Soul Saturday in Great Lent

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
We are there with the Lord, now
(Soul Saturday)
Saturday of the 3rd Week in Great Lent
28 March, 2009
Hebrews 6:9-12 ; Mark 7:31-37

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

Liturgically speaking, our mentality has to be that we are with the Lord “today”. Being with the Lord, we are hearing Him speak, and we are witnesses of the healing that has just taken place. Therefore, today, now, this deaf man with a speech impediment is being brought to the Lord and they are beseeching Him to do something for this man. Our Lord is before us now saying : “‘Ephphatha'”, and healing this man. We are amongst those who are saying : “He has done all things well”. We are amongst those who, as a result of this, are proclaiming the wonders that the Lord is doing.

There is much that is apparently calcified about the way we live our lives nowadays, in North America especially. Popularly, such things as this healing tend to be automatically put into the past tense. Orthodox people, however, have never had the understanding that these things are in the past tense, but always “now”. Especially is this so when we are standing here in the Temple of the Lord and singing the praises of the Lord. The Lord is not a “has-been” that was once upon a time. The Lord IS. He is here with us, NOW. We are in His presence. When we are hearing the Holy Gospel, we are in His presence. Today, as the Lord is preparing to heal this man, He is showing His compassion for us. This compassion is revealed by his deep sigh. He continues to show His compassion for us. We are with Him. We are hearing Him sigh, as He, in His compassion is preparing to heal this man.

In a very short time we are going to be in Holy Week. It is not going to be a “memorial celebration” in the past tense of the Lord’s Passion and Suffering. In these days in particular, the texts of the services make it clear that we are there, in Jerusalem. We are liturgically there in Jerusalem, and it is all “today”. Our liturgical texts for other times of the year, also, are very frequently saying “today”. “Today is the beginning of our salvation”. “Today is the prelude of the good-will of God”. “Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One”. “Today You have appeared to the universe”. It is always today, today, today. It is NOW. We are there. We are participating in the Event. It is very important that we keep this sense of everything being in the present tense. It is essential that we remember that we are there with the Lord, NOW. Our Lord heals this man today.

Our Lord heals this man in a manner that is different from other times. Sometimes He does not do anything special. This time there are some special actions that go with the healing. The Lord does these things because He knows who we are. He knows our hearts. He knows that sometimes we need to see something extra happening (such as spitting or touching or something like that). He knows what is necessary. It is not because there is some magic formula required for the healing of a deaf and dumb person. The Lord knows our hearts, and He knows the hearts of those who were there when the man was healed.

Let us ask the Lord to renew in our hearts this sense of His eternal presence, and this sense that everything is eternally NOW. In Him there is no past, present or future. In a similar manner, in the Divine Liturgy which we are celebrating, we are even celebrating the Second Coming as if it had already taken place. It is the eternal NOW. Always, everything is here in the Lord, NOW. The Lord is eternally present, eternally with us in His love. He is never changing. He is always loving, always compassionate, always supporting us, always guiding us, always renewing us in His love. Let us glorify Him, together with the unoriginate Father, and the all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.