Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My
The true meaning of healing
entry 935 | Monday, October 31, 2005
This weekend I had
an opportunity to sit under teaching by one of the top orthodox theologians of
our time, the Rev. Thomas Hopko, recently retired professor of dogmatic theology
at St. Vladimir's Theological Seminary, Crestwood, New York. His lectures were
so dense (meaning packed with thought-provoking assertions and ideas) that I'm
eager to get hold of the CDs of the conference so I can "mine" them
more thoroughly. But for today I want to dig up several of the more mind-expanding
nuggets and highlights of the conference.
The theme of the
conference was "Christ the Healer," and early in its unfolding Fr. Thomas
quipped that "whatever the topic is, I always say the same things,"
by which he was affirming that the truth is always the truth and that it inevitably
crops up in similar, if not identical, patterns regardless of how you approach
it. One of the most fascinating aspects of the lectures was the new ways in which
he enabled his audiences to perceive familiar concepts. Though "healing"
was the recurring motif, the surprising truth was that although Christ went about
healing, and the Apostles did also, the overarching message of the New Testament
is that it is in suffering, not well-being, that salvation is won. Although Paul
could have boasted of having been in the presence of Christ in a transposition
into the heavenly realm, he chose to boast of his sufferings for the sake of the
message of the Gospel rather than anything more spectacular.
Tom, as his audiences quickly come to know him, made a connection between two
"Lazaruses" mentioned in the New Testament, a connection that had never
occured to me before. The first Lazarus appears in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter
16, in one of Jesus' parables, where Lazarus is the name of a poor beggar who
asks for alms at the gate of a rich man. Both the rich man and poor Lazarus die
and while they are awaiting the judgment and their final destination, it is already
apparent where both are headed. The beggar Lazarus is in the bosom of Abraham
where he is being comforted, and the rich man is in the depth of the pit, close
to hell, where he is already tormented for having failed to keep God's commandments.
The rich man pleads with "Father Abraham": "I beg you, father,
send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them,
so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' Abraham replied, 'They
have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' 'No, father Abraham,' he
said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' [Abraham]
said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be
convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"
Lazarus we meet in the New Testament is in John's Gospel, Chapters 11 and 12.
He is a follower of Jesus who, with his sisters Mary and Martha, is beloved by
Jesus. But Lazarus takes ill and dies, despite the fact that members of Jesus'
immediate circle had pled with Him to go to Lazarus and heal him before he died.
Jesus gets to Bethany, two miles away, to find Lazarus already in his tomb, and
his body already emitting a fowl odor, and though He weeps for Lazarus' death,
he also says this is for the glory of God. And, saying "I am the resurrection
and the Life," he raises Lazarus from the dead and he rejoins his sisters
and the other disciples. There is more "plot development" here but the
surprising point Fr. Tom made was that Lazarus's resurrection proved the point
of Jesus' earlier parable in which another Lazarus was not
sent back to the living to warn the rich man's brothers because, as Jesus said:
"If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced
even if someone rises from the dead." And when this Lazarus was raised from
the dead, the climax of the story is these words: "from that day on they
plotted to take his [Jesus'] life."
We often concentrate
on the miracles of Jesus as proving His Messiahship, but the main point of the
Gospels is that even these did not convince any of those who were unwilling to
believe. Even His own resurrection, which we often argue is the surpreme evidence
of His Godhead, even that didn't convince most of those who saw Him and knew of
His teaching in His own generation. It is by His suffering, by His "stripes"
(the marks of the lashes He withstood on the way to the Cross) that we are healed.
to the Nanty Glo Home
Gallery: Fire Week and Tom Waltz tribute
in the Valley
Funny words of wisdom
Children: You spend the first two years of their life
teaching them to walk and talk. Then you spend the next 16 years telling them
to sit down and shut-up.
Sent by Trudy Myers
Thought for today
speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared
hearer. Robert Louis Stevenson (Scottish author
[Treasure Island, Kidnapped] 1850-1894)
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