Matthew 6:14-21
Romans 13:11-14:4

In today’s Gospel, the Lord tells us to lay up treasures in heaven, how do we do that?

It’s not hard. And it’s, it’s actually a lot easier than fully investing in your 401k. Because the amount of love that is available to your heart, to share with others, that will then compound back into your own heart has no limit – its source is unending. The problem is that we are so often closing our hearts.

One of the things that I study as a political scientist is polarization. And there is no doubt – the data are clear – that our society is plagued by polarization. We have lost the ability to see the good in people who do not think, look, or move like we do. This is a problem.

It’s not just a problem when we’re on-line or when we’re watching the news where so much of this feeds to our hearts. The problem is that we take in this spirit of the world; we take in the spirit of division. This spirit is diabolical.

And we bring it into our own hearts where it sows confusion. We bring it into our families. We let it affect our friendships. And heaven forbid, it even affects us here [in the Church]. That is not the way it should be.

It should go the other way. We should seek peace within our hearts. We should let go of all of the words the world has given for us to judge one another. And to justify ourselves, and demonize “them”. We [should let those words] go. And then we should live in the love … and let the grace of God transform our hearts. So that then when we relate to our family, when we relate to our friends … there’s something magical that happens; there’s a transformation that occurs.

People who have suffered from the divisions of the world then find healing. The grace that you have in Christ, you bring to them and there’s a resonance of your heart with theirs. And in that time, you remember who you are. And we remember who we are collectively. All of our lives, our friendships, our families, our parishes, then become an alternative to the world. They look at us and they say; “how is it that those people despite their differences, love one another.” And they will desire the same.

Every moment gives us so many opportunities to offer this way of abundant grace. One of the words that we use to describe the mechanisms of this process. Is patience. You cannot love people that are different than you without patience. 

And when we offer that patience to someone else. That’s grace. That’s God operating through you and blessing your relationship with someone else; and then when you receive that patience as a gift. I’m blessed every day with the patience of the people in my life.

Another one, though, is the one that we’re focusing on today. And relationships cannot endure without it. That is forgiveness. [I like to joke with the parishes that I serve that I just show them pretty quickly, how fallible I am. So that I can show them the ability and give them an opportunity to forgive.] So often our relationships are based on our ability to project perfection. As a priest, I convince everyone of my holiness and my ability to do everything perfectly. But it breaks down eventually; your relationship with your wife, your husband, your kids, your parents, cannot be based on that kind of artificial mask, because the mask will be shown to have no relationship to the broken person you need to allow to breath and speak in order for grace to abound. We have to allow people – people that we can trust - to see that we are vulnerable, let them see our brokenness. So that they can offer forgiveness and pour their love in. So the grace can grow. And then a mistake becomes an opportunity for God to manifest himself in this world, and for the world to become just a little bit better. Because when we forgive someone, we are acting in Christ; we are bringing his love and his way into it.

When on the other hand, we do as the world has taught us – and we see the very worst in everyone. And we focus on that and bring that up. The devil rejoices, division grows in the world a bit further, it grows; and we end up supporting the one we reject – that we ceremonially spit on and then turn around and commit to the way of patience of the forbearance of forgiveness, of looking for that good in the other, and allowing that to define our relationship. And then as they do that back towards us, we are both reminded whom we are in and in whom we live and love and life no longer becomes this drudgery of one bit of pain followed by the next with no promise of anything. And instead it becomes an opportunity to get this… [and it’s all] thanks to our own brokenness, of moving in love from grace to higher grace. This is the way that the Lord has established for us. Let us rejoice.

Direct download: New_Recording_97-20240317-homily.m4a
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 2:13pm EDT