The story of Christianity, the history of the Christian faith,
the spread of the Church, is not simply a story about Jesus the son of God. Christianity is ultimately the story about lives that have been changed and people that have been redeemed by entering in to the life of the Son of God and His Father through the Holy Spirit. That is why the Lord Jesus died…..not for Himself but for us!
In this the 6th and final Sunday of Great and Holy Lent we are given great proof of what I have just mentioned, that Christianity is really about people being forgiven, saved, redeemed, and sanctified. Today we remember the great Saint Mary of Egypt. I highly recommend that you google her name when you get home and read her life story which has been preserved for many centuries for us.
In the early life of this woman we see nearly everything that is wrong with humanity embodied within her. Even as a young girl she was rebellious and disobedient to her parents, and sadly that did not change as she grew up. She was consumed by the pleasures of the flesh, in fact we are told that she was a sex addict. In every way possible she was a sinner. A woman completely consumed by the life of rebellion from God. She seemed to enjoy her life but of course we know that people with addiction don’t really have a great life, they have addictions because they struggle to find satisfaction in any possible material thing. For some they become addicted to booze and drugs and for others its lust for power or wealth or the pleasures of the flesh.
She seemed to enjoy her life until the moment that she tried to enter into the church. When she tried to enter the church she felt a great force pushing against her and keeping her from entering. Try as she might she could not enter no matter what. It was only at this moment, a few feet from the entrance to the church that her senses started to come to her. That she realized that she was being kept out of the church because of her life of reckless sin. What happens next is a complete and utter miracle. The one thing she had always despised became the one needful thing. The God whom she had spent her life running away from, was the God whom she desperately sought with all her strength. This woman was loosed of her sins through baptism and holy communion and we see that by the grace of God she changes completely and profoundly from the woman addicted to sin into a great woman of prayer. She became a woman of God.
The Church reminds us today that even at this late stage of the journey, in the sixth week of Lent, we are still never very far from God. No matter how we have struggled or how we have slacked over the course of the last five weeks, we are still not far from God. Even after all this time fasting and participating in extra prayers we may still find ourselves losing our patience with others and judging others. We may find that we are still reckless with our words, our thoughts and our eyes. We may find that upon close examination we are really quite similar to Mary before she converted.
Her story is a reminder that no matter where you are, God is right behind you. Repentance is always open to each and every human, even those whom we despise or think of as great villains. Repentance is the envelope which leads to an open invitation to life with Christ. Don’t ever think that someone is too evil to be saved, or that some are born to be condemned. That is silliness, not Scripture. We are taught that Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6) and that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). The Apostle Paul writes “(God) desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). It was God’s desire to see Mary’s life redeemed and saved. It was God’s desire to see her transformed into a saint and a daughter of God.
If God desired that for a woman like Mary, imagine what God desires for you and your life! God can become a real presence in our lives at the very moment that we submit our lives to Him. He doesn’t want us to submit only the bright and shiny and beautiful part of our lives. He wants us to submit the stuff that we’re hiding away from the world. He wants us to submit the good, the bad and the ugly because He alone knows how ugly we really are and He alone provides us with powerful remedies for our life of sin. To some the remedy was something in the past accomplished by the Lord Jesus from the cross. For us it is the work of the cross which continues by the grace of the Holy Spirit that works through the life of the Church.
In a way it is necessary for each and every human being to feel that they are worse than Mary of Egypt. Her broken heart led her to submit her very brokenness to Christ. Are we there yet? Are we broken-hearted like Mary or are we proud of who we are and all that we have accomplished? Today we are reminded of the words of the proverbs… “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34).
No matter what you did during the last five weeks, come to Him now in complete humility and He will continue His story by changing your life and your history, just as He did for a woman named Mary. Glory be to God Forever AMEN.
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark 10:32-45
Questions or Comments? Please leave them below!