“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…”
– Acts 3:19-21
Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,
These words above were spoken by the Apostle Peter after he healed a paralytic lying at the door of the temple. As the Apostles had only just been commissioned to preach the Gospel to all the world, Peter stood before the assembly of Israel, holding the hand of the man who had been paralyzed, demonstrating to all the miracles which can be wrought through faith in Christ Jesus.
Although we have been taught from a young age that Jesus heals us, have we stopped to consider what this healing means for us today? Truly, we must always remember that the power of the Holy Spirit is just as active today as He was in Jesus’ time, and that miraculous healings of the body do indeed continue to happen. Even so, according to the Fathers of our Church, the “times of refreshing” which Peter refers to in the Book of Acts have a far greater connotation than simply healing the paralytic, or the blind man, or the leper, or any other exclusively bodily ailment.
To put it in theological terms, since the Fall of Adam and Eve and the entrance of sin into the world, humanity is broken. We are not created to become ill, sick, or even die, but to live in harmony, eternally, with our Creator, as was originally intended. When left to our own devices however, evil flourishes, as is seen in human history and even in the Holy Scriptures. It is only through divine intervention, the breaking of the barrior between God and humanity by God Himself entering created existence, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that God restores humanity. Quite simply, in our Orthodox understanding, God puts our broken heart, mind and soul back together, piece by piece.
When we view our holy Orthodox faith in light of this understanding, then what the Church offers us is made so much clearer. Christ entering our life, first through baptism, but repeatedly every day, is meant to begin this process. The sacraments are offered to us, also, for continual, repeated healing, or “reassembling” of ourselves as human beings. Holy Communion, Holy Unction, the blessing of the waters and of homes each year, the blessings of the grapes, the palms, antidoron and countless other aspects of our lives are brought from the altar and into our homes, our clothing, and our very bodies. We come to the services each week, as well as each year at Holy Week and Pascha, not because it is our duty as Christians, but because we celebrate and rejoice in the restorative power of our Lord.
Our Church knows that a man cannot reassemble himself any more than a broken glass can. Let us be mindful and grateful for this incredible gift, that our Lord has not abandoned us in our misery and pain, but is with us through our struggles, always connecting and reconnecting us through His Church.
May that same God continue to bless each of us, our families, our homes, our parish and all our communities.
With love in Christ,
Father Niko Bekris