Let us turn about and follow our Saviour

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
Let us turn about and follow our Saviour
(Soul Saturday)
2nd Saturday in Great Lent
21 March, 2009
Hebrews 10:32-38 ; Mark 2:14-17

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

These words that our Saviour is saying to us this morning in the presence of those Pharisees who are criticising Him are very important for us all to be remembering always. This has always been the case, but in our day, in particular, there is a tendency to expect that people who go to church, who are amongst the believers, who say that they are Christians, are somehow supposed to be perfect. That is precisely one of the reasons why our Saviour is being criticised by the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the ones who were the keepers of the Law, and who were making sure that everything was being done correctly. Our Saviour is sitting with publicans, tax collectors (traitors to the people of Israel), and other sorts of sinful persons. The Pharisees ask, in effect : “How can someone who is a teacher of the people, a supposed leader of the people be associating with scum such as the people He is sitting with at dinner today ? How can He be sitting with such people who have even become His followers and disciples ? How can this be ?” These particular Pharisees do not allow for the possibility of repentance.

What do we see at the very beginning of this encounter with our Lord today ? We see Him coming to Levi (who is actually Matthew), sitting at the customs office where he is a tax collector. What happens ? Our Lord says to him : “‘Follow Me’”. Immediately Levi gets up, leaves everything behind and follows the Saviour. He immediately responds to the Lord. In other words, this man repents. He turns away from his unrighteous way of life of greedy gain (as was the way of tax collectors in those days). He turns away from it all and follows the Saviour.

This is the whole point of everything when it comes to life in Christ. The Church (and any congregation of faithful Christians) is not the society of the perfect. It is the society of those who are sick, who are wanting to be well, who are turning to the Lord. They are trying to be faithful and to follow our Saviour as Levi did just now. This way of repentance is the whole point of the Christian life : hearing the voice of the Lord saying to us : “‘Follow Me’”, and following Him as Levi has done today, and as the many other persons have done that we have encountered in the past weeks. These are people (like Zacchæus) who are living lives focussed on themselves, but who, nevertheless, hear our Lord calling to them : “‘Follow Me’”, and they do follow.

May the Lord help us to continue to hear His voice, and to continue to have the desire in our hearts to turn away from our own selfishness and darkness. May we follow the Saviour, and may we find in Him healing, strength and life. In following Him, may we glorify Him in eternity, together with the unoriginate Father, and the all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.