“And He charged them that they should tell no man: but the more He charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; and were beyond measure astonished.”
Jesus was traveling with His disciples near the Sea of Galilee and the folks there brought to Him a man who was both deaf and dumb, to see if He could heal him. Do we think that the disciples and crowds pressing around Jesus understood what He was really doing in His healing miracles?
In most of these encounters with Him, the many diverse folks seeking Him were all coming in desperation for relief from some physical or spiritual affliction. Who He was, wasn’t important. It was the healing magic He was rumored to have that they came to receive and watch. They probably didn’t have a clue. In fact, He “charged” them, He ordered them not to speak of it. This was God speaking to them. But to them He was a super magician who deserved big press coverage. They didn’t have a clue. And yet, He treated them very gently in the midst of their confusion and ignorance. He was gentle with them … and the Holy Spirit is gentle with us now.
Truthfully, this is how most of us experience our first touch of His love and divinity. In our extreme need, our eyes and ears are temporarily opened, and we briefly see the truth of who He is. In contrast, we recognize the great saints because they saw and believed to their depths, and continued to believe, despite the world’s clamoring around them. But most of us are like dear St. Peter. We have a flash of recognition and then Satan’s murmuring grabs our attention and we drift away. It’s our fallen human nature that we are so distractible. It makes a very strong argument for being anchored in a solid Christian church … and getting constantly refreshed in Our Lord’s reality.
What is that reality? What was going on in Our Lord’s miracles that they couldn’t see, and most of us most of the time can’t either? What are those miracles anyway? Did He know the secret codes? Did He know the most powerful “hacks” into physical reality? Was He a super magician, a real wizard of Oz?
The answer staggers the imagination. It goes beyond our human capacity to imagine. It has to be revealed to us by God Himself. We call that “revelation” … revealed knowledge that we only receive by the action of the Holy Spirit.
We and everything we know to exist are creations … creations of an all-powerful and impossibly loving Triune God. The whole of the cosmos, although now broken and disordered by us, was created and is sustained by God’s loving intention. His will is that we should be restored to free fellowship with Him.
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Beyond every broken thing, body, and heart there dwells in Almighty God’s heart the original image and life of the Creation as He intended from the beginning. And as St. Paul said, the whole of created life and materiality yearns for, groans for restoration to what God originally intended.
So when the Creator of all the worlds touches a wound in us, He is restoring us to what He originally created us to be. We can recover our seeing, our hearing, our grasp of who He is. He restores us to His loving purpose. This is so huge and beyond any intellectual understanding that we must bow the knee of our imagined autonomy … and worship Him in gratitude for our very life. When our eyes and ears are opened, we each find ourselves standing with Adam and Eve in the original Garden of Eden … and again making that fateful choice to worship the beauty and truth … or to turn away and continue the cycle of entropy and decay. Will we choose to be as gods ourselves … or will we accept our created place in Eden?
It can seem as though we must come as outsiders, as aliens, with nothing in our hands to purchase our salvation … to straighten out our relationship with our Creator. Or so it might seem … that we and God are alien to one another. But because God’s love continues in sustaining His creation and His desire for our restoration to Him, in the church we have Baptism in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to reunite us … to put us back in that right relationship with Him. And we baptize our babies so they can at least start from the right place.
And anyone anytime can in their heart sincerely accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior … and be instantly restored. So we all, in God’s mercy, have a place from which we come … and a place to which we are destined … to be in restored relationships with each other in a new heavens and a new earth. Thus we are sojourners, pilgrims traveling through this troubled world with purpose and knowing our eternal souls are guarded by our Creator.
He declares “Ephphatha” … and we open our ears to the reality of God and His healing love among us. And the result will be our holy astonishment beyond measure … because we realize anew that He is our very life and salvation.
The Rev. Canon Charles Dillon is rector of St. Stephen’s Anglican Church 1250 Oakville Grade in Rutherford. Services are at 8:30 a.m., said Mass, and 10:30 a.m., Choral Mass with organ and music. Evening Prayer Wednesday 6 p.m. Call the church at 944-8915 or the rector at 953-9369, or go to ststephensoakville.org and facebook.com/StStephensOakville.