FROM CHILDHOOD – Иверский Орский женский монастырь



Archpriest Sergiy Baranov



Today, the first Gospel was about how a man brought his son to the Lord to have him healed. The son suffered from possession by demons. And there is such a detail… his poor father, who is worn out with suffering! Don’t you agree that it is better to be ill yourself than to see how your children suffer from illness? Do you? The greatest sorrow is when one’s children are sick or, God forbid, when one buries his children. Therefore, this father, worn out with suffering, comes to the Lord and says, “I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.1 Now I am asking You to help us with this sorrow and to release us from this trouble.” To which the Lord asks him, “How long has this been happening to him?” The father of the sick young man says, “He has had these fits of possession since his childhood.”2

We understand the reason for all our diseases. When Adam and Eve lived in Heaven, they did not fall ill. They did not suffer. They enjoyed their peaceful and quiet life. They worked and cultivated Heaven. They were in communication with the Lord. They knew neither sorrow, nor oppression. But after the Fall, people begin to fall ill and die. Thus, we all realize the reason for our sufferings. It is sin. 

When we come back to the question of the Lord, “How long has this been happening to him?” and the answer, “From childhood,” we have a question at once. “Well, he is only a child. What sins can he have? He was born a little while ago. He had no time to commit anything.” Please, hear what I am going to tell you now. It is not about the fact that he was born recently and had no time to sin. A child participates in a sin before he is born.     He develops during the nine months in his mother’s womb and lives by her feelings. He experiences everything that his mother experiences. He is connected to her not only with the umbilical cord but also with all his nerves and the entire power of his soul.  Everything that his mother experiences during these nine months, he experiences too. Does she become angry? The baby is angry too. Does she envy? He envies too. Is she being proud? He does it too. Everything that is present in humans after the Fall is present in the mother during the nine months and she involuntarily passes this on to her child. It is not by chance that there is a spiritual tradition in the Church, that when a mother becomes pregnant, from the very first week when she feels there is life born inside of her, the man and the woman go to sleep in different rooms, so the child does not feel and experience anything. It is not easy but feasible. Our ancestors used to live this way and it can be done.

A child should be nourished with peace, serenity and prayer at maximum. A mother receives the Eucharist and the child receives it as well because they have a united blood circulation and nerve system bound through the umbilical cord during this time. This is why, not only from his childhood, but also from before he is born, a child already takes part in sin to the full extent. He experiences everything, all the details, particulars and nuances of a sin. This is why, when a child is born, we look at an innocent baby, no one has taught him how to sin, he has never seen it read or learned about it, but he is already laying and beating with his little legs and arms, demanding what is due to him and fussing. He does not behave properly because he already has all this sin, he was born with this sin. His mother has given him her blood type and her damaged blood; she contaminated him in her womb. She contaminated him. Both the mother and the father did. 

Pay attention to this, even the Apostles could not heal him. In today’s Gospel, this poor father says, “Why couldn’t Your disciples cure him?”2 In today’s Gospel, according to St. Mark, it is said that “this kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting”4 Meanwhile, in another Gospel, the situation is described more precisely. The Apostles said in bewilderment, that they have already worked many miracles, and suddenly failed that time. They came up to the Lord privately and asked Him, “Why could we not heal him?”5 To which the Lord gave them a deep and accurate answer, “Because of your unbelief.”6 And then He says, “this kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Disbelief… 

The absence of faith is cured by prayer and fasting, in other words, by spiritual life. I would say, not only by prayer and fasting, but by the entire spiritual lifestyle. Sometimes we approach the mystery of faith so naively. It seems to us we walk in a Church and we are already faithful. Test your faith at the point of sorrow. Your faith will fall to pieces. When we do not understand God, we say in desperation and even in contradiction to God “Why? I am asking You!” At this moment, our faith is tried. You believe in God only at favorable times but what about the moments of sorrow? Your faith disappears like vapor at once. It means this was not faith. It was something very relative and unstable.  True faith always remains faith both at the moments of happiness and sorrow, and when you do not understand God at all. You do not understand God but you believe Him, you believe that He sees the situation better than you and that He is Great Love, Goodness, and Wisdom, and that everything is in His kind fatherly hands. It is not that simple to have such a faith. Such faith is acquired through sweat, sorrow, and blood.  

The more a person has endured, the stronger his faith is. It is not by chance that the Lord says the following words when He appeals to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”7 The bearing of the Cross will test and strengthen your faith. You cannot convince yourself to believe, but you can deceive yourself thinking that you are faithful. However, at the moment of sorrow and desperation, your faith will vanish. Faith is a miracle. Faith is a mystery. It is when you cannot explain what it is and how it has come to you. You just state the fact, “I believe. Lord, I strongly believe.” But before this point, you cry all the time at Church like that father, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”8 It means that I have some preliminary faith, but the final faith will come to me only through Your grace. You will send Your Holy Spirit, and He will enlighten me. What will happen to me? I do not even understand what it is. But I will become a convincingly believing person. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” My faith needs Your participation. My part of faith is very unstable and unreliable, this is why, Lord, help my unbelief! Unfortunately, we can speak about this only with sorrow and tears, and we can have this state even if we go to Church for fifty years.  Fifty years, sixty years, our whole life.  Our faith is often imperfect. We believe today and we do not believe tomorrow. We trust in God in one situation and do not trust in another. 

Therefore, if God visits you, a miracle happens! You believe simply, without thinking, explanation and going into philosophy. I believe! And one can go further to the Cross and death with such faith. Such faith is like a foundation. It is unshakeable. Lord, give us faith! It is so easy to live with faith. I do not say that sorrows do not exist in the life of a faithful person. It is a fantasy if someone thinks that when a person is baptized and goes to Church, every sorrow and trouble passes by him. They can even be more in number! One’s attitude to them changes. You simply believe that if God sends you this, it should be so. And the Lord will warm your heart and strengthen you, and you will endure, you will bear it all and go further. There are such sweet words! Not just Jesus, but Jesus the Sweetest, save us! 

1 Mt. 17:16

2 Mk. 9:21

3 Mk. 9:18, “I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”

4 Mk. 9:29

5 Mt. 17:19, “Why could we not cast it out?”

6 Mt. 17:20

7 Mt. 16:24

8 Mk. 9:24