The Power of Faith

Teaching on the Fourth Sunday of Pentecost

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The centurion answered and said,
Lord, I am not worthy
that thou shouldest come under my roof:
but speak the word only,
and my servant shall be healed.

(Mt. 8:8)

In the Gospel read today, you have been offered, my brothers, the sacred story of the miraculous healing of the servant of the Roman centurion in Capernaum by Jesus Christ. The servant was healed by one word of the Savior according to the great faith and humble request of the centurion—a pagan, who personally came to the Divine Physician. Lord, the centurion says to Him, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. Jesus says to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion to Him: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For, he continues, I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, the Gospel goes on to say, He marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel, that is, among the Jews. And a little further, the Lord says to him: Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant recovered at that same hour (Mt. 8:5-13).

Happy is the servant who had such a good, kind, believing master! Worthy of all praise is the master who loved his servant as a father and who looked upon Jesus Christ and His works in simplicity of faith! Both now and at the Dread Judgment, at the Second Coming of the Lord, he will serve as a reproof of unbelief and deceit for many, many contemporary Christians who do not believe in the Lord and boldly reject His miracles and His Second Coming, saying: Where is the promise of His coming (2 Pt. 3:4) and of the end of the world (Mt. 24:3)? Or, put another way, supposedly there will be no Second Coming at all. But let us leave aside these stupid and proud unbelievers, and let us speak better about faith—in our edification and salvation—and about how harmful is unbelief, how it repels from us the saving right hand of God.

What exactly will we say about faith now? That faith in the Lord, in His word—living, undoubting faith—is the key to the inexhaustible treasure of all the gifts of God, that it is the life-giving strength given by God to simple, guileless, humble souls, and that it attracts the riches of God’s bounty to them. Let’s demonstrate this with some examples. The example of the Roman centurion is before our eyes: His simple, firm faith in the almighty Jesus Christ caused even the Lord Himself to marvel and immediately attracted the mercy of God to the centurion and his ailing servant: Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour (Mt. 8:13).

Two blind men cry out to Jesus Christ for the healing of their eyes: Thou son of David, have mercy on us. The Lord commands them to be brought to Him and asks them: Believe ye that I am able to do this? And when they answered: Yea, Lord, He healed them, saying: According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened (Mt. 9:27-30).

One day they brought a paralytic to Jesus Christ, and the Lord, seeing the faith of those carrying him, said to the paralytic, according to their faith: Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee… Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house (Mt. 9:2, 6-7).

The Lord healed the woman with the issue of blood, who suffered from her illness for twelve years, according to her faith when she touched His clothes, saying: Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole (Mt. 9:22).

But one day there was a case with the Savior’s disciples: A father had a demon-possessed son and brought him to them for healing, but they couldn’t heal him. Why not? Because of the unbelief of this sick man’s father and of the disciples of Christ. O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?, the Lord said to this father and to those before Him. Bring him hither to Me. And Jesus rebuked him and the demon departed from him, and the boy was healed in that same hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief, and added: Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting (Mt. 17:14-21).

However, the apostles sometimes fell into the temptation of unbelief only before the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them on the day of Pentecost, but after the descent of the Holy Spirit they never again fell into unbelief, but ever had unwavering faith and by it worked innumerable miracles: They healed all sorts of diseases, expelled demons with a word, and raised the dead. The saints of God of ancient and modern times worked countless miracles by faith, as you yourself have heard and read. How many people today have received numerous healings and wonderful deliverance from troubles and misfortunes and from demonic torments according to their faith! How many have been miraculously healed through communion of the life-giving Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ! How many healings have there been and are there from the relics of the saints, or from wonderworking holy icons, or simply from sincere prayer to the Lord and His Most Pure Mother or the saints of God said with faith in repentance?

One pious pastor, a friend of mine, told me candidly that he obtained many wondrous Divine blessings from the Lord and the Most Pure Theotokos by faithful prayer in simplicity of heart for ordinary people who asked for his prayerful help, and as proof he was ready to introduce me personally to all those who were accounted worthy of the merciful visitation of God and were able to testify to the truth of His words with a living voice.

“I,” he said about himself, “am an ordinary mortal, a sinful man, not distinguished from other people by any podvigs: neither fasting, nor all-night standing in prayer; I allow myself to eat and drink what is permitted—by myself and with others, but I have nothing but faith in the Lord, I live in constant repentance, I thank the Lord for everything, whatever I receive from His bounty, and I’m not ashamed of it. Every day I receive salvation from the life-giving right hand of God; every day the Lord surrounds me with the joys of deliverance. If someone asks me to pray for him with him, I don’t deny him, if only I note sincere faith and a sincere desire for salvation in the one asking me—and faith and hope do not put anyone to shame.

You see, brothers, even in our time of scant faith, the faithful can ask the Lord for all that is necessary for salvation. Believe undoubtingly in the Lord, Who is and will be with us all the days until the end of the age; live piously, repent sincerely, amend your life, ask the Lord with unquestioning faith for what is good and useful, and you will receive it. Amen.

St. John of Kronstadt
Translated by Jesse Dominick


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