All of the diseases, all of the destruction, all of the corruption that we have, all of the weaknesses that human beings are heir to can be traced to that mistake of our first parents.

Not that we bear any of the guilt for their mistake, for their sin. As a sin, the guilt lies exclusively upon the person who sins. Therefore until they were freed from it by our Savior's descent into Hades, Adam and Eve themselves were the ones who were guilty of that mistake and that error that they made in the Garden. But since we are children of their bodies, since we are children of their souls, since we are children, successors begotten of them, we have inherited not guilt, but the results of their mistake, the illness that they fell heir to.

Therefore our Lord came to take away all of that; our Lord came to rid us of all of these works of the devil; He came to rid of us of that last enemy, that enemy which is called death.

He wants us to be whole; He wants us to be healthy; He wants us to have all of the things that are needful for us here upon the earth. But He also expects from us that we have faith in Him. That when we ask for something, that we ask for it with childlike, undiscerning, complete and total faith. This why we see Him ask the blind men today, when they asked to be healed, Do you believe that I can do this thing? When He ascertained that they did have faith, then He healed them. And so it is with us, that whenever we come into any kind of necessity, whenever we have any need, and we pray to our Lord God for this need, then we too must ask for it in faith.

When we go to our Lord and we ask Him for something that we have need of we must ask for it without any doubt that if it is good for us, He will give it to us. There is an anecdote that illustrates this kind of faith that is needed. There was a village that had suffered terribly because of drought. And it occurred to some of the villagers to ask the priest to go out into the fields and to read the prayers that are appointed to be read for this, so that our Lord would send rain that was so necessary to their farms. And so it is that the priest and the parishioners set out to go into the fields, the priest with his epitachilion, and cross, and the holy water, and the prayer book. But on the way one of the villagers looked around him and said to one of the others, My brothers, there will not be any rain today.

How do you know this? Look at all of us, we're here, we're ready to pray so that God will send rain into our parched fields.

No, you look around you. Has anyone brought an umbrella? Has anyone brought a raincoat? No one is really expecting rain. Therefore there will not be rain.

We see always how it is that when people come to the priest and ask for a particular prayer, they asked to be prayed for for some particular matter, and the priest opens the book and he reads the prayers that appointed by the Church for various needs. We read the same prayers for everybody. Everyone who asks us to pray we pray the same prayers according to the need. For some people amazing things happen; for other people, nothing at all. Is it not because of the faith that we bring when we ask for the prayers of the Church? Is this not a factor in whether or not God grants us what we have need for?

When we come to our Lord we must ask with the same kind of faith that a child has that when he asks something from his parents that his parents will give it to him. So it is with us. When we ask something of God we must expect Him to give it to us, excepting only if it is simply not good for us, and something that we do not know figures into the will of God that we are unaware of

Therefore my beloved brothers and sisters, when we approach God, let us approach Him in faith that He will grant to us the things that are needful in this life, but what is more important for that portion that He has promised to those who love Him and believe in Him, who believe in the coming, and the love, and the co-suffering love of Him Who saved us, our Savior Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory and honor together with His Father and the Holy Spirit unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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