This Homily was offered by Dn. Michael Schlaack on the Feast Day of Prophet Jonah
The glory of God is often revealed to us through our small acts of faithful obedience. It is not always the big, daring, or complicated acts that bring us to a greater understanding of God and His plan for our life. Sometimes it could be a simple act of faithful obedience—maybe even while performing our normal jobs—that helps to open our eyes, so we can see the Savior Who was always before us. The lesson today deals with an important aspect of Christianity: Faithful obedience in even the smallest things will lead to greater glory.
Our lesson in St. Luke’s account opens with a scene that is repeated throughout the Gospels: Jesus teaching the multitude. As was so often the case when Jesus taught, the crowd pressed Him to the point where He asked Simon Peter to take Him out a little way from the shore so that Jesus could continue His teaching. The Gospel does not record exactly what Jesus spoke about, but at the end of the lesson, Jesus instructed Simon to go out deeper and drop the nets into the water. Jesus was going to demonstrate to the people the power of God while providing a clear illustration for His future disciples.
The Holy Spirit who dwells within us is the one who prays, since we say at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, “O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, come and abide in us…” That is, we address Him by the power that He has sent down to us. He is the one who changes us from one state to another and lifts our soul to prayer.
You have stripped your soul of its lusts and caprices and made it a dwelling-place of God. He moves us to Himself, as though God in prayer addresses Himself. The Lord enters into you with the Holy Spirit. He strips your soul of its lusts and makes it capable of talking to Him. When you address the Holy Spirit at the beginning of every prayer, “O Heavenly King, the Comforter…” the spirit of evil flees from you and the Spirit of Christ dwells within you and raises you up. You have no more words because Christ’s words come down to you and Christ addresses Himself within you and by this you become Christ Himself.
Nothing exists in general. If something is beautiful or good, it is manifest in a particular way at a particular time such that we can know it. And this is our true life. A life lived in a “generalized” manner is no life at all, but only a fantasy. However, this fantasy is increasingly the character of what most people think of or describe as the “real world.”
A monk lives in a monastery. He rises early in the morning and prays. He concentrates his mind in his heart and dwells in the presence of God. He will offer prayers for those who have requested it. He will eat and tend to the work assigned for him to do. And so he lives his day. He works. He prays.
And someone will say, “But what does he know about the real world?” But what can they possibly mean? He walks on the earth. He breathes the same air as we do. He eats as we do and sleeps as we do. How is his world any less real than that of anyone else on the planet?