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584homily for 3/30/14 - L4 - Hope in God

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  • David
    Mar 30, 2014
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      Hebrews 6:13-20

      “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast …�
      (Heb 6:19)

      In the Gospel, in the writings of the fathers and in the tradition of
      the Church our life is at times compared to a voyage or a journey across
      the sea. The miracles of our Lord coming to the disciples as they
      crossed the sea of Galilee and calming the wind and waves of the tempest
      that surrounded them are examples of this image. Again the Apostle
      reaches into this same imagery to make his point speaking of “an anchor
      of the soul�. The anchor is an integral part of the equipment on every
      boat or ship no matter how large or small. When there is a storm on the
      water, the anchor is let out to help prevent the ship from being tossed
      about by the wind and waves and to keep it from being driven into
      dangerous waters. The anchor holds the ship firm and steady even in the
      face of the most violent forces of the weather and tides. If we then
      take this image of the Christian life as a journey across the sea of
      this life it is not hard to see that in fact we are surrounded by
      various storms of life and disturbances that seek to push us off our
      course or to stall our progress.

      We experience many of these disturbances on a personal level with things
      such as poverty, need, sickness, crime, ingratitude, slanders, insults
      and so on. When these things are small, we can sometimes simply ride
      them out due to the good nature of the ship in which we travel (that
      ship being the Church, the ark of salvation). But sometimes these
      personal difficulties are not so small and we need to have an anchor,
      something to ground us and hold us steady until the storm abates.

      Some of the storms that we face are not simply personal but afflict many
      people and threaten the good order of the whole world in which we live.
      Such storms might be natural disasters, civil unrest, war and the rumor
      of war, epidemics, political strife and so on. These storms are much
      broader than our personal lives and yet they can still turn us aside
      from our primary purpose of working out our salvation.

      What is the anchor then that provides us with help and comfort in the
      midst of such difficulty? If we look at society, we can see that there
      are many different anchors that people try to use to steady themselves.
      Some place their hopes in finances and resources. They collect money in
      the bank or stockpile gold coins in a “safe� place. They invest in real
      estate and amass a collection of everything that they think they might
      need from food and medicines to every conceivable piece of equipment.
      Having amassed this collection of money and goods, they feel prepared
      for the storms of life. But always with such a person there is the
      thought of not having enough or running out of resources before the
      crisis ends. And so their fear continues with them, despite their
      collection, and they continue to collect more and better things and the
      passion of acquisitiveness consumes their soul. Others place their hope
      in might and strength, striving to become strong and maintain their
      health or they train in the arts of war and self defense, becoming
      proficient at the use of various weapons and even considering their own
      body a weapon. In this way they hope to meet every attack with
      overwhelming force and drive it away. But again there is the constant
      fear that one’s strength or skill might not be enough, or that one’s
      health will be undermined by an unknown condition or pathogen. And this
      fear will continue to drive the preoccupation with healthy living and
      eating to obsessive and even unhealthy levels or push the training and
      skill acquisition to new heights of fervor conditioning the body and
      fine tuning it. The passions of vanity and pride are deeply rooted in
      such a person. There are others who put their hope in influence and
      power, seeking to ally themselves constantly with important or powerful
      people, or who seek to join a group that will protect them. But what
      then if they befriend the wrong person or join the wrong group and end
      up on the losing side. Still others place their hopes in science and
      logic trusting that reason will conquer all our ills. And some trust in
      the power of numbers, seeking to bend the world around them to their own
      designs by the combined weight of many people. Some trust in family,
      hoping in their relatives and children to step in and take care of them.
      There are no end to the things that people trust in. But all of these
      worldly anchors are flawed for they seek to control the world and yet
      remain part of the world.

      These worldly anchors are also flawed in that they are limited only to
      this world. They depend on the notion that our salvation can be found in
      this life and they do not take into account the eternal life for which
      we were created. This world, this present life, will inevitably pass
      away and then all the wealth and resource and skill and health and
      friends and science and powers will be of no value. This present life is
      given to us not for the sake of our own comfort, ease and prosperity but
      rather it is given to us as a time of preparation. This life is limited,
      it will end one way or the other – but the next life is eternal and will
      not end. The various events and conditions of this life are only
      profitable if they are used to prepare for the next, building up for
      ourselves treasures in heaven.

      What then is the anchor that we need that transcends this life, that is
      stronger than all the trials of this life, that outlasts and is stronger
      than anything in this life? In what do we place our hope? Just moments
      ago in the second antiphon of the liturgy we sang the words of the 145th
      Psalm, “Put not your trust in princes and in the sons of men in whom
      there is no salvation … Blessed is he … whose hope is in the Lord his
      God, Who hath made the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is
      therein. Who keepeth truth unto eternity, Who executeth judgment for the
      wronged, Who giveth food to the hungry…� Here is our hope – our hope is
      in the Lord our God, our hope is Jesus Christ the rock and anchor of our
      salvation. It is our Lord Jesus Christ alone who overcomes the world,
      for He is the creator of the world. He is our hope, our refuge in times
      of trouble, our protector when we are threatened. He is the provider of
      every good thing and our defender against all that would harm us. He
      transcends the world for He is greater than the world. Here is our hope
      and salvation; here is our only true anchor.

      There are many troubles in our world today and it seems that wherever we
      turn those troubles are getting greater and stronger and more
      threatening. There is political unrest and turmoil that threatens our
      peace. There are wars and violence and civil unrest and crime that
      threaten our lives and the lives of those whom we love. There is
      sickness and disease and famine that threaten our health and well being.
      Our society seems to be falling apart at the seams such that even the
      basic structures such as the family and marriage are crumbling. Our only
      hope is in God, He is the only one who can deliver us from the evil
      around us. He provides us with the grace which allows us to face all of
      these trials and storms and difficulties in such a manner that we not
      only survive, but that we also are able to use them to transcend this
      life and prepare for eternity. If you must collect wealth and resources,
      then forget the worldly wealth and collect the wealth of grace and the
      virtues. If you must focus on your health then focus on the health of
      the soul. If you must attend to the cares of the world, then remember to
      love your brother as God has loved you. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of
      God and all these things (that is the necessities of this life) will be
      added unto you.� Remember the words of the Psalmist, “Put not your trust
      in princes and in the sons of men in whom there is no salvation –
      Blessed is He whose hope is in the Lord God.�

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