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366Homily for 9/6/09 - P13 - watch, be stedafast, courageous and strong

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  • Fr David Moser
    Sep 6, 2009
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      1 Cor 16:13-24

      When we are saying goodbye to someone dear to us, very often that is the
      time that we try to say everything that we were unable to say before or
      we repeat all the things that are important to us, to make sure that the
      other person doesn’t forget. We see this all the time in our own lives,
      when we send children off to school either for the first time or for the
      last; when our children get married; when one spouse is leaving on a
      long trip. The Apostle, in his letters to his spiritual children often
      would dictate those letters to be written by someone else, but he would
      reserve a few lines at the end to write in his own hand and repeat those
      things which were most important. Today we read the end of the letter to
      the Church in Cornith and we heard the Apostle give his spiritual
      children some final important advice. Throughout the whole letter he
      praised them for that which was good, instructed them and corrected them
      where they went wrong. Now at the end, he gives some final direction to
      sum up everything that had gone before. He said, “Watch, stand fast in
      the faith, be courageous, be strong.” He said these things because he
      knew that as the Church would begin to correct their ways and as they
      were encouraged towards greater spiritual effort, the evil one would
      increase his attacks on the Church to try and derail and prevent any
      spiritual good. Therefore the Apostle warns us to be alert for those
      attacks and ward them off.

      “Watch.” This is the first instruction – to be alert to the dangers that
      might arise. The evil one, in seeking to attack us and to derail our
      spiritual effort will seek out and find every small weakness and begin
      to apply pressure on those points. This applies not only in our personal
      lives, but also in our corporate life as a Church. We all, in our own
      lives have those temptations that seem to follow us around and against
      which we struggle constantly. We know what our weaknesses are and we
      know that we have to struggle against them, too often unsuccessfully.
      One of the most important ways to do this is to look for the very
      earliest appearance of those temptations and begin to resist while it is
      still in its infancy. Don’t wait until a temptation is strong, but
      resist it from the very moment you notice it in yourself. The more alert
      you are to the presence of sin and temptation in your life, the sooner
      you can detect it and oppose it.

      In the corporate life of the Church this is true too. Whenever we begin
      any good thing as a Church, whenever we begin to make progress in the
      our spiritual lives, the evil one will try and shake things up. He will
      find those weak spots, especially in our interpersonal relations and try
      and pry us apart and scatter the flock as it were so that we can no
      longer work together either to resist temptation or to do that which is
      good. We must be aware of those attacks and resist them. When we begin
      to notice the flaws of others and become irritated at them, when we
      become offended for even small things, when hospitality wanes and
      selfishness begins to rage – these are the signs of the attack of the
      evil one on our parish family. When we see these things arise, either in
      ourselves or others we can recognize that we have begun some good work
      and the evil one is trying to derail it before it can become spiritually
      beneficial to us.

      When we see the temptation, how do we resist? The next instructions tell
      us that. The Apostle tells us “Watch, stand fast in the faith…” This is
      the first thing that we have to do is to strengthen our faith. This we
      do by prayer (both private and corporate), by reading the scripture, by
      spiritual reading and receiving the sacraments. Knowing what we believe
      and remaining constant in living it is the foundation of every other
      spiritual labor that we might undertake. Our faith is the underpinning
      of the way we live; it defines who and what we are and how we relate to
      God and to the world around us. So strengthen your faith through prayer
      (your communion with God), through reading the Scripture and other
      spiritual works, and through the sacraments (especially baptism,
      chrismation, Holy Communion and confession – baptism and chrismation
      give birth and Life to the spirit within us, Holy Communion nourishes
      that Life, and confession treats the illnesses that threaten that Life).

      “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be courageous …” Here is the next
      instruction – be courageous. The chief weapon of the devil is fear. He
      tries to make us afraid of all kinds of things and thus distract our
      attention away from our spiritual life and well being onto all sorts of
      other things. Although fear for life and limb might be the most easily
      recognized fear, it is by far not the most common. More often the devil
      tries to inculcate small fears in us. We are afraid of losing out, we
      are afraid of missing something or some one, we are afraid of what
      others might think of us, we are afraid of doing something wrong, we are
      afraid of looking stupid or foolish, we are afraid of being taken
      advantage of, we are afraid of being alone, we are afraid of strange
      places and strange situations, we are afraid of being ignored. The list
      can go on and on of these small fears that are seated deep within our
      heart. Some of them are common to us all, some are unique to each
      person. But fear, the tool of the devil, is also vulnerable and can be
      cast out. Perfect love, that is the love of God, casts out all fear. If
      we love God and if we hold fast to His love for us, then fear will no
      longer have anything to hold onto. God loves us and will not abandon us
      and He is all knowing and all powerful and thus perceives and provides
      for all that we need. If we live in that love, then fear cannot exist in
      us. Be courageous, that is love God and hold onto the love of God for you.

      “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be courageous, be strong” Finally, the
      Apostle tells us, “be strong”. From whence does our strength come? The
      Psalmist sings for us the answer to this question when he says, “The
      Lord is my strength and my song and He is become my salvation.” If we
      would be strong enough to withstand the attacks of the evil one then we
      must rely with all our heart and soul on the strength of God. Rather
      than fight without God or even fight against God, in order to be strong
      we must fight alongside God – or rather allow Him to fight alongside us.
      Do not let your efforts toward spiritual things be dissipated but rather
      focus all your attention, all your effort through the lens of God’s love
      for you and keep it in that focus and you will be strong – strong enough
      to repel even the most violent attack of the evil one.

      It is fortunate for us today to hear this epistle for we are on the
      verge of many good works here in this parish. Last evening we baptized
      not one but two infants, bringing two more souls into the Kingdom of
      God. The evil one will strike at them almost immediately to try and
      derail them from the spiritual life. He will strike at them through
      their parents and godparents and through the parish community that
      surrounds them. The temptation to neglect the spiritual care and
      discipline of the child will be great. The evil one will whisper “he
      doesn’t understand so its not important for him to go to the Church yet”
      or “she is too fussy and you are too tired to deal with her today,
      missing the Liturgy just this once won’t hurt”. Anything to prevent that
      child from being in the Church and receiving from the earliest moment
      the life giving Body and Blood of Christ. Every step along the way with
      these children, the evil one will oppose anything that might bring them
      closer to God, that might make them strong and spiritual warriors in the
      Kingdom of God.

      These baptisms aren’t the only good work we have undertaken. We have
      also undertaken to build a new hall and to remodel the exterior of the
      Church. These projects, while they seem “secular” in their conception
      and execution are in fact steps forward in the spiritual arena as well.
      A more uplifting and spiritual appearance to the outside of the Church
      will not only encourage us as we come to pray here, but also it will
      stand as a witness to the community around us that God is alive and
      working in this place. It will stand as an invitation to all who see our
      Church to come inside and see that God is here with us. The new building
      will provide space for the activities that strengthen our parish
      community, it will provide also opportunities to reach out to the world
      to share with our neighbors and those around us the love of God and open
      new doors and new ways to live out our faith and express the love of
      God. The evil one will oppose this good work with all his might and seek
      to drive wedges of ill will and misunderstanding and offense between us
      as we progress in this labor. He will try to derail this holy project at
      all costs – and if he can’t stop it, at least he will try to spoil it so
      that the spiritual good that can come from it will be weakened and made
      ineffective. This must not happen – we must be alert, be steadfast,
      courageous and strong and oppose every attack of the evil one.

      My brothers and sisters, we are under constant attack of the evil one,
      both as individuals and as a parish family. We must therefore heed the
      words of the Apostle as he speaks to us and warns us. “Watch, be strong
      in the faith, be courageous, be strong.”

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