Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Reading the signs of the time (John, 5:4-42)

12 May 1974
Theme: Role of Laity, The Church and the world   Place: London Parish   Period: 1976-1980   Genre: Sermon

In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

In today’s Gospel, Christ advises His disciples to learn to read the signs of the times. Can we read the signs of the times? Have we received this message, this calling compelling us to look at what the times say to us?

Our times say something which is very worrying; while centuries back the Christian Church proclaimed its message in a credible, acceptable way, while people /who/ (?) heard the message did receive it and believed it, it seems that our message reaches only the few. It is not because the truth has changed, or because we must preach another Gospel than the integrity of the Gospel of Christ. Is it not because it is the one who preaches who carries the victory, not only the words? Saint John the Ladderer, St John Climacus says that the word of God is like a straight and pointed arrow, it can fly straight to its goal, it can hit the target, it can pierce any thickness and any resistance. But Saint John tells us also that the arrow will remain useless and dormant unless there is an arm, a bow, a string, an eye, unless there is an eye to aim the shaft, unless there is a vigorous arm to send it flying.

The arrow straight and pointed is God’s message which we are to deliver to the whole world that it may be saved, as straight as the integrity of the Gospel — but have we got all God needs from us for this arrow to fly and hit the target? Is it not that the word of God remains unconvincing because looking at us people see no evidence that it has any power to transform life?

And here, we must read the signs of the times. The times, the people around us, the world is standing in judgement over us. Why is it that words of truth do not sound true? Why is it that words of life do not convey and impart life? Because we have not been hit in such a way as to possess life as to be able to proclaim truth.

I would like to leave this thought with you, and each of us can ask himself what is the message he received from the Gospel, what is the life he had derived from it? What is the truth that has become the truth of his life? And only then can our message convey to men what God had imparted to us and commanded us to carry. Amen.

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