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580homily for 3/2/14 - F - slothfulness

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  • David
    Mar 2, 2014
      Romans 13:11-14:4

      Last week we spoke about one of the greatest dangers in our spiritual
      life, the passion of pride. Today we are warned of another of these
      great dangers that threaten us – the passion of slothfulness. The person
      who is proud becomes, in his own eyes, the center of all things. He is
      the judge of all, the only valid standard of what is right and true and
      good and everything in the world draws its meaning as it relates to him.
      The proud man puts himself in the place of God. This is the root of the
      original sin, when our first parents chose to abandon the life of
      obedience to the will of God and act on their own will according to
      their own desire and reasoning. Even when given the chance by God to
      confess their sin and repent that they might receive forgiveness and be
      restored to their former state, our first parents refused and the sin
      which had entered into the soul by their rebellion solidified and warped
      their nature. The consequence of their sin was that they had broken
      their communion with God and no longer lived in harmony with Him. Adam
      and Eve became subject to corruption and were exiled from the garden of
      paradise to live in the fallen world experiencing the effects of their
      separation from God.

      God, however, did not give up on them, but began to provide for Adam and
      Eve and their descendants a means by which the communion which they had
      lost could be restored. This return to communion with God hinges on the
      confession of our sin and repentance. The path of salvation is the path
      of humility and struggling to break free of our own self-will that we
      might live instead according to the will of God. Through sin, mankind
      had been taken captive by the devil and were bound by death under his
      dominion. But God, in His own great mercy and compassion, became man and
      infiltrated the prison of our captivity. By His own death and
      resurrection, he destroyed death, provided a cure for our sin and bound
      the devil that he might no longer have power over us. He freed us from
      our captivity that the path to follow Him might again be opened to us.
      He pours out His grace upon us that we might be healed from our
      sinfulness and be transformed into His image. He shows us the way and
      leads us by the hand into the Kingdom of heaven that we might live in
      union and communion with Him. This is our salvation.

      The chains of sin, which were rooted in pride, have been destroyed; the
      path of salvation is now open to us and it is our task simply to follow
      Jesus Christ as He leads us. This is where the passion of sloth rises up
      to create a barrier for us. Even though the path of salvation is open to
      us; even though we have been delivered from our captivity and set upon
      that path; it is still necessary for us to take action, to follow
      Christ. Sloth encourages us to simply do nothing. We become lulled into
      a contented sleep that it is enough just to sit here where we are and
      not to follow Christ. Sloth deceives us into thinking that our
      cooperation in our salvation is not required, that we can just wait for
      God to do everything while we do nothing. Sloth encourages us to put off
      until tomorrow (and there is always a tomorrow) those things we do to
      follow Christ. By our pride we have fallen into the pit of sin and are
      trapped – but by our sloth we refuse to climb out of the pit, even
      though a ladder has been let down to us.

      To this condition, the Apostle today says, “Now it is high time to awake
      out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than we believed. The
      night is far spent, the day is at hand…� The apostle seeks to rouse us
      from our sleep and the lethargy induced by sloth and spur us on to
      action. If we do not get up and follow Christ, then we will be like
      those foolish virgins who, because of the lack of oil for their lamps
      (that is who did not acquire the grace of God by following Christ) were
      shut out of the wedding feast. There is still time to work out our
      salvation and so the apostle sounds the alarm to rouse us to action. The
      Elder Anthony of Optina also prompts us, perhaps more gently: “Of course
      it would be easier to get to paradise with full stomach, all snuggled up
      in a soft feather-bed, but what is required is to carry one's cross.�
      Archimandrite John Krestiankin gave to his spiritual children a
      “spiritual alphabet� which is a compilation of small sayings that serve
      as a guide to the spiritual life. Among these spiritual “letters� we
      find this warning: “Remember: one only needs to be slothful in order to
      perish.� And again a little later on we find: “Never be idle. Spend the
      Feasts of the Church and Sundays according to the commandment of God�
      See how he encourages us to action, never letting even a moment pass by
      when we are not actively working out our salvation, when we are not
      following Christ. The Apostle too, having awakened us then pushes us to
      action saying: “let us cast off the works of darkness, let us put on the
      armor of light, let us walk honestly not in (various sins), let us put
      on the Lord Jesus Christ. When we are roused from our sloth to take
      action, then we must be sure to take the right action – to follow Christ
      and to turn away from sin.

      By his words, the Apostle points to us the way, saying to us “cast off
      darkness and put on light�, “walk honestly, not in sins� and to “put on
      Christ and make no provision for the flesh�. See how he constantly
      directs us away from falling back into sin and toward the path of
      salvation. There is no place for idleness, or even effort wasted in the
      wrong direction. There is an urgency to the words of the apostle that
      comes back always to the words, “The night is far spent, the day is at
      hand.� Fr Seraphim Rose was fond of saying to his spiritual children
      something very similar, reminding them constantly, “It’s later than you

      Indeed the day is at hand for today we stand on the brink of Great Lent.
      The fast stretching out before us may seem long and filled with plenty
      of time and opportunity – but in only a few short weeks, a few short
      days we will stand here in this same place proclaiming the glorious
      Resurrection of Christ. There is much to do to prepare for that feast,
      and only a limited time to do it. The day is at hand, it is “later than
      you think� so now is the time to rise from your sleep, rise from your
      lethargy, rise up from your sloth and begin to labor on your salvation.

      In just a little time, at the end of this liturgy, we will begin the
      labor of this great lent by forgiving one another. Forgiveness is at the
      very core of our spiritual work. The Apostle goes on and having roused
      us to action then warns us not to despise or judge one another, but
      reminds us that we are all working together for our salvation and that
      together we all belong to our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore let us begin
      our labor by setting aside any offense or judgment or anger that we may
      have towards one another and asking forgiveness for our own sins, extend
      forgiveness to each other. In this way we can then begin follow Christ
      together and that being joined to Him, we are also joined to one another.

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