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Homily for 11/28/04 - perspective

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  • David Moser
    Luke 12:16-21 & Eph 5:8-19 Back on the Sunday after the feast of the Cross, we heard our Lord say, Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but who ever
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 29, 2004
      Luke 12:16-21 & Eph 5:8-19

      Back on the Sunday after the feast of the Cross, we heard our Lord say,
      "Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but who ever loses his life
      for My sake and for the Gospel's will save it. What will it profit a man if
      he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in
      exchange for his soul?" Since that time we have heard a number of readings
      from the Gospel that elaborate on this critical lesson. Today's Gospel, the
      parable of the rich man who neglected to glorify God for the bounty he
      received but instead put all of his trust in his worldly possessions and
      security. On that same day, he lost all that he had gathered for he died
      and his great wealth was of no further use to him.

      As Christians we know that this worldly life is only the beginning of an
      eternal existence. Just as the future of the butterfly is determined by the
      life of the caterpillar, or the adult life of a person is determined by his
      childhood development, so also we know that shape of our eternal life is
      determined by how we conduct our earthly life. What we must then develop
      within ourselves is an awareness of our eternal nature. As long as we see
      the end of this life as the end of our existence, then nothing in the life
      of the Church will make any sense to us. As long as our eyes are glued to
      this worldly arena and we do not look up to see the heavens, as long as time
      and space are the boundaries of our vision and we do not look up to see
      eternity - there is no purpose, no reason, no real rationale to the life of
      the Church, for our life is only begun here and the major portion of it is
      lived in eternity. This is what our Lord is tell us in the reading after
      the cross and this is what He is telling us today in the parable of the
      foolish rich man.

      We must then tear our eyes, our minds, our hearts away from this world and
      look to the heavens. We must learn to look beyond the limited perspective
      of this world and learn to see with new eyes, with eternal eyes, with
      heavenly eyes. We must begin to see not only the worldly and temporal
      effects of our actions, but also their heavenly and eternal effects. As in
      the epistle today we heard St Paul exhort us in the Church saying, "You who
      were once in darkness, now you are in the Light, in the Lord. Walk,
      therefore as children of the light ... have no fellowship with the
      unfruitful works of darkness ... (but) walk circumspectly, not as fools, but
      as wise, redeeming the time ... do not be unwise, but understand what is the
      will of the Lord. ... be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in
      psalms hymns and spiritual songs..."

      Having been born into this world, we are quite naturally attuned to how to
      gain things of value in this world, how to amass wealth, how to gain
      recognition and fame, how to acquire and use power, how to be comfortable,
      and so on. As Christians we have now died to this world and have been born
      anew into the Kingdom of God. We have a whole new set of values to learn, a
      whole new way of life to incorporate. Our goal is no longer to amass wealth
      or power or fame or pleasures, rather our goal has become the acquisition of
      the Holy Spirit. Our own St Seraphim has spoken quite eloquently about this
      topic, comparing the acquisition of worldly goods (which we understand well)
      to the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. He tells us that, just as the wise
      merchant always weighs each transaction to determine it's profitability and
      engages in only those transactions which will bring the most profit, so also
      we as Christians must weigh our "transactions" (that is the actions of our
      daily lives) for their "spiritual profitability", and engage in only that
      which bring us the greatest measure of the grace of the Holy Spirit.

      How do we do this? As St Seraphim tells us, we look at all those things
      which the Church instructs us to do - to pray, to keep the fast, to give to
      the poor, to be merciful, to make peace, to be kind, to forgive others, to
      live according to the moral teaching of the Church, to bear one another's
      burdens, to accept joyfully all that God provides and so on. The Church is
      the font of God's grace, the means by which it is poured out to the whole
      world and through her life and tradition, the Church teaches us how to
      acquire and use this grace for our own spiritual well being. Each of these
      actions that the Church gives us are the means by which we can acquire the
      grace of the Holy Spirit. For the most part, each of these actions also
      involves interaction with the world. We see those who are poor in the world
      and we are presented with the opportunity to be charitable and to feed and
      clothe and shelter them. We see those who are suffering and we have the
      opportunity to comfort them, care for them, and help them in many ways. We
      see those who are at odds and we have the chance to be peacemakers. We are
      offended and we have the chance to forgive. We encounter misfortune and
      suffering and have the chance to bear it with joy and thanksgiving to God.
      Every circumstance in which we find ourselves becomes a chance to "trade"
      for spiritual goods, to acquire more of the grace of the Holy Spirit. The
      determining factor is how we respond - whether we respond according to
      heavenly values and the life of Christ or whether we respond from the values
      and understanding of the world.

      Every event in our life, pleasant or unpleasant, joyful or sorrowful, easy
      or difficult, pleasurable or painful - no matter what it may be - is an
      opportunity to acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel is
      constantly reminding us that we are eternal beings, our existence is not
      limited to life in this world or by space and time. We were created to live
      in eternity with God. We must lift our eyes up from being fixed on this
      world and see instead with the perspective of eternity. Worldly
      acquisitions of wealth, power, fame, pleasure, comfort or security are
      meaningless when viewed from eternity and their value is limited only to
      this small portion of our existence. What is of true and lasting value are
      the riches of grace that are showered upon us by the Holy Spirit. Rather
      than spend our time and energy gathering the temporal possessions which will
      soon pass into worthlessness, let us instead focus on the acquisition of the
      grace of the Holy Spirit. Rather than gathering that which God has given us
      in this world into barns and storehouses, taking false comfort in worldly
      security and ease, let us instead gather the eternal grace of God, spending
      our temporal resources and receiving in their place eternal riches.

      In the parable, the foolish rich man is a "negative example" - an example of
      what not to do. In the Church we also have many positive examples - these
      are the saints. By their lives we have a multitude of examples, in every
      possible situation of what to do. Brothers and sisters, raise your eyes to
      the heavens, look past this worldly life into the Kingdom of God and live no
      longer according to this fallen world, but following the example of the
      saints live according to the life and light of heaven - according to the
      Life of God that He gives to us.
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