True Freedom in Christ’s Love

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
True Freedom in Christ’s Love
5th Sunday after Pentecost
27 June, 2010
Romans 10:1-10 ; Matthew 8:28-9:1


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

Today, beside the Sea of Galilee, two demon-possessed persons meet our Saviour, and they are immediately delivered by Him. I have not met anyone yet in my life who is oppressed in this manner who was not crying out for help to be delivered from this sort of slavery. No matter how severe the slavery is, and no matter how tight are the bonds of slavery in such cases, the person who is enslaved, nevertheless, wants to be freed. Sometimes it is possible for the person to be freed. It is not 100 per-cent possible, but it is very often possible.

Why is it not possible, sometimes ? Perhaps it is not possible because the person in question wants to be freed, but is too addicted or attached to the chains of slavery to be willing to let go. The Lord is always prepared to remove such chains, as He does today, but the person who is so enslaved has to be ready to be released. The persons who meet our Saviour today (as happens in other cases like this) want to be freed. The Lord, who is the Lord of all, releases them, and they return to their right mind.

It is possible for us to say with a great deal of confidence that the whole world, itself, is equatable to the demon-possessed persons. There are two possibilities : either the world can be freed from those chains of slavery, or the world will hold on to those chains of slavery. There is only one way out of the chains of slavery, and that is the love of Jesus Christ. The love, the light, the truth of Jesus Christ is the only way. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (see John 14:6). In the world we see very many evidences of people trying to find their way out of these chains of slavery. However, for the most part, the world prefers the environment of control, lies and manipulation rather than the freedom that comes with the love of the Lord. Instead of accepting the freedom that comes with the love of the Lord, the world repeatedly pushes it away and pushes it down. It is afraid of the light. It is familiar with the accustomed darkness. When the light begins to shine brightly (as with anyone who has been in a dark room), the bright shining is uncomfortable, if not painful for a while until the eyes get used to the light. There are very many people who are afraid of this bright, shining light of the love and the truth of Jesus Christ. They quickly run away from it and say : “I cannot stand it. I am going to stay as I am because I am too afraid to do anything else”. They choose to continue to do what they have been doing and to blame everyone else around for their misery.

It is the way of the devil, the way of darkness, and the way of the world to blame everyone else and not to take responsibility, oneself, for one’s failures and sins. To add to these complications, people very much are addicted to lies. People who are in the Twelve-Step Programme admit that they live constantly in denial of the truth. It is a description that is apt enough for the spiritual life, too, that people tend to live in denial of what is the truth about themselves and their situation. In the first place, they pretend that their pain is someone else’s fault. In the second place, they say that their pain’s source is not in themselves, and third, that their pain is not resolvable. Too much of the world is corrupted by this mentality, and yet, from time to time there are signs that it is looking for help. However, the powers of the world habitually turn in the wrong direction. Instead of going in the right way, they go in the habitual way. Wherever we see oppression of human beings, manipulation of human beings, attempted control of human beings, we see the works of darkness, not the work of the Saviour.

Leadership in the Christian world is leadership by example and by love. When attempts are made to force people to go in the right direction, we see that the leaders are lost, and that the sheep are wandering. At every level, leadership in the Orthodox Christian way must be leadership of love. It must be not only an example of what is good, but it must also be the example of repentance when mistakes are made. This is how we are supposed to be leading.

Regardless of the weaknesses of leaders, nevertheless, it is important that you and I, always and all together, keep our eyes on our Saviour Himself, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Our focus must be kept on our Saviour, who alone does not fail us. Every human being fails every other human being sometimes. We cannot avoid it because we are fallen, and that is what repentance is for. On the other hand, although we let Him down, the Saviour never lets us down. His love alone is constant, unchanging, life-giving. However, I had better not say that the love of the Saviour is unchanging, in the sense of being static. It is always dynamic, always growing, never diminishing. His love does not deviate from the true way.

It is important for us to remember all this also in the context of the Law, as the Apostle is reminding us today. We always have this tendency to treat the Law as rules and regulations rather than a series of directions or signs. The Ten Commandments and the principal things associated with them are only expressions of Who is Christ Himself, and how His followers will live. These Ten Commandments are expressions of how a person who loves God will live : living in harmony with the will of God. This is why it is possible to say that living in harmony with the will of God (including the Ten Commandments) is an expression of Christ Himself, who perfectly fulfils the will of the Father. It is He who enables you and me to fulfil the will of the Father. When the Saviour came, He came as the end of the Law. This does not mean the termination, but the fulfilment of the Law. Our Saviour shows in Himself the Law, the Law of Love (the Ten Commandments). He shows us how the Law of Love is lived. Old Testament or New Testament, the Law of Love remains constant because the Saviour Himself, the Lover of mankind, is constant in His love. If we are going to measure ourselves and how we Christians should be living and behaving, the Ten Commandments are precisely the first means of taking the measure of how we are conforming.

Let us ask the Lord today and always, to renew by the Grace of the Holy Spirit clarity of vision in our hearts, clarity of vision of His love and of His will. Let us ask the Lord for the renewal of the Holy Spirit so that His love will be multiplied in our hearts. Let us ask that we be given the heart and desire not only to want to do His will, but that we will be enabled truly to accomplish His will in our lives, and to glorify Him : Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.