Thursday of Trinity 17 – Matthew 13:1-23

| October 15, 2014 | 0 Comments More

David Miles - The Scroll and the Lamb squareMatthew 13:1-23

How do you think of yourself compared to other people?  Would you say that in the grand scheme of things you are blessed, or that life’s been a little unfair to you?

Maybe you’re in debt, and you’re not quite sure how you got there, but it doesn’t seem to be your fault.  Maybe you struggle with a physical infirmity, or maybe you’re in the middle of a difficult relationship.  Your life may seem rather dreary and humdrum compared to those of others, or maybe there’s just a certain indefinable ennui or malaise to your life.

There are many scales by which we might measure our lives.  By the standard of many of these, if we use them, we will judge ourselves to have inferior lives.  We’re not as rich or famous as the celebrities that graffiti our lives; we’re not as attractive as the beautiful people that ogle us from our sacred screens or the checkout aisle at WalMart; and we’re not as successful or happy as we presume other people to be.

But I tell you we are blessed!  Even in strictly material terms, if you’re an American reading this in the 20th century, then you’re blessed beyond all other men in history.  We live longer, have less disease, can travel more freely, have more choices of food and entertainment and employment, and have a quality of life, in material terms, unmatched in the history of the world.

I seem to get a lot of respiratory sicknesses, more than my fair share.  I figure that if I were born at any time before 20th century would have died long ago of a respiratory infection.  I’m glad I live when and where I do.

But that’s not what I mean when I say that we are blessed.
“Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.”

This is why I call you blessed today: because your eyes see and your ears hear.  Seeing with physical eyes and hearing with human ears is no great trick: the vast majority of humans has been able to do both of these things, even when they differ in just about every other imaginable way.  But blessed are those who see God and hear Him, for He is the source of every blessing, and He Himself is the greatest blessing of all.

“Assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

How would you rate your degree of blessedness compared to Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, Isaiah, and John the Baptist?  As great and as blessed as they may have been, none of them was as blessed in this life as you are, for none of them saw what your eyes have seen and heard what your ears have heard.

John, at least, saw Jesus, God, in the flesh.  But even John was not blessed enough during his life to see the Resurrection of the Christ, or the Ascension.  He did not have the fullness of the gospel.  The truth is that we are especially blessed today to be able to have the entire Word of God so close to us.  Throughout the past 2000 years of Christian history, many Christians have only been able to hear part of the Word of God, and often that Word was shrouded in an unintelligible language.

That Kingdom that the King Himself announced is here among us.  The mustard seed has become a great tree.  The field has been bought and the treasure obtained; the pearl of great price has been discovered, and we have sold all and bought it.

But often we don’t feel like it.  We are governed too much by our physical senses, and our spiritual senses grow weak and dim.  This was one of the blessings when I took a group of teens to Belize for a mission trip one summer.  We had less of the world with us.  Our eyes saw less and our ears heard less because the sacred screens were left home and the magic boxes through which we talk and write and listen were gone.  We had fewer choices because we knew we would be doing the work we were commissioned to do.

And so we saw and heard more within the Kingdom of Heaven as the kingdom of earth was subdued.  We saw God because we waited and looked for Him, and we heard Him because we listened for Him.  We saw Him at work because we accepted His invitation to come alongside Him and work with Him.  We continued daily with one accord and worshiped Him on the beach, eating the food that was served to us with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.

All of this is available to us every day, here in 21st century America, if only we don’t allow the material blessings to crowd out the spiritual ones and as long as our physical senses are not so sated that our spiritual senses fall asleep.

To those who have eyes to see there is a throne in heaven and One who sits on that throne.  To those who have eyes to see there is One who is like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance, and there is a rainbow around the throne.  Around that throne there are twenty-four elders, clothed in white robes.

To those who have ears to hear, there are thunderings and voices, and the four living creatures they see sing:

“Holy, holy, holy,

Lord God Almighty,

Who was and is and is to come!

You are worthy, O Lord,

To receive glory and honor and power,

For you created all things,

And by your will they exist and were created.”

 

Those who have eyes see the Lamb upon His throne and hear the new song.  They have now been given voices and so join the song as they sing:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,

And to open its seals;

For you were slain,

And have redeemed us to God by Your blood

Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

And have made us kings and priests to our God,

And we shall reign on the earth.

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain

To receive power and riches and wisdom,

And strength and honor and glory and blessing!

Blessing and honor and glory and power

Be to Him who sits on the throne,

And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

 

Those who have eyes to see can see that Jesus Christ is exalted to the right hand of the Father in heaven, from where He rules as Lord of lords and King of kings.  We see Him as our High Priest, and the Lamb of God, the true Temple made without hands, interceding for us before the Father day and night, taking our Spirit-interpreted groanings before the Father as sweet incense before Him and offering Himself to the Father so that we might be one with Him and receive all of the spiritual benefits that come from union with Jesus Christ.

Open your physical eyes, and you may not see it.  All you see might be one of the sacred screens in our lives.  But close your physical eyes and open your spiritual eyes, and you will see.

Or best of all: open your physical eyes and continue to see what we have been blessed to see that the patriarchs and prophets did not, and go and proclaim it from the housetops.

“Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.”

Prayer:  Holy, holy, holy,

Lord God Almighty,

Who was and is and is to come!

You are worthy, O Lord,

To receive glory and honor and power,

For you created all things,

And by your will they exist and were created.


You are worthy, O Christ, to take the scroll,

And to open its seals;

For you were slain,

And have redeemed us to God by Your blood

Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

And have made us kings and priests to our God,

And we shall reign on the earth.

Worthy are you, O Lamb that was slain,

To receive power and riches and wisdom,

And strength and honor and glory and blessing!

Blessing and honor and glory and power

Be to Him who sits on the throne,

And to the Lamb, forever and ever!  Amen. 

Points for Meditation: 

  1. How does your world look to you today when you look only with your physical eyes? How does it look when you open your spiritual eyes?
  2. What are some spiritual truths that God wants you to see today that might help you to see things more clearly today?

Resolution:  I resolve to open my spiritual eyes and ears today that I might see the spiritual world and be blessed. 

 © 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson

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Category: Give Us This Day

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