Sermon on the passage from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew 9:27-35
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
Last week I talked about how Jesus, as the True and Good Shepherd, knows us by name. This implies that He knows us as intimately as possible. In the times of Jesus people did not simply give away their names because, after everything is taken away from a person, name is one of the few personal things that remains.
I also talked about prayer, or more specifically, silent prayer. It’s when we stop asking God for all the things we want, when we stop telling Him Who He is, and give ourselves an opportunity to simply spend some time in His presence, in silence.
The point of this prayerful silence was that we constantly talk to God, without giving Him space and time to respond. Prayerful silence is when we become aware of ourselves, of our surroundings, and of the presence of Christ because He is everywhere present.
Who tried spending some time in prayerful silence this past week?
I did. And, boy, was it hard. I couldn’t even spend three minutes without asking God for something, or thinking about what I might do next, or what I have not yet done. The struggle was to keep the mind clear and focused, and be aware that we are always in the presence of Christ.
Today, I would like to continue talking about prayer and names. As I said, Christ knows each of us by name, He knows who we are, He knows what we are all about. But the question is – do we know Him, do we know His name?
I’ll give you a hint, Jesus Christ has many names, do we know at least one of them? And more importantly, what that name means?
We don’t really have a problem with names … of other people, of people we don’t know and have no way of knowing. For example, very likely we know the names of all or most presidential candidates. What for? We know they lie, we know they promise things they can’t fulfill.
We know the names of many celebrities and athletes, past and present. Again, what for? They can’t make our life any better or worse. Actually they can, we pay to go see them, so they make money in our wallets disappear.
So, we have no problem knowing the names of the “famous” people, who are complete strangers to us, because we take time to learn their names, to learn what they are all about. Yet the names of God, if we had to give at least three of them, we probably would stumble and fumble (including me).
But don’t worry. We’ll look at two of the names today, in order to have a better knowledge of God and have a closer relationship with Him – one of the names of Christ and one of the names of God, which Christ Himself has given us.
In today’s Gospel lesson, we heard two blind men, walking after Jesus, and yelling, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” Even though, they were blind, they knew His name! Son of David. This implies that they knew the prophecies about the Messiah, and that they recognized, again being blind, in the person of Jesus the promised Messiah.
The prophecies of the Old Testament spoke about the Messiah being the descendant of King David. Because of David’s righteousness, God assured him that He will keep all His promises and save His people, and the Savior was to come from David’s line. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy by having an earthly mother and a stepfather who were descendants of David.
Therefore, when we pray, we can call Christ the Son of David because that’s one of His names. And by calling Him the Son of David, we acknowledge Him to be our Savior as well. And now we know Him a little better.
But one of the most intimate names that we call God, we already know, without knowing how deep it is. When His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, Christ said, “When you pray, pray like this, ‘Our Father, Who art in Heaven…’”
He told us that we can call God Father. And this is significant because we wouldn’t just come up to anyone and call them father. And the word that Jesus used for father is not a formal title, but in Aramaic, in the language that He spoke, Jesus said to call God Abba, which is better translated as daddy, papa.
So, when we pray, “Our Father…” what we are saying is, “Our Daddy, our Papa, Who art in Heaven…” And who can call a man daddy or papa? Only his child, only someone who is part of him, someone who is part of his family, someone who knows him intimately.
Without realizing it, we’ve been calling God by one of the most intimate names that we can call Him.
So, if you are struggling with your personal prayer life (I have these struggles almost daily), try to do at least the two things we spoke about last week and today – spend a few minutes in prayerful silence, being fully aware that we are always in the presence of Christ, and pray, “Our Father, our Papa, Who art in Heaven…” with full realization that He is our Father and we are His children. He knows us, like a father knows his child, and we know Him, like children know their father, even if we don’t completely comprehend it.
Grow closer to God, build intimacy with Him, learn His names and what they mean.
To God, our loving Papa, we give glory and thanksgiving, always, and forever and ever.