10th Sunday after Pentecost


The Exorcism 


the Lunatic Son

Matthew 17:14-23And when they were come to the multitude, there came to
him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, {15} Lord, have
mercy on my son: for he is a lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he
falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. {16} And I brought him to
thy disciples, and they could not cure him. {17} Then Jesus answered and
said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?
how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. {18} And Jesus
rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured
from that very hour. {19} Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and
said, Why could not we cast him out? {20} And Jesus said unto them,
Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as
a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence
to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible
unto you. {21} Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and
fasting. {22} And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The
Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: {23} And they shall
kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were
exceeding sorry.


In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Today is the 10th Sunday after Pentecost.  We read this poignant story 
about the exorcism of the son who is a lunatic.  And really this story
is  an example of opposite of the things which lead to depravity, to
exile  from God and the things which we must do in order to save our
souls.  You  have to dig a little bit, but really this is sort of, in
microcosm, how  not to live and how to live the Christian life.  

Now this man brings his son to Christ, calls him a lunatic, that means 
that he believed that the boy had some sort of affliction that came
about  with the moon, especially when the moon was full or when it was
waxing  full there would be problems with the boy.  And so they thought
it was  because of the moon.  Actually, it was because of the demon.  So
he fell  into the fire and into the water.  And this fire and water
signifies  something.  First, I should tell you, when you read the
Scriptures and you  read 'lunatic', you should subsitute yourself.  Not
that we're crazy  people and we jump into fire and water in a literal
sense, but in the  Scriptures it's always most beneficial to the soul,
when you see people  that are depraved, this should remind you of your
own depravity.  When you  see people that are showing great faith, great
holiness, like we recently  talked about St. Elias (St. Elijah), you
should wonder in yourself how it  is that you can come to have that
virtue.  You shouldn't try to  appropriate that virtue and say, you
know, "I'm like that." Indeed, in  this boy that is a lunatic, I think
anyone who's honest can see echoes of  this boy in themselves.  And how
so?  Because the fire that he goes into,  the Fathers teach us, indicate
lust, hot passions, desires that are  unbecoming to men,
acquisitiveness, that sort of thing that is, very hot  passions.  And
then, what is water?  Well, the water is just to be kind  of, like St.
Theophylact says, to be washed in the pounding surf of  worldly cares. 
That water, I think, is actually more dangerous than the  fire.  First
of all, there's a whole lot more water than there is fire,  isn't there?
 And we find ourselves constantly being distracted by the world.  So,
we're just like the lunatic.  

Now, the boy had more external indicators that there was something
wrong.   We just have difficulties in our life, often bear very little
fruit and  often feel very despondent about our lives.  It's because we
have  difficulties that we have to come to grips with, just like the man
brought  his boy to Christ.  So, Christ says something very, very funny.
At least,  it sounds funny to my ears.  The man brings his boy and
obviously he's  probably crying when he brings his son.  And anyone with
a heart would  think, "the poor man.", try to comfort him.  Christ
immediately says, "O  faithless and perverse generation.  How long shall
I be with you?"  This  is another indicator of what we should not do. 
And what causes our ills?   Being faithless, and being perverse.  We
tend to think of perversity as  only the most gross of sins, especially
of a sexual nature.  Perversity is  when we turn from God.  Perversity
is when we prefer our will to God's,  when we live according to our own
way instead of the way that we're taught  by the Holy Spirit.  What he's
saying here, if you couple to two, the  lunatic and this statement about
faithlessness and perversity, we bring  these things upon ourselves by
our own actions, by our own faithlessness,  by our sins.  These are
sins, I'm saying, that we're not repenting from,  because God cleanses
sins that we repent from instantaneously.  And he  blots them out as far
as the east is from the west.  It is the things that  we live with and
we kind of tuck them under our pillow, the things that  are dear to
us-those are the things that are causing us so much ill and so  much
harm.  And so He also makes a, parenthetically, I tell you, when He 
says, "How long shall I be with you?" Christ is referring to Himself
going  to the Cross very soon. And this happened just before He went to
the Cross  and really it's sort of like a dark indicator, sort of a
prophecy, 'I'm  going to be leaving soon.'  But the people, of course,
take it as, and we  should also, 'How long will God be patient with us?'
 We should, indeed,  endeavor to not try God's patience. 

And so the boy is exorcised by Christ instantaneously.  And in another 
account, actually, accounted in three Gospels, the boy goes into a
seizure  and falls to the ground wallowing and appears to be dead.  But
Christ  takes him and raises him up.  Now, there's another indicator of
how we  should live.  When we are raised up, when we are cured of our
ills by  Christ, He's going to take us by the hand.  He's going to raise
us up.   We're responsible for standing.  He's not going to take us up
by the  armpits and hold us up like so.  He's gonna take us by one arm
and He's  going to raise us up.  This means our will must participate in
our  salvation.  The lunatic, the poor boy, he could not help himself. 
But  when the demon was removed, then Christ required of him something. 
Required of him to live according to what he'd just been given.  In a 
small way it is indicated here.  But it's very important not to miss

When God gives you grace, when God helps you with your sins, to
eradicate  them, you must rise.  The Christian life must be a continual
process of  rising, continual ascending.  We have the Ladder of Divine
Ascent in the  Church.  I'm very glad we do.  It's over there by the
chanter's stand.   This is an indicator of how our life should be,
continually walking up the  ladder of virtues, sometimes crawling,
admittedly, sometimes holding onto  the ladder when it's swaying in the
wind, but always ascending.  This is  how it should be for us.  And if
even at the very near top of the ladder,  if we lose our perspective,
then we can fall off this ladder and lose our  souls.  It's very easy
though. Christ is continually extending a hand,  saying, 'Rise.'  All we
need to do is take His hand and rise.  And how do  we rise? By doing
what he's told us to do.  It's really quite simple.  The  Christian life
is quite simple and I hope that you can have some hope in  your heart.
If you have things that are like the lunatic boy, things that  you can't
quite conquer, things that you're not really able to conquer,  just like
this boy was unable to conquer, Christ will raise you up or He  will
heal you, but then you must participate, after the healing, in  walking
in the light that He's given.    

So, it should give you hope, but also, you have to play by the rules.
The  rules are, as God reveals Himself to you, you must become more like
 Christ.  But God so quickly heals.  This boy had been afflicted for how
 many years?  And his father had gone through how many cycles of the
moon  where he would wonder of his son would live another day, bandaging
his  wounds from his burns, fishing him out of the water, the poor man
and the  poor boy?  Because it was , the boy was sensible
some of the  time.  What a terrible thing to be sensible some of the
time and to know  that you're going to approach another period when you
will be beside  yourself and unable to control yourself.  But the boy is
brought to Christ  and He heals him immediately, like a flash of
lightning.  Well, this is  really the way it is for us.  It might be a
long process in getting to  Christ and being prepared for His healing,
but when a man repents, he  forgets immediately.  And he gets strength
immediately so that He can give  a command, 'Arise' and we will be
capable of fulfilling that command.  I  want to make it perfectly clear
to you, when God tells you to do something  He gives you the ability to
do it.  So all of the commandments that He has  given we are able to
follow.  We just must continue in the life that He's  given.  

Now, another example of something just a little later on, when Christ 
explains to His disciples of how to live, is we must have faith.  It's a
 difficult thing when we see in our own lives things that are like the 
lunatic. It's a difficult thing to have faith about our own afflictions.
I  think it's easier sometimes to have faith about other people's 
afflictions.  I find that even as a priest.  I'm more sure that you're 
going to get better than I am about myself.  But that's wrong to feel.
We  must have small faith, like the mustard seed, little tiny seed.  But
you  know how you release the pungency of a mustard seed? What do you
have to  do?  You have to crush it.  You have to grind it.  Well, this
is what's  going to happen to us. For our faith to become a big tree so
that the  birds can all alight in the branches and be string against the
winds and  the storms.  There going to have to be some crushing, some
grinding going  on.  That's what's happening in our life right now.  So,
take heart.  The  difficulties that you're having in your life right
now.  Are actually  releasing the pungency of faith, if you allow them
to do that. If you just  see them as an example that you're never going
to get anywhere, or as an  example that God has abandoned you, then they
won't have their effect.   Let them have their effect.  Let this
grinding and crushing that goes on  in our life bring us to fullness in
Christ, to maturity in Christ to be a  big tree from a little mustard

So, if you have any lunatic in you, and I don't say that in a joking 
manner, we all have a little bit of lunatic in us, go to Christ.  Beg
Him  to help you.  And listen carefully now, because He's going to help
you and  then He's going to say 'Arise.'  He's going to say, 'Walk in
the light  I've given you.' We must listen.  It's going to be a very,
very quiet  voice just like the quiet voice that St. Elijah heard in the
cave-not in  the wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire-but in the
still, small  voice.  Listen carefully and then follow this voice and


May God help you to rise as He heals you more and more in your life and 
you become full of Christ, full of joy.  May God help you in all things.

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 The following sermon was transcribed from one given Aug 11/26. 1997,
the 10th Sunday after Pentecost. The usual readings for this day are 1
Cor 4:9-16 and Matthew 17:14-23  (The exorcism of the son who was a

The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

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The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Exorcism of the Lunatic Son

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