Over 40 Years Old!

Fr. Barnabas Powell | 23 April 2018

Christ is risen!

It almost seems unbelievable to think that our society could actually get to the place where we say that someone has outlived their “usefulness” and withdraw medical care from them because they aren’t “worth” saving for society. And yet, we are creeping dangerously close to that mindset becoming not just acceptable but applauded! And all of this in the name of “compassion” and “loving.”

So, how did we get here? The path isn’t that new, dear ones. The truth is human societies have been doing this to their elderly for centuries and in all kinds of cultures. It’s only the cultures shaped by the Christian faith that transformed human thinking away from “suffering is useless and bad” to the redemptive power of suffering. So, just because you’re “old” doesn’t mean you’re useless!

Look at our lesson today in Acts 4:13-22:

IN THOSE DAYS, when the Jews saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man that had been healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is manifest to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any one in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people; for all men praised God for what had happened. For the man on whom the sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

The Resurrection of Jesus transformed St. Peter and the other disciples into formidable men. Men who had been considered “common” and “uneducated” are now men that the whole city looks to as authorities and miracle workers. And, of course, this upsets the men who use to be considered the “wise” men of the village. The difference in Peter and company? They had been with Jesus!

You see, a man who was past 40 years old had been healed by the power of the Lord working through Peter, and this had caused quite a stir in the city. After all, the average lifespan of a first-century male was only 40-50 years of age. So, a miracle that healed a man already 40 was not only amazing but flew in the face of any notion that the elderly weren’t worth saving!

The reality of humanity after physical death had been defeated by the Risen Lord inaugurates such a shift in human society as to make each person’s worth clearly beyond measure. It also means that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is beyond the grace of God to use even the most tragic circumstances for God’s glory. Even though this miracle caused such trouble for the powers that be then, it also speaks to us today about the intentions of the all-pervasive Good News of the New World that begins at Christ’s Resurrection.

And this is the world we live in today. We live on the other side of the Resurrection of Jesus with all that this implies. And it is precisely the reason why the Church does all She does to keep us “awake” to just what the Resurrection implies to my everyday life: No pain is meaningless. No life is worthless. No problem or challenge is impossible. No excuse is effective as to why we still live as if Death hasn’t been defeated. All our excuses ring hollow and meaningless in the light of the defeat of death! No wonder the leaders that were trying to deal with St. Peter had to let him go! What can you really do to threaten a man who knows not even physical death is a problem anymore?

Today, is the Resurrection of Jesus really changing your life? Is this reality reordering our priorities and your choices? If not, why not? Perhaps it’s time to stop pretending to be Christian and start being Orthodox on Purpose!

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