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Private Confession: By Appointment

Cataract Surgery

June 5, 2021 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
June 6, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Pentecost 3
Cataract Surgery

Then his mother and brothers stood outside and sent word to call him out. And the crowd sitting around him said, "Behold! Your mother and your brothers are asking for you outside." And he answered them and said, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” And gazing upon those seated around him he said, "Behold! My mother and my brothers!" For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and my sister and my mother." (Mark 3:20-35)

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When the Serpent set out to desecrate God’s holy creation he went right to the heart of the matter. He knew where to bury his slimy, glittering fang to do the most damage.

God decreed that should our First Parents eat of the forbidden tree they would surely die, but they did not. Indeed, ever after the deadly venom of sin infected them, and they were expelled from paradise, the vitality of human life remained for a very long time.

Adam lived to be 930 years old. One of his progeny, Methuselah, lived to be 969: the oldest recorded man in Scripture. Noah started to build the ark at 500 years of age, but after the flood a new era began and man wore out much sooner.

But even so Abraham lived to be 175, and Moses 120 with Scripture noting that: his (Moses’) natural power was unabated, and his eyes undimmed. (Deut. 34:7)

Yes, when the Ancient Serpent captured the woman, and her husband he knew where to attack. He did not attack their bodies but their will; and with the will compromised they were putty in his bloody hands.

They developed spiritual cataracts. Now they saw nothing aright. Now navigating their way through life in a sinful world was like looking through the coke bottles; and so they conformed the world, their behavior and institutions to things as they understood them.

And if you wonder why this is still the case today: why our laws, our affections, our judgments, our decisions and our “preferences” are so flawed, so obviously self-destructive and destructive of one another – that is the reason.

And if you want to know why some of us know it, and some do not, it is only because believers in Christ are flying by “instrument” and not by sight. As Blessed Scripture states, “We walk by faith and not by sight.” And again, “We believe, and therefore we speak.”

The world is blind, living in thick darkness, blacker than a hundred midnights down in a cypress swamp. Even the baptized sometimes cave because the Flesh, can mistake Beelzebub for the Holy Spirit.

Don’t do that!

For the Spirit is the Lord and Giver of Life who knows all things, and teaches all things. Who leads, speaks, sends, illumines, gives life, or said better he himself IS light and life. He makes us his temple, he sanctifies us, restores and replaces the Divine will that was rendered inoperable at the Fall.

St. Paul says this: “ … if our gospel is veiled it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.” (2 Corinthians 4:3

Are you thus blinded? If so you’re in the right place because the church performs cataract surgery every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. – pre-op begins at 9:00.

Someone must be the world’s eyes, but if not the church who?

Without us the best the world can do is re-arrange the darkness. But with an eagle eye like St. Steven the church’s first martyr had, our eyes pierce right through the darkness to the glory of Christ at God’s right hand; and through our “light and momentary burdens, which are preparing a weight of eternal glory for us.”

And so take heart!

Lift up your heads ye mighty gates,
Behold! the King of glory waits.

Yes, it is only when we are willing to lay aside our pride, and acknowledge how deep the wound is, how deep the shank is that the Ancient Serpent lodged into our Mother and Father, that everything becomes clear.

Then we understand why no one “gets” Jesus, or what he is doing in today’s gospel.

In its opening chapters he himself is filled with the Holy Spirit at baptism; and performs sterling miracles, and desperate people find salvation! Not temporary or passing, but complete and everlasting.

Those willing to have Jesus absolve them, and heal their diseases, see him for who he is – the One who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and with Fire.

He forgives the sins of life-long paralytics, and enables them to pick up their stretchers and walk. He calls tax collectors, and other notorious sinners to himself and does what is most intimate – he eats with them. Shares meals with them where he is both host and Bread. He calls disciples to himself and ordains them, even one who would later betray him.

But if we were to summarize what Jesus does he removes the stinger of sin from us. He deports demons including the unclean ones that have got such death-grip of people today; filling their minds and computer screens with images of every imaginable sexual degradation and deviation.

But as Philip Doddridge taught us to sing:

“He comes, from thickest films of vice
to clear the mental ray,
and on the eyeballs of the blind
to pour celestial day.” (TLH #66)

But no one seemed to understand what Jesus was doing.

His hometown people think that he is insane and set out to lock him in the attic.

The Scribes traveled all the way from Jerusalem in order to accuse him of expelling demons by the power of the demons themselves. Talk about mixed up!

But the Lord does not get angry.

He knows how blind we are, and how the poison of sin has saturated our entire person: body, soul, spirit, mind, heart, intellect and will. And how we are like frantic drug addicts: shaking, sweating, trembling and tremoring till our next dose of sin – even though each one brings less pleasure; and more horror.

But the Lord binds the Strong Man with chains of Holy Wisdom, and then plunders his goods (we are those goods) by the use of four, one-line parables which make the scales fall off.

"How can Satan cast out Satan?"

“If a kingdom is divided against itself how can that kingdom stand?"

"If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand."

"If Satan rebels against himself, and is divided, he cannot last, but is coming to an end."

But even now some film remains. His mother, brothers and sisters stand OUTSIDE the house where Jesus is, instead “sitting around him” under his Blessed Gaze; and even some of those in the house, for a moment, wonder if the Lord’s blood relatives should not be given preference.

But it isn’t that type of blood that helps anyone, but there is another kind that does. The holy, innocent blood of Jesus spilt on the cross that purifies us from every sin. This was the Lord’s true weapon.

His wisdom, parables, miracles and the Strong Abode he makes his church to be are all powered by divine blood. The blood of the Cross. His suffering and death on our behalf. And his death-defying resurrection!

That is the blood that renders us Jesus’ mother and brother and sister.

The blood that is sprinkled on us in baptism.

The blood we share at his altar.

The blood that removes the sting of sin; takes away our cataracts; gives us clear vision; and pardons all of our blasphemies.

No one is beyond salvation!

Now, Beloved, we can see clearly.

Now let us renounce the devil; his evil works and his evil ways, and do the will of God each day, unto the ages of ages. Amen.