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437Homily for 2/27/11 - LJ - What have you done with your life?

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  • Fr David Moser
    Feb 26, 2011
      Matt 25:31-46

      As we approach Great Lent, we are shown many things in the Gospel that
      remind us of the great truths about ourselves, and God and His plan for
      us. In the past couple of weeks we heard about the importance of
      repentance and humility; and about the unlimited love of God for us.
      Today we heard about the end of God’s work with us, that is the Great
      and Last Judgment. This is something we will all face as we stand before
      the throne of God at the end of the world and our eternal fate is
      pronounced. In the Gospel today we get a bit of an image of how that
      judgment will take place. All men will be divided into one of two types
      – sheep and goats. The sheep are those who have conformed themselves to
      be like Christ and who have thus awakened and nurtured within themselves
      the image and likeness of God. He recognizes the sheep and sets them on
      His right hand in the Kingdom of Heaven. The goats on the other hand are
      those who continue in their self will and have darkened the image of God
      in themselves separating themselves from God. These He casts into the
      outer darkness where they will share in the eternal torment provided for
      the devil and his angels. This is a sobering image to keep in our minds
      – one which provides us with a long term view of the path we choose in
      this life and where it ultimately leads.

      We hope to please God and to enter into the eternal joy of His presence
      and in order to do this, we must order our lives now so that we walk the
      right path. In addition to this picture of the judgment that heard
      today, it is helpful to recall another parable of Christ which tells of
      the same thing. This parable, of the master who entrusted to each his
      three servants a great sum of money (talents) in accordance with their
      ability and who then went on a long journey, reminds us that we are each
      entrusted by God with a gift of wealth. That gift is the time that we
      have in this life. It is our task now to take this gift and use it
      profitably. Two of the servants in the parable did this with their
      talents while the third neglected his. When the master returned they
      were “judged” according to what they had done with their talents and the
      two who used what they had been given to gain a profit pleasing to the
      master were rewarded but the one who misused his talent suffered
      punishment. So with us, God has given us a great gift and He expects us
      to use it to acquire a “profit” that is pleasing to Him.

      At the Great Judgment, God will ask us to show Him the fruits of what we
      have done with the gift that He has given to us. How have we used the
      years, the days, the moments of our lives and what have we produced
      during that time. The events and circumstances of our lives – the
      experiences that we face every day – this is the material that we use to
      gain that God pleasing profit. And what is it that we will present to
      God that is pleasing to Him? In the Gospel today we get a hint of what
      those things are for our Lord talks of the works of righteousness – to
      feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the
      sick and imprisoned. But it is not the presence or sheer number of these
      works that are what God wants from us, but rather they are the evidence
      of the presence of the virtues in us. When we have developed in
      ourselves the virtues such as compassion, kindness, mercy and most
      importantly of love then these works of righteousness – the external
      evidence of our internal transformation – will come naturally. The
      virtues are the fruit of the working of the grace of the Holy Spirit in
      us. They are the characteristics of the image of God which comes alive
      in us by our cooperation with the action of the Holy Spirit in ourselves.

      An important aspect of these virtues and the works of righteousness that
      follow them is that they are so ingrained, so natural that the one who
      possesses these characteristics does not even note them as anything
      special. He does not “feed the hungry” because it is a good work, but
      simply because it is the right thing to do. He doesn’t do this because
      he “should” do it, but simply because it is what he does. When the Lord
      points out to him that he as done this, he does not even recall that it
      happened – because it was ingrained in his heart and not anything
      special or worthy of note. There is no pride because there was nothing
      of which to be proud – the righteous man isn’t doing anything special,
      he is just being who he is.

      Today we remember that along with all of creation we will stand before
      God the great Judge and He will ask us to show Him what we have done
      with the gift that He has given us. If we set before Him the gold,
      silver and precious gems of the virtues brought about by the working of
      His grace in our lives, then He will say to us, “Well done, good and
      faithful servant – you have been faithful with the few things which were
      entrusted to you, enter into the joy of your Lord.” Recalling this, we
      need then to ask ourselves what we have done with the time that God has
      given us in this life. Have we used it well or have we wasted it. Do we
      spend our time and energy and resources acquiring the comforts of this
      life and the wealth of the world and neglecting to acquire the grace of
      the Holy Spirit which transforms us and from which the virtues grow and
      develop within us? Or have we used our time wisely, seeking first the
      Kingdom of God and His righteousness? Do we engage in the spiritual
      labor of self denial, of taking up our cross and of following Christ –
      or do we avoid these things? Every moment of every day has been
      entrusted to you by God and each of those moments can be used either to
      draw near to Jesus Christ and to follow Him or it can be used to please
      ourselves and neglect the work that God has set before us. Every moment
      is precious and whenever we waste even one, we have irretrievably lost a
      little of what God has given to us.

      Our lives are filled with distractions, with temptations, with the pull
      and intrusion of the worldly life. We live in the world and thus are
      surrounded by these things and by the sheer weight of them we tend to
      veer off the path of salvation. We lose sight of our goal, we lose sight
      of the end of our struggle when we will stand before the Great Judge and
      offer to Him the fruits of our labor. And so every year we come to Great
      Lent, having been pushed and pulled, shoved and knocked this way and
      that throughout the year. We are “off center” and have drifted from the
      path of salvation. But now with Lent, we have this time to realign
      ourselves. By our fasting and self denial we have the chance to loosen
      and break the hold of the temptations of the world that have crept in.
      By our increased prayer and participation in the divine services we
      refocus and realign ourselves with Jesus Christ. We are renewed and all
      dust of the road and the extra baggage that has weighed us down over the
      past year is peeled off and discarded. This is the time to renew our
      spiritual life and to reinvest ourselves in using all of our time and
      all of our energy in such a way that we will develop those God-pleasing
      virtues in our lives and by the transforming power of His grace working
      in us we will become like Him. Our God will look at us and see His own
      image as though in a mirror – and He will say to us, “Well done thou
      good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”

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