耶穌不用禱告，祂直接對那孩子說：「我吩咐你，起來！」這是因為在聖經中，耶穌有時身為神而行事，有時身為人而作為。因為祂是完全的神，也是完全的人，神性與人性在基督的位格中合一(the hypostatic union)。祂是神的兒子，並且有神與人的二種本性，但只有一個位格，一個hypostasis。接著神蹟發生了，這個年輕人起來了，對他的母親說話。
所以何謂生命？那不是生物基因或是細胞的繁衍，生命就是—因為你，我活著(To live because you live.)。生命的存在若不分享，那個體的生命其實已死去。
這也是救恩之所在，這愛就是救恩，但這並不是自動的。我們專心查考保羅，但無法進一步說明今天的使徒書信，那是有關保羅去了天堂，當然天堂並不是分成好幾個樓層，這是一種奧秘的表達方式。新神學家聖西默盎(Saint Simeon the Theologian)也說過直到第三層天，是屬於聖三一的奧秘。甚至保羅說過他看到他裡面有另一個律，他所不願意的惡，他倒去做，這是住在他裡面的罪行出來的。
Photo: Sean McGrath
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2014.10.19 Third Sunday of Luke – Death and the Real Life
St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians 11:31-33; 12:1-9 BRETHREN, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed for ever, knows that I do not lie. At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped his hands. I must boast; there is nothing to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven-whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise-whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows-and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. Though if I wish to boast, I shall not be a fool, for I shall be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
The Gospel of Luke 7:11-16 At that time, Jesus went to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!”
Fr. Jonah’s Sermon :
Today’s Gospel is about a very interesting event, and I think that if someone was a movie director that in this scene he could see two streams of people, one coming out of the town with a dead body and headed towards the grave.
Actually, this was the most unfair and terrible kind of death, the death of a young person who was the only child of his mother, who herself was a widow, so she had been hit two times by death. So we see they are coming out of the town, which is a place where people come together to live, so death leads of out of the place where we coexist and goes to the grave. And there is another parade, with Jesus Christ and his disciples entering the town. It is very important that Jesus is going to the place where there should be co-existence and social life.
We see now that they are meeting death, which is the most terrible expression, which is such an unfair death that came to this woman. And on the other hand there is life because Jesus Christ is life itself. Jesus is never alone, and he is always with his disciples, so this is a meeting between life and death. It is very important that Jesus when saw the woman He immediately felt mercy, and this is important because God is always has mercy. This is philanthropos, friend of man, and in Greek death is apanthropos, which means enemy of man.
It is very important that the Church never accepts death. Jesus saw the woman and He was so moved that His love came to her. And we can see that when Jesus saw Lazarus death He cried. Here he said to the woman, “Don’t cry.” Someone could ask, how could one tell a mourner at a funeral not to cry? I would not dare to say this. But Jesus does not just say not to cry because He has his vision, and he says it in a very deep way. We should remember that this in not as if we were crying and a friend told us not to cry we would ask him, “How do you think you could understand my pain? How do you dare to tell me not to cry?” But in our pain and in our sorrow, we may hear this secret voice of Jesus Christ telling us not to cry. Why? Because He is there.
In this Gospel nobody asked him to do anything, the widow did not say anything to Him. Nobody asked anything. And Jesus did not ask anything, like, “Do you believe?” or anything else. So without asking anybody Jesus is acting. He goes there and He touches the dead body. You must remember that according to the Old Testament, if you touch a dead body then you will become unclean. But Jesus is life itself. Not only does he not become unclean himself, but he gives life to the woman’s son. And even deeper than this touching is when the Holy Communion touches our lips and enters inside us. It is the touch of life.
And then without praying he says to the child, He says, “I say to you, rise” This is because in the Bible Jesus is sometimes acting as God and sometimes as a human being. And because of the hypostatic union, it is one person, one hypostasis, the Son of God with two natures but one hypostasis. A miracle happens: the young person gets up and he can speak to his mother.
The Gospel does not tell us what happened later, how the widow was happy, what happened to the young person; it does not tell us this. But it says that there was too much fear for the followers, which is not a bad fear, it is a fear of God, a deep respect. It is not the fear that we might have of ghosts, but it is the fear of God, which is a very deep respect. In front of the ultimate love of God, we feel like this [showing hands trembling]; it is unspeakable.
Of course somebody might ask why did Jesus allow this son of the woman to die, why did God allow her husband to die. And if we go more, we will say why will He allow me to die? The answer here is not easy because we must think about what is life and what is death. We must understand that God did not give death. This is very, very important in the Orthodox way of thinking. The Western way of thinking, a psychologically sick way of thinking, created a God who is a monster and who punished human beings by death. This is totally wrong. Even in the Old Testament, in the “Wisdom of Sirah,” it is written that God did not give death.
But death entered, as we know from the Old Testament, from a murder. What murder? It was a brother killing his brother. So, as Apostle Paul says in Romans 5:12, which is very misunderstood, from one man, from the sin came the death like germs. And then death entered like a disease into all the human beings, entered into our DNA. So we inherit this death. We don’t incur the sin of Adam but we are sick; sin is sickness. So it’s the devil, and of course Cain who accepted killing his brother, and from this came all these things.
Don’t forget, who made the first human town in the Old Testament? It was Cain and it is a very deep philosophical idea that our towns and our civilization are built on a murder. We try to take out death but death does not come out, and hear in the Gospel they are carrying the dead out of the town. But somebody could ask, “Why did God not stop this?”
But this goes to another question. Suppose God were to make us live forever as we are now? But if we lived forever, look at our passions, I hate you, you hate another, and so on, and if it went on forever wouldn’t this be a hell? Yes this is a hell. This is why the Devil does not die. Angels also do not die. It is a gift of God because only God is immortal, but as a gift of God that they don’t die. But this is why they are devils – because they fight each other and they fight us. It is life: it is not to live biologically forever, but to live in communion with life. Our church celebrates the Holy Trinity. God is life, and God is life because he exists as coexistence. In the Holy Trinity if the Father does not exist or the Son does not exist, then God does not exist.
So, what is life? It is not a biological continuation of my DNA and all my cells under one name called Father Jonah; it is to live because you live. And this, the life that is lived without being shared, the individual life is already death.
So the devil in his hating people was happy. He could say, “Now I made them to die. I want to exterminate them as human beings.” But God has another plan, and He uses this to say that we cannot be bad forever. For God there is not death. This is why Jesus said that God is the God of Abraham and the God of Jacob. People said to Him that those prophets were dead. But He said to them that God is not a God of the dead, but of the living, because we don’t die completely. The love of God does not allow me to die totally, but something remains that in the Christian way, not the Platonic, we call the soul.
And yes, Jesus finally beat death and stopped death, When? By His Cross and by His Resurrection and by His Ascension, which why we refer to it not as death but as sleep. And the word cemetery is a Greek word that means place of sleep, especially if teacher comes into a classroom and everybody is sleeping he will call it a cemetery. Nobody thinks it is a place where people are buried, but people are not paying attention, or if the teacher is a very bad teacher.
But you will say to me, “Why do we die?” And you can ask this because in the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “He who believes in me will never taste of death.” And in the original he said the he who believed in him “met evangelicum,” went from death to life. Because the real life is Jesus Christ, it is the coexistence in the Church with God and with the others. And Jesus allowed death for a while to train us a little bit. And yes we expect, we live in the Liturgy, we expect the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And we already taste this in the Liturgy, which is why everything in the Liturgy is a copy of the Liturgy of Heaven. It is the Second Coming. We don’t celebrate the past, but the future.
God allows us not only to be united in this life with the others, but even more than that and most highly, by the Holy Communion, and even when my body is dissolved, to be united with all of nature and to have this union. Once more I say to you that life is not individuality, the preservation of this existence, but for this existence to live because of you because I live in relationship with you, and of course, with God.
Obviously Adam knew something about this. Why? Because when God told him, “If you eat from this tree you will die,” he did not ask God, “What is death? I don’t know.” Obviously he knew, or had some idea, that life is coexistence with God and with his wife and with the animals and with everything; this is life. So, try to understand what is life because the way we are living can actually be death. You can see so many movies today that seem to like death, with vampires and so on, which means that human beings are attracted to death.
And it is also that there is salvation. What is salvation? It is this love, but it is not automatic. We focus on Paul and I will not say much more about the Epistle for today that he went to the heavens, and the heavens are not there are different floors. Saint Simeon the Theologian says that till the Third Heaven is a mystery of the Holy Trinity. But even Paul says that he sees inside himself another law, which is to do what he doesn’t want, which is the law of the devil to sin.
So we understand something today: that when there is pain, Jesus is there. And that in the Church there is no death and that real life is coexistence and love, this is life. May the Holy Trinity protect all of us.
Recorder: Prof. Baker