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591Homily for 5/25/14 - Pascha5 - w ho sinned

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  • David
    May 25, 2014
      John 9:1-38

      This miracle of healing the man born blind is one of the greatest works
      of our Lord. It is this miracle that demonstrates without question that
      our Lord Jesus Christ is our God and Creator for He did what no one
      other than our Creator Himself could do – He created the missing eyes of
      this man from clay formed from the dust of the earth. Just as mankind
      was created initially from the dust of the earth, so our Lord took that
      same dust and provided that which the blind man lacked – eyes. This
      miracle caused a great stir among the religious rulers of the temple
      because they recognized the obvious parallel between this act of
      creation and that of the original creation of man. This obvious claim to
      be the Messiah, God Who became man and dwelt among us, uses physical
      blindness to highlight the spiritual blindness of those who condemned
      Christ. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence of His divinity, those
      blind guides tried to condemn His work, attributing the power of God to
      the work of demons. From this point on they were the victims of their
      own spiritual blindness and turned their backs on the God that they
      claimed to serve.

      In the course of this event, the disciples asked a very important
      question of the Lord saying, “Who sinned, this man or his parents that
      he was born blind?” This question is important because it brings to
      light an attitude in the modern world that is foreign to the Gospel and
      to the teaching of the Church. That attitude is to view each person as
      an individual separate from his fellows rather than to view the whole
      human race as a single organism. To those of us who have been immersed
      in the ideal of the individual and his rights and freedoms, the whole
      idea that someone’s private sins and failings would inherently affect
      anyone else is unreasonable. Only if we somehow inflict our own failings
      and sins on others or they become directly involved in some way do we
      admit that they might be affected. Because of this the whole concept of
      “private” or “personal” sins has evolved and we sometimes even excuse
      our sins by saying that no-one else was hurt, our sins were private and
      so we only hurt ourselves. But this is not the case. Did not the sin of
      our first parents, Adam and Eve affect the whole of the human race? And
      did not the redemptive act of our Lord likewise affect the whole of the
      human race, reaching back even to our first parents, Adam and Even
      themselves? The actions of each person – whether evil or righteous –
      affect not only the person, but the whole of humanity, just as one sick
      organ of the body affects the whole body.

      St Nikolai (Velimirovic) the bishop of Ochrid, describes this situation
      quite clearly saying, “That children often suffer for their parents/sins
      has been clear from the beginning. That God sometimes allows suffering
      to come to children because of their parents’ sins is also clear from
      Holy Scripture (1 Kings 11:12; 21:9). This can seem unjust only to those
      who have become accustomed to regard men as separate entities,
      completely cut off from one another. But whoever regards the human race
      as one organism; to him this will not seem either unjust or unnatural.
      When one sinful member hurts, the others, that have not sinned, suffer.”
      (Homily on the 5th Sunday after Easter)
      From the comments of St Nikolai and the teaching of the Church we
      realize that when we sin, we hurt not only ourselves, but indeed we hurt
      the whole “organism” of the human race. And not only the human race, but
      indeed all of nature, for man is the “head” and “king” of all creation.
      What happens to him affects all of creation. Is this not clear from the
      fall itself, for when Adam and Eve sinned not just the two of them, but
      all of creation fell prey to corruption. This prevalence of corruption
      in nature is recognized by science in the form of the second law of
      thermodynamics which tells us that the universe, if left to itself would
      constantly decay from a state of higher organization towards complete chaos.

      Our sins, therefore, affect not only us, but those around us, even our
      children. And not only do they impact other persons, but they also
      impact the whole of creation. A deacon, teaching Sunday School to some
      young children, once attempted to explain this idea to them trying to
      get across that idea that natural disasters are the result of our own
      sins warping the creation around us. He brought this home by explaining,
      “We are the ones who cause earthquakes, by our sins.” That afternoon he
      heard one of his students explain to his mother, “We learned today that
      earthquakes are caused by Fr N.!” Amusing? Yes – but also a very
      sobering truth. We, by our sins, have put so much “pressure” upon
      creation, that it is warped causing “natural disasters”.

      Now to bring this a little closer to home, let us ask ourselves, “What
      of my own sins?” Too often we tend to minimize and discount the severity
      of our own sins, often justifying or rationalizing them by saying that
      no one is really hurt by them and we can bear the consequences of our
      own sins. This kind of reasoning, however, suffers from this same error
      because it is based on the false premise that we are individuals. When
      we sin, we do in fact affect the whole of creation because we are
      created as the “head” of creation. More importantly, our actions cause
      others to suffer for we become a “sick” part of the body that is all of

      The link between sin and suffering is also quite clear from the words of
      our Lord when he said to the paralytic who had just been healed, “Go and
      sin no more lest a greater evil befall you.” While our sins may not seem
      to be big, they do pile up like grains of sand and the cumulative weight
      of all the sins of mankind weigh heavily on the world. The weight of our
      collective sins, that is the sins of all mankind, warps the world
      bringing about “natural disasters” (just as the pressure which builds up
      between the various tectonic plates eventually causes earthquakes when
      they “slip”) and these events impact the lives of many innocent people.
      The impact of sins on the spiritual condition of others is even harder
      to measure, but it is not hard to see that our society is sliding more
      and more quickly into a state of tolerance of immorality – and in fact
      an encouragement toward immorality – under the guise of human “rights”
      and “dignity”. Such a cultural slide can easily be seen as related to
      the collective sinfulness of the world – a sinfulness to which each of
      us contributes a grain of sand with each sin.

      What can we do then? The answer is simple. First we strive to live
      according to the law of God – the kind of life outlined for us in the
      Scripture. The commandments of Moses outline for us the kind of actions
      and attitudes to avoid and the beatitudes of our Lord show us the kind
      of qualities to cultivate in our souls. Such a life is founded on
      self-denial, that is, no longer living according to our own desires,
      reasoning and ideals, but rather living according to the will of God.
      Rather than fulfilling our own goals and dreams and pleasures, we order
      our lives to fulfill God’s purpose and desire for us, to fulfill the
      purpose for which we were created. This is the first element of how to
      live as a Christian and by doing so we cease adding the weight of our
      own sins onto the mountain of sin which weighs upon the world.

      Secondly, having begun to live a righteous life, we have to repent of
      our sins both past and present. By true heartfelt repentance, weeping
      over our sins, confessing them and turning away from them their weight
      is removed and no longer weighs upon the world. Every day, consider your
      actions, consider how you have sinned and seeing this, ask forgiveness
      of God. Come often to receive the sacrament of Confession (that is
      reconciliation) that your sins might be removed and you might be
      reconciled to God. In this way the burden you carry is lighter giving
      you greater strength to resist temptation in the first place and the
      weight of your sin upon the world is lessened alleviating at least a
      little the suffering in the world. Many times we are asked to make some
      kind of contribution towards helping innocent people who are ill or who
      are suffering from some great disaster. We should indeed do what we can
      to contribute to such efforts – but more important and closer to home we
      should also repent for our sins which helped bring about such misfortune.

      Remember your spiritual connection to the world, to your fellow man and
      even to your children. Remember that your actions, whether sinful or
      righteous, have an effect on those around you – those “neighbors” whom
      we are commanded to love. Let this awareness be a support and strength
      to help you resist the temptation to sin and to encourage you to follow
      the path of righteousness. The disciples asked our Lord, “Who sinned,
      this man or his parents …” When you are tempted to sin – even just a
      small “personal” or “private” sin – ask yourself if this sin is worth
      the suffering you will impose upon your own innocent children. Do you
      wish to follow the commandment of our Lord to love your neighbor as
      yourself, even to love your enemies? Do not inflict upon them the burden
      of your sins. Do you love your children? Do not inflict upon them a
      greater burden of sin by your own “private” and selfish actions. Do not
      contribute to the cause of suffering by your sins, rather become part of
      the cure by your righteousness.

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