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Homily for 10/30/05 - golden rule

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  • David Moser
    Luke 6:31-36 There is an old fable about a man named Androcles who was an escaped slave in the old Roman empire. He was hiding in a cave when all of a sudden
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30, 2005
      Luke 6:31-36

      There is an old fable about a man named Androcles who was an escaped slave
      in the old Roman empire. He was hiding in a cave when all of a sudden he
      heard a loud roaring. The roaring grew louder and he saw a lion enter the
      cave looking furious. Androcles was afraid for his life and tried to hide
      in the back of the cave, but it was small - there was no way the lion could
      have missed him. But rather than hunt the poor man down and have him for
      lunch, the lion simply lay on his side and the roaring became whimpering as
      he licked his paw. Androcles saw that in the paw of the lion was a large
      thorn which must have been causing the beast great pain. This was his
      chance to escape - the lion could not get to his feet without pain and
      Androcles could run right past him and out of danger. But this he did not
      do, for Androcles was a compassionate man and the sight of this hurt and
      suffering beast stirred that compassion to life in his heart. He approached
      the lion moving slowly and talking softly so as not to startle the beast.
      The lion looked at him with hope and longing in his eyes as if to implore
      Androcles to help him. The man boldly reached out and took the lions paw
      and very gently and carefully drew out the thorn. The lion immediately
      jumped up and began leap about for joy, rubbing his great head against the
      man who had helped him and licking his hands and feet out of love and
      gratitude. That night the lion and the man lay down together and each slept
      without fear or pain. In the morning both arose and each went his own way.

      The fable goes on to describe how Androcles was caught and sent to the arena
      to be punished as a runaway slave. It was the custom that a captured
      runaway slave was to face a hungry lion in the arena and perhaps be maimed
      or killed or even eaten. Androcles awaited his fate. When the lion was
      released he looked up and saw not a ferocious beast, but his old friend the
      lion from whom he had taken the thorn. The lion recognized his benefactor
      and rather than kill and eat the man instead came to him and rubbed his head
      against Androcles and licked his hands and feet as before. Such was the
      enduring strength of their friendship born from Androcles' compassionate

      In the Gospel today we are told that we as the followers of Jesus Christ are
      to act in a similar manner. We hear the so-called "golden rule" which tells
      us "As you wish that others should do to you, do ye also to them likewise"
      or as it is more often phrased, "Do to others what you want them to do to
      you" This is then elaborated by our Lord when he says, "But love your
      enemies, and do good and lend, hoping for nothing again" In this we see the
      love, not of man, but of God acting in us and that this love is an active -
      even one might say a *proactive* - force in us. St Nikolai (Velimirovic) of
      Ochrid comments, "Men become unloving in waiting for others to show
      themselves loving to them and others await this of them. In this reciprocal
      waiting (for love from one another) all men, as a general rule become
      unloving ... He who grasps that love is is an active virtue, not a passive
      one and begins to fulfill it in this manner ... will soon come to know both
      God's love and man's. Love is the striking of stone with stone, that always
      produces a spark. He who strikes this blessed spark and he who receives it
      will both feel God's presence with them. At that moment they feel God's
      caressing hand on both their hearts."

      Many people ask how it is that we can nurture the love of God in their own
      hearts and here is the answer. We gain the love of God by loving others as
      He loves them. When we love those who love us, that is human love which,
      while good, does not have the transforming nature of God's love. God's love
      transcends human love, it is greater and more powerful than human love.
      With God's love not only do we love those who love us, but we also love
      those who hate us. It is this love that goes beyond the bounds of human
      nature that works in us to change us into God's likeness.

      "Christ's command that we do to others as we would that they do to us is so
      natural and so clearly good that it is a wonder and a shame that it has not
      long ago become a daily habit among men. No man desires that others do him
      evil: let him therefore do no evil to others. Every man desires that others
      do good to him: let him therefore do good to others. Every man desires to
      be forgiven when he sins: let him therefore forgive the sins of others.
      Every man desires that others be sad in his sadness and rejoice in his
      rejoicing: let him then be sad in the sadness of others and rejoice in their
      rejoicing. Every man desires that others speak good of him and give him
      honor, feed him in hunger, visit him in sickness and protect him in
      persecution: let him do the same to others." (St Nikolai)

      If we want to love others, if we want to love God - we must act on that
      love. Love is not a feeling, but an action and an attitude. If we wish to
      love others we must first act towards them as though we love them
      (regardless of feelings). From this seed, God's love will grow and develop
      in your heart and you will begin to learn how to love others, not as a man,
      but as God loves them. When Androcles approached the lion with boldness to
      pull the thorn from his paw, he did not treat the lion as an enemy, to kill
      him or run from him, but rather as a friend to help him in his need and
      relieve his suffering. In turn, the lion became his friend, offering not
      his natural ferocity, but love in return for love, affection in return for
      affection, friendship in return for friendship. And this friendship endured
      even past the moment and just when Androcles was himself in great need, that
      friendship came to his aid and his friend, the lion, returned to him the
      same love and compassion that had been given in the first place. Here we
      see an example of the Gospel truth "love your enemies, and do good, and
      lend, hoping for nothing again: and your reward shall be great and ye shall
      be the children of the Highest...Be ye therefore merciful as your Father is
      also merciful."
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