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323Homily for 11/2/08 - P20 - paths crossing

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  • Fr David Moser
    Nov 2, 2008
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      Luke 7:11-7:16
      Our path in this world is one of constant struggle. At the moment of
      birth we fight to get our first breath and from then on we struggle to
      obtain that which we think we need. As infants we cry out for food,
      comfort, even physical contact with our parents. As we grow, some of
      these things come more within our grasp, but still we struggle as we
      work to get the things that we want. As young men and women we struggle
      to find our place in the world, i.e. our identity and finding that, the
      struggle continues as we search out others with whom to share our
      new-found sense of self. Even at such a young age we find that we are
      engaging in the lifelong struggle to overcome the effects of aging and
      death as we battle sickness and weakness and limitations. This struggle
      increases as we age and the corruption of this world has an ever
      increasing effect on us. One comfort that we have in this life of
      struggle is that of children, for in our own children we see the renewal
      of life and the hope that even after we die, something of our selves and
      our memory will continue in this world. Such is the path that we walk in
      this life. The image of this path we see today in the Gospel. The widow
      of Nain was walking such a path. Like all of us she struggled against
      death, but now even the small consolation and hope that she had in that
      struggle – her only son – had been take from her and she walked now
      alone. Even though surrounded by many others, she had been stripped of
      her only consolation and so was alone. She mourned and wept and walked
      behind his body in the funeral procession empty and without any hope.
      This was for her the beginning of the end for death had triumphed over life.

      Our path in this life is crossed by many other paths. We encounter other
      people, also struggling, some of whom become our friends and companions
      and we help each other. We also encounter those who seem to make our
      lives more difficult and the struggle that we face even harder. But we
      are indeed all struggling together. There is one path, however, that
      crosses ours that is different. Whereas we are on the path of death,
      this other path is the path of life. The author of this path of life is
      the God/man, our Lord Jesus Christ. God Who Is Life, took flesh and
      became man and dwelt among us so that He might bring this new path to
      us. We walk on the path of death and He brings to us the path of life.
      We walk in darkness and He brings to us light. We walk in despair and He
      brings us hope. When His path crosses ours, it changes our path, even if
      only for a moment.

      The widow of the Gospel was walking on her path of darkness and despair.
      Her path of death, however, was about to intersect with a different
      path, the path of life. Jesus, coming to the city with His disciples,
      encountered the funeral procession. Even in such a chance encounter,
      this intersection of the path of life with the path of death could not
      but have an impact. Just as a light being carried through a dark room
      will illumine the space around it, so also the light of Christ, which
      illumines the world, brought that light into the darkness of the widow.
      First and foremost, our Lord spoke to the widow who was alone and cut
      off even from those around her. He intruded into her isolation and
      despair and said to her “weep not”. For Him these were not idle words,
      but they carried the healing balm of grace in them. No longer was she
      alone, but Someone was with her. No longer was she without hope for here
      was a light stronger than the darkness, here was life that as stronger
      than death. No one else had been able to penetrate her isolation but
      here was one who brought light into her darkness. Suddenly the sorrows,
      the struggles, the despair were gone, banished by the simple word of
      Christ saying to her “weep not”.

      We too experience this same intrusion into our lives by Jesus Christ.
      When we are overcome with the struggles that we face, we look for help
      and we have learned that our Lord is a ready source of help, of light in
      darkness, of strength in weakness. Whenever He crosses our path, He
      brings light and life into our darkness and struggle. Sometimes this
      light is simply comfort and hope, sometimes it becomes the “light at the
      end of the tunnel”, sometimes it shows us another path or a way out of a
      dead end. However it is manifested, the presence of Christ brings to us
      hope and strength to endure and overcome the struggle that threatens to
      overwhelm us.

      However, our Lord did not simply cross the path of this widow, but
      stopped and joined his path to hers. He laid his hand upon the bier of
      the dead man and the path of death was stopped. Death could go no
      further for it was faced now by the One Who Is Life. And at the command
      of the One Who Is Life, the one who was dead arose and sat up and began
      to speak. The widow and her son began to walk along the same path as
      Christ, the path of life and death, which had seemed stronger than life
      was now defeated by Life and no longer could hold anyone in its grasp.

      This is for us an even greater hope. When we alter our path to conform
      to the path of Christ we leave death behind and walk in the path of
      life. This is indeed the resurrection, where we who once were dead now
      are alive with the life of Christ. As long as we walk with Him on His
      path of life, death will no longer have any hold upon us and darkness
      will be banished completely. Here we are on the other side of the year
      from Pascha and we have this new reminder of the Resurrection, that
      death is despoiled and has lost its sting. To experience this path of
      life, we have only to continue to walk with Christ, forsaking our own
      path and taking His instead.

      This is not as easy as it sounds for our own inertia and habit still
      pulls us back. We want to return to that path of death for even though
      it was filled with difficulty and struggle – it was “our” path. To walk
      the path of Christ we have to give up our own path, we have to deny
      ourselves, and instead follow Him on this new path. Rather than
      following our own solitary willfulness, we now have to conform our will
      to the will of Christ, we have to set aside what we want and take
      instead the way that He shows to us. Our Lord knows that this is
      difficult for us and so gives us much help along the way. When we walk
      the path of life, we do not walk alone but in the company of the saints
      and angels. We walk alongside others who like us are striving to leave
      behind the path of death and stay on the path of life. With us all walks
      our Lord Jesus Christ who encourages us, who keeps us from straying, who
      helps us over the obstacles that we face and who guides us into His Kingdom.

      Each of us in this life walks a dark path full of struggle which leads
      inevitably to death. But each of us also encounter along the way the
      light of Christ. When His path touches ours there is a flash of light, a
      moment of joy, a lifting of the oppressive hand of death. But if we wish
      to maintain this light and joy and hope in our lives, we have to step
      away from our own path of death and giving that up embark instead upon
      the path of life that is given to us by Christ. To do this we have to
      give up our own will and our own way and adopt for ourselves the will of
      Christ and walk in His way, following Him. When we encounter Him, He
      speaks to our heart breaking into our isolation and bringing strength
      and hope. He invites us to abandon our the path of self will and death
      and to walk with Him on the path of life. This is our salvation, to walk
      with Christ in the company of saints on the path of life instead of
      walking alone in the darkness of our own path of death. It is a choice
      we must make, not once in a lifetime (and then coast) but a choice we
      make every moment of every day, to turn away from our own self willed
      rush to destruction and choose instead to embrace the path of Christ.


      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org