Word of the Month

Not gold, not silver but freedom!

June 2007

I recently read about a wonderful occurrence from the time of the Lord Jesus. A boy suffering from seizures was brought to Jesus. As soon as the father and the boy had come close to Jesus, a fit seized the boy and he fell down on the ground and began to convulse. At Jesus’ healing word the boy finally lay motionless. Those who stood around thought he was dead. But Jesus took the boy by the hand and helped him to get up. The boy was able to stand (cf. Mark 9: 17-30).

In the spiritual sense many souls find themselves on the ground as though dead. Perhaps their faith has dwindled. Perhaps they lack peace of heart, joy, and hope, and feel bound by their misdeeds. But then the Lord comes with His offer of grace and takes them by the hand and lifts them up.

Let us allow the Lord to lift us up, for then we will receive strength and courage, and our soul will be filled with peace and joy. Equipped with this power and its related effects, we can carry on, just as that boy did after the Lord lifted him up. This can occur in every divine service. Let us take the hand the Lord extends to us in the divine services whenever we feel at a loss, or defeated and “on the ground”. He wishes to lift us up.

But this message also applies on another level. In the realms of the beyond there are many who – figuratively speaking – are as though dead. They lack strength, faith, hope, peace, and joy. Perhaps they are bound by spirits whom they have served in their lives. Let us extend our hands to them in faith, and take them by the hand so that they too can rise. Let us be there for all who have entered the beyond: those whom we knew, our ancestors, those who have lost their lives in accidents. They are all to receive strength and be led to the altar where they can receive the sacraments.

On one occasion Apostles Peter and John encountered a lame man lying by the door of the temple. He was waiting for them to give him alms. Then Apostle Peter looked at him and said: “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I will give you.” And then, in the name of Jesus, he proceeded to heal him, take him by the hand, and lift him up. And from then on, this lame man was able to walk (cf. Acts 3: 1-11).

Let us approach the spiritually lame and destitute in the beyond in similar fashion, and tell them: “The wrongs committed while you were on earth we cannot undo. They will remain wrong. But we would like you to be led out of your realm. And so we will give you what we have, namely a heart full of compassion and strength of faith.” Thus the same kind of miracle can occur through us: such souls can be lifted up and liberated from their sufferings.

Naturally we cannot do this out of our own power – even if we are full of compassion and strong in faith! This must be backed up by the power of the Lord. But then every prayer we utter will serve as a hand extended to each such poor soul. Then they too can be lifted up and move forward. They do not need to remain bowed down on the ground!

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)